Mark Malatesta – Former Literary Agent
With decades of publishing industry experience, Mark Malatesta has given keynotes and talks at 100+ writers conferences and events. He’s the founder of Literary Agent Undercover, and has written articles for some of the most well-known publications for authors such as the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents and the Publishers Weekly Book Publishing Almanac.
Mark Malatesta is an author who went “undercover” as a literary agent, in part to find out how to get his own books published. During that time, Mark became a successful book agent (something that took him a bit by surprise). Now Mark is a well-known author coach and consultant who loves sharing his insider knowledge about the publishing industry with other authors.
Click here for Reviews of Mark Malatesta.
Founder of LAU
As the founder of Literary Agent Undercover (LAU), Mark Malatesta is helping authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books), get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals. LAU is built upon the premise that it’s better to “get paid to publish” instead of “pay to publish” via self-publishing or a vanity press.
Established in 2011, LAU serves: 1) Unpublished authors just getting started, 2) Self-published authors who now want to find a traditional publisher, and 3) Previously published authors who are no longer working with their previous literary agent and/or publisher.
Former Literary Agent
A former publishing agent (President & Owner of “New Brand Agency Group”), Mark Malatesta has helped many writers launch their publishing careers. Authors Mark has gotten published include thriller author Jim Brown (24/7, Random House), award-winning young adult author Carol Plum-Ucci (The Body of Christopher Creed, Harcourt), nonfiction self-help author Aggie Jordan (The Marriage Plan, Doubleday-Broadway), and bestselling gift book author Harry Harrison (Father to Daughter, Workman).
Other publishing houses that Mark has secured contracts with include Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s, Hyperion, Prentice-Hall, Workman, Andrews-McMeel, Entrepreneur, Barron’s, Amacom, and many more…resulting in millions of books being sold, as well as works being picked up for TV, stage, and feature film (with companies like Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks).
Authors Mark has represented as a literary agent have gotten 6-figure advances, been on the New York Times bestseller list, been licensed in more than 40 countries, and won countless national and international awards and honors.
Former AAR Member
Mark is proud of the fact that he was also a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (2002-05). That’s because literary agents have to meet several criteria to qualify for membership: 1) Sell ten book legitimate publishers within 18 months, 2) Get two members of the AAR to vouch for them, and 3) Follow a strict code of ethics.
Less than one third of all active literary agents are members. That’s why LAU will always be an advocate of the AAR. However, please note (for legal reasons), the AAR is not affiliated with LAU. The AAR does not sponsor, support or endorse LAU in any way. Click here to learn more about the Association of Authors’ Representatives or AAR (now known as the Association of American Literary Agents or AALA).
Former Marketing & Licensing Manager
Mark Malatesta also spent several years as Marketing & Licensing Manager of Blue Mountain Arts (the book and gift publisher that invented e-greetings, then sold their e-card division for close to $1 billion at the height of the dot com bubble). Mark scouted for new talent, helped develop new products, and negotiated distribution and licensing deals at events like Book Expo America (BEA), the London Book Fair, and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Speaker & Writer
A writer at heart (the reason he became literary agent), Mark is one of the few publishing professionals who actually understands (and genuinely enjoys) writers. Publishing is an industry filled with jaded cynics who are too quick to tell authors why they can’t be successful–instead of being realistic but also showing them how to increase their odds. As a result, Mark loves sharing his insider secrets in a way that authors call inspiring and empowering.
Jon Biemer Testimonial for Mark Malatesta
I now have an agent! When Lisa Hagan offered to represent me, I had three other agents interested. You suggested I follow up with them because I might have liked one of them more, and I agreed to that. It gave me more time to study Lisa’s portfolio as well, but it was also a bit of a conundrum since I was already excited about Lisa.
She had sold books to major publishers, she was really enthusiastic about my book, and I had a sense we’d have a good, long-term relationship, one I would enjoy. In her emails to me Lisa showed the capacity to embrace more dimensions of myself than I thought possible in an agent: the engineer, the activist, the spiritual person, and the person who tries to walk my environmental talk (with my wife). I thought “There’s nothing else I am looking for in an agent.” So, I wrote an email to her, expressing the reasons why I really wanted her as my agent. A final “YES!!!” message.
It was hard letting those other agents go, but I wrote the difficult emails to them saying I’d made my decision. They responded with gracious, well-wishes. THEN, I was able to feel that joy that comes when you’ve made a HUGE step on a journey to your dreams! Upon reflection, I felt like I chose the agent rather than the agent choosing me.
As you know, it took a lot, including a lot of queries, to get to this point. Sending out submissions is not a job for the faint of heart. When you sent me that Excel spreadsheet with all the agents who might be interested in my book, it was a learning process. There was a lot of information and I was clunky about using it at first. That was challenging given my limited experience with spreadsheets, figuring out the system and how to send out a lot of queries.
Pt 2 – JB Testimonial for Mark Malatesta
You didn’t suggest I send out a few email queries here and there, but in big batches. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done it that way without you. I didn’t get much response for quite a while, but the sheer numbers of queries you had me send out were good for my psychology. It shifted me from being the victim of a highly competitive industry to being in control of my circumstances. That was significant.
I probably wouldn’t have gotten to that “popcorn popping” of requests from agents if I hadn’t worked with you. There’s a phrase I read in a business article that basically says, “Hire people that can ship.” It speaks to the idea that you just need to send things out at a certain point. It isn’t going to be perfect, but you’ve got to send it anyway and get on to the next one and the next one and the next one. I didn’t start out with that kind of discipline, but I started doing things faster when I realized how long I was taking.
You helped me stay focused on a proven strategy. Rejections just became noise, something happening along the way to “Yes.” Stepping stones. A “No” answer was better than a non-answer because I knew the agent had read my query. It was a definitive step closer to the next agent that might want my book.
One agent asked for my book proposal the morning after I queried her. She was encouraging but felt I was trying to do too much. Another worried about the market. Another just failed to fall in love. However, I was surprised that not a single agent complained about my platform. Considering I’m not well-known, that is extraordinary.
Pt 3 – JB Testimonial for Mark Malatesta
The things you did with me to build my platform were a major part of our work together. I recognized my platform deficiency early on, and you were very diplomatic about saying, “You need to work on that.” I was surprised you didn’t ask me to do things outside my skill set. You didn’t ask me to become a social media butterfly or do a whole lot of public speaking engagements. Those things would have been really hard for me. Instead, you played to my strengths.
