I entered Demon's Wager in five contests this winter. It was selected as a finalist in all five, including the Golden Heart®, the grandmother of all RWA® contests. Although I've received some valuable criticism, the overall reception has been very positive. In the Diamonds in the Desert contest, I won the paranormal category and the final round judge, Brenda Chin from Belle Books, gave me full points for "Avoiding cliche and bringing a fresh perspective to an old idea." (Final results aren't back for the other contests yet.)
My takeaway is that my co-worker is right. Demon's Wager, based on its largely positive results at contest, falls right at that standard deviation. It's a little weird, but not too weird.
So my question to you is: what is it about your work that pushes it that one standard deviation off the mean?