I was doing some research today and stumbled across this list of the steps that you can take to publication. Of course the exact route can be unique to each person, but the gist of it can be similar.
Check it out and tell me what number you're currently on. I'm on 12, although I skipped 2, 6, and 9. So, as I comb the internet today for upcoming conferences (I was already doing that when I found this list), I plan on fulfilling those steps as well.
Submitting and Publishing Tips List