I had the opportunity to send a query for my YA novel ("The House of Many Doors") to an editor at a YA division of Harper Collins. She quickly turned around and asked for the full manuscript. In fairly short order, she responded with incredible feedback that I know will make this story a success. She found the novel compelling, and praised my writing. Most thrilling of all, she wants to see the manuscript again after I make these edits.
Writers spend so much time working in a vacuum. Especially in the beginning stages, it is difficult to get targeted feedback. Peer writing groups can be helpful, but not when everyone is on the same developmental trajectory. The query process gives very little feedback, or feedback that is binary: yes/no.
It's like target practice blindfolded, where all you are told is that you've missed the bullseye. Without nuanced feedback, it's extremely difficult to know how far off the mark you are.
Now I know: A little higher and to the right.
addendum: Apologies for the mixed metaphor! What a terrible title for this post. I hang my poetic head in shame.