Leslie Lehr, author of A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster, provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. A Boob’s Life is also now in development for a TV series with HBOMax by actress and producer Salma Hayek, who says the book is “Original, thought-provoking, and with an elegant sense of humor…a must-read.” 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 Leslie.
Mark Malatesta Review by Leslie Lehr
After following your advice, my book was acquired by Pegasus Books, the prestigious PW gave it a great review, and Time Magazine asked for an excerpt.
As a writing consultant who crafts query letters as part of my business, I know how to hook an agent. But your expertise was invaluable in agent-related decisions that followed. I learned critical things, including how to best communicate with my agent, how to get her re-engaged, how to make a decision about staying with her or leaving, how to help her sell the project, and how to get to the point where she ended up calling me a “dream client.”
Prior to that, I felt like I’d done everything possible to help my agent be successful pitching my book: research, revisions, communicating clearly, being patient, and trusting the process. I already had strong television interest, but that’s unreliable and wasn’t enough to convince publishers. Then, finally, after three years with this project, and after I worked with you, I got an offer.
It was validating because I identify as an author, not just a writing consultant. While I was having trouble selling the book, there was this low-lying depression under everything else I did. I knew I was a good writer, but I wondered if I was crazy to feel so passionate about this idea. So, it was great having that “Oh, my God” moment, and seeing my agent so happy because she worked so hard. Now she sees me as persistent rather than a pest. Prior to that, I didn’t know when I was being helpful vs overstepping.
Now I understand it was mostly a matter of learning how to communicate and keep my emotions to myself, understanding this is a business. But, like you said, working with an agent is a personal relationship as well. I had to keep reminding myself to respect that anything could be happening on her end, and, unless she said otherwise, she was doing her best and I needed to keep doing my best, while completely dependent on her.
It’s ironic that when I made the decision to “just” do what I could and let go of worrying, I got the text with the offer. I jumped up and down, screamed and put champagne in the fridge. Seeing the announcement on Publisher’s Marketplace was even better. My agent described the book to sound more brilliant than I dared to imagine.
As writers, we’re so close to our work that self-doubt and a lack of perspective are often part of the artistic journey – especially when changing hats to the sales side. And when we don’t sell a book right away, we tend to feel like it isn’t good enough and we’re not good enough. It’s devastating, because when you start doubting the value of your work, you often start doubting yourself and whether you have the tools to deal with an agent.
Authors don’t want that, not just because it’s painful, but because it’s counter-productive. We need to sound important and impress agents so they respect our work. We want to be cool and confident, without communicating self-doubt, because otherwise the agents follow your lead and feel the challenge to place it. That’s what I was hearing from my agent before I spoke with you. Later, she admitted she’s never stuck with an author that long or sent their work to that many publishers.
The advice you gave me included things I hadn’t thought of doing, I was too lazy to do, and I was afraid to do. Your tips ultimately got my agent back on my team to sell the book and call me a dream client. With your advice I was able to be more patient, practical, and considerate while communicating with my agent. I was able to make a logical plan to decide between the risks of staying versus the risks of leaving. You also helped me see how to share things she might find helpful. I used to just email a nudge and run away.
Another thing you got me to do was look differently at the positioning of my book. The author questionnaire you had me fill out, that we then talked about, gave me a chance to revise the project to have a stronger orientation. When I talked to my agent again about it, and I mean really talked to her on the phone, not just emailing her like a coward, I had more confidence and a better package for her to send to publishers.
Before you and I talked, I read your newsletter and everything on your website. I wrote reams of notes about things to do. But when we spoke during coaching, your tips were personalized. You suggested ways to reword things and, in terms of platform, you shared ideas to quickly improve my platform prior to publication, to show agents I was willing and able to get interest and exposure and sell books.
I liked that when you and I got on the phone, you had read all my stuff, knew exactly what I was talking about, and it felt like we were friends. And, with your platform-building suggestions, you showed me how to address people the way a publicist would. You made it seem like I could do it on my own, and I actually explored going in that direction. That made the book real, and it resulted in a more attractive pitch, opening people’s eyes to the possibilities of where and how the book would sell. And now that I have a hardback book to show off, the TV deal is moving forward with a “based on” credit.
The niche you have helping people get agents is just—nobody else does it like this. Writers ask me for advice about publishing all the time and I say what has worked for me and lot of the same tips writers can learn at seminars. It’s all good basic information, but not specific to any one project. I now recommend you to my clients as soon as they are interested, whether they are just starting, or when they are about to give up.
You’re the only one who exclusively helps authors get agents, and you’re the only one who’s helped hundreds of authors get agents. Thank you for believing in my book, and for helping me share the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part!
Author of A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster and now in development for a TV series by Salma Hayek for HBOMax
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Do You Want to Be Like Leslie Lehr Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Leslie and have your book published by a publisher like Pegasus Books? 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 Leslie Lehr.