The One that Works
When I was much younger, I had a romanticized vision of the life of a writer, that many of you may have shared at some point in your process - maybe you still do. The vision was that of a person who wrote a great novel, everybody loved it, everybody bought it, and then they wandered around the world in luxury, tapping the keys now and then, and the money and success just flowed in.
Maybe that's happened to some.
What I've learned though, through my own experience and the experiences of men and women who have far more experience and success than I have thus far, is that the one who works is the one whose writing career works. Sweat in = success out. Determination in = success out. Hard work in = success out.
Talent is necessary, but it is the lesser need - there are a lot of poor writers out there making a living at it, and there are a lot of very good writers whose work seldom sees the outside of a drawer, if ever.
That said, it is not enough to work hard, you must also "work smart." Effort must go into educating yourself on the industry, marketing, and PR as well as on the craft of writing and all that comes along with creating realistic settings and characters. Spend some money on it (wisely), spend a lot of time on it (consistently), and be humble enough to learn from those who have gone before you. It is a chronic condition of creative people to be a bit envious of very successful creative people, but don't let that stop you from saying "I could benefit from knowing what they've already learned," and then finding a way to make that happen... a way that works for you.