Susan Orlean, one of my favorite authors, has a "Free Range" blog at The New Yorker. It includes a great post about finishing a book that she worked on for six years. She details the process of publishing a book and how it has changed. Read the full delightful post at her blog.
She cleverly describes the old way:
1. Think of a book topic.
2. Find a publisher who likes the idea.
3. Write the book.... and so on.