Dude! Don’t throw in the towel. Clearly you have the coding skills to compete, you just need to work on the design. As Kiss_Collective has said, this is not the be all end all of wordpress. What I say is build your framework as flexible as you like the build themes on that framework that make specific and visually compelling choices that can get accepted here. You and your clients will both benefit by having a solid framework.
@cramdesign: Definitely I won’t throw in the towel I’m just working on presets, meaning that a framework buyer could choose between 10 or so layouts from very small to magazine style, and use this as a base for further customization.
I’m absolutely convinced of the potential AerVolution has, but I really doubt now that TF is the right place for that. I’m in the top 50 for Wordpress Themes myself (at Google), so I could as well sell it at http://thebuckmaker.com as Kiss_Collective suggested, tripling my income per sale. Unfortunately I don’t have the visitor numbers TF has.