Finding Your Story
I think this is a common pitfall writers face when they're just starting to find their footing. I've certainly fallen into this trap. Maybe that's part of learning the craft and figuring out what makes a good story, or finding the story you want to tell rather than the one you think you people expect.
The criticism I got in those early drafts made me question everything. I had to set aside my self doubt and figure out what the real problem was. Yes, my expectations were too high. I was learning how to tell a story. But I also realized I wasn't passionate about the story I was trying to tell. It just wasn't mine. So I started over with my characters and focused on why they were important. I reasoned that if their story mattered to me, it would matter to others.
Knowing your audience is important. They are readers. They want to connect with your main character. They picked up your book because the cover was good and the title sparked their imagination. They started your first page because the back cover copy hooked them. They kept reading because they found something in your opening pages that rang true. They finished it because they cared about a story authentically told in a way no one else could tell it.