I didn’t see the path to building a platform until you showed it to me. It was more like, “Yeah, I’ve done a lot of stuff but it’s not going to bring me up to the point where my message could get out to lots of people.” Even at the end of our process, right before I started querying agents, I wasn’t convinced my platform was good enough. It was just a compilation of things I’d done and things I planned to do in the future. But it communicated my capacity and ability to promote a book.
As you’ll recall, it was hard getting to “yes” related to your fee. My wife and I had to cash in savings bonds to do it. As an author, you think, “If I knew I was going to make a million dollars, of course I’d invest in the coaching.” But the odds of making a million dollars on a book are low, at least at the outset.
I’m not much of a gambler, so I worked with you to increase my probability of success. Writing has been a passion of mine for a long time, but if I’m serious about making a difference in the world, I need to learn what it really takes to publish with a mainstream publisher. I’ve passed up opportunities to get a second master’s degree and a PhD, not because those things wouldn’t be nice, but because the payoff for didn’t make sense at this point in my career. I thought, “How am I going to get $60,000 back from a PhD?” I couldn’t see it.
Pt 4 – JB Testimonial for Mark Malatesta
When my wife and I looked at the investment to work with you, we said, “Okay. It costs less than a PhD, and it’s a teaching tailored to what I wanted to do. My intention was to learn a very specific set of skills that I would need to share my book with a large audience. You offered a customized curriculum for imparting those skills, and you only accept authors for coaching if you see they have real potential for success.
Your coaching program is essentially a tough “school” that prepares writers for a tough business. The reason I say that is to put your fee in context. People pay fees of the same order – and more – to learn robotics, writing, designing games, and political science. I can say it more brazenly than you to other authors: “Do you want to publish a mainstream book, or just say you tried?” Having ongoing interaction with you in coaching is a lot different than just getting advice from a book or conference or hiring an editor.
You have an excellent process, you’re patient, and you pace things according to what your clients need and are capable of. I’m slow, with a lot of other things going on in my life, but that didn’t stop us because your process didn’t depend on me coming back at a specific moment in time. That’s really a plus. I also appreciate that you worked with me for 18 months, even though our agreement was for just a year. You read your clients pretty well. The experience has been transformative.
Finally, I want to thank you for your valuable guidance regarding the manuscript itself. You suggested I improve the beginning of my book and add an important chapter. You also showed me how to present the spiritual part of my message in a way that felt good to me and wouldn’t be off-putting to readers. With your experience and perspective, those types of things are normal for you, but, for someone like me, they’re gold.
Thank you, from my heart.
JON BIEMER is the author of Our Environmental Handprints: Recover the Land, Reverse Global Warming, Reclaim the Future, published in hardcover by Rowman and Littlefield, a leading traditional publisher of many bestsellers that produces both trade and academic books, and one of America’s largest book distributors: National Book Network (NBN)
Jon Biemer consulted with author coach Mark Malatesta to get a literary agent. Jon’s book, Our Environmental Handprints, was then sold to Rowman and Littlefield, a leading traditional publisher of many bestsellers that produces both trade and academic books, and one of America’s largest book distributors: National Book Network (NBN). Jon talks below in an interview with Mark Malatesta about advice for authors, and the steps the two took together to get a literary agent for Jon, which led to his book being published in hardcover.
Former Literary Agent, Mark Malatesta – Learn More
Here you can see Mark Malatesta reviews from more authors he has worked with. You can also see reviews of Mark Malatesta from publishing industry professionals he’s met and worked with over the years. These reviews of former literary Mark Malatesta include his time as an author coach and consultant, literary agent, and Marketing & Licensing Manager for the well-known book/gift publisher Blue Mountain Arts.
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Jon Biemer Interview With Mark Malatesta, Founder of Literary Agent Undercover
In this 69-minute interview (audio and text), Jon Biemer, author of Our Environmental Handprints, published by Rowman and Littlefield in hardcover, talks about how to become a successful author. Rowman and Littlefield is a leading traditional publisher of many bestsellers that produces both trade and academic books, and one of America’s largest book distributors: National Book Network (NBN). During this interview, Jon also talks about how his work with former literary agent Mark Malatesta, who helped Jon edit his manuscript, book proposal, and query letter.
J O N . B I E M E R
Mark Malatesta: Jon Biemer is the author of Our Environmental Handprints: Recover the Land, Reverse Global Warming, Reclaim the Future. The book was published in hardcover by Rowman and Littlefield, a leading traditional publisher of both trade and academic books, including bestsellers such as The Millionaire Next Door, Chase’s Calendar of Events, and The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need. Rowman and Littlefield is also one of America’s largest book distributors: National Book Network (NBN).
Jon is a mechanical engineer and consultant with more than forty years of experience working on sustainability-creating initiatives. Prior to starting his consultancy, Jon served 23 years with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the Energy Efficiency Group, coordinating research and managing energy efficiency programs. One of his programs helped set the stage for large windfarms in the Pacific Northwest.
After leaving BPA, Jon advised Portland, Oregon’s Green Investment Fund program, which encouraged innovation in leading-edge sustainable buildings. He also advised the Portland Water Bureau. In 2009, Jon published his first article regarding his Environmental Handprint concept. Jon and his wife, Willow, strive to live sustainably. They gave their home an eco-retrofit, which was featured in Portland, Oregon’s Build It Green Tour.
Jon’s book, Our Environmental Handprints, is the first book to fully explore your “Handprint,” how you can create sustainability in your life and in the world. In other words, the good you do regarding sustainability shouldn’t just be measured by reducing your footprint or how much energy you use. It should also be measured by the ways you turn others toward sustainability.
The smart beauty of the Handprint is that it can be self-perpetuating. Take planting a tree for example. You put a seedling into the ground, water it, and then leave it alone. That tree will then grow itself and pull carbon dioxide from the air and create oxygen for us to breathe for as long as it lives. And seeds from that tree create more trees.
It’s not just about planting trees though. Jon’s book offers 178 actions readers can take to create a more sustainable global environment. There’s absolutely something for everyone.
Jon and I worked together to improve his manuscript, platform, and pitch materials, which led to an offer of representation from literary agent Lisa Hagan, and the offer from Rowman and Littlefield. Lisa has represented New York Times bestsellers such as The Elephant Whisperer, Talking to Heaven, and What your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. Her agency has sold thousands of books with major publishers such as Penguin, HarperCollins, and Random House.
