How to Become a Literary Agent

How to Become a Literary Agent

How to become a literary agent - before you decide to start a literary agency and/or represent yourself, read this article by a former NY Times bestselling book agent.

How to Become a Literary Agent?

So you say that you want to learn how to become a literary agent. Maybe I should say that you think you want to learn how to become a book agent.

And…

The reason you want to know how to become a book agent is you’re having one or more of the following thoughts:

If I knew how to become a book agent, I could represent myself. If I knew how to become a book agent, I wouldn’t need those undiscerning [idiot] agents who’ve rejected me. If I knew how to become a book agent, publishers would finally get a chance to read my book. If I knew how to be a book agent, I’d give my book the representation it deserves. If I knew how to be a book agent, I could save 15% in literary agency commission. If I knew how to be a book agent, I would finally get the book deal of my dreams.

Now, because I care about you (and because I have no shame), I’m going to share my own personal story about how to become a book agent… from someone who had the same thoughts as you… and actually followed through. I just hope you appreciate the fact that I’m telling you this. Because I really don’t want to relive the experience.

In fact, I’m getting nauseous
just thinking about it.

Uh-oh.

Trembling.

Bit of a chill.

Burning in my throat.

Excuse me for a moment…

How to Become a Book Agent Trembling

(the sound of vomiting coming from the bathroom)

Okay, I’m back.

Sorry about that.

Like I said… I really don’t want to write about this, talk about this, or even think about this. In fact, if I had a therapist I’m sure that he/she would tell me to put it behind me (it was more than ten years ago and I’ve already gone through the grieving process).

Forget it.

I’m going to tell you what happened…

Even though I know I’m putting my mental health at risk. Even though I’m going to feel like I’m naked in the produce section of a crowded supermarket. I’m going to tell you because it might help you avoid your own horrific heartbreak.

How to Become a Book Agent Naked

So, here goes… how to become a book agent. Or, my personal account of this author’s brief “relationship” with Judith Regan (the infamous former publisher of Regan Books, an imprint of Harper Collins).

Before I met Judith Regan, this is what I knew about her:

1. Everyone wanted Judith Regan.

2. Regan had discovered Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone). She’d also published Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked (more than 10 million copies sold); Stupid White Men by Michael Moore; Private Parts and Miss America by Howard Stern; and Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, etc.

3. Judith was tough as… oh, shoot (I can’t think of anything adequate). Yes, I should be able to think of an apt metaphor since I’m a writer. But I’m certainly not the first person to come up empty-handed trying to describe Judith’s “personality.”

Judith Regan How to Become a Book Agent

A Regan Books Catalog
(striking resemblance to Judith)

Anyway, I knew how to become a book agent because I’d already been one for about a year. And I was aching to get one of my own books in the hands of top publishers for consideration (for those of you who don’t know my story, I’m a writer who went “undercover” for five years as a literary agent, at age 28, to learn everything I could to get my own books published).

It was time, I decided.

* * *

I knew how to become a literary agent, so…

One fateful day in January 1999, I started making phone calls to pitch one of my novelty/gift books to publishers (using a pseudonym).

How to Become a Book Agent Publishers

One of those publishers was Judith Regan.

The title of my book (co-authored with a friend) was “What’s So Merry About Christmas:
A light-hearted collection of aggravations that suck the joy out of Yuletide.”

Clever, right?

I can say that with confidence now, because Judith Regan’s assistant called me the day after she got the manuscript… to tell me that everyone (including Judith) loved the book. It’s one of those moments in time that you remember with absolute c-l-a-r-i-t-y.

It was a Friday afternoon (what a way to start the weekend). I was ecstatic, but didn’t want to sound desperate. So I told Judith’s assistant that “the authors” would be excited, but I didn’t let myself sound too enthusiastic.

Then Judith’s assistant asked me, “What kind of advance are you looking for?”

“Let me speak with the authors and get back with you,” I replied.

Then I started celebrating…

I remember screaming (after I hung up the phone), making huge fist pumps in the air… like Tiger Woods after sinking an eagle putt at the Masters (yes, I know it’s been a while since he’s done well).

How to Become a Book Agent Top

* * *

How to become a literary agent?

Are you kidding me?

This is e-a-s-y.

