I'm sure you saw this in Monday's "winners" post, but it bears singling out:
Overall I was very pleased with the quality of these submissions, which was much better than what I generally find in my query pile.
A direct quote from our Secret Agent, Cameron McClure. Who works with, yanno, Donald Maass.
(I'd say The Donald Maass, but then you might think I was a fangirl or something.)
Folks! Ms. McClure's praise of this month's submissions is not to be taken lightly. Nor is it the first of its kind. Other Secret Agents have made similar comments. I've got agents (and, increasingly, editors) lurking about the blog. They wouldn't lurk if they didn't think it was worth their time.
YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.
Actually, I believe you are doing more than one thing right. The first thing you're doing is PUTTING YOUR WORK OUT HERE FOR CRITIQUE and then TAKING THE ADVICE YOU'RE GIVEN AND MAKING YOUR WORK STRONGER.
That's probably number one.
But you're also doing important things like following contest directions. Making sure your work is polished before you submit. Not submitting the wrong genre (okay, some of you have tried that once or twice). Graciously thanking the Secret Agents even when they've critiqued your submission to bits.
ALL THE SAME STUFF THAT'S IMPORTANT WHEN YOU ARE SUBMITTING QUERIES TO AGENTS.
Keep on doing what you're doing! People notice. AGENTS notice. (Those terms are not mutually exclusive. I swear.)
I'm proud of you. I'm excited for you.
I'll stop gushing now before I sound ridiculous.