Publishing a book is one big check off the dream list for a writer. But if you're an ambitious person, you won't be content to stop at publishing one, two, three, or four books. Simply dream a new dream and pursue. Like shampoo, lather, rinse, and repeat.
I recently read an ah-mazing book by an author I'd never read before. This book. Oh, it was so good. The type you can't put down. I read it while idling at stoplights. I stayed up way past bedtime on work nights. I could not put it down until I reached the end. Even then, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I spent a considerable amount of time analyzing how the writer weaved together two different POVs and the depth of her research into a historical event she fictionalized so meticulously I could see it as if I was watching it on the screen. I won't be surprised if her story gets optioned and made into a film. It was so, so, wonderful.
But, this wasn't the author's debut novel. This was her 30th novel. Thirty books. I'm sure the other books are wonderful too, but it took this author's 30th novel to find me, and for me to find it. Do I plan to check out her other 29 books? You bet. That's the beauty and beast of publishing. If someone loves your first novel, well, perhaps you have nothing else ready for them to read. If someone doesn't fall in love with your writing until book 30, well, you've stocked quite a bookshelf for them to purchase more of your material.
I guess the tortoise does win.
My point is, I think a lot of aspiring authors or newly published authors have this vision that simply publishing a book means the writer has arrived. Maybe in some cases that is the truth, but if the author I found at book 30 thought she'd arrived, I may have never read one of the greatest books ever.
Not every author will have an immediate hit like Stephanie Myers did with the Twilight series. I'd never heard of Dan Brown until the DaVinci Code. After reading that phenomenal book I went back and read all of his other ones (I'm a huge fan of Digital Fortress). And that's the goal! If you don't have instant cult success like that of the Harry Potter series or Fifty Shades of Grey, persevere and keep writing. The publishing business is tough. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Maddening.
And yet we know this and we still write. Because we have stories to tell, no matter how hard the path to success may be.