As you know, I've registered for the SCBWI LA Summer conference this year. I paid a little extra to receive a critique on my work. I had to send in the first 10 pages of my current manuscript (my magic carpet story). My work will be assigned to either an author or an editor who will critique it. At the conference I'll sit down and discuss the critique with that author/editor. I asked an author friend of mine for any pointers about submitting work, and her first reply was "It's a crap shoot--depends on who you get."
Now that I think about it, this whole writing/publishing industry is one big crap shoot. Sure, talent and perseverance, and tenacity play a big role in becoming a published author, but really it's about finding that lucky break. It's about meeting the right people at the right time, or having the right story at the right time. You'd think this would deter a lot of us aspiring authors, and maybe it should. But it doesn't. We hold out hope for that lucky win. That sets us apart.
And if we hold out long enough, we might just get lucky.