I just received your rejection letter from you which is no surprise after receiving 56 other rejection emails. By this point I don't feel anything and I guess that is okay. But it makes me question something that has been in my head ever since I finished the novel. What if the writing is good but the subject is unpublishable?
My novel deals with the mass shooting in a community college, and while I've seen other novels deal with the issue I would guess that the subject itself is controversial. While googling the subject I just discovered the story about a Stephen King novel that I didn't even knew existed: Rage.
Originally published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, the book has been linked to several shootings and even the author wanted it out of print which is something that I didn't know when I started writing the novel. So my question is: Are there subjects like these that act like a drawing of Mohammed for publishers? Is there a list out there?(1) Or it really just depends on the literary agent?(2)
I was thinking in putting my query to the query shark to refine but I guess no matter how much I refine a query, they would probably end up rejecting it.(3)
If the only book you can find about school shootings is Rage by Richard Bachman, you haven't done the most rudimentary of research. I can think of several books on this topic off the top of my head, no Googlemonster required, one of which won the Booker Prize in 2003. And if you do google the topic, you'll find lots of them.
So, it's not the topic. There are lots of books out there about this. It's the treatment of the topic or more likely, the writing.
And no, agents don't keep a list of things that are unpublishable (2).
And yes, agents have particular likes and dislikes (3)
And if you assume rejection (4) you should stop writing now. Rejection should motivate you to work harder, not quit.