Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[process] When is "good" actually "good enough"?

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.
Tags: process, publishing, writing

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