To learn more about Jon, visit jonbiemer.com.
So welcome, Jon!
Part 2 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Hello, happy to be here.
Mark Malatesta: Excellent. I’m looking forward to this and it’s fun talking with any author on a call like this. It’s much more fun when it’s a meaningful project, right?
J.B.: Well, it’s my life’s work, shall we say.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Let’s get into it. I always like to start with the easiest thing to start with, which is get you talking a bit more about your book. I obviously gave some people a little sense of it but take a few more minutes and tell everybody more about the book. I know a lot of people listening will want to get a copy.
J.B.: I’ve been working on the handprint idea since 2007. It came about because I was running into a frustration that even though I had a lifetime of professional experience trying to help people be more efficient, I felt like I was kind of running into a personal situation. I just couldn’t get much better at saving energy and reducing my impact. Then I came to the idea of a handprint, which is…let’s create some alternatives that have a way of changing the system as opposed to just doing less harm. That’s what I’ve been developing for more than a decade at this point.
I guess what I came around to is the idea that it’s a good idea. It wasn’t a book in its own right, so I, let’s see, back in 2013, I had a bit of a vision about a lot of things that were already good about the environment that we’ve already done. Like wilderness areas and efficient motors, efficient windows. There’s a whole lot of stuff that came to me all one morning and I just said, “Oh, there’s a pattern here. There’s a pattern of good news that I don’t think anybody has been writing about.” Those two things kind of came together to become what is the book you have at hand.
Mark Malatesta: Right. It’s a great angle. I don’t know if you’re using that much in your promo or other interviews or things, but the idea of doing more good vs just doing less harm, it’s clever and easy to understand and remember. Hearing you talk about making the transition from the do less harm to do more good, it’s almost a little bit like saving vs investing, not like I’m some kind of investor. I’m not.
I want to get into that, but there’s only so much you can do from a saving standpoint or spending less money. If you want to significantly increase your worth, at some point, you have to invest in some other things that can accelerate everything. This is kind of like that. There’s only so much you can do just cutting back on energy, right?
J.B.: Those take a little bit of insight and effort to do the investing. It’s not quite so automatic as just shutting off the water faucet.
Mark Malatesta: I like that. It’s a little harder.
J.B.: Well, one possible title for the book way back when was 50 Hard Things to Do for The Planet.
Mark Malatesta: That probably wouldn’t have sold.
J.B.: Besides that, I came up with quite a few that were relatively easy, but you have to think about it before you get there usually.
Mark Malatesta: Right. The easy thing is How to Save the Planet Without Getting Out of Bed. That will sell.
Part 3 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Let’s talk a little bit about, I mean, you know as well as anybody how hard it is to get a literary agent or a publisher. I think a lot of authors have this illusion, like, “Oh, I’ll sign up with Mark or if I do an intro call, just one call, or if I do the long-term coaching, it’s a slam dunk. I’m going to get a literary agent or it’s going to be easy.” Well, no. One of the first things I tell people, a whole lot of people do one or both of those things and don’t make it.
Those who do, it’s usually brutally hard, etc. I don’t know why I’m saying all that except to say congratulations. I really appreciate that you stuck with it and did the work. Let’s celebrate a little bit and relive for people listening, because….you making it…they want to see themselves there and these stories never get old. I’ve helped now, as of this week, [hundreds of authors make it]. That’s a big marker, [hundreds of authors] now have made it, that I’ve worked with.
Mark Malatesta: So, relive that day. What were you doing the day before you got the news? How did you get the news that you got the offer from the literary agent? How did that unfold and then…you getting the deal? Have you done anything to celebrate, your short recounting of that? Then we’ll go back and talk about how you got there, and your advice for writers.
J.B.: Well, I’m my own person in this, in that I don’t do things quite the way other people do. Maybe that’s why I should write a book about it, right? I was sitting at my desk and received an email with a tagline “Book Offer.” You know what I did? I kept on writing. I finished the paragraph that I was working on and I completed my thinking a little bit and then I opened the email.
Mark Malatesta: Was that just shock, were you just really focused, or is that how you roll? You’re not easily swayed?
J.B.: Well, I would say that’s who I am. You can tell me the world is falling apart, and I will finish whatever I’m doing before I deal with the world falling apart. In this case, the world was coming together.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: I opened it and I looked at it, and I said, “Wow. This is almost like too good to be true. I have been working for seven years on this manuscript.” The process I went through and all that, and then they have somebody say a book offer one day. My mind doesn’t shift as fast as my wife’s, shall we say. I’m thinking, Well, okay. Let’s think about this. I took a walk down in the national area down near here.
Mark Malatesta: Had you told Willow yet, or no?
J.B.: Well, yes. I told Willow and I told my literary agent, and I thought about it a little bit. I checked out the publisher. I hadn’t heard of Roman and Littlefield. They are credible and they publish a lot of books and have a bunch of titles. I’m thinking to myself, Okay, it’s real. Coming to that, it’s real with a process for me rather than one of these, “Oh, wonderful. My journey is over.” As a matter of fact, it’s a step on the journey because look what happens after you get a publisher. You have to go through that process.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: I needed a little help from my literary agent and from Willow to say, “Come on, Jon. This is time to celebrate.”
Mark Malatesta: That’s normal. It could be a little anticlimactic, especially the longer it takes to get a literary agent or a book deal.
J.B.: I guess to me I’m not so dependent on that moment. If it took another six weeks, six months, I would still be working on that. It’s my mission to work on that. That’s who I am, something I’m proud of, not embarrassed by. Willow fixed me a nice dinner and I went down to the Dairy Queen and got myself a blizzard. I did my small version of a celebration.
Part 4 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Well, you’re not going to take a private jet somewhere because that’s not going to be good for the environment.
J.B.: Yes When the publisher sent a contract to my literary agent and me, we went over it in great detail and my literaryagent got back to her. We modified a couple terms and so forth. It wasn’t like, “Take it or leave it.” It was sort of like, “Okay, here’s what’s normal in the publishing industry and here’s what’s flexible.” The good news is my literary agent knew something about that. We had it all figured out in 2-3 days, but those were two or three very interesting days.