I remember putting the top down on my convertible Ford Mustang (the car I had at the time) with my “LIT AGT” vanity license plate. I blasted my stereo and drove (going nowhere in particular), enjoying the crisp South Florida winter air, saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” again and again (not caring how ridiculous I looked or who might be watching).

How to become a literary agent?

Piece of cake with mad skills like mine.

How to Become a Book Agent Mustang

I got on my cell phone and started called everyone I knew… to tell them the good news (like a blushing bride who’d just been proposed to).

“Yes, that’s right. One of the most successful publishing executives in the world, at one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the world, wants my book. And… it’s still being considered by 15 other publishers. That means I’ll be able to leverage them against each other, drive up the advance and get a bigger promotion budget.”

How to become a literary agent?

Charm their pants off with a brilliant book and a perfect pitch.

Everything I’d dreamed about since my sophomore year in college (when I first started writing and thinking about being a published author), had come true.

How to Become a Book Agent Delusional

My entire world suddenly made sense.

I was finally going to be published.

How to become a literary agent?

Just do it yourself.

Seemed I wasn’t delusional after all (some of my family and friends wondered about me and, sometimes, so did I). But all those years of writing were not in vain. All that hoping and wishing was warranted. And I’d never have to work for anyone else again as long as I lived.

Confidence How to Become a Book Agent

Monday morning I was still “high” from the news.

I made calls to the other publishers who were still considering the manuscript, to give them a sense of urgency. I told them that we had an offer from another publisher, but we really wanted to work with them (which was true if they were going to give us a better offer), so they’d need to let us know (quickly) if they were interested in making an offer.

How to become a literary agent?

Confidence and swagger.

Book Marketing Coach - Introductory Session

I sent Judith a follow-up fax, letting her know that nothing would please us more than to have the book in her capable hands, but… the manuscript was currently being considered by other publishers.

And, I didn’t give her an exact amount that I wanted for an advance. Instead, I told her that we were “looking for the best terms we could get for our clients” and asked her to get back to me with their best terms regarding the advance, print run, promotion, etc.

How to become a literary agent?

Play those publishing
executives like an orchestra.

Executives How to Become a Book Agent

The next day I got a phone call from Judith’s assistant.

“We’ve had time to crunch the numbers. Because your book is a seasonal
Christmas book, we’d only be able to sell about 15,000 copies a year…
and that’s not enough for us… so, unfortunately, we’re going to
have to pass.”

My mouth went dry (it’s still dry now, twelve years later,
just thinking about it).

I went silent.

Oh, God…

Mouth Dry How to Become a Book Agent

(the sound of more vomiting coming from the bathroom)

I’m sorry, I warned you this would be messy.

How to become a literary agent?

I thought I knew, but I didn’t have a clue.

I did my best to recover from the news and counter of Regan’s position,
but I was stunned and ill-prepared. I hadn’t even begun to see this coming.

It was over.

I literally went to my knees. And I kept hearing the same phrase again and
again in my head: “15,000 copies isn’t enough.”

How to Become a Book Agent Rejections

But, it’s enough for me…

How to become a literary agent.

My body was actually convulsing.

But then I remembered all the other publishers who were still reviewing the manuscript.
Screw Judith Regan, I thought. Who needs her?

So I waited (and waited) for the other phone calls and emails to start pouring in.
And they did… rejections, all of them.

Complimentary, but rejections nonetheless. When you’re dating someone and
they tell you, “It’s not you, it’s me” it doesn’t hurt any less.

Finally, I’d heard from everyone.

No takers.

How to Become a Book Agent No Takers

I screamed (this time not from joy).

I cried, and I raged.

Stupid, stupid, stupid… STUPID!

I shouldn’t have sent Judith Regan that f@#$ing fax.

How to become a literary agent?

Somebody, tell me.

I shouldn’t have tried to play Judith Regan against those other publishers.
I shouldn’t have given her the weekend to think about it. I should have given her
what she wanted (a fair advance amount) and let her make a pre-emptive offer.

But you can’t rewrite history
(and my “relationship” with Judith Regan is history).

A short, passionate “love affair”
that ended in disaster.

Disaster How to Become a Book Agent

How to become a literary agent?

Don’t represent yourself.

I’d like to say that Judith was the love interest and the villain in this story.
But I know that’s not true. I was my own worst enemy, solely
responsible for my undoing.

