I don't usually read the comments on this blog but I did for the post below - and it seemed I confused at least one reader about where the 'good stuff' should show up in a submission. Mainly because I didn't clarify what I meant by 'submission'.
In the US, an initial submission is usually a query letter. Here in the Colonies of Kevin, it's usually a letter and some sample chapters/first few chapters. So it's in those sample chapters that I'm looking for evidence of the good stuff. And here's a little secret: I can usually tell on the first page. Not because I'm some kind of literary seer (if only!) - just because I've seen enough submissions to recognise the signs.
One commenter mentioned 'platform', which is an American term meaning, roughly, 'publicity hooks'. Platform is not as important for fiction as for non-fiction but it doesn't hurt. If you have an interesting personal story that makes it easier for a publicist to get an interview for you, that's useful.
Thanks to those of you who've been emailing regarding the query letter thingy. I will do it. I just need to buy some scotch first.