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Duane Petersen, author of Transforming Project Management: An Essential Paradigm for Turning Your Strategic Planning into Action (McGraw-Hill), provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Duane worked with Mark to improve his manuscript, pitch materials, and platform resulting in representation with a top literary agent and offers from three publishers: Harper Collins, McGraw Hill, and BenBella Books. Scroll below to learn more. Click here to see all Mark Malatesta reviews. And click here to learn more about Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author after you read the review about Mark Malatesta below by Duane.

Mark Malatesta Review by Duane Petersen

After you helped me get a top agent for my first book, I received three offers from publishers: Harper Collins, McGraw Hill, and BenBella Books. You’ve been included in my “Acknowledgements” as I couldn’t have gotten the ball rolling without you. My agent is excited about my next book as well. She said she’ll start pitching it as soon as it’s ready. Now that I’m started, I’m going full blast!

It all began with following your advice for the query letter, book proposal, promotional platform, and prioritizing agents—along with getting more rejections than I want to remember. I kept thinking, “Oh, my gosh. Here comes another one. I don’t want to look at it. I know it’s a no.” But then I found one that was a maybe, which eventually turned into a yes.

I should probably describe the maybe. My agent was in my very first batch of mailings. I’d never heard from her at all. It seems she was working of a few other projects and decided to put this one on the shelf until she had time to investigate fully. Her first conversation with me began, “I need to see an edited version of this. Are you willing to pay for an editor?” I found one and she did a fine job. If anyone needs an affordable one with a proven track record, I can put you in touch.

She then asked, “Do you have a problem with me taking this book to publishers and seeing what we can accomplish?” I tried to be professional and control my jubilation, and, one week later, we got the first offer. Three days later, we got the second offer, and, about a week after that, we got the third offer. I chose McGraw Hill, and the experience has been amazing.

You have to go through so much rejection, and I had to keep everything in perspective, which I’ll do from now on. My agent only takes a couple of books per year because she gets involved from day one and sees everything through to publication and beyond, continuing her efforts to market each book and develop her authors’ careers.

What’s really fascinating is I signed the contract two months ago and I’m still getting rejections from old submissions. When that happens, I reply, “Thank you but I’ve already received three offers from publishers. When you see my book on a bestseller list, you can say, “Oh, I screwed up!” Okay, I haven’t done that, but I’ve sure as hell thought about it!

When I was querying, some agents asked, “Have you written anything before and what was your selling record?” I said, “No,” and they weren’t interested. I thought, “You lazy people.” They just want to find someone who’s already published, pick them off from the agent they have now. I mean, do your own damn work [insert laughter]. My agent was willing to do the work, and my experience has been remarkable. 

My wife and I haven’t celebrated yet, but we will when the first check arrives. My advance ended up being three times larger than when we started, because my agent got three publishers bidding. She also negotiated a better royalty percentage for subsidiary rights such as audio and foreign sales, and she pushed for the book to be published earlier than the publisher had planned.

None of it came easily.

I started by following your advice about reaching out to influencers, and I got nothing from people but rejection and more rejection. I felt like Snoopy on top of his doghouse, opening more and more mail that said no. I started second-guessing everything and figuring I’d made the biggest mistake. I began thinking about how I could have gotten a job and earned money, instead of wasting money…and my time and effort.

I was also afraid the #1 organization in my industry would destroy me because my book talks about how they don’t go far enough to accomplish anything. But I sent pre-publication copy of my book to the most influential person in that organization. I didn’t know how bad it was going to get, but I prepared for a crucifixion.

Instead, the man I critiqued turned out to be an amazing human being. He read my book, which trashes a lot of what he’s promoted, but he said, “Oh, my God. This is exactly what everybody needs.” He then volunteered to write the foreword and said, “This should be the Bible for project management,” which was previously the “PMBOK” or Project Management Body of Knowledge, that he’s now completely changed.

The man is closing in on retirement and actually said my book should replace the PMBOK, and that, if that happens, “It will fulfill his legacy.” So, this is my way of saying that an author might start out with huge negativity, but, if you keep going, your book might get published. Fears, feedback, and rejection are things we all have to learn to put up with. I had to learn that lesson again when I started querying agents.

Like before, while building my platform, I got a lot of rejection. But then I reached out to an agent—it only takes one—who was the person because she’s marvelous. She’s easy to work with and serious about making my book successful. In the end, everything turned out the way it was supposed to. I’ve gone from being swallowed up by negativity to swimming in opportunity.

During my coaching with you, I actually got to the point where I’d decided it was no longer worth it. I didn’t want to hear anymore. I backed off, but you initiated contact with me again, after a while, and said, “Why aren’t you pushing this?” That’s when I decided to get back on the masochism wagon, as I’d already paid for the experience. Soon after that, I got my agent.

Opportunity grows by itself. I don’t understand fully, but will accept this axiom. As I was pushing the book to university professors, overnight I had seventeen universities wanting to use it as a textbook. Since McGraw Hill has an education department, they got on top of this one immediately. However, my book has no chapter questions and huge examples of work for students to learn and practice from. My contract with McGraw Hill was signed in August and the book will be available in February which is like lightning fast. I’m also just finishing a workbook to be sold on Amazon through my business, which I will send a copy of to every university so they can choose to use the book as textbooks. This way, I will perhaps double my income.

I’m in process of building up my consulting business so we’re capable of performing training and professional services like no other company can. Every day I wake up more excited than I was the last. When I mentioned my second book to my agent, her response was, “Don’t do anything with it now! The first book will be so successful it’s hard to imagine the deal I’ll be able to negotiate for that one!” So, I’m concentrating on the workbook for the first book. Life is good!

I like having more time to write, now that I have an agent. I’ve also enjoyed that my agent and publisher have essentially become a team with me. We’re working together, looking at how to turn nebulous ideas and dreams into concrete action. It’s a joy. I’m also building my own team to market the book, and I’m building my business around what’s in my book. I’d been sitting on some ideas for about five years, thinking, “Eh, nobody will listen.”

Now they are…

Having a well-known publisher with the endorsement of a well-recognized figure in my industry is opening all types of doors. And, as an expert on project management, I can tell other authors that following a proven process to get an agent, like I did, is smart. I spent time Googling how to get published but couldn’t find anything as thoughtful and thorough as what Mark provides. He will help get your book in the hands of agents, instead of it falling through the hole under their inbox…into the trash barrel or shredder directly underneath. 

Agents are inundated with thousands of submissions, so many that some agents will say they might not get back to you for six months, if at all. Mark won’t promise you a top literary agent or offer from a good publisher—or three offers from publishers—but working with him will give you a great advantage.

It’s like when I wake up each morning and look out at the world, then put my glasses on so I can suddenly see more. Things start to come into focus. Working with Mark is like putting on your glasses.

Duane Petersen
Author of Transforming Project Management: An Essential Paradigm for Turning Your Strategic Planning into Action (McGraw-Hill)

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Do You Want to Be Like Duane Petersen Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?

Do you want to be like Duane and get represented by a top literary agent? Click here to get instant access to the Free Resources on our websites for authors and click here to find out how you can Schedule an Introductory Coaching Call. Mark Malatesta is founder of The Bestselling Author and Literary Agent Undercover, helping authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals. The above review of Mark Malatesta, Author Coach was provided by author Duane Petersen.

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