Chris, I can answer your questions, but maybe not quite as you intended.How do I maintain the discipline to focus on one project at a time.. actually this has not come up as I have had so much emotion wrapped up in An Involuntary King that though I had more ideas floating about they patiently waited for the "heart's work" to be done. I suppose my own question would be, does it matter? Can you work on more than one at a time? If not, I guess willpower will be required.
Second question about getting something to the top of a publisher's pile. One answer might be getting a good agent. That's not how I went. I am a board member of the Independent Author's Guild www.independentauthorsguild.org - we are authors who intentionally publish through small press publishers and publish on demand companies. Since corporate publishing is leveraged to their eyeballs these days they are risk adverse.. and it is well nigh impossible to get their motive. As a result tons of well written and particularly genre fiction just does not get published. I knew An Involuntary King hadn't chance, no matter the quality, because Saxon era fiction is represented by Bernard Cornwell and no one else.. the publishers are adamant that no one reads it. Since I will read anything written about that era I can get my ears on, I know that's not true. So I chose to set up my own press and use a POD. The stigma of "self-publishing" is no longer valid. There is indie music recording, indie film making, and indie software development. Why do we assume indie book publishing will result in crap? I will rely on my readers to make that judgment. And now that more than half of books sold are sold online it is no disadvantage.
Hope that helps. Nan Hawthorne