See this flag? This orange little flag? That means I'm a best-selling author. I'm successful, I make a living from my writing, and I'm basically J.K. Rowling, right? Right?
Not really, no. I was given this flag when I reached ten book sales, and I had made about five dollars. I think I must not have had a lot of competition in my category, or maybe the algorithm was impressed that I managed to sell ten books in about six hours. Of course, I'm excited that I got the orange flag, but it does make me wonder if my ideas about best-selling authors weren't a little confused.
I'm pretty sure that the definition of "Best Seller" is "made some well-known list somewhere." Basically, the title of "Best Seller" could mean the writer is rolling in money, fame and adoring fans, but it's more likely the author is still trying to meet their career goals.
The reason it's important to me to point this out is because sometimes writers look at other writers and think, "They are so successful! I wish I could be like them!" when that writer you're looking at might actually be dissatisfied with their career.
I think that looking at what we mean by "successful author" is applicable and necessary. By "successful," do you mean the author has made a lot of sales? There are many writers who sell a ton but don't make that much, because their publishing house swallows most of the profits. If to you "success" means making a lot of money, keep in mind that some people who sell a lot don't come out with quality work. If you feel that "success" means publishing polished, beautiful stories, sometimes these authors don't sell much. The point I'm trying to make is that in order to reach "success," you need a clear idea what the word means to you, and have a plan for reaching it.
Don't be discouraged because you haven't met your goals yet, and it looks like everyone has reached "success" but you. The truth is, most of us are still struggling to obtain what we want out of our careers. It wouldn't surprise me at all if J. K. Rowling has spent a lot of time stressing over coming up with new stories fans would like as much as her Harry Potter series. Jeff Kinney may be bored with his Dairy of a Wimpy Kid and wishes he had more time for other projects. Perhaps James Patterson had to throw out some of his manuscripts because he couldn't make them work.
Even our top names in writing aren't immune to stress, doubt, and setbacks. Don't give up if you don't immediately reach your target. Those who reach their "success" got there by pushing themselves higher, even after they fail.