In all honesty, I have to say that I don’t really know if another agent could have
done any better representing me (but if I was a betting man, I’d put a decent
size wager on “probably so”). I wasn’t in a position (representing myself)
to be objective.

Most likely, I blew the deal.

And that’s exactly what you’re probably going to do…
if you try to get a publisher without a book agent.

How to Become a Book Agent Don't

How to become a literary agent?

Don’t (at least not to represent yourself).

I had a better chance of making it work than you’ll
ever have (since I was a legitimate agent).

And I still screwed it up.

How to become a literary agent?

Forget it, it’s not worth it.

Get a real agent (a good agent that isn’t you).

Someone who isn’t emotionally attached to your work…
the way that you are (the way that I was).

How to become a literary agent?

It’s the wrong question.

Instead of, “How to become a literary agent?”

Ask yourself, “How to become a better writer?

Any publishing agent who has him/herself
as a client, is a fool.

I’m living proof,

- Mark

Mark Malatesta
Your “Undercover” Agent

P.S. If you’re still insisting on learning how to become a book agent, buy this book as a starting point: How to Be Your Own Literary Agent. Then leave a comment below to ask me any questions or share your progress.

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40 comments

  1. Dagmar Gatell /

    Thank you for sharing. My first and last thought by reading your blog was the same, “Why would I want to become a literary agent to sell my book?” There are experts for everything, I don’t need to become an expert in anything when I want to write and sell my book, I only need to know where to find them and have them on my adviser team. Like so many other things in life, it takes a long time to gain experience and become a “real” expert. It doesn’t make sense to me to do something for one or few times where I am not experienced or good in. Wouldn’t I want to work with the best literary agent ever to get my book sold, like Mark Malatesta? :-) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    I love your clarity and confidence, Dagmar. You see… that’s what I was lacking when I tried to do it myself. I can admit it now. I was trying to take a shortcut (the wrong kind of shortcut), although I would have looked brilliant if everything had worked out differently. Laughter. Knowing the roles that we should be “playing” in life is a powerful thing. I’m honored to be part of your “team.” | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  2. Hey Mark,
    What’s it take to have a published book over seas, do you have to have an over seas publisher in the country that your marketing? In other words, what’s the best way to reach out. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hi Dave! American authors will usually get a publisher in the United States first… then your agent (or publisher) would try to license foreign editions. But it doesn’t always happen that way. One of my consulting clients (before I met him), managed to get a publisher in India to publish his novel set in India. Then he met me and I helped him get agents interested here in the United States. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  3. thanks for the response and time–

    Not a great talker and talking is very destructive to singing voice. Not so found of listening to myself because I see my own stupidity. Writing is otherwise with its wonderful loops and lines, smooth flow an smudged ink. Ever read Nausea? The narrator’s obsession in collecting bits an scraps of paper, smoothing them out and savoring them?

    when it comes to the financial cost upfront, I couldn’t begin to explain it to writers because even then, gaining access to good publisher’s databases or doing any targeted pr and inquiries requires personal investment in time and money. There’s not magic involved. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    You’re welcome. Unlike you, I love to hear myself talk because (when I’m doing so) I’m more focused on the brialliant parts of myself than the other parts you mentioned. Laughter. Haven’t read Nausea but I just ordered it. Did you realize you’re that powerful? :) Regarding the lies and plagiarism, I never hit that as an agent. But I can certainly imagine what that might be like. I should share some of my more dramatic stories, along those same lines one of these days on my blog. Regarding the public perception of agents, I choose something softer… since I’m still thought of as an agent, even though I’m now officially retired. My wife was at a writers’ conference with me (I think it was in KY) and she said it was uncomfortable that all the writers there treated all the agents like rock stars. But I know that it’s always an awe-love-hate relationship. At least until the writer gets an agent and the agent gets the writer a publisher. Then it’s a love-fest. Well, until some of the typical post-publishing challenges arise. Enjoy your day. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  4. Karen Scott-Boyd /

