This is a creative venture, after all. It's subjective. Yes, there are accepted standards, but at the same time those standards are often broken. Maddening, right? I both love and hate the idea of subjectivity. Sometimes I just want there to be a formula that says my book is GOOD. Of course then it could also say my book is BAD.
A lot of the times, I want to make this more complex than it is. But there's a simplicity to the writing/publishing gig that we will never escape:
1. It's subjective.
2. Therefore, stuff happens that may not make sense.
3. We can't control anything but our own work.
That's...pretty much it. It's kind of like running a marathon. Yeah, you could focus on those guys who run at Olympic speed. You could get bitter and think, "I will never run a marathon that fast, so I'll give up." But that fact is, if you CAN run a marathon you are pretty dang awesome. And if you can beat your own time, that makes you even MORE awesome. Independent of anyone else.
Writing a book is like that. Yeah, maybe you aren't the Olympic Book Writer, but if you've finished a novel, you are AWESOME and I raise my glass of Sprite to you. And if you've improved since then, you are MORE awesome. It keeps going—independent of anyone else.
I could spend a lot of time wallowing in the fact that I didn't sell as fast as I wanted. Or that I'm still so far from publication. Or that I won't be a bestseller. Or that I'm not this or that and the other. But that's just silly—I'm further along than I've ever been! I've written a better book than I ever have! And it's going to be published!
Comparing me to me, I've improved a lot, and I've come a long way. When I remove everyone and everything else from view, I can sit here and be proud of myself.
Because the most important thing is besting myself, and as long as I do that everything else will work out.