Subjectivity (and Why it Sucks)

Recently, I participated in a contest on the “Adventures in YA Publishing” blog called Pitch Plus 5—and won! Well, I was one of two grand prize winners, but it’s still a win. It was a fun and exciting contest, and I loved reading so many different stories/pitches. But it also taught me more about how subjective the whole publishing market is.

For each round of the contest, we were scored by anonymous judges, ranging from bloggers to published authors to literary agents. By the last round, I got a lot of contradictory feedback. One judge thought my opening image was super strong, and another thought it was really weak. Someone else was confused by a story detail, another didn’t have a problem understanding it.

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Basically, subjectivity is the worst. The actual worst.

I was also subjective about some of the stuff I was reading. One entry really wasn’t for me at all, but a lot of other people enjoyed it. I loved another that wasn’t getting love from anyone else. Agents function this way, whether we like it or not. If your story resonates with one, great. If not, then keep going until you find that one.

If you’re anything like me and second-guess EVERYTHING, then all this contradictory feedback can be detrimental. Somehow, you have to find a way to focus on what’s working and what you can do to tweak what isn’t working.

The important thing to take away from it? Your book is never going to please everybody. So write it for yourself, and for those who will rave about it—because they will. If you love it, chances are someone else will too.

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