Dick Manero, author of the not-yet-published novel Masques, provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Dick worked with Mark to improve his pitch materials, resulting in literary agency representation. 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 Dick.
Mark Malatesta Review by Dick Manero
I was sitting at my desk at my office when, all of a sudden, an email popped up on my computer screen. It seemed to indicate somebody was doing something nobody else was doing — taking me seriously! It was an agent and she sent me a long email, the gist of which was something along the lines of, “I’ve been reading your book. I’ve edited the first X number of pages. If you like them, perhaps we’ll work together.”
That was it.
At first, I thought the agent had written to the wrong person. I couldn’t figure out. She was talking about editing the book. “Who is this person?” I wondered. Once I realized it was an agent who wanted to get on board, I felt wonderful.
I worked with the agent, and an editor, revising the book. They taught me a lot, it was amazing, and I get along very well with my agent. She thinks I’m funny. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve been told by a couple of people who’ve read my book that it’s funny. I thought it was serious, so I don’t understand.
People laughing at stuff I thought was profound.
I guess not.
Now I’m editing my second book. After many years practicing law, I shut that door. I probably should have shut it earlier, but you get stuck representing clients who need your help, and it was hard to pull out once and for all. Getting an agent made it easier to move on, to a little house in northeast Connecticut in the sticks. It’s quiet, beautiful, and closer to my daughter and her children.
I tried self-publishing, first. It was depressing, but I was making money practicing law, so that helped make up for the fact that I couldn’t get an agent. Years later, you started poking your nose at me on the Internet. Every time I searched for something about agents, I found one of your websites. I hadn’t done a hell of a lot to try to get an agent, before I met you. And, when you kept popping up, I said, “Let me contact this guy.”
I didn’t know what a query at the time. When we started together, I drew one up and you made small but essential changes. I sent out a lot of queries, and it was tedious. Round after round of submissions, no one asked to read my book. Just rejections, and a few responses that didn’t rise to the level of rejection: “I’m sorry, we’re not able to respond like human beings. This is a form letter.” Then I got two requests in one day.
Anybody who says they can handle rejection is either a liar or a fool. Rejection is lousy, a turn-off, and, since getting an agent is one of the most important parts of a writer’s life — everybody wants to be rich and famous — it’s a heavy thing. I’m at the point now where I realize the door can be opened, that’s what counts.
It’s interesting. I remember telling my secretary I was getting awful tired of querying, but I didn’t give up. Two days later, I had an offer. That’s the way it works, I guess. I was hoping not to have to go that far, but you and I had talked about it before, and you chuckled a little bit. You told me about some of your clients who’ve had to send out a lot more queries than I did to make it. I know how they feel.
There must be thousands upon thousands of writers, or prospective writers, who feel that way. A zillion books are published and, for every book that’s published, there’s another zillion that aren’t. So, I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and I’m very pleased that I’ve got you and my agent in my corner — an agent I actually like. Geez, we’ve had good fun on the phone. My agent is humorous, and bright.
I’m in debt to you for helping me find her. I also appreciate the changes you suggested for the beginning of my manuscript. You helped me eliminate extra words that didn’t need to be there. And you asked me to rephrase the opening scene — on the first page — a scene that could have been off-putting to female readers. There was a character being antagonistic toward women and pregnancy.
I’ve learned as a writer that you can change an entire script with a sentence. It doesn’t take much to change the direction of a story. And, if you figure out how to do that, it can save you a lot of time. With so many rejections, I was starting to be convinced I wasn’t worth it. Querying agents is a really bad process. Rejections are like nails in a coffin. The vast majority of authors probably quit.
You kept telling me, “Getting published isn’t luck, it’s a decision.” So, I kept doing what it took to get there. You’re a good coach, laid-back and relaxed. You make sure your clients keep going, but there’s no yelling, no screaming. It’s low-key support, solid support. You’ve always been there, and it was easy to trust you. We had no connections, but, when I found you online, I read everything on your website.
The things you said to me when we talked made sense as well, and you never said, “I guarantee you success.” You talked in terms of giving me the best shot, but that I’d still have to put the time in and do the work. If we hadn’t worked together, I’d still be sending out emails. There’s a possibility I would have tried out something else, but I don’t think I’d be anywhere near where I am now.
Some people are lucky. I read that someone gave one of Tom Clancy’s books to Ronald Reagan as a gift. The president liked it and talked about it. Then, boom, Clancy sold millions of copies. If something like that happens to me, I’m going to buy my dream car, a Cobra. It’s terribly uncomfortable, but it looks great.
Author of the novel Masques
(not yet published)
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