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Courageous and from the heart :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Surrounded by heart-centered writers such as yourself, I bare my soul (and share my embarrassing moments). :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  5. How to Become a Literary Agent | Reading your story almost made me ill and thanks for those visuals (pictures)! Kudos to you for being able to share it. It’s another reminder that we’re all better served by having professionals handle what they do best and keeping ourselves focused on what we do best, like writing the book! | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Maybe the beginning of a great testimonial from you??? For example, “Mark’s writing (or Mark’s blog) makes me ill.” Ha-ha-ha. Oh, I kill me. :) Thanks for posting, Gayla. And, yes, I believe that anyone who tries to be their own literary agent, or lawyer, etc. is a fool (I can say that now). Have a great Friday. And keep writing. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  6. How to Become a Literary Agent | Okay, one last thing, because I HAVE to know! What ever happened to, “What’s So Merry About Christmas: A light-hearted collection of aggravations that suck the joy out of Yuletide”. ??? I mean…that sounds AWESOME! I tried to google it but nothing came up. Did you re-title it? Is it out there? How can we get our hands on it? | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    I stuck it in the proverbial writer’s drawer of shame. Laughter. One of these days I’ll pull it out, dust it off, put a candy cane to the front of it, and post it online for all to see. Never thought I’d say that, but why not? Life is too short. And, at this point, I think I’m past the point of taking myself too seriously. More laughter…

    [Reply]

  7. How to Become a Literary Agent | Well now! I can certainly see how this works. I was a builder for thirty years, and I got paid a LOT of money, correcting homeowner mistakes! I loved going up to a house with the flashing installed backwards, it looked great, but somehow they were having a “water problem.” I wonder why! They weren’t stupid, in fact, most of them were engineers and doctors, but still, not one of them had ever built thirty or so houses by himself before. I had. Hence, the need for expertise other than being smart. Most writers are very smart. That’s probably why they’re writers. But they aren’t agents. Or necessarily great marketers. In fact, the best agents and marketers, are not always the best writers! Some could be of course. But just think of the most successful self-help series in creation, all done by a master marketer who has declared himself definitely “not a writer.” And he isn’t. He’s a marketer. And I’m a writer. Not an agent. Nobody can be everything, and when you try to be more than you really in truth want to be, some heart gets taken out of it. So I say, let the agents be the agents, and the publishers be the publishers. I’ll write now, thank you! Tom Wright http://www.onepennymillionaire.com. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Tom, you are simply awesome. And, as you know from speaking with me, I greatly admire your passion and persistence with your own writing. I don’t know many people who’ve sacrificed what you’ve sacrified, and put in as many hours as you have, to focus on making their writing “dream” a writing “reality.” Correction. I don’t know ANYONE who has put in the hours that you’ve put in. And that’s saying a lot, from someone who has met and spoken with thousands of writers. In a world of shiny objects, the right words on the page must be the only thing that glitters… in the eyes of a an author. :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  8. How to Become a Literary Agent | WOW. I never knew that about you, before, Mark! That sounds AWFUL. I had no idea that type of potential emotional roller coaster could result in what would seem to be a harmless and proactive premise of wanting to be your own agent! Thanks for shedding the light–or shall I say, Dark! My mother used to tell me that the wise person is one who can learn from OTHER peoples’ mistakes. I think I’ll take this advice to heart while pondering your recent article. I remember back to my days of modeling when I tried to do something similar to you. I was unable to secure an agent. Everyone kept telling me I had a “film star look” and that I wasn’t “weird” looking enough for professional modeling. They said I should pursue acting instead. They also told me that I was “too old” to start modeling. (I was 23 at the time.) So, I showed them all by taking their advice and I became an actress. As a professional actress I “acted” like a modeling agent, and I sold myself to employers in charge of boutique runway jobs. Then I worked a few shows and thought I pre-negotiated the gigs correctly, only to get ONE pay check that was only 60 dollars. (This is very low pay for pro modeling.) I couldn’t fight it because I wasn’t a real agent, and then it all snow balled in my face later on (a long story), but long story short, it was a disaster!! Following that disaster, more grief took place on a professional level due to the fact that modeling doesn’t have a professional union to govern them, so lots of times, employers can get away with anything they want in modeling. It’s not like acting where there are guilds and things. So…I got out of modeling and did full time acting until I married and retired to be a full time stay at home wife/mom. I guess I didn’t know that the world of writing and writing agents could be so similar. As a writer, I often find myself emotionally vulnerable over a piece of work I’ve done and that’s not unlike the vulnerability I experienced as an actress/model. Your article reminds me that I have to continue to persevere and endure through the process of securing top literary representation, if nothing else, just to keep perspective about my work and to allow someone ELSE to handle the emotional aspects. I’ll be saving myself from becoming a human yo-yo.

