The problem lies with the definition of what constitutes 'well written'. A contract may be well-written in that it is clear, covers all eventualities and is fair to both parties, a wedding speech may be well-written in that it embarrasses the bride or groom by just the right amount without its cringe factor exceeding the socially acceptable norm, and a song can contain lyrics which are truly meaningful to its listeners. Being well-written doesn't make any of these three examples worth turning into a book - this is the message that publishers frequently finds themselves having to communicate to authors who've convinced themselves (or allowed themselves to be convinced) that their novel is 'hot stuff' and destined for great things.
While originality is not to be discouraged in author submissions, in most cases an excess of it is counter-productive. This is the point - the book may be extremely well written but, through being 'weird and wonderful' (in the eyes of the average reader), it renders itself non-commercial and against the primary raison d'être of the publisher which, like any business, is simply to be a profitable enterprise.
Another reason for authors missing the target occurs when they decide to mix genres. An erotic space opera family saga or a western romantic crime story may sound original but they’re also highly confused. Each theme will, in principle, appeal to three discrete markets yet each of these three markets will be 'turned off' by the other two genres represented in the book. For example, someone who wants a crime story is unlikely to be keen on reading pages of cow-poking and bodice-ripping. While a book publisher can see this from their more remote and 'universal' perspective, the average author, having invested months of hard effort in producing their book, will not want to hear that what they have written just won't sell.
It's so, so easy to go off on a tangent and anyone can do it - even the most experienced and famous of authors. That's why the lasting advice has to be to listen to the words of your friendly publisher because they know the market best. After all, you want a hit, not a miss.
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