So much depends upon it in the publishing world, I think. Right place, right time, right genre, right look, right name.
I was looking over the finalists for Romantic Times' American Title contest; voting on first lines is going on now. I checked out the finalists' websites and was really interested to see the variety of experence the top 10 have. Some have won multiple awards. For others, this is their first. A couple featured excerpts that, when I read, made me wonder why they weren't already published. Then I pick up a new release in the bookstore and flip through and can't get past the writing on the first page.
So much talent out there, and only a fraction of it gets the recognition it probably deserves. I guess that's true with anything, though: movies, TV shows, musicians...sometimes you look at the ones who have made it to the limelight and wonder who else is in the shadows that we never hear about.
That's not to say that some authors aren't totally deserving of being best-sellers. But others...you gotta wonder.