Mark Malatesta: Right. You’re fortunate it only took a few days to get it hammered out. Sometimes, that stuff can drag out over weeks or longer. Okay. Excellent. Let me ask you this because some of these things, you and I might have talked about long ago. I won’t always remember, and we want to share with people listening anyway. When did you first get the idea you might be a writer or author? Some people, they know from the time they’re born. Most people, something happens along the way. Some of my published writers tell me they still don’t feel like writers. When did you first get the idea you might be a writer or author?
J.B.: Let’s start off with the fact that I was an engineering in college. It was nothing academic that pointed me in that direction. But I found myself writing a poem now and then. I just like writing poems now and then and, gradually, that became something I do. So, it wasn’t until I had my master’s degree and went to California for my first job that I took an adult education class in creative writing. Actually, I started playing around with writing short stories and things like that.
Mark Malatesta: That has nothing to do with writing a prescriptive nonfiction book, but it’s a good experience writing. You have some stories in your stuff.
J.B.: Well, there are stories in my stuff. But, more important, I think, the art of being which language is there whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. What I was doing was learning to put sentences together in ways that were interesting. The same thing with poetry. I am putting things together in ways that are interesting. I even heard this line one time, “If you can write a poem, you can write a book, only it’s longer.”
My point is that really working with the language is part of the process and I’ve been working with that language for decades at this point. I didn’t go to school to get a degree in writing or anything like that, but I took adult education. And I did some writer groups and got feedback. My first article was on the Laguna poets down in Orange County, California. I played with writing in a semi-serious way for quite a while.
Mark Malatesta: Very nice. Okay. What about the book itself? When did you know you were going to do that?
Part 5 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: As I said, I was working on the handprint idea for a number of years. 2007 is my estimated start time on that. I took a walk along the Keystone XL pipeline, which is part of my environmental activism, the proposed route. It got canceled recently. I was out there three months and four days after I got back. I woke up one morning and I just had this sense of, Wow, there are so many things that have already been done that are really good news from an environmental perspective: wilderness areas, the fishing motors. Stuff I had been working on with my professional career, but also stuff other people have been doing.
I didn’t think anybody had actually told that story. I had the back of a big calendar page and filled it with bubbles. I called it a bubble chart with all these little events and things that happened and people like John Muir and Emery [inaudible], people that actually were catalysts for things happening. They formed nonprofits. It’s sort of like everything has a story and a backstory and hero. I just filled the page with that, and I said, “ow, this looks like a book, and so the handprint idea…”
Mark Malatesta: There you go, that was the moment.
J.B.: Yes. The handprint idea provided a framework for how I told the story, but the story is not just about the handprint. The story is about the good news. We’re continuing the process of creating that good news.
Mark Malatesta: That’s one of my favorite parts about the book. It’s not just a to do list, but you’re very knowledgeable about all those things that have been happening. It gives people hope. Every one of those examples and stories gives people even more ideas. It’s nice.
J.B.: When everybody or anybody gives me a compliment like you’re very knowledgeable… One area that I was weak in was food. I had this friend who basically said, “Jon, you’ve got to talk about food.” I dug very deeply into agriculture and realized there’s this whole realm called regenerative agriculture.
The way it is now, it’s basically a carbon producer. It produces a lot of carbon into the atmosphere but changing our ways of doing agriculture and changing how we eat some will actually make carbon one of the net carbon sinks that helps us get out of this climate crisis, if you will. It was a discovered process I’m going through, as well as just being an expert.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Well, that’s part of the fun. Once you realize, Oh, okay, I’ve got this stuff to do, this extra work. Then you get into learning about the new stuff and enjoy it, right?
Mark Malatesta: Are there any other types of writing that you did before the book as far as like maybe even trying to get articles published or things like that in journals or any kind of academic writing? Things like that? I’m just curious. A lot of authors I work with, they haven’t done any of that. Some of them have done quite a bit. It’s certainly not a requirement, but what had you done?
J.B.: A combination of things. Like I said, my first article was like a public interest article, and I’ve written a number of public interest articles over the years. Let’s say one every three or four years. It’s not like these are things I do every day, but over the years, they add up. I did some mini-biographies of family members. I interviewed them and wrote them up a nice little pamphlet-sized books. My mother’s is 68 pages long. The readership of those is limited, but it’s a really dedicated readership. I got to see some of my writing actually read, which is important to me.
On the professional level, I’ve created a professional energy conservation, and I published about 20-30 papers that are professional for technical magazines and conferences. That sort of thing. Some of which are coauthored. I do have that professional writing background that’s, shall we say, modestly successful. But never the kind of publishing that hits mainstream audiences.
Mark Malatesta: What about studying the craft in any other way? I mean, were you reading books about how to write books? Going to any writer’s conferences, seminars, classes? Working with any editors or coaches or consultants? Anything like that before you met me?
Part 6 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Well, I would say a smattering of that kind of stuff. I read Writer’s Magazine and I have found little poetry workshops and things like that. I don’t have any writers conferences that stand out for me as learning experiences. I’ve probably been to a handful of them. I think mostly what they did for me was just being around people that are doing this . Writing is kind of a solitary profession. So just being around other writers and just getting [inaudible] by what they are doing has really been helpful.
I’ve never felt like I was all alone, but that’s my education. and I will say one thing that actually helped me a lot, the way things worked out. My younger son was struggling in high school and so I had to sit down beside him and work with him on his English papers. One of the things that was part of the work was every paragraph had to have a topic sentence.
You know something? I started to look at my own writing I realized that when I ask myself, does this paragraph have a topic sentence or not? If it did, fine. If it didn’t, get one in there because that tells the reader what’s going on in this whole paragraph. Otherwise, my writing might go into minutia without giving people what the sense I’m really talking about. The best part of my editing process now is actually making sure that my reader knows what I’m talking about. It’s not just about getting words on the page.
Mark Malatesta: Right, that’s a good one. Let’s talk more about some of your other advice or tips for authors. Let’s start with writing a book. To me, it doesn’t really matter. You can talk a little bit about specific things for nonfiction writers or some general principles or things that you might do that would help authors of any genre. Do you have one, two, or three things like that?
What I’ve learned is to kind of put a little nuance to this question and say, some of these things might be external things that you might actually do a certain way as a writer in your craft but even in your scheduling or internally. It could be anything like that that somebody might find helpful, some things that way that have been good for you.
