On one of my panels at ArmadilloCon, the comment was made that "glaciers often honk at the publishing industry to tell it to speed up." And it's true, things don't move very quickly, which gives you time to think.
For example, once edits and copy edits and final proof checks are DONE, and there's nothing else you can do but wait for the book to come out... you still have a few months before the book comes out.
And since this is 2015, and the Internet is just a given in our lives, you look around. You check out the places where people are talking about books. You notice those lists of "Must Reads For [Month Your Book Is Coming Out]". You notice what the buzz is. And every once in a while you see your book on such a list. And there is much rejoicing.
But most of the time, you don't. Most of the time you see other books. Over and over. You get to be familiar with the ones that are bound to be on the list, before you even click on it.
And there will be one book that will be your White Rabbit, the one that has the buzz you're chasing.
This is not your White Whale, I should say. You shouldn't be obsessed with it. You shouldn't want to destroy it.
You'll chase after it, because it's always just ahead of you.
And then your book comes out, and it gets pretty good attention and reviews, and you realize that you put way to much energy fretting about this other book, and it's not a zero-sum game.
But here's the other thing I realized, having gone through this twice in rapid succession, and having talked to the authors who were my "white rabbit": everybody does this. And the authors you do this to, in turn, have other authors that they are white rabbiting. When I mentioned this to one of them, the immediate response was to groan out the name of an even bigger, buzzier book that also came out the same month.
And I'm sure-- stone cold positive-- that there was someone out there with a book that came out this past month or last February and quietly damned my name that it was popping up more than their own.
In the end, there's a limit of how much I can let myself fret about this stuff. Maybe that's why I set myself up with a hectic writing pace, so I'd have to focus on the work, and not sweat out this too much.