There are lots out there that will tell you they have the keys to the kingdom, they don't. Most of the stuff is total BS.
They may well be profitable themselves but you can only succed at this game once you've traded for a while and found a style that suits you. By all means read books and try a few different things to get some ideas, but the way we trade in the end is a reflection of our own personalities, all our weaknesses and strengths.
Do not neglect pshycological books for trading they are the most important in my opinion.
Read Jack Schwagers' Market Wizards books. One of the conclusions Jack reaches about top traders is that although they all use varying methods for trading he felt that most of it was just a pshcological crutch.
I trade US stocks through IB who have very low rates of commission although I'm told their support is lousy, I've never needed it though. I use Realtick as a data and chart supplier. I have a fairly powerful PC, with two monitors and a broadband connection.
Apart from Jack Scwager I've found Mark Douglas's Trading in the Zone, Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques by Steve Nison, and Technical Analysis and Stock Market Profits by Richard Schabacker useful.
Yes, I agree with Flea's comments about finding a style that you are comfortable with. The learning curve is really about minimising losses whilst finding something that fits your personality. So trade small to begin with and learn about yourself.
Some people swingtrade (hold positions for several days), others try to catch intraday swings (the meat of a move) and others scalp (for fractional and fast gains). The correct approach for you depends totally on who you are; trying to do something that you are not comfortable with but that Joe Bloggs is making a fortune at will result in losses.
So trade small in your learning curve, experiment with strategies and, most importantly, discover yourself.
There are some things that you must learn and be comfortable with, such as how to use Level 2 and, for some styles, how to read charts; for such things, find a mentor / instructor and read lots of books / web material. Your education should be a never-ending process.
I agree 100% with those above who point out that your own personality and character are absolutely key. Your ability to understand and rigidly apply the necessary disciplines is vital. That isn't a negative slur. Within my overall trading/investing mix I sometimes buy & sell the same day - perhaps 2-3 times a week. But that doesn't mean I could become a daytrader if I wanted to - it's a different regime and one that I know I am not capable of succeeding at. I have the wrong personality for it. I'm not quickthinking enough. In daytrading you are on your own - there isn't time to phone a friend or ask the BB audience - prices move too fast (if they weren't moving fast you wouldn't bother daytrading them). And as many will confirm - the UK is not the most competitive zone in which to daytrade - even if you want to daytrade UK stocks it is cheaper to do so via a US broker. The US-UK cost difference is huge when multiplied by the thousands of trades you would be doing per year. And occasionally you will lose control - your datafeed or computer connection will fail and leave you stranded with positions open.
With all due respect David, quitting work to go daytrading fulltime - just like that - without a thorough grounding, and very considerable experience, and a huge reservoir of non-trading cash to fall back on, is a total no-no. Even for somebody with the right personality for it.
I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm sure it can. But it's definitely a minority sport - not one that everyone can make a go of.
Your motivation should be first and foremost to make a well-executed trade. If money alone is your motivation you will severely limit your chance of success. Why? Because focusing on money will raise all kinds of emotional issues, from fear to greed. It will make you afraid of losses to the point that you will abandon your discipline. It will tempt you to trade too often, to large, and with too much risk. Whereas if you focus on making solid, well-executed trades - even if the result is losing a trade that you exit quickly - you will reinforce your discipline and increase you trading potential.Lewis J Borsellino
I consider this to be excellent advice. Taken from the 'The Global Book of Investing Rules' which I have just purchased.