Step one, join the Romance Writers of America. This advice was given by JR Ward in her BDB Insider’s Guide. Damn good advice it was. Seriously, the good decision that has lead to all other good decisions.
The RWA is a cornucopia of information for all romance writers, both published and unpublished. There are a bazillion subchapters both geographical and related to specific subgenres, and they host contests and workshops, both of which can play a HUGE role in helping to improve your craft, and get your work looked at by industry professionals who might not otherwise take the time give your work so much as a passing glance. Some subchapters even let you take their workshops for free if you join the chapter. RWA National also publishes a monthly magazine called the Romance Writers Report that contains TONS of useful info. It’s one of the only magazines that I have ever read literally cover to cover. They’ve also recently started something called RWA University, currently the focus of that is to teach all about the various publishing avenues in the industry but it looks like there will be more topics in the future.
Best of all there is an annual conference where magical things happen (especially since this year it’s at Disney World!) like live workshops, opportunities to pitch your books to real live agents and editors, and rubbing elbows (or so I’ve heard) with some of your favorite writers. I’ve never been, but it’s my goal to go next year.
Although, as a pre-published writer, I have this sneaky suspicion that the RWA Published Author Network is some sort of special, magical place where you get all sorts of perks much like the First Class section on British Airways (where you get not only a real bed to sleep in but also special jammies!). I don’t yet have proof, but as soon as I get published, I’m asking for my jammies.