The publishing industry is exactly like the X-Factor. You start with tens of thousands of hopefuls, all certain that they are talented and deserve to be made into stars/published. Their friends and family are equally convinced, or at least have to say they are out of loyalty or blind love.
These thousands of people turn up to auditions/send in their manuscripts, and the gatekeepers of television/publishing have a limited amount of time to try to spot the ones that the public will like and want to get to know better. Sometimes it will be obvious that someone has enormous talent, or is exceptionally attractive, usually it is not that obvious.
The majority,through sheer weight of numbers, will then be sent home/have their manuscripts ignored or rejected. Even those who get through to the show/publication, will still be ignored by the public/voted out and will end up disappointed not to have had their dreams come true and angry with those who have succeeded where they have failed.
Someone, of course, has to win - just as with every lottery. On the X-Factor it will be Alexandra Burke and in publishing it will be J.K. Rowling, and then there will be the people who simply gain public attention because they are different and make people smile - John and Edward in the X-Factor, Katie Price in publishing.
It is all quite fair because everyone has the same chance to lay their goods out on display and there are only a limited number of hours that we can all watch television or read books, so most of us will inevitably be knocked back.
There has been a spate of complaints in the media recently from published authors about the state of the publishing industry and how hard it is for new writers to break in and how unfair it is that the bad stuff gets published and the good stuff gets over-looked. But wasn't it always so? Is it possible that millions are transfixed by the X-Factor because it is a giant metaphor for life? Publishing is also exactly like life - everyone who goes into it has ambitions, most will be disappointed.
What to do about it? How do you beat the odds?
Well maybe, like Alexandra Burke, the secret lies in (a) having enough talent to start with (b) working ceaselessly at your craft and (c) coming back for another go every time you are knocked back, (she only won on her second time of appearing on the X-Factor).
Young talent is often knocked back and discouraged, but in the long-run persistence will always pay off - in publishing as in life.