It was madness, but of the fun kind, when agents and editors offered their PITMAD or pitch madness contest on Twitter the other day. All we writers had to do was pitch our book ideas in 140 characters or less and add the hashtag #pitmad. If your Tweet was favorited by an agent or editor, that was an invitation to send your materials to them. Of course that meant doing some quick research on their submission policies, but most helpfully put that in a Tweet as well. It's a generous offer by those we ordinarily have to do quite a bit of research on to see if they are even accepting new submissions. But as one agent said to me, they want their query boxes to keep getting filled because each query has the potential to be "the next big thing." And that could be your book!

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I've wanted to read Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park since last year when I bought it for my daughter. The buzz around the book was intriguing, and while I'm not one to follow trends for trends-sake, I do take seriously reviews of books in the category in which I like to write. I just devoured Eleanor & Park this week, and I must recommend it to all writers who hope that agents and editors will say yes to their manuscript. Here's why:

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Recently a literary agent’s assistant relayed to me how would-be authors sometimes treat assistants—and how potentially harmful to the author’s career that can be. The author had queried the agent, this assistant’s boss, via email, and wrote that she was sure his assistant was very nice, but she only wanted the decision-maker to read her manuscript. Little did this author know that the very same assistant is the one who reads all the agent’s emails.

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I just finished reading another amazing book for kids, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, written for middle grade readers. (Middle grade is considered to be for ages 10 and up or grades 5 and up.) This is the story of Willow Chance, a genius and misfit who loses her parents in an accident and then discovers an unexpected family. Her voice is so unique that you find yourself cringing at points for the way she interacts with those around her, but mostly because you want to protect her, and laughing at her cleverness at other points...

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If you think Amazon is just for ordering books, DVDs and now household products, you haven’t heard about Amazon Publishing. First there was the opportunity for writers to publish their books on demand. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing allows writers to publish direct to kindle. Many authors are getting discovered by mainstream publishers and agents through their successful kindle sales. In a future blog I will give you some success stories.

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Nonfiction Children's Books

Liza’s focus as a children’s book author has until now been nonfiction books to...