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Distinguishing Between Two Types of “Not Good”

The distinction between this is not good and you are not good is an important one to remember, especially for authors seeking feedback, growth, and hearing rejection.

When I read queries, submissions, or even a client’s manuscript my feedback is based in its entirety on the book. At no time is anything I say a critique of the author or even their abilities as a writer.

In fact, I actually never even think of the author when reading. I’m only thinking of the book. My concern is whether the plot works, the characters are strong, and if the book is marketable. None of that has anything to do with the author. All of it is based on the book.


I’d like to add to this is not good the word enough. I think it’s an important distinction. I have read many good books with good plots and great characters that I could not sell. It wasn’t because these books weren’t good. It was because they weren’t good enough for the market.

The most successful authors reminded themselves of both of these things on a regular basis. They knew that rejection wasn’t about them and sometimes not even entirely about the book. It was and will sometimes become, about the market. A good book needs to be good enough. A good author needs to keep growing and writing.

Category: Blog



  1. I think another distinction that needs to be made is between “This is not good” and “This is not good enough.”

    Getting a rejection on a queried manuscript is bad enough, but when the editor flat out says “This is not good,” it needs to be coupled with “and here’s why.” Even pointing out a single thing that prevents a manuscript from being good can be very helpful to writers looking for an agent.

    Most of the rejections I have received were form rejections of the “This didn’t catch my interest” variety. The one rejection I received that was in any way personalized to my book simply said it was too long. Not very helpful and a far cry from “this is not good”, but at least it was better than nothing.

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