Our second excerpt from How to Become an Author: Your Complete Guide gets into some detail about self editing, literary agents, query letters, and book proposals for the author looking to land a publishing deal.

Read more

Finding Literary AgentsOn March 11th, literary agents will be turning to Twitter to find their next author clients. That's right: it's time for another #PitMad, the manuscript pitching party on Twitter where you can tweet in hopes of finding an agent for your book.

Here's how #PitMad works:

Between 8am and 8pm EST, authors can pitch their completed manuscripts two times per hour (per manuscript) in 140 characters or less using the hashtag #PitMad, along with the hashtag abbreviation for their genre (see below for those abbreviations). Literary agents monitor the feed throughout the day and favorite the pitches they like. When an agent favorites your tweet, it’s an invitation to send them your query.

Read more

Finding Literary AgentsYou've written a book you think could be a best-seller. Now there's only one thing standing between you and a big publishing deal: a literary agent. On the Ploughshares Blog, Steph Auteri offers some great advice on how to make your book proposal stand out from the dozens or hundreds of other pitches the agent of your dreams received that week. Take a look at her Checklist of Book Proposal Essentials to Go Through Before You Start Schmoozing Agents for the full details, or read my quick summary below.

A compelling book proposal should have:

1. A catchy title and subtitle. Though the publisher could always change the name of the book later on, you want to give them the sense right from the start that this book is a finished product. 2. An irresistible book description. You're a writer — so take time writing your book description too. Make it shine from the very first sentence. Convey what is both unique and universal about your book. If you don't, the agent will most certainly move on to the next proposal in the pile.

Read more

An effective query letterA few years back, author Mike Wells wrote a blog article listing common mistakes writers make in their query letters to agents and (conversely) showing what a good query letter looks like. It's worth reading the whole piece for details, but I thought I'd summarize his points below — just in case you're the skimming type: 1. An effective query letter does NOT have any typos, spelling errors, or grammatical/punctuation goofs. 2. An effective query letter contains all the basic information (book summary, quick author intro, why you're writing to this agent, etc.) 3. An effective query letter does NOT contain information that is irrelevant to your book or the purpose of your querying. 4. An effective query letter clearly states the genre of your book.

Read more

BookBaby president Brian Felsen recently interviewed editor Jody Rein and agent Katharine Sands. Sands, a literary agent in New York City, recently published Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent's Eye. Katharine has been guest speaker on writing and publishing topics for The American Society of Journalists and Authors and The New York State Council on the Arts, and was a faculty member at the 2006 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Read more

A literary agent will go through thousands of books per year and pick the ones they feel have the greatest chance of success at major and minor publishing houses. Essentially, a literary agent is a salesman whose main product is YOU and your book!

Read more

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:

Read more