I just launched a little test that is an exercise in literary cynicism. I have come to the conclusion that the quality of the writing is somewhere around the seventh or eighth most important factor in a publisher’s decision-making process, so I submitted a proposal to a publisher purporting to be a female writer. It’s not a romance novel, but it’s in a subgenre that predominantly features women writers. We’ve come a long ways since the days of George Eliot, baby! I even included a fake bio and an “author’s photo” of Space Bunny, based on what might be called the Candace Bushnell theory of literary submission – a babe gets every benefit of the doubt – and ran the text through the Gender Genie to make sure that it read “female”.
I’m quite curious to see what will happen. My writing plate is quite full now, but it was a story that I’ve had floating around the back of my head for about a year now so it was nice to write up a bit of it and do something with it. I’ll be pretty amused if it makes it through the slush pile; Space Bunny’s sufficiently well-read and knows enough writers to fake the tortured artist thing if she ever needs to speak to an editor on the phone. The most amusing thing would be if the book was reasonably successful and they wanted to do a book tour. I can’t imagine I’d be able to talk Space Bunny into doing that, although it would make for a pretty good expose of the extraordinary silliness of the publishing industry after the fact.
I was quite put out when I found out that F.W. Dixon did not, in fact, write all of the Hardy Boys books. And I always wondered how on Earth Don Pendleton managed to write about five million Executioner novels. Although I suppose it helped that the plot was always exactly the same. I think the strangest book of this sort I ever read – part of anyhow – was a porn novel set in the middle ages. I’d picked it up at a garage sale thinking it was a historical novel, and it wasn’t until I hit about page 30 and the gorgeous hot-bodied Saracen spy was climaxing while being gang-raped that I stopped and went “okay, wait a minute, that’s a bit rich.”
Lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover or its author’s photo.