J.B.: Well, I have a story my roommate told me which is always in the back of my mind. Somebody told him when he wanted to get into medical school. The question is, do you want to try it again in the medical school or do you want to get into medical school? The difference is how much effort you’re willing to put into it.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Getting published isn’t a decision like that, to an extent. That’s true. We’re not in total control, but the same with medical school…it’s a different mindset.
J.B.: I think your mantra “publishing is a decision” is correct in the sense that it’s the decision to really invest yourself in it, not just poke at it. My writing is something. It’s always been in the background in my life. As it turns out, writing in college, if you will. But I’m kind of at the other end of my career now. I’m 70 and I found that it took a long time to get writing to be on the front burner. It took encouragement from my first wife and my second wife.
Part 7 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: It took two of them to get you there.
J.B.: It also took accepting an early retirement. That was the point at which I didn’t have to make earning a living my priority. I don’t know if I could turn this into advice so much as I can say to each of your writers, “Look at your situation and be realistic. If you have other things that are taking up all your time, write small stuff. Write articles, write poetry. Do something to just keep yourself in it, but if you actually want to write a book, you have to actually sit down for days in a row.”
There are a lot of people who talk about writing, but there aren’t a lot of people who actually sit there and do it for days in a row. A short version of that would be to try to do something every day if you’ve got a big project. Some little progress every day. If you get stuck on it, you just come back to it the next day. Likely or not, you’ll find a way to get unstuck. This is a journey, not just a task. I could go on and on, but that’s what’s coming in right now.
Mark Malatesta: I like that. Get it from the back burner to the front burner. It’s also like, if you’re writing a novel, you just can’t, now, some people will argue with me on this… But generally, most novelist are going to say, “Okay, you’re not going to ever get a novel done if you just have 30 minutes a day to work on the novel. You’re going to have to chunk bigger time slots. Maybe not every day but a couple days a week. You get an hour or two on it.”
J.B.: Alright. We’ll go one step further, now that I think about it. What is your reason for writing? People don’t have to have my reason for writing, but for me, being read is important. What does it take to be read? For me, making a difference. In other words, actually impacting people is important. When I started understanding that this isn’t just an ego thing.
This isn’t just to see myself in print. This is about doing the work I’m here to do in the world. Then it’s not about just putting words on the page but also doing the work of getting them put together in a good way and learning the skills. The kind of stuff you coach people with so they can actually get out in the world and do some good. That’s why I write things, certain things and I don’t get around to other things.
Mark Malatesta: Right. That’s a good anchor. I mean, I don’t know if you remember this, but when we were doing that, one part of my process was getting into the platform building. I try to remember to tell my clients at that point. I had this conversation with a client earlier today. I was like, “Okay. We’re going to get you to do a ton of stuff and reaching out to possible promotional partners. If you’re like most authors, you’re not going to like it. You might hate it but it must be done. At the end of the day, to help you through it, try to focus on doing all that not just to maybe get the book out there but that you’re making a difference now. You’re making connections now. You might have speaking or writing articles opportunities now. Stay focused on that mission and the things that come back energetically now, because then you’re more likely to dig in and do more and be motivated and get better results.” Of course, that increases the odds of making the book happen and on the level that you want it, right?
J.B.: I could show you how that unfolded a little bit for me. During the platform-building part, my platform was a little weak so I reached out to people in my field. I made some preliminary contacts. I’m thinking of three people in particular. They are PhD level people who are really respected dealing with the handprint kinds of things I’m working on.
One of them actually gave me a blurb for the book, which is great. But the other two ended up being sort of like colleagues. Now we’re talking about, after the book had already been launched, talking about the idea of writing an article that blends some of their work with my work in a way that goes out to the general public in a mainstream magazine like New Yorker, Atlantic, or that kind of thing. So, the early work of sort of building a platform becomes a kind of a collegial kind of thing as things go further along in your process.
Part 8 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Nice. Yes, and it gets easier and more comfortable. I mean, if you’re approaching it the way you are with this as a project. Your main motivation is to make a difference, a positive difference. It’s a little easier to reach out to possible promotional partners for that. At least it should be.
J.B.: I know I’m talking about nonfiction here, but I have to say that if you’re writing a novel, I suspect there’s a reason why you’re writing a novel. It goes beyond just writing, telling a good story. I’m inviting people to think about it even in nonfiction type terms.
Mark Malatesta: Right, and it will depend on the novel, right? Because I’d say the majority, let’s say three-quarters of novelists, at least the ones I talk to, there’s usually some meaning, like there’s some character development in their story. There are some meaningful themes, right?
Mark Malatesta: Others, it’s just absolutely pure entertaining storytelling, that’s it. That’s okay too, but that’s not the majority. That’s okay. We need to be entertained, too. I mean, look at everything we’ve been through with the pandemic. Thank goodness for humorous things and stuff like that. I know. I was like going back through like the whole Frasier sitcom series. I want some stuff that’s funny in the background, when I’m running around or brushing my teeth or whatever I’m doing. There’s a place for all of it.
J.B.: During this pandemic, I’ve watched almost every episode of Star Trek Next Generation and I call it my escape from reality, shall we say. Even those episodes, they tend to have some sort of message.
Mark Malatesta: Yes, and even if it’s pure escape, it’s still feeding something in your spirit that needs to be fed.
Mark Malatesta: Let’s talk for a second about traditional publishing versus self-publishing. At some point between you reaching out to me and earlier when you kind of had the idea for the book. At some point, you probably kicked around pros and cons of like publishing [the book] yourself, paying a vanity publisher, or trying to get a traditional publisher like yours. What was your process with that? What were you thinking that led you to go traditional?
J.B.: Right. Well, as you can hear from my other answers, I’m motivated by trying to make the world a better place. My sense is that you have got to have your book read before you’re going to have much impact. My sense is traditional publishers are more capable of getting a book out there and getting it read than nontraditional. People can sell self-published books, but I’m really more interested in the impact that I have in the number of sales. That’s my personal motivation if you will.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
Part 9 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: I really didn’t think I would have a lot of impact if I just self-published. When I say just self-publish, I want to be careful about that because I think there are reasons to self-publish. For instance, a personal story that needs to be told, fine. But for me, I’m more motivated to actually shift people’s thinking. Right. That’s the bottom line and I’ll tell you, I’ve run into quite a few people who have almost recommended self-publishing because traditional publishing has all these hoops that we have to jump through to get there. I’ve said, “No, I think I really need to do this because that’s why I’m publishing this, to get read.”
