Deborah Edgar-Goeser, PhD, LMFT, author of the children’s picture book Quack, the Quirky Duck (not yet published), provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Deborah worked with Mark to improve her book, platform, and pitch materials resulting in her being offered representation by literary agent Terrie Wolf. 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 Deborah.
Mark Malatesta Review by Deborah Edgar-Goeser, PhD, LMFT
Thank you for all your help. I just signed with Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary Management. I’m super grateful, Harvard didn’t teach me this!
I was surprised when I got the offer. I’d gotten used to agents saying, “I can’t work with you.” So, I was hum-drum, thinking, “Here we go, another rejection.” Then I did a doubletake. “What? An agent is excited about the manuscript? I made her day? Oh, okay.”
I fumbled around and thought, “What do I do now? Mark said I should call him right away with any offers. Right.” So, that’s what I did. I also tried to stay “cautiously optimistic,” one of your catch phrases. I wasn’t quite sure if what I was reading from the agent was correct, but I knew you could corroborate the evidence.
I didn’t share the good news right away with anyone else. I wanted to enjoy it first. Then I called my husband and said, “I think someone is actually interested in the manuscript.” He said, “Well, of course they are.” He may be skeptical, but he believes in your work. He’s a coach, himself. So, he believes in coaching.
My husband’s also a superfan of my writing. I’d been cluing him in on what I was doing, and he was like, “Come on. We’ve got to get you’re your book published.” He was already telling people it was almost published. So, it was good to finally be able to say, “Babe, I just got an agent.” Or, “I think I’ve got an agent, but I don’t have a contract yet!”
I celebrated in my own French way, with food and wine. What other way is there to celebrate? I think I was in Trader Joe’s when you called me to talk about the offer. You told me what to say to Terrie, how to approach it, and you told me to keep querying.
That advice made more sense as time passed, because everything didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it would with Terrie. You said it was good to stay positive but to keep querying to keep the energy moving. That, if I did that, it would put me in a more powerful position and make it easier for me to sleep at night.
You were right. Each night when I was trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking, “Man, I wonder if Terrie is going to follow up.” Then another part of my brain said, “Well, it’s okay. There’s still more stuff out there, no matter what.” That was super helpful.
At one point, I emailed you and said, “I still haven’t heard from Terrie. What should I do?” You sent me the perfect email message to send her, that wasn’t pushy. She replied right away and let me know she’d never gotten my previous message. She said something about how the Internet gerbils must have been at it again. [Laughter]
It didn’t take long for me to get an agent. I queried Terrie during the weekend and heard back the following Wednesday afternoon. Then I heard from them again on Monday. It only took five days. It would have been less if my email hadn’t gotten lost. I wasn’t expecting it to go that fast, for sure. I was in it for the long haul.
You told me it hardly ever happens like this, goes this fast. One reason it did is that I was lucky. The other reason is that I was submitting a picture book and most picture books are less than one thousand words. It doesn’t take long for agents to read picture books and make a decision. And, in this case, I was fortunate it was a good decision.
The most important thing I think I probably did during this process, that made a difference, that wasn’t hard to do, was to trust you. To say, “I don’t know anything about this industry. I know my book is fun to read around the fire, but I don’t know what’s going to be helpful trying to get it published.”
You helped me stay true to the story I wanted to tell, and make the book more appealing so it would actually sell. I’m sure that’s what every author wants. Your suggestions gave the book more energy, added tension, and made the protagonist more responsible for his fate. There was something innate in him that helped create a happy ending, but also had to participate.
I’m a psychologist and wrote my book as more of a story for everyone, not just a picture book. Because of that, it had complex themes and a lot symbolism. So, I was glad to have your help making everything congruent and more appealing to children. It definitely works as a picture book now, and it still works for adults, too.
I remember reading one part of a draft you’d worked on, feeling like, “Oh, I don’t know if this is what I want.” You killed a duck in my kid’s book! I was like, “Oh, yeah. Nice bedtime story.” [Laughter] But I kept my ego in check, since I could see both sides and we stayed true to what the story was meant to be.
You also showed me how to get testimonials, and five well-known authors agreed to let me send them a review copy of my book if and when I get a publisher. It was sort of like, “Wait, this works?” [Laughter] The one that amazed the most was one of my favorite authors who’s 85 or something. She’s a goddess to me.
When it was time to start researching agents, I was starting from scratch. I had no idea. It was like discovering a whole new world. I’m not very good at sales. I love people and I love telling them about something they really need to have or do. But part of the reason I wanted to work with you is because you know what to say to agents.
After you sent me the agent list you put together for me, I told my husband, “This is worth the entire cost of the coaching program, right here.” It’s an unbelievable resource that saved me a lot of time. And the query letter you wrote for me was a lot better than the one I wrote. I attempted to write one before our first phone call.
Your query letter was more to the point. I have trouble editing things down. Your query was longer than mine as well, and I was surprised by it. I didn’t expect you to put a section of the manuscript in the letter. You said you don’t always do that, but it worked in my case and it showed your voice. You said, “If they like the query, they’ll like the manuscript.”
The query was also humorous, like my manuscript, but it also created credibility because it immediately told agents I’m a psychologist. That set it apart. It’s a little thing, but it’s important. I remember being intrigued by the letter. You also found a way to tell agents I graduated Harvard without it sounding arrogant.
It was great having you as my Sensei, guiding me. I knew the work I was doing wasn’t in vain. At some level, it was a lot of busywork, but I was glad to do it because I was working with someone who knows what he’s doing. It’s not just magical thinking. I got a better sense of the world of publishing, and I learned a lot about the business.
Obviously, getting the agent was the highlight. I was surprised it didn’t take longer. Part of me wants to say I could have figured it out on my own. But, at the same time, I don’t actually believe that. As good as my writing was, every book can be made better. And you need to communicate the right things about your work and yourself for people to get it.
Like I said earlier, they didn’t teach me this at Harvard. I’ve been educated in such a way that I love language and love to write. But I never took a course in publishing and I fundamentally don’t believe we can do anything by ourselves. We need sounding boards, or you can live in the false sense that you have to know it all.
The money to work with you was a huge investment, especially since I have (Harvard) student loans. But I tend to be a risk-taker. It was also helpful that a friend of mine who worked with you spoke highly of you. Working with someone new is always a risk, but it wasn’t a total shot in the dark, and I really wanted to know how to do this.
Thank you again for everything…
I have to go now and email my agent.
That sounds so LA.
Author of the children’s picture book
Quack, the Quirky Duck
(not yet published)
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Do You Want to Be Like Deborah Edgar-Goeser, PhD, LMFT Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Deborah and get represented by a successful literary agent like Terrie Wolf? 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 Deborah Edgar-Goeser, PhD, LMFT.