You cannot fool editors and agents.
Again: You cannot fool editors and agents.
Of course the odd book gets through the cracks. The odd crack...well, the odd crack is so odd that it is not worth searching for. You don't want to be the one who slipped into the publishing house and unworthily sneaked onto a bookstore shelf, do you?
Of course you don't. You want to write the GAN--the Great American Novel. What is more, you know you CAN write the GAN. So do it...
But don't forget to make it GREAT (or it will only be an AN).
If I boil down all the underlying messages and owl poop gleaned at RWA National Conference this year, it is that all the stalking of eds and ags, all the happy elevator rides and perfect pitches, and all the connections and friends you've made and the self-promoting you've done WILL NOT SELL A MEDIOCRE STORY, OR A POORLY WRITTEN STORY, OR AN AMATEURISH STORY.
Nothing is going to sell your story unless the writing is great. Come up with a great product and the selling part will be easy (well, easier). Produce anything less and the selling of it will be unlikely--VERY unlikely, unless you happen across that crack and slip in. But know this: your crack will show!
As more than one agent said this year, "Stop worrying about self-promoting and start worrying about writing a great story." They can sell a great story. It's what they love to do.
And what do you love to do? You love to write. So write. Do what you love. Don't stop writing in order to be your own agent. Novels do not get written by people who spend their time playing agent.
Spend nearly all your time perfecting this activity you love and then when you've given birth to this beautiful creation, take a snap shot and send it off for the professionals to appreciate and SELL. Then get back to gestating another one. If you were born and bred to breed great stories, don't stop the breeding! (Yes, funny. I know. Now recall the song, "I keep breeding, I keep keep breeding love..." and it's even funnier.)
So gird up your loins. Higher. That's it. You want to be crack-free.