That said, I tend to think of successful hobbyists as counterexamples to the general rule. I think the highest achieving photography is generally the result of fulltime devotion. To use Hurn and Jay's words as quoted by Chua:
The fact is that photographers at the highest level have committed themselves to continuous and dedicated practice. Fierce single-mindedness and self-motivation are essential. It is very, very rare to find a part-time photographer in the front ranks."
This doesn't mean one needs to be a professional photographer to do good work. In fact I'd argue that most of the interesting work being done nowadays is shot in an amateur context. But amateur or not, to achieve at a high level you should probably be eating, sleeping, and breathing photography. You don't see part-time athletes make it to the Olympics. Why should part-time photographers expect their fate to be different?
While it's difficult for part-time photographers to achieve excellence there is one short-cut for them to achieve recognition, and that is to be a celebrity in another field. There are numerous actors and musicians who pursue photography as a side hobby. A few of them are quite good. More often they're not. In any case, the quality of the material doesn't seem to have much effect on its marketability. Celebrity sells, and the photobook section of most bookstores is awash in celebrity titles.
How well do you know your celebrity photographers? Below are ten anonymous photographs by well known actors and musicians, all of whom are published photobook authors. The person who first identifies the most correct photographers wins a free print and a copy of the book Starstruck by celebrity stalker/photographer Gary Lee Boas.