Pegge Winslow, author of the nonfiction book The Winking Dog provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Pegge worked with Mark to improve her manuscript and create her pitch materials (query letter and book proposal), to get the attention of literary agents and then signed with Peter Vallely of Swagger Literary. 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 Pegge.
Mark Malatesta Review by Pegge Winslow
“I was cleaning out my kitty pan one day in December when the phone rang. A croaky voice introduced himself as Joseph Vallely from Swagger Literary and said, ‘I can’t talk now because I have cold, but I’ll call you on Monday.’ I said ‘Alright’. Then Monday came and went. He didn’t call. I thought it was a joke or something. Well, he called on Tuesday and sounded a lot better. He didn’t croak as much and said, ‘I love your work, I think you’re a wonderful storyteller, and I would love to represent you…. if you expand your book to 40,000 words.’ My little book of animal stories was just under 10,000 words at the time. I thought, ‘Good Lord,’ and ‘Who is this man ordering me to do this?’ I said, ‘I don’t know if I can.’ Joseph replied, ‘Yes, you can. Just do it, and get it to me by February.’
The fact of the matter is I’ll be 83 years old in October, I’ve never written a book before, and I’ve never taken a class in writing. But, I learned so much from you, Mark, in such a short time that I felt confident enough to make my book longer. You showed me what to do and said, ‘Now you’re getting the hang of it.’ You were a beacon to follow. So, I sat down in the first week in December to start writing. I didn’t go anywhere on Christmas Day. Instead, I devoted myself to working on my book. I wrote five to seven hours every single day. Religiously. Whether I felt like it or not. I finished the book January 25th and ended up with close to 60,000 words! I couldn’t believe it, but I thought, ‘Well, with 60,000 words, my agent will surely be able to get 40,000 out of it that he can use.’
When I sent Joseph the manuscript, he said, ‘Oh, this is lovely.’ He was really encouraging, in my corner, like you, Mark. At least, it’s always felt that way. Joseph is one of a kind, a funny guy. I like him, that’s important. I may dislike him in the future, I don’t know, but so far, so good. He loved my query letter and the proposal that you and I worked on, by the way. He just expanded on some things and moved some others around. That’s all – you did a really good job. I didn’t know what a book proposal was before I worked with you, and I didn’t have a query letter. I was really just a babe in the woods. People I met would say, ‘Oh, we love hearing your stories, you should write a book!’ I would say, ‘Okay, I’ll try…’ but I had no idea how to do it, or even where to even start.
That’s when I found you and sent you the manuscript, which was just a handful of random stories at the time. You broke them apart beautifully into chapters, and said, ‘I see nine chapters here.’ Then you helped me make them better. You said, ‘Well, let’s work on the pigeon story first. I need a little bit more of you in this one.’ So, I added a little bit at the top and a little bit at the bottom and emailed it to you. You said, ‘Well, that’s not quite what I’m looking for…’ I thought, ‘Well, what are you looking for?’ You offered to talk with me about it and then asked me to tell you more about the story. I told you something and you said, ‘Put that in.’ I said something else, and you said, ‘Put that in, too.’
The next time I emailed the story to you, you replied and said, ‘Oh, this is wooooooonderful’ with your long, long, long, o’s! I nearly fell off the chair, thinking, ‘Good grief’. I’m an actress you know, so I like getting good reviews. I can’t help it! It’s a very exciting thing, Mark, the way you take raw talent, like clay, and turn it into porcelain. I suppose that’s very exciting for you, and rewarding. People tend to omit what they might not see in themselves, but you bring out that potential. It was incredible the way you opened my imagination. You didn’t tell me what to write and you didn’t tell me how to write, but you inspired me to write.
I don’t think any part of the process with you took me by surprise. I just methodically worked through everything. I wanted my book to be the best it could be, and I knew I had a good coach who would steer me in the right direction. I had total belief in your judgement. I felt a love coming through your voice and your manner – a love of writers and wanting to help. You were so sincere and so knowledgeable that I felt confidence in you. That confidence was not misplaced. You came through, every single time. I didn’t feel like I was one of many clients for you. I felt like I was the only client you were interested in. When I sent you something, you always answered immediately. I liked that, it was really wonderful.
My friend said, ‘You have to be very careful on the computer. There are scams all over the place.’ So, when I started surfing the Internet, trying to look for the best, you popped up and you were the only one. I thought, ‘Well, let me listen and see what he has to say.’ That’s when I played your audio recording and heard a genuineness coming through in your voice. I’m a pretty good judge of character, so I thought, ‘Well, you’re either genuine, or a very good actor.’ They say, in acting, once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. I didn’t think you were faking the sincerity.
You sounded authentic, so I thought I’d try that first coaching call with you. I could afford it, and realized I wasn’t obligated to continue with you after that, so I thought I’d just try it. I did, as you know, and I liked you very much! After that first call, when I told you I wanted to do more with you, and the big price came, I thought, ‘Mercy me.’ But, I also kept thinking back to what you said, and how much I liked you, and I thought, ‘What the hell… nothing ventured, nothing gained. This isn’t going to kill me – I’ll do it.’ So, that’s what I did, and it was well worth it… a very, very good investment.
Working with you was well worth the money. Not only because of what I learned and accomplished, but also because of the experience and being able to get to know you. I’m so glad I met you, I really am. I consider you a wonderful person, a wonderful helper, and a wonderful friend. I know that anybody who has you as a coach really has a first-class person and artist on their side. I just think it’s wonderful that somebody like you exists. I had a marvelous time doing this with you, and I think you’re very special. Quite truthfully, Mark, I could not have done this without you.
At one point in the process, I was really discouraged. I had sent out lots of queries and gotten lots of compliments from agents, but no offers for representation. I was thinking, ‘Should I continue on with this?’ You reminded me that it only takes one. You encouraged me to continue. And, sure enough, right around the corner, after you said that, my agent, Mr. Vallely, came along. It was really wonderful. I cannot repeat it often enough, this wouldn’t have happened without you. I never would have seen the things that I needed to do without you opening my eyes and my mind. Thank you.”
Author of The Winking Dog
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Do You Want to Be Like Pegge Who Provided this Review of Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Pegge and get represented by a literary agent like Peter Vallely of Swagger Literary? 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 was provided by author Pegge Winslow, author of The Winking Dog.