Mark Malatesta: It’s one of those cases where it really is…nine times out of ten…bigger is better in this case. The bigger the publisher, you’re more likely to have more readers and then the other perks like maybe the book being published in different countries or in different languages or being turned into an audio book or documentary series or something. All of that is more likely with the bigger publisher and most authors like you, they are going for it. It’s not about, “Oh, I want the big publisher to be rich and famous. It’s for those other reasons first.”
Mark Malatesta: The self-publishing thing, it’s so easy, or self-anything. Like, “Oh, sell your house yourself. You don’t need a realtor or broker.” Yes, until you run into a big problem and you have some legal issues or it all falls apart. It’s the last resort or if you’re truly a marketing machine or you have a quirky small niche book. Then self-publishing does make total sense.
J.B.: I don’t want to be too preachy about it for myself. I mean, an analogy might be when you go to college, what college do you choose? You can go to a community college and get a practical education in how to run machines or that kind of thing. You can go to a four-year college to learn the basics of a profession. You can go to a mainstream university that might give you a chance at moving up the ladder a bit. If you want prestige, some people need that for one reason or another, then you look for an Ivy League school. There are lots of reasons to write and publish and so forth, but think in terms of what you’re trying to get out of it.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Let’s shift to marketing. What’s fun about you is like you’ve been through the whole thing. You’ve been through the paces of what I challenge authors to do with the platform building. You’ve been doing things once you got the book deal prior to the book coming out. And you’ve done more now that the book is out. You’ve been through the whole gamut with book promotion. What have you learned that you think might translate well, will be relatable regardless of genre? Things [listeners] might want to think about or do now or in the future, whether they are just getting started with their writing, they just got a literary agent, or maybe their book is out. Your top two or three marketing suggestions, things to think about or do.
Part 10 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Well, I’m talking to the person who knows more about that than I do. I would say that relationships are important. So, nurture relationships with other professionals, people you respect. Look for opportunities to have connections because those connections translate into a kind of platform eventually if you’re intentional about it. So, partly your coaching for me of how to do that. I have a successful professional career, but it was actually limited to a circle of professional people I knew.
I did not connect well with the publishing community, and it did not connect well with the general public. I had a professional career and I was looking at reaching out to people in their homes. Basically, I needed people to be allies that are already reaching people in their homes. So, that, to me, is platform building in a strategic sense. I would also say, this is maybe unique to me, but I think it’s neat to think about…I was thinking about getting a PhD. I have a master’s degree. I have a fairly successful professional career. I was realizing, I couldn’t justify the expense of a PhD.
It would cost me $60-80,000. It would take me 6-8 years. I started looking at the experience, things I was doing in the realm of sustainability, my field. I started looking at them as courses, things that actually I could learn from, go deep in, have some experience with, like eco-remodeling my home. We went through the whole list of things with this house. What kind of paint we were going to put on, the water heater, whether or not to replace the windows, on and on? That whole eco-remodeling the home became what you might call an extended course in sustainability.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: Trying to pass a law like the initiative here in Oregon on outdoor school. We actually went around and collected signatures to make it mandatory that 5th and 6th graders go to outdoor school once for a week during that 5th or 6thgrade just to expose them to nature and to sustainability. That experience for me grounds me in what later I was going to write about. I could tell you 20 or 30 of those kinds of stories. Those add up to what my wife calls a PhD from the universe rather than from the university. To some extent, my book is sort of my dissertation, if you will.
Mark Malatesta: That’s great.
J.B.: By the way, my committee is people like you and my literary agent and my publisher and the readership, the general readership. They are going to say, “Is this really useful?”
Mark Malatesta: Right. Certainly, college is not always…and let’s hope not the majority of the time…but there are a whole lot of people going to college because they are not sure yet what they want to do. Better to do that than nothing in the meantime, I guess, right?
J.B.: Well, I guess the point I was making was that’s also building a platform. You’re actually building a portfolio of experience in what you are interested in and eventually what you’re good at and what you have unique stories to tell about. There’s fodder for being a writer and for being an interesting writer that editors and literary agents will pick up on.
Mark Malatesta: And that’s an equalizer because you don’t need a degree in anything to write and get a book published. You just need to have something people are going to find out one way or the other.
J.B.: By the way, I have very few PhDs who are actually my heroes. Most of them don’t have PhDs. They have life experience.
Part 11 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Right. I went to school. I didn’t know yet what I was going to be and the closest thing I could figure out is I want to take some communication classes, some writing classes, and I got a major in psychology. In a twisted way, that kind of helps me be a better coach, I guess, but not at all in the publishing arena, that training.
But it’s life experience again. I wanted to write books. I ended up becoming a literary agent. I’m learning about the industry from the inside and then it’s just funny how it works out sometimes. So many writers that are like that. They are Renaissance people, or they are being eclectic, but it’s definitely not a straight line. It’s a very crooked one.
J.B.: Well, for me, I’m looking back over my life and it’s sort of like a series of careers. There’s the career there, the fixed career, then there’s the energy conservation career. That was a long one. That’s sort of my base career, if you will. Then, I went into mediation and consulting and those are two different careers. Then I focused on the writing career and as I got published, then it’s being an author. Now, this is a whole another thing. Once you’re an author, now, how do you carry yourself in the world? There’s an interesting journey. It’s continuing forward from here.
Mark Malatesta: Right. I really like what you said about being more intentional. I want to recap that with the platform building, being intentional about making those connections and the people with platform. Now, it’s more important again if you’re a nonfiction author. Fiction authors don’t have to freak out, but the nonfiction authors do, for the most part, have to get uncomfortable.
Most writers are introverted and don’t want to do this stuff of reaching out to people, but it doesn’t mean you have to be Mr. or Ms. extrovert and go out and meet everybody face to face. Emails can be sent and things like that, but the tip you had in there like the connecting with these people that already have platforms and then opportunities come up. Suddenly, by default, their platform is, in part, your platform. That’s kind of the secret or the key there.
J.B.: One little subtlety, I wrote to a number of organizations that do the work that I mentioned in my book. I found the ones that were a little bit less than really well-known were the ones that were more receptive to working with me.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: It’s like the famous people, their plate is full, but the people that are doing good human work, [inaudible] they seem to be little bit easier going about helping somebody out. That would be a tip I have. Don’t just focus on the glamorous people. Focus on the people that are doing what you care about.
