Tonight, a friend of mine on Twitter said this:
When I consider this is my third novel, two I've finished, plus numerous short stories I've written, it's something to be proud of.— Carey Torgesen (@CareyTorg) December 27, 2014
It's just weird because I used to hear writers say "I got an agent on my fifth novel!" And I'd think THATS A LOT OF NOVELS. Now I'm all, ok.— Carey Torgesen (@CareyTorg) December 27, 2014
I totally know what she means.
As you may know, (if you've read this blog, ever) Brandon Sanderson is without a doubt my favorite author who is currently writing and putting out books on a regular basis. I love his work, and I love what he does to give back to aspiring writers. When I first heard his success story, I couldn't believe it. He had written (I think) ten or eleven novels over the course of six or eight years, before finally landing a publisher.
These stories are all over the place. They happen all the time. Like Carey said, at first glance we think THAT'S A LOT. And it's going to take FOREVER. But the truth is, there's a learning curve to this game. Some authors have a natural talent, get really lucky, and find an agent/publisher on their very first novel. But that is actually very rare.
Even cases where it's taken years and multiple novels to finally get published, the average author probably isn't making much off their books yet, until they sell more books, and get their name somewhat known. JK Rowling wrote books before Harry Potter was published, but she'd never had anything else published before. Harry Potter was her debut. She'll be the first to tell you: she got extremely lucky.
The honest truth of it is this: being a successful writer doesn't start when you sign with your first agent, and it doesn't end when your first book releases.
It starts now.
And it never has to end.
If you write, call yourself a writer. If you love what you do, then you are successful. And when you publish your first story or novel or poem, and you have a whole new set of things to deal with, one thing will have remained the same: you are a successful writer.