As a writer in my community who belongs to the predominant religion here in Utah, I often find myself contemplating what it takes to be accepted and gain a larger audience than the local, parochial one. In fact, at critiquing the other day, as one writer in my group completed her novel intended for the Christian market, one of the critiquers told her to" shop" the novel, but not to give any clue of where she lives when she does so because it will taint her submission and its potential for review and acceptance. Essentially, it will be limited because those who receive it and see that it is from Utah will automatically be biased against it.
I don't know where I am on that question for sure. Obviously, some of that goes on. Ultimately though, publishers and agents must look for work that will sell well. That has to be their bottom line. Money.
There's an old joke about the politician invited to the television show of a talk-show host to talk about his success. And he says something like this: "Truthfully, Don, it was more than simply doing the right thing at the time. It was that I went to the right schools, was a member of the right race, wore fashionable clothing, was a male, belonged to a prominent religion, and married the right woman. Oh, and I had money. And no accent. All of that. It was all of that."
My most recent purchase of a book is one by Carol Lynch Williams, The Chosen One, a young adult novel about a young girl of thirteen being forced to marry an old man who is her uncle in the polygamists' compound.
The book was published by St. Martin's, a Griffin. It was released May 12, 2009. I'm not certain where Carol Lynch Williams resides, but I think she's living now in Utah. In any event, she was able to get through to an agent/publisher to get this book published. Of course, she is not a new published author or the only Utah novelist able to do so. There are many authors from Utah now making it into the national markets.
That doesn't necessarily mean the stigma isn't there, though. But it does mean that publishers and agents are looking for good books no matter where they come from.