Author career paths aren’t always the same. Over the years, I've watched too many friends and authors I enjoy have their career, through no fault of their own, crash and burn over the idiocies within Big Publishing. (Dirty Big Publishing secret: Everything is the author's fault even if the author had nothing to do with it. A bad cover, a literal train wreck which wipes out most of the West Coast book deliveries for that month so sale numbers tank, a failed within-house promotion--all the author's fault. Toss that author out.)
Most authors get back up, reinvent themselves with a new name, and start a new series, a new genre, or a new publisher. I traded updates with a best-selling, award-winning friend at Christmas. She's reinvented herself or started a new mystery series four times, and her newest very successful series has been cancelled because her publisher has decided to stop publishing fiction. She's got her rights back so the next book will be self-published because she’s tired of publishers who can't get their own sh*t together.
Other friends sold that first book that was their first book and blazed ahead like the golden children they were to finally hit a minor roadblock. They got pissy and promptly quit writing.
Sometimes, authors stagger up after yet another career hit because of bad luck or a publisher's ineptitude and walk away. After over 30 years of being hit and yet another publisher destroying any chance for my new book’s success through their ineptitude, I walked away, and I'm okay with that. I decided I was too burned out to bother with self-publishing so I'm watching my publishers die, two in the last year, and my books disappear off the virtual shelves. I'm fine with that, too.
Publishing isn't for sissies, and it's okay to whine or walk away for your own sanity.