Richard North Patterson wrote an op-ed piece in the WSJ (sadly behind a paywall) about how he couldn't get published anymore cause he was an old white dude.
After I stopped laughing, I realized he was serious.
There's a nice piece from Slate on the topic.
Richard North Patterson failure to secure a deal was NOT cause he was an old white dude. His book wasn't compelling; his last book was ten years ago; and, he doesn't have a horde of fans slavering for the next book.
Social media is full about yammer blaming agents for gatekeeping and racism for their lack of a book deal.
Yes there are good books out there that don't get deals.
It's important to realize that books by established authors (and oh my godiva there are many) are not published INSTEAD of good books by new authors.
There is never a moment in an agent’s office when she says "should I keep Felix Bestseller or go with Barbie New Girl."
Felix Bestseller has an established contract and has earned the agency beaucoup bucks.
Barbie might be added in addition to, but until Felix stops writing (or dies!) he's going to keep getting deals because readers are still buying his books.
Felix's readers aren't likely to pick up Barbie instead.
The publisher's marketing department knows this, and mercantile beasts that they are, communicate that up and down the food chain.
What's the solution?
Hell if I know.
I like Barbie.
I want to sell her books.
But I also need to keep my broom lubed and oiled, and the liquor cabinet stocked, so I'm keeping my mitts on Felix until he stops writing (or dies!)
So, what's the takeaway on this?
1. Drooling, slavering fans waiting for your next book is a big plus. That's why you have a newsletter.
2. Past success isn't a reliable indicator of future success, and it's less reliable with every year that has gone by. A bestseller in 1982 isn't much of a plus, usually.
3. Don't blame racism for anything if you're a white guy. It's obtuse.
As usual, differing opinions are welcome. Usual rules apply.
No name-calling, no rants, and no personal attacks on other commenters. If you want to bash me, take your best shot.