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.

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Publishing Deal and Literary Agents

9 articles all about literary agents and you

Think about this: nearly half a million books are being self-published every year. Now think about the fact that there're only a handful of major publishers left. Do some quick math and you'll see why those publishers, when scouting for new titles to release, don't really want to work directly with authors. They'd be swamped (even more than they are already).

So if you want a big publisher to put out your next book, you'd be wise to try to find a literary agent first.

But what is a literary agent? What do they do? How do you find them — and most importantly, how do you impress them with your manuscript? If you're asking these questions, check out the articles below:

1. What do literary agents do?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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