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You ever have one of those times when you sit down to write and don’t know where to start?

Right now is one of those times.

For me.

You see, for several days I’ve been pondering whether I should write an article celebrating the hardest-working authors I know… or, if I should write an article “ripping” the lazy-a*s ones.

Since I’m out of time (and still undecided), I’m going to do both. That way you can’t accuse me of being negative. Plus, you need to see both sides to get the point. You’re going to be amazed how lazy some authors can be.

I just hope you’re not one of them!

Oh, in case you’re wondering… yes, this article was inspired by a true story. Several of them, as a matter of fact. It all started a few months ago when I recognized a troubling pattern with some of my 1-on-1 coaching clients. Some of them weren’t willing to do the work necessary to develop and market their books in the best way.


In a hurry.

Taking “shortcuts.”

Sticking their heads in the sand.

Here’s the best of the best…
and worst of the worst.


Take it all to heart.

One of my 1-on-1 author coaching clients (Cheri) hired me early this year to help her write an irresistible query letter and get an agent. She’s awesome. I took Cheri on because her book concept was clear and her writing was clean. She also had a “good-enough” promotional platform to get her foot in the door with agents, and she had a bubbly personality.

I like positive people.

When we started working together, Cheri had herself positioned as “Atlanta’s Stress Therapist.” She’d gotten some decent publicity. And her book was about helping people develop better habits so they could have less stress in their lives.

Not bad.

I also learned that Cheri was the lead singer for a small girl (women) band that did a bit of touring years ago. She still does some gigs from time to time, but not a lot because she’s also now the mother of two little kids.

Very cool…

Everything was going great until our second phone call.

We were just about to start writing a killer query when I realized there was a problem. Cheri told me, off the cuff, that her husband had been encouraging her to include more examples of businesspeople in her book. According to him, all the examples in her book were about moms.

I was concerned, too (but for a different reason).

Although Cheri was a successful therapist, and her book concept/content was solid, I knew she has some MAJOR competition in her category. You know, all those nice old guys with white hair and Ph.D.s… with years of impressive research, affiliations with Universities, lots of papers published, friends like Oprah, etc.

That’s when it hit me…

I knew Cheri needed to change her entire book, business, and brand… if she wanted to get a top literary agent, publisher, and book deal. It came to me like divine revelation. I even got goose bumps. Even so, I figured it would be difficult for Cheri to hear.

So, I broke it to her gently…

“Um, Cheri, I know you didn’t hire me to tell you this… and you’re probably going to kill me when I do… but I have a million dollar idea that could change everything for you… in a good way.”

She gave me permission to continue.

“Have you ever considered writing a book called, I don’t know, something like How to Be a Rock-Star Mom? You could keep 80% of your content. All you’d have to do is develop the metaphor… compare the hectic life of raising kids to being a pop singer on the road. That way everything you are would make sense. It would be more fun. All those stories in your book about moms would work. And you’d no longer have competition. All those Ph.D.s wouldn’t know what to do with you. The media would love you. You could even sing a song or two at book signings and workshops. What do you think?”

Surprisingly, Cheri didn’t scream (although I could hear one—or both—of her little ones going at it in the background). Instead, she took a deep breath (okay, a lot of them) and tried to hold herself together.

She asked smart questions.

Then she told me she was going to do it.

“Do what?” I asked.

“Change my title, my business name, my book, my brand. Everything.”


“Yes, everything.”

“Holy crap.”

And that was that.

Of course, Cheri took more time to think about it. She talked to her husband, friends, other moms, some of her clients, and a few strangers too.

But it stuck.

Now, here’s the point…

Cheri could’ve cried, complained, or attacked me. She even could’ve ignored me and sent out queries for the old book. But she didn’t.

Instead she decided to do the work.

Right now Cheri is in the process of redoing her entire website (she already had professional photos taken – see below – how cool is that)? She’s going to design a new logo and get new business cards. Plus, she’s writing new copy for her website, creating new keynote talks and workshops, and… yes, she’s going to rewrite her book.



She’s not lazy.

She loves writing.

And she takes pride in her work.

It also helps that the writing is flowing a lot more easily now… because she’s writing the right thing for her. I have to say that I owe Cheri a great debt of gratitude as well. She made me realize something about myself.

I don’t like lazy-a*s authors.

So, listen up, you.

If you’re a lazy-a*s author (or if you’ve slipped into lazy-a*s mode recently), the only person you’re hurting is you. If you’re taking shortcuts (even though you might hide it well—or think you hide it well), the only person you’re hurting is you.

Stop it.

Maybe you need to do one more rewrite. Maybe you need to cut some material because your book is too long (or maybe it’s too short). Maybe you need to hire a professional editor. Maybe you need to do more research. Maybe you need to write more. Maybe you need to send out more query letters.

I don’t know what you need,
and I don’t need to know.

Because you know.

So, “man up” as they say  and don’t be a lazy-a*s. Love your writing, respect yourself, and make it happen.

It really is that simple.

Yes, it is.

And don’t give me your sob story about how your situation is different. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to hear it. I’m your book marketing coach, not your therapist.

You know when Cheri gets to write?

When her kids are napping. Or, a few hours here and there when she has a babysitter and isn’t on the phone with clients. It’s sad for me to say this, but Cheri gets more done in a week than some people get done in a month.

And they don’t have kids.

I’ll do anything for someone like that.

So will agents and publishers.

I know, I’m probably just preaching to the choir. So… if you’re one of the faithful, getting it done no matter what, willing to do what it takes, awesome.

You freaking rock.

For everyone else, a gentle reminder…

Don’t be a lazy-a*s,

– Mark
* * *

Mark Malatesta
Your “Undercover” Agent

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