I've got my hands full. As an aspiring author, I'm expected to write the very best book that I can, know the market, keep abreast of the break out novels and authors out there, as well as keep up on my reading of best selling authors and why they keep ending up on that best selling list time after time. I'm also expected to hone my craft, get my name out there and support my fellow writers, both published and unpublished. Simple, huh?
It is if you have unlimited time, don't have a day job or don't require much sleep at night.
At RWA National this year, the Golden Network did an outstanding job of preparing a panel of experts to review query letters written by Golden Heart finalists. The moderator would read the query letters and the agent or editor on the panel would say *stop* whenever she would lose interest in that particular query letter. It was widely illuminating and instructive, and, at the same time, disheartening. Because as the moderator read some well-written query letters, I found myself thinking, That's a book I would love to read.
Unfortunately, I may never have the opportunity. Here's what I discovered. Chances are if your story revolves around sports figures, Hollywood stars or rock musicians, an editor or agent is going to deep six your query with very little chance of perusing your partial or full.
And that's a darn shame. Because some of the most unforgettable stories I've read involve those very characters. In Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer, she not only has a pro athlete as the protagonist, the protagonist's father is a rock star!
In Sandra Brown's Play Dirty, her protagonist is a down- an-out quarterback who has served five years in prison for throwing a game.
Why do these best selling authors get away with writing a novel that most editors and agents wouldn't represent -- er -- if they were paid to? Probably because we're talking about Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Sandra Brown.
Phillips and Brown have already earned the readers' trust. If I pick up a book by these authors, it's pretty much implied that I'm in for several hours of quality escapism. As an unpublished author, and as unjust as it may seem, I haven't earned that right or that trust. I also wonder after these marvelous books are written, how many not-so-hot stories involving celebrities land on an agent or editors' desk--enough for them to so vitriolically holler, "Stop!"
In the meantime, perhaps we aspiring authors should keep studying the market, learning our trade, and writing the best book that's in us. Just be aware if your protag is a pro athlete, Hollywood star or a rock musician, it could be a long shot, and may be the book that comes out after you *arrive*.
Why not instead make our protagonists handymen.
Oh, wait -- Linda Howard's already done that one.
Keep the faith, fellow writers. It's all about trust. Write the best book that's in you.