    Secondly, I am reminded that I need to keep writing. Provided I am at the top of my writing game, and haven’t written a piece of crap, then all it takes is a bit of time before an agent comes knocking on my door.

    I needed this article because I’ve been in a bit of a rut this past week (due to rejection letters over manuscripts.) Until this “Walking on Aligators” book shows up at my door (that I WON! Thank you very much!) your article keeps me thinking and ticking, and ALAS! Your sickening story was very encouraging. (Don’t know if that sounded quite right, but you know what I’m saying. Right?) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    You rock, Kishe. Thank you for sharing YOUR story, which is a mirror of mine in many ways. Any doubts that I had about sharing some a revealing article have now faded away… knowing that you had this reaction (which is exactly what I hoped might happen for some people). Yes, the path to getting published is enough of a roller coaster on its own, without us setting ourselves up for more ups and downs. And you do have to keep going. My wife tells me that it’s a very male thing, this idea of looking at life and your writing as a warrior. But it can be helpful, as long as you believe you’re “winning the war.” Don’t get down over rejection letters. Guess what? The consulting clients that I work with, to help them write THEIR query letters, get tons of rejection letters, too. Even after I’ve worked my magic. But it doesn’t matter if you get rejected or I get rejected. Because, at the end of the day, when you’re talented and committed… you eventually break through. It only takes ONE yes to make a lifetime of nos dissolve into the sunset. And don’t worry about being encouraged by my sickening story. I found some twisted comfort in reading yours as well. Ah, I’m not alone. :) That’s a big part of what this Literary Agent Undercover community is all about. Thanks for being part of it.

    [Reply]

  9. How to Become a Literary Agent | Thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a fun way. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hi Sharon, thanks for saying hello. And I’m glad you took my post the right way and you weren’t offended by it. I know that it’s a bit “racy” but it felt like I had to be that honest to make it work. By the way, I tried to leave a comment at your blog on your deviled egg recipe post. And I had a really good laugh because your website had a bible scripture talking about writing for God, but then you had that recipe for “deviled” eggs. Irony is all around us. Laughter. Wishing you a fabulous Friday and lots of laughter through your weekend. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you about getting published. Yours, Mark

    [Reply]

    Sharon A Lavy Reply:

    I am glad to be of service. Laughter is the best medicine you know. Have a wonderful day.

    [Reply]

  10. How to Become a Literary Agent | How gut wrenching & how embarrassing! I guess relating this story to us is showing how we are too closely attached to our work to be our own agent. To save us from the same kind of ‘vomit’ making experiences, you strongly encourage a writer to get an agent, right?
    But hey, getting an agent can be just as gut wrenching. They’re not all waiting for your query letter/manuscript to drop into their inbox because they need the business! | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Hi Debbie, you just made me chuckle out loud here in snowy Boulder, CO. You are ABSOLUTELY right that getting an agent (or working with an agent) can be just as gut wrenching. So true. But that’s what you have me for. Smile. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you that might help you on your path. See you soon. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Debbie Reply:

    Okay Mark. What could you do for me to find an agent?

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hmm. Such an open-ended question. Okay, I’ll go with it. You have me thinking of a 12-step process now. Alright, here we go. I’ll make them up as we go and we’ll see how far you get.

    Step 1: Get you to commit wholeheartedly to the IDEA of you doing all you can in the next 6 months to get an agent. Are you on board with that? If it’s a yes, I’ll post the next step. :) And don’t get me wrong. Even though I’m having fun with this, I’m absolutely serious about helping you. If you aren’t on board 100% with this first step, nothing else will work.

    Debbie Reply:

    Okay, it’s a yes from me!

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Step 2: Get you to commit to being willing to send out 100 query letters by email and/or snail mail, if that’s what it’s going to take. Hopefully, it will happen when you send out the first dozen. But it often takes much more than that. Is that a yes, also?

    Debbie Reply:

    Okay, I’ll try that. I have a slight problem though, I have already self published the first three books in the series, so my query letter will have to be slightly different from the norm!

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | That’s alright. And I remember your details. I still have the emails you sent me. :) Lots of people have already self-published (some well and some not so well) before approaching agents and publishers. You just need to position it the right way, so it looks like a positive thing.

