What's the definition of "insane optimist"? A first-time novelist.
But seriously, if a new fiction writer spent years taking workshops, being published by literary journals, and placing in competitions, then agents and publishers should give them consideration, right? Well, no.
To be clear, I'm talking about commercial publishing here, not the small regional presses printing books of a rare or experimental tone. In Canada, a system of government grants subsidizes these elevated outfits, and other countries promote their own artists and culture with similar programs. These firms have their own criteria and networks. What follows below doesn't, broadly speaking, apply to them.
R.B. Young is the author of the novel Crimes of Disrespect and of short stories in Canadian and American literary journals. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.