Martin Husk, author of The 111th New York Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History (McFarland & Company), and Murder Unforgiven (a novel, not yet published), provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Martin worked with Mark to improve his pitch materials, resulting in him getting offer from two literary agents. 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 Martin.
Mark Malatesta Review by Martin Husk
When you pour your heart and soul into your writing and an agent says, “Hey, I’m interested in reading more chapters,” or “I’m interested in the whole manuscript,” the first thing that goes through your mind is, “I made it!” Then you never hear from them again or you get an email that says, “Sorry, it wasn’t right for me.”
So, when that first offer comes in, it’s incredibly exciting. I told my wife, who was also very excited. But our excitement kind of went away after I talked to the agent on the phone and realized she wasn’t the right agent. Her personality was good, but the manuscript changes she wanted didn’t sit right with me.
It was a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Most authors would just get an offer run with it, then realize later it’s not the best fit. You showed me how to use that one agent’s interest to spur on other agents, which led to a second offer of representation. When I talked to that agent, I realized, “This one’s the best fit.” It was incredibly exciting to hear an agent I admired say she really enjoyed my writing and felt drawn to the characters.
After the call, I drank a lot of bourbon to celebrate.
My wife and I celebrated as well. We’ve been together since high school, 34 years. She was there when I wrote my first book, and when I told her I wanted to write another, she didn’t say, “Oh, God. Not this again.” It was more like, “If this is something you feel passionate about, let’s do it.” She’s a partner in every sense of the word.
I can’t thank you enough for everything you did to help me get to where I am now, as well. I wasn’t getting anywhere before we worked together. I just kept getting rejected and started getting used to it, thinking, “It’s never going to happen. Why am I bothering?” Hearing your reassurance helped a lot.
My original query letter was embarrassing. The query and synopsis were the areas where I was really falling short…selling myself. I’m sure other authors are in the same boat. You know, you’re out there looking, prowling the Internet, trying to find the best way to pitch your work. You can count on a hundred fingers the number of websites that say, “This is the best way to write a query and synopsis.”
And they’re all different.
I sent some queries out before we met, but never got an offer. Interestingly enough, a number of agents I’d queried on my own, who never responded, did get back to me when I queried them again using the new query. One of them actually asked to read more. The query you wrote for me had a good opening hook and reasons for agents to believe in me. I had it all screwed up six ways from Sunday.
I was hunting and pecking and thinking about whether I should quadruple-space the query to fill my holes! If you don’t know where to start or how to start, it’s also frustrating searching for appropriate agents and trying to create a good list. You did that for me, and it saved an enormous amount of time and headaches. You said, “Here are the agents and agencies you want to go first. If that doesn’t work, go here, and so on.” I never would have figured that out on my own.
I dare say most people wouldn’t.
Having your encouragement and knowing you were always there if I needed something was also invaluable. Especially since it took me more than a year to get an agent. That says a lot about you, being in my corner to help no matter what.
The questionnaire you had me fill out before our first call was helpful too. It made me think about what I was writing and how I was writing and what I was doing to get an agent. It made me more introspective than I wanted to be! You asked questions that made me realize I didn’t have it all figured out yet, and that you could help me figure it out.
Most people are skeptical when they read things on the Internet from people making big promises about how they can help someone become a bestselling author. You actually have testimonials from authors you’ve helped. That made me feel comfortable, and I felt you were the guy to help me because, after our first call, you said, “I don’t work with everybody, but I think you have a real chance and I’d like to work with you.”
The advice I have for people who decide to work with you is to stick with your process. It works. It may be difficult, and it may take time, a lot of time, but authors come to you for a reason and they should listen to what you say. You’re very up front about that. You don’t say “Yes, if you go with me, you’re definitely going to get an agent and be a bestselling author.” What you do, and promise, is put someone in the best position to be successful.
Some people don’t like reality checks, but smart authors realize they shouldn’t trust someone who promises too much. Every author believes in themself to some extent. That’s why they do what they do. The trick is authors realizing they may need help getting agents believing in their work as much as they do.
That’s where you come in.
To me, it’s a question of commitment. I love writing stories, and I felt it was the right time to make an investment in my writing, something I needed help with to get other people believing in it as much as I do. A lot of people won’t believe in your writing, but you just need one to get where you want to go.
Working with you made a big difference. Even if I hadn’t gotten an agent, I wouldn’t have regretted working with you. I would have been disappointed, but I would have known I gave myself the best chance. I never would have made it this far on my own. I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me.
Author of The 111th New York Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History (published by McFarland, a leading publisher with approximately 6,000 titles in print), and Murder Unforgiven (a novel, not yet published)
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Do You Want to Be Like Martin Husk Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Martin and get an offer from two literary agents? 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 Martin Husk.