Roc also owns the hardcover rights.
Would you believe that I've never seen Vanya on 42nd Street? Ivan Ilyich, however, named after "Ivan Ilyich." And Fyodor Stephanovich is named after the obvious suspect, too. Well, and my dad's given name is Stephen, with the Slavic pronunciation.
Always start at the top, baby. Asimov's, F&SF, Analog for science fiction. Strange Horizons pays pro rates, and Baen's Universe is currently paying quite well if you don't mind a web-pub.
I keep a notebook, and I keep notes in story files, and on notecards, and written on my hand with a pen in movie theatres, and--
Depends on how badly you wanted whatever it is in the first place?
It's not about making characters likable. It's about making them compelling. Sometimes that can mean making them sympathetic (the easiest way to do this, I find, is to give them something to love.) And sometimes, it can mean making them a train-wreck fascination. (Check out Fight Club for what I mean by the latter.)
Don't be afraid of visceral reactions to your work, as long as it's not that everybody hates it. *g* The thing to fear is mediocrity. If you get a 50/50 split of "loved it/hated it" you're doing okay.
Comment-screened question post here: feel free to pitch in.