Aspiring authors: go to writing conferences.
At conferences you mingle with other writers, agents, editors, book packagers, illustrators. You can learn how to manage your writing life, how to balance writing with other aspects of your life. You can learn what specific editors are looking for right now.
You get out of your head, out of your office, away from your computer. Surrounded by other writers and industry professionals, you get a taste of the big picture. This solitary career (or dream or hobby, depending on your level of commitment) becomes something social and fun and serious and informative.
You can find conferences through organizations you belong to, online and from other writers. For children’s writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has two national conferences a year and regional conferences all over the country. Visit www.scbwi.com for information.
Then there’s the old standby – Google writing conferences and go through the list for conferences that fit your genre and region.