If you look at the number where most authors begin to break away from the flood of other writers, you will begin to notice a pattern. Sure, there are those rare few who managed to be a break-away hit after only one or two books, but that is often a matter of luck. I’m not at all saying these people don’t deserve the success.
What I am instead saying is that there are a number of very good authors out there who have slipped beneath your notice and everyone else’s. There are also a number of fair authors, who are just a little short of being great. Because of this, the pattern seems to stand out that no sooner than 5 books in, the author begins to gain traction. At book 10, if they maintain a reasonable backlist, that is when the momentum carries over strongly enough to really begin making a go of doing it as a career. For those writing short stories, the number instead seems to fall at around the 30 published story mark.
In either case, by the time you’ve written this many publishable works, you have a lot of words under your belt. Your draft copies might be as good as many of the early books were. People who liked one of your works may decide to purchase several. Some will be so in love with your writing that they buy your entire backlist at once! By this point, you’ve found your voice and are speaking to your readers clearly. As an added bonus, you can fill up an Amazon search page with nothing but your own work.
The biggest takeaway, however, is that you can’t let yourself get discouraged early on. So many authors seem to get discouraged after one or two books. They thought they would be a breakaway hit and on the best seller list. Instead, they are seeing minimal sales and only a slight increase in traffic. It can be hard to pour yourself into something and get a lackluster reception. Try to remember this rule when you are in that pit of doubt. It takes time to build an audience.