Norman Mailer said it years before William Goldman. Mailer was struck from his horse by a bolt of insight while riding the streets of rejection. The simple phrase 'They don't know!' became his turning point: the rejections all sounded so certain that his work was too this or too that and so, we regret to inform you, dear sir, that your stuff is a mountain of doody. In that white light, Mailer saw that hardworking, decent women and men made decisions based on what they thought their bosses wanted...and their bosses, in turn, made decisions based on what they thought the public wanted--based on what was selling now. Mailer, never running a pint shy in confidence, saw that the entire trick was to get to the Great Source directly: to get into print so the public could vote.
In Mailer's day that may have meant ending up with a garage filled with self-published novels no bookstore would stock. Today, thanks to e-books, anyone can have their day in court without shelling out thousands of dollars. The downside is obvious: trash that should have stayed in drawers will hit the market smelling like loads of poop in Jockey shorts. Sometimes the gatekeepers do know.
The Better News gets a lot better for pros who've made their way through Boot Camp and compete in the commercial arena--but who are either blessed or afflicted with the craziest damned urges to write a book that Cannot Sell. Because it is too different. Because it is too wild. Such a book may become their obsession. And they'll never know peace if they file it away while licking some marketing oracle's boots.
The Still Better News: confidence arises from the clearing of our plates, as do pride and self-respect. Readers benefit from reading books that come straight from the heart., not those hammered into pegs to fit existing holes. The writers' lists of published works will grow in length and stature, for nothing tickles fickle minds more than indie spirits. Agents will bless their lucky stars that their clients no longer cuss them out for turning down books that Can't Sell. As an added bonus, writers may reissue past works that were compromised by deadline pressures or editorial conflicts.
The Good News, as you may have guessed, is that these works might sell. But that entry is a week away. Cheers.