Sandy Gingras, author of the memoir Dreamboat (St. Martin’s Press, 2022) and many gift books (more than 1,000,000 books sold) by publishers such as Andrews McMeel, provided this review of former literary agent Mark Malatesta. Sandy worked with Mark to improve her manuscript, pitch materials, and platform resulting in representation with the Jane Rotrosen Agency. 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 Sandy.
Mark Malatesta Review by Sandy Gingras
I really like my agent, and she loves my book! How that long winding road and nightmare of getting an agent landed me with her, I’ll never quite understand, but I’m thankful for it. I’m always up for a celebration, and I’ve been having a continual celebration ever since. So many people have gone through this process with me, and they’re all like, “Thank God!!” 🙂
I’m more grateful than you could ever know.
When I started sending out the query you wrote for me, I had several agents interested all at once. That made me very, very, very nervous. I felt like you wanted me to create a situation with many agents vying for me, and I’m bad at things like that. It was terrifying. I just wanted one agent interested. It was horrible talking to the agent who really, really wanted me. I loved her, but, at the end of our long conversation, I said, “I can’t commit yet.” I thought she was going to cry, and I thought I was going to cry.
I felt nauseous because I thought I was going to lose her. She didn’t seem that upset, but I thought she might throw herself off a cliff or something. Or, I thought I might throw MYSELF off a cliff or something. I felt manipulative. I just wanted to have the whole thing done already. I own my own business, but I’m not a wheeler dealer. They don’t let me behind the counter in my store, because I give things away. I’m not the negotiator, at all. I don’t have the courage for that. I cave instantly.
One agent responded and asked to read the manuscript within three minutes of me starting to send out my query letter. A few minutes later, another agent called me on the phone to express interest and ask for the manuscript. I thought, “This is going to be a piece of cake. I’ve got this nailed. Thank you, God. I won’t need to use that agent spreadsheet anymore.” But then came the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and months and months, and more queries than I want to remember or talk about.
It’s a process.
I talked about how many queries I’d sent out at a writing workshop with people I’ve been writing with for years. They were like, “What?!!!!” Like, “What’s wrong with you?” I thought, “I don’t know, but I refuse to give up.” I was relentless. You gave me the courage to keep going, because I was committed to your process. When you commit a big chunk of time and money to something, there’s too much weight of forward motion to quit. I also felt like, “I’m not going to let Mark down. I want to be one of his success stories!”
I used to work as a counselor, and we had a sliding scale. You could pay $100 or you could pay $2 if you couldn’t afford that. Well, the people who paid $2 gave about $2 worth of energy to the process. And the people that paid $100 were like, “I better vest myself in this process because I spent a lot of money.” After my first conversation with you, I decided I should invest in my writing. You seemed smart, like you knew what you were doing. You also seemed like you trusted yourself, and you seemed like you trusted ME. I felt like, “All I need is Mark to help me through this process.”
I don’t know how people do it by themselves.
I really don’t.
What helped me through talking with so many different agents, and choosing the right one, was that you kept saying, “It’s not just about who wants you, it’s about who YOU want.” That was good because I didn’t really like some of the agents I talked to. It’s not that I didn’t personally like them. I just didn’t feel a strong connection, and I wanted somebody who really believed in me. Some of the agents were also very rigid and narrow in their thinking. I didn’t feel comfortable with them, something was a little bit off.
I kept thinking, “I’ll just go back to the agent spreadsheet, go back to the spreadsheet and see if there’s somebody out there I really want, not someone who just wants me. Someone I want to work with, that I really like.” So, I kept looking at it as, “Okay. This is the choice I’m making. Not just the choice they’re making about me. It’s going to have to be both ways, or I’m not doing it.” I think that’s even more important when you’ve written a memoir.
It’s an awkward feeling writing a memoir because the people who read it suddenly know you intimately. Agents, total strangers, would call me up and already know everything about my life. Some of the really hard, bad parts. But I didn’t know anything about them. My agent made me feel at ease and we had instant rapport. It seemed like we understood each other, and my agent understood my book. Some agents wanted to change it in ways I didn’t agree with. And, some of them, since my book is about dealing with depression, seemed more interested in me counseling them about their issues than selling my book.
Before I met you, Mark, I didn’t have a book proposal, and, more than that, I didn’t want to write a book proposal. I also didn’t have a synopsis. I had a query letter, but it was more apologetic than sales-oriented. Kind of like, “I’m so sorry to bother you with my pathetic document…” And I had a manuscript, but it was nothing anyone wanted. It had potential, but you were the only one willing to WORK with me to uncover it.
Hiring you made me see that I had to change everything, that I had to make my book more accessible and marketable. You did it gently and incrementally, and it eventually sunk in and took hold. With you, I didn’t feel railroaded into doing things. Instead, I felt like I was choosing to do things. I also didn’t feel alone anymore, like I was floundering, not knowing what to do next. You guided and encouraged me. And, in the end, I had the courage and will to change everything that needed changing.
It was hundreds of pages of work, but you made it easy. Or, at least, doable. In the end, it was like, “Wow, why wouldn’t I want change this to turn it into a document that agents would WANT to read! Why wouldn’t I want my work to be better?”
I hired other people before I hired you, and that was a good start, but they didn’t get me to the finish. My book and pitch materials weren’t ready, and I wasn’t ready. You made the value of my work obvious, and, as my manuscript and supporting materials started to shine, so did I. While working with you over the months, I grew stronger and surer. I changed as my manuscript changed. When I finally got an agent, she told me, “You’re a dream author. Your manuscript and your proposal are a slam dunk!”
You made that happen.
I’m sure your price deters some people from hiring you, but it shouldn’t. For what you did for me, you were more than worth it. I considered that payment an investment in myself and my writing career. For the price, I got a year’s worth of coaching (which makes you cheap—in the nicest connotation of that word). The agent spreadsheet alone was priceless. Without it, I think I would have given up the agent search.
The process of finding an agent is a process of endurance, but it also demands a lot in terms of emotional strength and willingness to grow and change. It’s a long journey over treacherous terrain and it’s not just good to have a guide, it’s vital.
As you know, Mark, my book is about how a life can take off, how a person can learn to fly. It’s about how to grow stronger, how to believe in yourself. It’s about how to flap around and not be deterred by falling. It’s about hoping and dreaming. But it’s also about how you need other people to teach you how to fly, and how you need other people to believe in you, to be on your side, to say, “You can do it. Try again.”
You’re one of those people.
When I first started my business, somebody told me, “You can base your business decisions on money or relationships. Always go with relationships.” Because of that advice, I’ve never taken a wrong step. And that’s why the greatest gift of our work together, to me, has been our relationship. You’re a good teacher who’s smart and experienced, but you’re also generous and your heart is big. You launch people and their dreams, and you teach them how to fly.
I’m happy to be one of your winged clients…
Author of the memoir Dreamboat (St. Martin’s Press, 2022) and many gift books (more than 1,000,000 books sold) by publishers such as Andrews McMeel
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Do You Want to Be Like Sandy Gingras Who Provided this Review About Mark Malatesta?
Do you want to be like Sandy and get represented by a top literary agency like the Jane Rotrosen Agency? 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 Sandy Gingras.