At what point is your novel a success? Is it a sales total or sell-through percentage? Is it a number of starred reviews? A four-figure advance? A five-figure advance? How much confidence must you have in your writing before you quit your day job? Have you even thought about setting goals for your book?
If the only quality benchmarks you’ve contemplated are those set by publishers or other literary gatekeepers, then buckle up, buttercup—you’re in for a wild ride. None of those external milestones are within your control. Viewed from this framework, the success of your books is entirely out of your hands.
Consider instead a writing career shaped by benchmarks that help you develop as an author. Instead of measuring your book against other books, hold it up to your own publishing and creative goals. Once you understand what you’re really hoping for—and what you and book need—you’ll be able to tell whether your books are carrying you where you want to go.