Laura Wolfe, author of Top Producer (Gold Medal Readers’ Favorite Award Winner), as well as Two Widows, She Lies Alone, and The Cabin on Crooked Lake (2021), published by Bookouture, a part of Hachette Book Group, one of the largest publishing companies in the world with imprints including Little, Brown and Company. Laura provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Their work together resulted in Laura being offered representation by Helen Zimmermann, a top literary agent. 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 Laura.
Mark Malatesta Review by Laura Wolfe
I just spoke to Helen Zimmermann and she offered to represent my book!
I’m so happy, I’m crying.
Helen sent me an email first that said, “Laura, I loved it, I absolutely loved it.” That was the first sentence of her message. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, then I saw she wanted to schedule a phone call. I looked up and saw my kids sitting at the kitchen table and said, “She loved it! She absolutely loved it!!”
They looked at me like I was crazy.
That was the first time I started crying. I’d received my share of rejections by then. Usually, you open an email from an agent and the first line is, “Thank you for sending, but…” So, it was great to see that someone actually approved of my writing. I called my husband and told him, and everyone was really happy. But I didn’t feel like I could get really excited because I didn’t have an offer yet.
Of course, I also I contacted you right away too. You made sure I was prepared for my call with Helen, and you told me how to follow up with the other agent who was interested and reading my book.
I was so nervous when I talked to Helen. I didn’t sleep the night before, so I felt a little bit like a zombie. She was really nice though. I followed your advice about how to handle the call and we chatted back and forth. Then she said that she wanted to represent me.
My husband and I got a babysitter and went out for dinner. My husband has been super, super supportive of my writing. He always thought the book was going to be successful. But, as far as working with you goes, he wasn’t completely on board. I had to convince him. He thought it was too much money and he didn’t know anything about you, so the testimonials on your website came in handy.
Now, I’m one of your success stories!
I didn’t just want to set my book aside and just write something else. I’d put too much time and effort into my book. I needed to keep trying. So, hiring you was a last-ditch effort on my part. Seeing all of the testimonials on your website helped me, and my husband, believe it was possible, so we decided I should go for it.
You told me that my situation was different than most of the authors you work with. In other words, I was already getting a good request rate with the query letter I’d written. Getting agents to read my book wasn’t the problem. It was getting one of them to offer representation after they were done reading my book.
Agents kept requesting my book then rejecting it, for different reasons. You gave me your insights about the first fifty pages, but you also helped me interpret the agents’ comments. After we talked, I made my two main characters more complex and likable. I made their voices more distinct. And I fleshed out their backstories in a way that raised the stakes and made the plot more interesting and believable.
The changes to my query were less drastic. You said you’d be an idiot to change much, since the query was already working. But you did make changes, such as categorizing the book differently. That resulted in me getting a lower percentage of agents asking to read my manuscript, but the agents who asked to read my book were a better fit. You also added a lot of things to the query, that I would have been scared to put in there. I would have thought it was too long, but obviously, it wasn’t.
I used the agent list you put together for me as well. Before that, I used Query Tracker and one other website I found online. I don’t remember which one. They weren’t as great as the list you sent me. I loved how the list you made for me was organized, and how easy it was to use and keep track of my submissions.
It really reassured me to know I was working with someone who knew what they were doing and had been through all this before. That made it so much easier, going through all the submissions. In the past, I would have been devastated to receive a bunch of rejections. Your perspective was different. You said, “Oh, that’s normal. That’s what you’re going to get, just move on.”
You have this process, this system, that I just believed in, based on what you said and all the other authors you’ve helped. Once I believed in the system, it all started happening. The introductory coaching call I did with you was also extremely helpful, definitely worth the money. I learned a ton just from that one-hour call. Immediately after that call, I wanted to hire you, but your program was out of my price range.
I didn’t do more with you until six months later, maybe longer. I continued to query agents during that time, and I worked on another book I was writing. I divided my time that way. Then, after I signed up for your coaching program and revised my book, I started query agents I hadn’t queried before. But you also told me what to say to the agents who’d already read my work, to get them to read the new version.
I initially felt a little bit intimidated at the thought of working with you, before I spoke to you, but you’re really relatable and easy to talk to. Not just knowledgeable. So, I would encourage other people to get over it if they’re nervous and give you a chance. There’s so much that authors don’t know about how all this works, and all those things could take years, forever, or never to figure out.
Thank you for your help!
Author of Top Producer (Gold Medal Readers’ Favorite Award Winner), as well as Two Widows, She Lies Alone, and The Cabin on Crooked Lake (2021), published by Bookouture, a part of Hachette Book Group, one of the largest publishing companies in the world with imprints including Little, Brown and Company
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Do You Want to Be Like Laura Wolfe Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Laura and get a top literary agent like Helen Zimmermann? 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 Laura Wolfe.