When you're a beginning writer, your career is a constant struggle, but the struggle is an internal one. You're not yet published, you have no reason to think you ever will be published, and everyone you meet tells you, "You'll never make any money doing that." Despite all these excellent reasons not to write every day, you dutifully go to your desk (kitchen table, corner of the couch, floor of the broom closet...) and you pound out your thoughts on a keyboard (notepad, series of index cards, rock wall of a cave...) You write your first novel, realize that it's terrible, then you rewrite it, and rewrite it again. And again. And again. It takes YEARS to become skilled and disciplined enough to be a published author. That's just the nature of the game, (profession, obsession, masochistic compulsion...)
After years of querying agents and publishers, after loads of rejection and ego-choking indifference from the industry, you finally get your contract, and you're over the moon! You run around your office, (home, back yard, insane asylum where you've been committed by concerned family members...) leaping in the air for JOY! You're PUBLISHED! You've ARRIVED!!!!
And then your book comes out... and you realize that you are competing with thousands of other first time authors. And then you realize that your book is competing with every award winning novel ever written. And then you realize that even if your dream has come true, and you are a published author... Very few people have actually noticed. (Unless you're one of those people who wins the Pulitzer with their first publication, but let's be real. You're not.) And so after years of struggle just to write your first publishable manuscript, you realize that you've got years more of struggle fighting to stand apart from the crowd.
Writers, readers... How do we do it? How do we make sure our voice is heard in the cacaphony of the publishing industry? What do you do to get your 'brand' out there? Is it all in the writing? Or is there something more?