    Now…

    Step 3: Take some time now and write the best query letter that you can, doing your best to incorporate the secrets that I talk about in my free mp3 here: http://literary-agents.com. I know you’ve already listened to it. I suggest you write a draft of your query, listen to the mp3 one more time, and then revise your query. After you’ve done that (if you’re willing to do that), you can then email it to me using the private email form on this page: http://literary-agents.com/contact. Then I’ll meet you back here with step number four. :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    Debbie Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Okay. I’ll work on that then get back to you. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Bravo. This is fun. Imagine what the world would be like if every writer in the world decided (like you just did), to simply make it happen. That’s half the battle! Congratulations on taking action, and I look forward to helping you take the next step, and the next step, and the next step. :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hi Debbie, kudos to you for following through. I got your query letter that you emailed to me. I just replied privately by sending you an email with a suggestion for a revised opening to the letter. You buried some of the most important details in the letter. And, I’m afraid, agents might not get to the good stuff if you don’t make that adjustment. You next step is now going to be making more revisions to your query, researching agents more, sending out your submissions, and then choosing the right agent. You can do all that alone. But I can also help you, if you want to take advantage of the special 1-hour call offer that I have going right now. You can learn more about it here: http://literary-agents.com/book-marketing/book-marketing-coach. I’d love to help your bears tell their story AND help you sleep better at night knowing that you did all you could to get a traditional publisher. If you have any other questions about the process, you can also ask me here on my blog. But I obviously can’t go line-by-line through your query letter here, etc. Say hello to the bears for me. :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Debbie Reply:

    Thank you for this Mark, I will certainly make the changes you’ve suggested, and review the overall letter before sending them out.
    I’ll be back with the results at a later stage. Watch this space! | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Just keep going AND keep me (us) posted! :) | How to Become a Literary Agent

  11. How to Become a Literary Agent | Thank you for sharing your experience. I can tell it wasn’t easy for you. I don’t have the know-how to represent myself anyway, so will leave that to the professionals. | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | You’re welcome, and thanks for posting. This is probably the one story that I almost didn’t tell, because it is embarrassing… but that probably also makes it one of the most powerful. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you that might help you with your publishing future. ;) | How to Become a Literary Agent

    [Reply]

  12. Fun review to read! Not a fun one to have gone through I take it! Looking like a chipmunk stuffing a coconut methinks thou hast your tongue firmly planted in your cheek. So, what you suggest is, let the poor b$%^&*@d get his/her 15% because they are going to earn every cent of it… is that about right?
    Take care Mark

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    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hi Garland, absolutely NOT fun. But at least no one can say (after reading my story) that I don’t know what it’s like to go through the emotional roller coaster of trying to get published. :) And, yes, what you said about letting agents get their commission is exactly right. Eloquently stated. Now, shouldn’t you be sleeping, sir? It’s 2:41 am! Nitey-nite.

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  13. How timely: The email for this article arrived just minutes after I had started delving into the Literary Agents section of the Jeff Herman guide you sent me! Maybe it was a message from the universe, or perhaps just validation. I pretty much already knew that acting as my own literary agent would be a *really* bad idea. Many words could be used to describe me, but “shrewd” is not one of them! :) It’s helpful to know that even people that would be good agents shouldn’t represent themselves, though.

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    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    Hey Alexi, not sure why it took so long to get to you. But I’m sure it’s divine timing. I must say… you’re shrewder than I am. I was arrogant, cocky, or desperate enough (all three?) to think that I could buck the system. Oops. Have a fab Friday.

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    Alexi Reply:

    Mark, the Jeff Herman book arrived in early October – the day before I went out of town on a short notice, 2 to 3-week business trip. Re: your experience, it was painful but it sounds as if the wisdom gained was worth the loss of the book deal.

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    Mark Malatesta, Literary Agent Undercover Reply:

    How to Become a Literary Agent | Got it, I misread your post about the book. Regarding my experience, you’re right, and I thank you for reminding me of that. If it hadn’t happened the way it did, I probably would have stopped agenting after only one year. I wouldn’t have married my wife… who I met several years later when I was speaking at a writers’ conference. And I wouldn’t have launched this Literary Agent Undercover community. That’s powerful stuff. I’m going to have to turn this into an article. I know, it’s psychology/self-help. But that’s just as important as knowing how to write a good query letter. ;) | How to Become a Literary Agent