I had only just published my first book of poetry, Echoes, Neo-Victorian Poetry. The authoring world was an unknown planet to me then. Fortunately, I was assigned to a table in Author's Row.
My fellow writers welcomed me and shared with me those things that pertain to writing and publishing, both in their panel discussions and during our occasional conversations together in the hotel hallways.
Spending an entire weekend with those who share your passion for writing is incredibly enabling and validating. It means that you are standing shoulder to shoulder with other writers as one of them.
Having attended many such events, I highly recommend new writers to seek out every opportunity to visit other authors, to get to know them, to ask them how they got started, and to ask for their advice.
The San Francisco Writer's Conference is a great event for the new, and the published, author. There, one can meet agents, publishers, editors, and other authors who will gladly share their knowledge.
If one has a particular focus in one's writing, looking for events that feature those interests helps, such as I have been doing from within the Steampunk community. Hopefully, there will be authors there.
I took that first, huge step into author opportunities, and then I continued forward, one foot in front of the other. Now I am in a unique support group with other indie writers and publishers.
By the time I had published Echoes, I was already in the mix. Looking back, I sometimes wish that I had known to do all of this so much sooner. Perhaps such things simply tend to come about in their own good time. Either way, I am happily where I am today.