Annie Farris, author of the not yet published memoir That One Person, provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Annie worked with Mark to improve her book, platform, and pitch materials resulting in representation with a top Christian literary agency. 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 Annie.
Mark Malatesta Review by Annie Farris
When I got a letter from Bruce Barbour, one of the most successful Christian agents, saying my proposal was one of the best he’s ever seen, I was floored. It was silly though because I’d worked very hard, with your help, but I was still in disbelief. In fact, it took a couple days to sink in. I went whale watching to celebrate. I’m still celebrating.
The main thing I wanted to do was enjoy the journey, whatever happened. Telling my story is something I’ve wanted to do most of my life, to share it with other people in the hope it might encourage them. I didn’t believe I’d be able to get an agent since I’m not famous, but you believed in me.
All your clients say how supportive you are. So, I decided to trust the steps you outlined. I would have leapt into a query letter and book proposal, because I didn’t know any better. You said, “No, let’s start with the book.” I didn’t realize there were things that could be improved. So, I learned up front to relax and trust you. What’s the point of working with someone if you’re not going to trust their expertise?
Following your lead took a lot of the stress out of the process of trying to get an agent for me. I also want to say how reliable and prompt you were with our emails and scheduling phone calls. That was gold to me. I never felt like I was a client put on a shelf, or the tenth one down or whatever. I always felt like a priority with you, and that gave me the extra assurance I needed to keep moving.
The agent information you gave me was also worth the price of our arrangement to work together. I mean, I’ve got whole books here of agents I’ve gone through in past years, with information about who to query and who wants what, but I’ll tell you, when I saw your agent spreadsheet, with absolutely everything I needed to choose and query agents, I thought, “I can’t believe it.”
The spreadsheet was helpful because it made it clear exactly what to send to each agent. I had it all at my fingertips. So, I could go boom, boom, boom. If I hadn’t had that, it would have driven me crazy, trying to figure everything out. That’s the beauty of your systematic system. It’s “Okay, start here, then do this, and then do that.” I had everything ready and I was confident.
When you said, “Start with the top agents,” I thought, “That’s ridiculous.” The agents you wanted me to query had fabulous clients, household names, so I felt querying them would be a waste of time. “Why not start with the bottom of the list?” I asked. “Or, at least, the middle of the list, where somebody might be more likely to take a first-time author?” If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have queried top agents.
I’d been told by everyone, “Memoirs don’t get published unless you’re Jennifer Aniston or Joel Osteen.” One writers’ conference I spent thousands of dollars to go to explained that even though I had a great story and the writing was good, nothing mattered but platform, platform, platform. Do you have 100,000 people following you? Do you have an active speaking tour? If I’d known that ahead of time, I wouldn’t have wasted my time or money. You said platform was important, but it wasn’t everything.
There were tons of platform things you had me do though. I started out with a scrawny marketing plan in my book proposal and you said, “No, no, no, that’s not enough. I want more.” I thought, “Gee whiz.” But you had me do things that kept making it stronger. I could have killed you for all the work you had me do. I kept thinking, “The drudgery!” It went on and on, but all your nagging worked!
Two of the first questions you asked me were, “Are you in this for the long run?” and “What are your expectations?” Those were important questions because I’d talked with a lot of people in my writing class and at conferences. A lot of authors want everything now or they try to get published because they need the money. I knew from what I’d already been through, you can’t think that way going into it. It takes time. I’m not in this for the money. I just want to tell my story to encourage others. Writing has got to be a labor of love.
I understand, from my acting, radio, and real estate careers that if you’re going to get anywhere it takes perseverance, and sometimes you have to go beyond the point where you’re ready to give up. I’ve had negotiations in real estate and some are delightful while others are difficult. But, if you believe in the client, you hang in there. So, when I got writing criticism or didn’t think I could do it, I thought, “No, don’t play that old tape. Push forward.” That’s what I’ve learned.
One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill and it’s on my computer, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” I love Churchill. When bombs were falling on London for 40 straight days, he said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” There have been many times when I’ve felt like giving up but didn’t. In real estate, I couldn’t. If I did, I would have lost my client and they would have told the whole neighborhood, “She’s not going to work for you.”
Another good quote I like, that I had on the refrigerator when my kids were growing up, was by Calvin Coolidge. It said, “Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
When I came to my writing, I had all that as my armor. I thought, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to pursue it to the very end. I will go to Mark because he has the best system. If I don’t make it with him, I’ll know I tried my very best and did everything I could. If I don’t make it, I’ll spend more time playing piano, taking the dogs to the beach, learning a language, and socializing with my friends. I knew that with you I’d get closure. I had to know. Did God want me to publish my story or not? There was only one way to find out. Just do it!
I was irritated it took so long for us to start querying agents, but I trusted you and now I couldn’t be more thrilled. You’ve always had my best interests at heart. When I talk to people about working with you, I say the cost of the arrangement between us was worth it ten times over. I wish I had found you a year earlier, and I’m so glad that I finally realized that there comes a time when you have to invest in yourself.
You were recommended to me by a great teacher I know. She said, “He’s good, but very pricy.” I’d reached the point where reading books and going to seminars and conferences was no longer helpful. Writing teachers are wonderful at helping you improve your writing, but that’s all they do. They’re not always really interested in, or good at, writing query letters or book proposals. I sent out dozens of queries like those I saw in the books, that my teachers and classes thought were good. But I didn’t get anywhere!
That’s why I decided to hire you. I had worked too hard to give up, and the people I knew didn’t know how to help me take that next step. Other people often think they know, but they don’t. When I went on your website and read about what you do, I thought, “This guy knows what he’s doing.” Your passion isn’t just writing, it’s helping authors get agents. There’s a world of difference. You’re also very down-to-earth.
You’ve been a real partner, totally on my team, someone I could turn to, so I didn’t have to rely on my own lack of wisdom. It can be a lonely job, trying to get an agent and get a book published. I could tell from our first phone call, there was nothing arrogant about you. It wasn’t, “Well, aren’t you lucky to be working with me? Send over the bucks and I’ll consider you.” I appreciate that most of all.
Meeting you for brunch was also lovely. I had looked forward for so long to meeting you in person and you exceeded all of my expectations in terms of your warmth and caring. Even as busy as you are, you didn’t seem rushed and I appreciate that. You and Ingrid are a most inspiring, talented, and charming couple. When I found you, I thought I had already done everything possible, but you took it over the top.
I’m tickled I found you!
Thank you, Mark, for a wonderful journey!
Author of the upcoming memoir
That One Person (not yet published)
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Do You Want to Be Like Annie Farris Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Annie and get represented by a top literary agency? 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 Annie Farris.