Submissions remind me of a dance recital. Or an art show. Or an orchestral concerto. Or a play. When I submit, my work is on display for others to enjoy or dislike. Others will judge my work based on their tastes. So, what am I showing them?
Maybe it's more accurate to think of submissions like auditions, but the truth is, when submitting to a publisher or agent, it's showtime. The curtain rises, my characters take the stage, and the performance had better be flawless because an agent or editor will not stay through the first act if it isn't.
This is a mentality we may as well acclimate ourselves to. If we're so lucky and our stories are published, each time readers pick up our books, the show will begin again. Each time, our stories will be judged, enjoyed, or disliked.
I realize art is subjective. I realize this is a business. Those two things don't have to be in opposition. My art can be commercial. I can also try my best to sell it. And to those who say, "stop thinking of your stories like art" I want to say, "start think of your stories *more* like art, and make that art something you'd be proud to show the world. Make that art something the world *wants* to see." Then, put on one hell of a show.