Ron Cutler, Porgie award winner, Edgar Award nominee, screenwriter, TV writer, and critically acclaimed author who’s published ten novels (some using a pseudonym) with Doubleday, Dell, Berkley, Dial, Avon, Fawcett, Jove, Signet/NAL, and Pinnacle/Kensington provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Ron worked with Mark to improve his pitch materials, resulting in an offer from Susan Schulman, 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 Ron.
Mark Malatesta Review by Ron Cutler
Having lost my long-term agent to retirement, I was frustrated. I hired Mark and sent out a query he wrote for me, and I got wonderful replies. Some agents felt my book wasn’t a good fit, and some, who gave very encouraging responses, decided at the last minute that they didn’t want to back the book. But I kept going and eventually hit pay dirt.
I got an offer from Susan Schulman, a NY agent who’s very well-known. It made me feel fantastic, not only getting the agent, but knowing everything I did with Mark was actually successful. He provided me with the tools to do this, and, without it, I wouldn’t have even attempted it, because it was just too difficult.
I had looked in Writer’s Digest and seen agent lists, but it was too intimidating. The way Mark worked with me gave me tremendous confidence. So, I went down the path he outlined, and bingo, it happened. I felt terrific, and my wife and I split a nice bottle of wine. She has been incredibly encouraging and felt extremely good about what Mark and I had been doing.
My first conversation with Susan was very good, and her criticisms were very good, mostly tightening up here and there. She also seemed persistent. I felt very comfortable talking with her. I was able to speak with a second agent as well, who seemed willing to take me on, but I wasn’t feeling the same vibe I did with Susan.
I was surprised it wasn’t easier to get an agent, but I understand times have changed. More people are out there now, trying to sell books because of computers. I started writing books before everybody had a computer. It was harder to write books then, very difficult. So, there’s now an enormous amount of competition that wasn’t there before.
That’s why you need somebody like Mark to guide you. The publishing industry is constantly changing as well. I don’t think most aspiring authors are aware of it. In the “old days,” publishers were much more loyal to their writers, and they had “midlists” with books written by authors who did well but weren’t best-sellers. Promising authors.
Over the years, they would publish three or four of your books until you wrote what they would call your “breakthrough” or “breakout” book, which would then get a large audience. Or, they would publish your books until they felt it was futile. Editors also stayed with their companies for a longer time, and they cultivated authors.
Editors did more editing then, too, and they were more encouraging. That’s changed completely. Most publishing companies now belong to conglomerates that are mainly interested in one thing: the bottom line. They look for celebrity books and books with big name authors, that’s where they really want to sell most of their stuff, and everyone else is left out.
Without help these days, you’re really lost. It’s a mess. Agents get an enormous amount of material thrown at them that they can’t possibly read or afford to pay someone to read. They don’t have enough time and they don’t have enough personnel. I mean one, two, three, they read the first two or three pages, and then boom, it’s out of there.
Most times, they don’t even get to the manuscript. They just read the cover letter, or the opening of your query. If that isn’t socko and doesn’t grab them immediately, it’s goodbye. If you’re lucky, you get a form letter rejection. Most agents don’t even send those out anymore, including some agents who ask to read your entire manuscript!
I’m not like most of the authors Mark’s worked with, who sent out queries before they hired him. I tried to come up with a query, but then I said, “I don’t know, this is not—I don’t know if I’m just doing it wrong.” At that point, I decided to join forces with Mark. Getting my first agent, many year ago, was easy. I knew someone who knew someone.
I had never been in the position most authors find themselves in, having to create and send out a query. My old agent was just getting started. She didn’t even have an office when we met the first time. She was in her apartment in Greenwich Village. Later, of course, she got her own offices and so on, and became quite successful.
My new agent is a lot like my old agent, willing and able to provide feedback. That’s the greatest thing in the world. Too many executives in the book business today have become like executives in the film business. They’re only able to identify things that will sell. They don’t have the experience, ability, or willingness to help improve your work.
Film executives sometimes have ideas they throw at you, but, the next time they talk to you, they often can’t remember what they said. It can make you crazy. They tell you to go in one direction, then they say, “No, I don’t like that. I think we should go in a different direction,” forgetting they told you go that way in the first place.
Of course, the temptation is to do whatever they say because you want a commercial success, you feel like you’re in their hands, and if you say no, you may not get their attention again. They may drop you. So, it’s very, very dangerous. That’s why the service Mark is providing and performing for authors is so terrific.
I got one request for my manuscript within hours. I was astounded, but I shouldn’t have been so surprised. The query was incredible, really dynamic. Quite a number of agents bit on it. Some responded just to say how impressive it was, that they were very taken by it, but that my book wasn’t a perfect fit for their list. But they read that letter!
The free advice Mark offers authors, including his agent directory, are amazing. It’s unbelievably generous, to be honest. I mean, I could have just said, “Ok, I’m going to just go through the free material and that’s it.” I’m sure that there are a lot of authors who do that. But coaching saves time and takes everything to another level.
Mark has razor-sharp insight into the problems authors face: perspicacity. Anyone can express continued interest in an author’s success and provide services for them, but they don’t have Mark’s insight and experience, which allow him to cut to the chase and use the strongest elements available for each author, and put it together so it’s effective.
Mark also has an openness in his personality that makes people who initially encounter him have confidence that he can really benefit them. His websites feel that way as well. They’re welcoming, and they have a tremendous amount of advice about the publishing trade. If that doesn’t grab people, I don’t know what the hell would. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I’m a working writer who just did a Hallmark movie, so I’m involved in a whole bunch of other projects in the industry. Mark’s information and services are above everything else. I’ve talked to other people and listened to their promises, then told them not to call me again. I wouldn’t call them scams, but I wouldn’t spend money on them either.
Like I said earlier, Mark’s service is terrific. He gives authors who have talent but need coaching an opportunity to be major league hitters. Authors who don’t get coaching can probably forget about it. It’s just that kind of thing. You can’t go into a new field with nobody to guide you, and expect to make it.
Mark tells his clients where to go and how to get there, and he sets them up with a list of agents tailor-made for their book, so they don’t have to spend days or weeks poring over a Writer’s Digest book. That’s huge. I’m not trying to flatter him. This is just the truth. None of this would have happened without Mark. I sure as hell wasn’t going to get there myself.
There are a lot of writers in the position I was in, wanting to get an agent. Writers don’t want to stop writing if they like to write. Some writers don’t like to write, but those who do like to write are usually going to need help at some point. There’s no doubt about it. If you’re an author who wants to get an agent, Mark can help you find your way.
Porgie award winner, Edgar Award nominee, screenwriter, TV writer, and critically acclaimed author who’s published ten novels (some using a pseudonym) with Doubleday, Dell, Berkley, Dial, Avon, Fawcett, Jove, Signet/NAL, and Pinnacle/Kensington
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Do You Want to Be Like Ron Cutler Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Ron and get offers from a top literary agent like Susan Schulman? 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 Ron Cutler.