The problem with being a creative human is that the act of doing a thing makes you better at that thing, so we will naturally think our work isn’t good enough forever, because we always get better in the making of it.
Similarly, you will never be any good to most people, because most people will not respond to your work, even if you are the top of your craft. That being said, I consider “being good” the ability to move people with your art. So, if you are moving people, that is a good sign.
Practically, buying intention is a good way to judge whether your work is good. Buying intention is different from praise. People offer praise very quickly by saying things like “Good job” or “I liked that”.
Buying intention is different. Buying intention is almost a visceral reaction. When people say things like “I never PM people to talk about their work, but I loved this!” or “When is the next one coming out?” or “How can I buy this right now?”
Once, I was showing David Gerrold one of my books. I wasn’t try to sell him. I just wanted to show him that I was an author, too. During the pitch, he opened it and started reading the first page. After reading it, he said “Yeah, okay, This is good.” and handed me $20 for it.
That is the kind of thing I look for to judge “good”. Instead, I look for whether it can sway people to action, not just shallow praise. Another great way to tell if your work is any good is if people tell others about it. Word of mouth is a great referral source, and people tend not to refer garbage to each other. Often at shows, my fans will drag their friends over and nearly force them to buy my work, which is one of the nicest compliments I can receive.
I try not to judge a book by its sales because my favorite and most beloved books by readers are often my lowest sellers because they are not traditionally marketable. I can judge by buying intention though, and the visceral reaction somebody has when they read my work.
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I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.