Mark Malatesta: There are some good nuances there. I’ve learned in this work, it really depends on the industry, in part. It can vary a bit whether it’s harder to get the top shelf people, but it’s surprising. You should always definitely start with the biggest names because sometimes, you’ll be surprised. You may have a lower response rate with those, but you still might get some. Definitely when you’re doing the platform building, that rule that you’re saying applies. The not-as-big people are generally going to be more receptive for the reasons you mentioned. But in contrast with literary agents and your experiences, it’s not like this.
This is a shocker to me. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned through this coaching [since 2011] is that it’s not necessarily or usually easier to get a lower-level literary agent than a top one. That flies in the face of what you would think normally, right, intuitively? But it’s totally true. I tell my long-term clients, hey, that’s good news/bad news. The good news is you might be able to get a really good literary agent. The bad news is if you burned through all those and the only ones left are the bottom of the barrel literary agents, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get one of them. We definitely want to start at the top.
You’re right. Mentally, it’s important. If you’re doing the promotional platform building and you just kind of set your sights on like, oh, I’m only going to go after the big name people and you put all your eggs in that basket and you kind of bum out, then maybe you burned yourself out and you don’t get some of those other middle tier or lower tier people you could have gotten if you went into it looking a little more diversity.
Part 12 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Well, one thing I learned with working with you and the literary agents that you helped me go to was actually, there are quite a few good literary agents out there. So, it’s not like you have to get yes from one of three people or one of ten people. There are a couple hundred or whatever the number is for your particular genre, of really good literaryagents out there. It takes a little bit of work just to go to those two, so why not start with that list. Frankly, I didn’t get all the way through that list until it got to the literary agent that would say yes to me.
Mark Malatesta: Right. I shared some of her biographical details and her agency at the beginning. That’s no slouch literary agent or agency. So, you certainly weren’t at the bottom of your list.
J.B.: No, I had another 400 to go to get to the bottom of my list.
Mark Malatesta: Exactly. You’re lucky. If you have something like Christian fiction or poetry, you will only have 60 or 10 literary agents you can go after. With [a book] like yours, you got like 600, 700 maybe you could go after. I like those odds better.
J.B.: I will say that one of the challenges I had is that several literary agents did respond back in very positive ways but they didn’t feel like environmental books were selling really well and they weren’t really curated to take on an environmental book.
Mark Malatesta: Which is really weird in this day and age, right? Like, “What?”
J.B.: Well, yes, it’s weird. But I have to say, all the bestsellers I can think of that are environmental were like 20 years ago. I’m thinking, “Okay, I have to understand, it’s not like you’re not selling any environmental books, but I need to kind of dig a little deeper to find the literary agent that’s not just looking at what’s hot right now but what I can fit into. Because basically, I’m not going to switch my genre just because they are not selling. I need to sit and figure out how to make my genre work.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: I had to find a literary agent who was really enthusiastic about working with me and suddenly, it wasn’t about “Well, is an environmental book going to be okay?” It was like, she looked forward to the opportunity to work with somebody who is really serious about the environment.
Mark Malatesta: Right. It’s nice when you get a fit like that and sometimes, you’re just getting a literary agent who is just looking at the book. It’s a product, and it’s something they can sell. They are only going to take things they can sell for the most money in their mind. Clearly, that’s not our preferred outcome. We want something more like this, somebody who actually cares about the topic and hopefully knows a little bit more about it than the average literaryagent, etc.
J.B.: I don’t remember the specifics, but I think you did a little bit of coaching on how to do my query so that I was putting enough of myself into it that it was partly about getting a match. It wasn’t just about the luck of the topic, the salability of the topic.
Mark Malatesta: Right. I was going to say it’s the perfect segue. What would you say, maybe 1-3 things that you found most valuable or important going through the coaching process with me whether it’s on the introductory coaching call, the first call, or the query, book proposal, platform, it could be absolutely anything for people who might be wondering what that experience is like?
Part 13 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Well, actually, I’m kind of hearing two questions and I’m going to answer them separately. The first one was the process of kind of getting on board with you. I can see that for a moment here that the coaching call for me was sort of testing my stuff. You reviewed my stuff and you did a good job of giving me some feedback. That was encouraging but I think what it did was it told me how serious you were about helping me. That helped me get to the next step which is to actually ask you to be my coach. So, that process is something I wanted to talk about, I don’t know how to put it simply now. But that wasn’t really your question, kind of restate your question a little bit.
Mark Malatesta: Well, you can talk about anything. It’s just [that] I know some people are kind of wondering what that experience is like or some of the thing you did or how you experienced it. So, it’s some of those things that you just talked about one thing which is an important one. I would have asked you that too next, which is basically what would have made you maybe make the leap from doing that first initial coaching call to doing the bigger program, but you kind of spoke to that a bit. Basically, you got some good things out of the call and felt like I believed in your work and was serious about helping you get there…
J.B.: Yes. Let’s go back to that previous question though because I did have something I want to say there.
Mark Malatesta: Go for it. It’s just totally open ended, like things that you found most valuable or important to your success through the coaching.
J.B.: The coaching process. Yes, I do have a couple of things to say. One was you actually helped me with the manuscript on two things very specifically. One was you worked with me on the introduction and I remember one of the things you said was the introduction is for the reader. It’s sort of your sales pitch for your book and I’m saying to myself, I never would have come to that if I hadn’t had somebody who has been there.
Mark Malatesta: We just started with chapter one and assume they are interested, right?
J.B.: Yes. So, I rewrote that introduction quite a bit and at the absolute other end of the book, you said to me, “I want you to sum up what you’ve said.” I forget the words you used but sort of make your point. I have written a lot of information down and told lots of stories, but they were reporting up to that point, like a good reporter tells what’s happened. The end of it, the last chapter and actually the next to the last chapter in the final version are, here’s what I think is possible given all that I described in the earlier part of the book.
I might not have ever written that chapter which, to me, is part of my major message with the book, is that we have a much more positive future within our grasp than it appears if you listen to all the environmental news. It is because we’ve been doing all this whole work of efficient motors and parks and plastic bag bans and all that. All that adds up to something more than the sum of its parts. I was able to say that at the end of the book in a pretty succinct way. That was a real gift you gave to me, encouraging me to write that chapter.
Mark Malatesta: Did we, if not then set me straight, but didn’t we end up making the book more actionable also or was that already there?
