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[process] When is "good" actually "good enough"? - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-01-17 05:55
Subject: [process] When is "good" actually "good enough"?
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:busy
Music:morning sounds
Tags:process, publishing, writing
In my recent post on marketing difficult fiction, green_knight challenged my assertion that:
There isn't an editor or agent out there who would leave good work on the table simply because it didn't fit this year's expectations.


In part, they said:
Maybe 'good' above should read 'exceptional'? For a truly exceptional book there will probably always room in the market, but 'good enough to be published on a topic the editor is buying at the moment' isn't 'good enough to be bought when the topic/style are unpopular.'


Which is an excellent clarification. "Good" in this context isn't an absolute or objective value, because marketability is part of good. And marketability isn't just a function of what's popular. The topic is far more complex than that, and frankly, beyond my competence. When it comes to publishing theory, I am in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery. Even from my distant perch, I see issues which include:
  • Prose quality
  • Story quality
  • Theme
  • Length
  • Auctorial career phase/path
  • Genre/subgenre/lack of identifiable genre

I can't even tell you what I'm missing from the list. The underlying point is that "good", or more to the point, "good enough", is a moving target which very much depends on the instincts, experience and passion of both the editor and publisher.
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S. Boyd Taylor
User: sboydtaylor
Date: 2008-01-17 14:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The underlying point is that "good", or more to the point, "good enough", is a moving target...

I don't have anything I can add to this, but I'd like to put some emphasis on this point. No matter what someone writes, not everyone will like it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-01-17 14:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When you get right down to it, some of the best work can receive a very mixed reception.
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S. Boyd Taylor
User: sboydtaylor
Date: 2008-01-17 16:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
...And often *has*.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-01-17 16:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this neglects the point that "good" for any value other than "good sales" is a purely subjective term. There are all sorts of things that I think are good that other people who's work or opinion I respect think are awful and vice-versa.
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2008-01-17 16:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this neglects the point that "good" for any value other than "good sales" is a purely subjective term. Likewise, best. There are all sorts of things that I think are good that other people think are awful and vice-versa. This is true even writers with whom I have a relationship of mutual respect.
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2008-01-17 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry about the double post, I had log-in problems midway through posting.
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A large duck: Brain Overload!
User: burger_eater
Date: 2008-01-17 20:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Brain Overload!
Heh. I keep typing up comments on this and other entries here, then deleting them.

I need to go for a walk.
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