As anyone who has presided over a slush pile, passed on a megabestseller, or read their friend’s manuscript will tell you, reading is subjective. Many different people have their own opinions about the same book, and those opinions can vary so widely it’s almost impossible to believe they’ve read the same book. One person will think it’s the best book ever, another will think it’s the literary equivalent of Heidi Montag’s Spencer-directed music video.
But wait, is it really? I feel that I can fairly confidently judge whether a book has good or bad odds if I were to submit it to publishers, I can categorize a pile of manuscripts into “good” and “bad” writing, and I have to make judgment calls dozens and dozens of times a day. If I didn’t make reasonably accurate decisions I’d be out of a job.
So you tell me: how objective or subjective is good writing? How do you know what’s good? And who decides what is “good” anyway? Should it be the people who sell the most copies? Experts? Critics? The publishing industry?