It's simply impossible to keep up with the mystery genre and its permutations. But I do try....
One doesn't have to follow blogs, read listservs, and attend conventions to hear writer's frustrations. The smarter ones don't inveigh against the industry and its quirks in public; though I'm sure some have wisely chosen to vent under screen names/pseudonyms.
Sometimes I understand their frustrations; sometimes I want to tell them to grow up. No one ever said a career in a creative discipline is going to be easy. Several years ago one of my daughters, enrolled in a Ph.D. program, decided to quit. She had a heart-to-heart with her advisor, who told her (kindly, which I understand isn't always the case) that she had to adjust her expectations or find something else to do. He told her that establishing an academic career isn't easy - that it's filled with nastiness, politics, and back-stabbing that only gets worse after the degree has been granted. In essence, he was telling her: Stop expecting people to be nice to you. It's not going to happen. Suck it up or find something else to do. She decided to do something else and is now the bright, upbeat person that is her natural state.
I often give writers the same advice: You can't expect this industry to be nice. It isn't. Like so many areas in life, it's unfair. It stacks the cards in favor of certain people and against others. You can swim against the tide and win a blue ribbon for tenacity and still get nowhere. That's just the way it is. And I realize I'm part of that system, and I've been lucky enough to be able to do this for several decades and earn a living at it. A handful of us can make that claim; many more can't.
But this week I'm feeling sympathy for writers and what they go through. And why? I have read some really mediocre books over the past few weeks - not just by established writers but also by newbies who got that much-coveted contract. One was so formulaic I felt it had to have been written by a teenager; another was so slow as to be practically unreadable. Each week I reject books that are BETTER than these two published works.
And I've heard through the industry grapevine about manuscripts on which I've passed that have gone on to receive contracts, usually thanks to a tenacious agent with the right connections. The late, great Ruth Cavin once commented that she'd never rejected a book that went on to become a best-seller; I can say the same, but only because I do this blog anonymously. I'm going to watch these books and see what happens. One that I rejected a few years ago was published by a good company to lukewarm reviews; another that I rejected a while ago seems to me completely incapable of achieving any sort of critical or popular success. And yet - those writers have contracts and likely received a larger advance than I ever would have been willing to pay.
What's my point? Oh yes - that based on these experiences, I can see why writers feel so frustrated. Is there any connection between merit and success? Will a good manuscript necessarily get bought? Will fabulous reviews in PW or LJ lead to a mega-bestseller? The answer to all these questions, sadly, is No. Which is why I always say: Don't quit your day job.