Literary agent Rachel Gardner today asked What are you doing to break in?
The standard answers boil down to working on our craft and writing a lot. Everyone does that. Near perfect craft is not going to get you a publishing contract. You can work on your query and synopsis until they shine, your pitch until it sings, these won't get you through that gate if your book is missing one important ingredient--you. You are what makes your book unique. You are what makes your book interesting. You are what will get that publishing contract.
We talk about branding and platform, but that isn't what I mean. Each one of us is a collection of hopes and fears. We believe in things passionately. We wants things. We have experienced tragedy. We have moments in life where we soar. We have a heart, a mind, a soul. There are things we know, things we want to know. These are what makes us unique and these are what make our books special. Pouring these into our writing is what gets us published.
Kontanti Stanislavsky said "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection."
I work on my craft and I write everyday. I also pour myself into my writing, my time, my energy, my money, but most of all, who I am, what makes me me.