This post by John Scalzi is pretty dead on the money. It’s an interesting read, and I encourage you to do so, at your leisure. Unless you have something against sports metaphors, in which case maybe just skim it.
Here’s a relevant bit:
The longer you play in The Show, the more chances you get to make things happen for yourself.
Being published (by major publishers primarily, but with some notable exceptions) is like being in The Show. It means that you’re working at the top levels of your field — just having a book out there in the world means you’ve got skills that distinguish you from the mass of people who hope to be where you are. It’s an accomplishment in itself.
But as with major league players in their idiom, not every author is going to be an instant, obvious success. Not every book is going to get into the bestseller lists. Not every book is going to get nominated for an award. Some writers have instant hits; some have to keep at it for years, slowly building an audience of readers. Some authors will never hit it big; some that do hit it big will have it happen just once. Sometimes authors will be dropped from their publishers and need to find another one. Sometimes they will have to use a different name to get published again (and sometimes they will be a hit under that different name). Sometimes the book an author thinks is their best will sink while something they think as inconsequential is a major hit.
Once again: You never know. No one knows. But as long as you keep publishing, you get to keep making chances for yourself.
‘Why do you write so much?’ I get asked that a lot. The simple answer is ‘it’s my job.’ The honest answer is ‘I got tired of loading mail trucks on the graveyard shift’. The complex answer is: every short story sale is an opportunity, every book, tie-in or otherwise, builds the audience–MY audience–by increments, however small. And as that audience grows, so too does its potential for further growth, which leads to more opportunities.
More opportunities to write the things I want to write, to write the sorts of books people want to read. More opportunities to write the things I hope some kid finds stuffed onto a second-hand bookshop shelf at a weird angle, to write the sort of thing that sparks that kid’s imagination.
It’s all about the opportunities.