While words and pictures and ideas are what make a text, book formatting and cover design are what really transform the words and images into a "real book."

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Poetry manuscripts: how to write a winning collectionJeffrey Levine, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press, published an article back in 2011 that has become something of a standard in the poetry world,"On Making the Poetry Manuscript," all about how to prep your poems individually and as a collection so they'll command a reader's attention. It's a really fascinating look into the process of selecting manuscripts for publication, and how to increase your chances of winning a book prize. Even if you don't write poetry, many of the tips are applicable to other genres, so you just might find some new inspiration for your fiction or non-fiction.  Levine, a reader of over 4,000 manuscripts per year (and a writer himself), has now decided to expound upon the 27 tips in the original piece. Each Wednesday for the next little while, he'll be publishing a "new and improved" tip from the original list, offering more thorough explanations and specific advice in places where the previous space constraints necessitated brevity and generalities. Check out his first two "new and improved" entries in the series below:

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What do agents look for in a book?

Well, perhaps not surprisingly, they’re looking for a lot of the same things as publishers; after all, that agent is going to have to convince a publisher’s acquisitions editor that you book can sell!

Below I’ll list some of the qualities that literary agents want to see in a new manuscript. Of course, it’s difficult to scientifically quantify things in this realm; there is no set criteria, and agents are going to be going on their gut instincts more often than not. But at the same time, if you keep these things in mind when writing you’ll increase your chances of finding an agent to represent your book:

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