Part 14 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
J.B.: Well, I think some of that was there but what I think you actually made me do and this is something I did want to say is you wanted me to focus it on the average person, the reader, as opposed to a bunch of government people that probably won’t get around to reading my book anyhow.
Mark Malatesta: And even if they could, like, you’re trying to reach the most people make the biggest change for the mainstream book.
J.B.: Yeah, part of this answer to a lot of our issues is to change how people think about things and so I’m not going to, I don’t want to put it in a negative, I guess basically what I want to do is make sure that, I lost my train of thought there, sorry. We’re going to have to move on.
Mark Malatesta: It’s okay. A common thing with nonfiction books is that a lot of nonfiction authors are trying to speak to too many different target market segments and it’s really hard to do. For speaking to the mainstream general reader, you can do a good job or kind of the politicians, governments, policy makers. But to do both in the one book would be really tricky.
J.B.: Exactly. That particular guidance helped me even after I found my literary agent. [For the] final edition or the final drafts of the manuscript went to the publisher [I] had cut out a couple of chapters because of the length requirements they have. I cut out the chapters that were not actionable.
Mark Malatesta: Interesting.
J.B.: I found that my book did not suffer as a result. I have material for other books if I want to write them.
Mark Malatesta: Right, and/or blog posts.
J.B.: Yes. That focusing on what can the reader actually use or do with this book, you helped me sharpen that point all through the book.
Mark Malatesta: Is there anything else you remember that we did that was beyond the book? What would have been like one other thing that you found valuable?
J.B.: Stages. So, there’s work on the book and then there’s build a platform and then there’s find a literary agent. We already talked a little bit about the platform, the finding a literary agent. If I were to say one of the main reasons I went with you in the first place was I looked at all the potential literary agents out there and I looked at all the query letters I had to write, and I said, this is going to take a long time. My book might get out of date by the time I do this.
Mark Malatesta: Right, because we had Earth Day. There’s an anniversary or something coming up for you with the book, right, that we didn’t want to miss.
J.B.: Right, 58th anniversary birthday and I was look…
Mark Malatesta: Right, 58th anniversary, I knew it was something like that.
J.B.: I really wanted to move through that, find a literary agent a little faster with a guiding hand, and you gave me that. You gave me a list of literary agents and helped me with my query. That process was something I knew nothing about, and you gave me sort of a key to the door, if you will, to getting into the industry. I definitely need to acknowledge that.
Part 15 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Thank you for that. What’s the most unexpected thing came up for you or thing that surprised you the most other than how much work it was or how long it took? Let’s eliminate those. Those are the obvious easy ones.
J.B.: Well, I’m going to say one thing was that I was encouraged on how you stayed with me as an author. This was not one of these things where [it was just], “Here are some tips. Go off and do things and I wish you well.” It was, “Here are some tips. Go off and do these things,” then you would give me feedback and I would work on it some more. It was an interactive process.
Mark Malatesta: Right.
J.B.: That interactive process, I think, is necessary for me to get to, you know… This book is something I’m proud of. It’s pretty highly refined at this point and it didn’t happen by accident. It didn’t happen because I’m a great writer although that was helpful. It happened because there’s a lot of interactive work that went into bringing this together and you were definitely part of that process.
Mark Malatesta: Thank you. Any last final thought or advice for anybody listening about absolutely anything?
J.B.: Well, yes. A person who is called a systems thinker, Donella Meadows, published her article back in the 80s, I guess, called “Ten Ways to Intervene in a System and the Increasing Level of Effectiveness.” She had things like feedback loops and changing the hardware down kind of low in the list. %he highest one on the list was changing how people think. That’s the job of a writer as far as I’m concerned. That’s the job of an author. That’s been a guiding light for me is if I can help change how people think, I can change the world.
That’s my Archimedean lever. That’s the thing that I have that has some leverage. I submit that every one of your leaders has some way of changing how people think. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction. Whether it’s humorous or whether it’s very, very serious, I want to lead with that challenge. Think in terms of what can you do to get people a new perspective, a new way of doing things, a new value that they want to keep in mind. With that, I think you’ve got something that will actually help hold you to the desk and stay with it and go through all the hoops that we have to go through to get to being a published author.
Mark Malatesta: I love that. That’s kind of the biggest thing that I’ve learned doing this coaching [since 2011], that I came into it thinking the value I’m going to offer people, it’s to help them improve their query letter or their book proposal or their book or their platform. Here, I realize, I don’t know the percentage, we could say half of it is really how they think, right? That can totally derail you and/or it can dramatically increase your chances of making it if you’re thinking straight, right? Who knew that psychology degree would come in handy?
J.B.: I think it did very well myself.
Part 16 – Mark Malatesta Interview with J. Biemer
Mark Malatesta: Some of my clients say it must be like herding cats sometimes. It’s what it must feel like, but for the most part, I find writers…I like writers.
J.B.: Survival instinct.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Yes, I like writers. For the most part, writers are curious and kind and want to make a positive difference and they are learning. To me it’s, for the most part, good fun.
J.B.: It helps to be a little bit flexible in terms of how you get there, but it also helps to be pretty deep on what it is that you want to try to do so that your mission helps hold you to the fire, shall we say.
Mark Malatesta: Right. Well, thank you again so much for doing this. I’m so glad you’re here. It’s just the beginning but we were talking before we came on here to do this. You’re through a big bulk of the promotion push and you have some big life changes coming up. I’m glad you’re able to squeeze this in, and thank you for sharing everything you did. I know it’s going to help some people.
J.B.: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Jon Biemer, author of Our Environmental Handprints (Rowman and Littlefield), supplied this interview and Mark Malatesta review. Jon worked with the former literary agent to get a literary agent, which led to his book being published in hardcover.
Mark Malatesta, Founder of Literary Agent Undercover
Mark Malatesta is the creator and curator of the popular How to Get a Literary Agent Guide at GetaLiteraryAgent.com, as well as The Directory of Literary Agents. He is the host of Ask a Literary Agent, and he is the founder of The Bestselling Author and Literary Agent Undercover.
Mark has helped hundreds of authors get book deals with traditional publishers such as Random House, Harper Collins, and Thomas Nelson. His writers have been on the New York Times bestseller list, had their books optioned for TV and feature film, won countless awards, and had their work licensed in more than 40 countries.
Writers of all Book Genres have used Mark’s Literary Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get Top Literary Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on his popular List of Book Agents. Click here to learn more about Mark Malatesta.