I am not new to writing, but I am new to having my writing published. ~rim shot~
I have just finished my second novel, and I am already working on the third...nothing like an optimist!But here's the question: How exactly does the secret handshake go? Left hand upside down first? Thumb up? Down? I know if I just knew this damned handshake I'd be all inside with the easy street crowd and not on the outside, in the sunshine, with my pale skin starting to pink in the sun.
LOL! Seriously, you made me giggle! Hee!
Well, just as I was sworn to secrecy over my sorority's secret handshake, so too am I over the published author's handshake. :)
Naw, look, I'll tell you what I know: unfortunately, as you've surmised, it's not as easy as an arched index finger that scratches the other person's palm while interweaving thumbs. Too bad, eh? But I think you have the right idea - you're still writing. Every time you start/finish/draft a book, you arguably should become a better writer. If, I should add, you don't simply regurgitate the same outline/prose/concepts in each book.
Have objective readers take a look at your previous work and tell you where you can make it stronger, then apply this advice to your next one. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, then you're just treading water. But if improve each time, then you're well on your way to publication. I can't tell you how many writers I've heard about who have 5 or 6 unpubbed novels in their desk drawers, only to hit success on the next one. (Jon Clinch, who wrote the best-seller Finn, comes to mind, if I'm not mistaken.)
And even published writers can learn from the past. I've written the first half of my second book, and I've been told by several people that it's better than TDLF. Why? Because I worked out a few kinks and think I'm a better writer now.
So keep writing...I think that's a better tip than giving you a fancy finger-hold anyway. :)
Readers - what's your advice that's the equivalent to a secret handshake?