Leslie Lehr Success Story Interview with Mark Malatesta – During this insider interview on our literary agent blog, Leslie Lehr, author of A Boob’s Life, now in development for a TV series with HBOMax by actress and producer Salma Hayek, who says the book is “Original, thought-provoking, and with an elegant sense of humor…a must-read.” A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You is published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster. During this success story interview, Leslie shares her best advice for authors of all genres about how to write, publish, and/or promote their books. Leslie also talks about how she worked with former book agent Mark Malatesta, which led to her book deal.
Scroll below for: 1) Instant access to the audio interview and text transcript, 2) Leslie’s success story about how she got her book deal, and 3) Get a copy of Leslie’s book. You can also click here to visit Leslie’s website.
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Audio Interview with Leslie Lehr
Author of A Boob’s Life
Press the play button below now to listen or click here to download the file (left-click or right-click the link, then select “Save Link As”). This recording is 83 minutes.
Click here to view and/or download a free PDF transcript
of this audio interview!
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Mark Malatesta Review by Leslie Lehr
After following your advice, my book was acquired by Pegasus Books, the prestigious PW gave it a great review, and Time Magazine asked for an excerpt.
As a writing consultant who crafts query letters as part of my business, I know how to hook an agent. But your expertise was invaluable in agent-related decisions that followed. I learned critical things, including how to best communicate with my agent, how to get her re-engaged, how to make a decision about staying with her or leaving, how to help her sell the project, and how to get to the point where she ended up calling me a “dream client.”
Prior to that, I felt like I’d done everything possible to help my agent be successful pitching my book: research, revisions, communicating clearly, being patient, and trusting the process. I already had strong television interest, but that’s unreliable and wasn’t enough to convince publishers. Then, finally, after three years with this project, and after I worked with you, I got an offer.
It was validating because I identify as an author, not just a writing consultant. While I was having trouble selling the book, there was this low-lying depression under everything else I did. I knew I was a good writer, but I wondered if I was crazy to feel so passionate about this idea. So, it was great having that “Oh, my God” moment, and seeing my agent so happy because she worked so hard. Now she sees me as persistent rather than a pest. Prior to that, I didn’t know when I was being helpful vs overstepping.
Now I understand it was mostly a matter of learning how to communicate and keep my emotions to myself, understanding this is a business. But, like you said, working with an agent is a personal relationship as well. I had to keep reminding myself to respect that anything could be happening on her end, and, unless she said otherwise, she was doing her best and I needed to keep doing my best, while completely dependent on her.
It’s ironic that when I made the decision to “just” do what I could and let go of worrying, I got the text with the offer. I jumped up and down, screamed and put champagne in the fridge. Seeing the announcement on Publisher’s Marketplace was even better. My agent described the book to sound more brilliant than I dared to imagine.
As writers, we’re so close to our work that self-doubt and a lack of perspective are often part of the artistic journey – especially when changing hats to the sales side. And when we don’t sell a book right away, we tend to feel like it isn’t good enough and we’re not good enough. It’s devastating, because when you start doubting the value of your work, you often start doubting yourself and whether you have the tools to deal with an agent.
Authors don’t want that, not just because it’s painful, but because it’s counter-productive. We need to sound important and impress agents so they respect our work. We want to be cool and confident, without communicating self-doubt, because otherwise the agents follow your lead and feel the challenge to place it. That’s what I was hearing from my agent before I spoke with you. Later, she admitted she’s never stuck with an author that long or sent their work to that many publishers.
The advice you gave me included things I hadn’t thought of doing, I was too lazy to do, and I was afraid to do. Your tips ultimately got my agent back on my team to sell the book and call me a dream client. With your advice I was able to be more patient, practical, and considerate while communicating with my agent. I was able to make a logical plan to decide between the risks of staying versus the risks of leaving. You also helped me see how to share things she might find helpful. I used to just email a nudge and run away.
Another thing you got me to do was look differently at the positioning of my book. The author questionnaire you had me fill out, that we then talked about, gave me a chance to revise the project to have a stronger orientation. When I talked to my agent again about it, and I mean really talked to her on the phone, not just emailing her like a coward, I had more confidence and a better package for her to send to publishers.
Before you and I talked, I read your newsletter and everything on your website. I wrote reams of notes about things to do. But when we spoke during coaching, your tips were personalized. You suggested ways to reword things and, in terms of platform, you shared ideas to quickly improve my platform prior to publication, to show agents I was willing and able to get interest and exposure and sell books.
I liked that when you and I got on the phone, you had read all my stuff, knew exactly what I was talking about, and it felt like we were friends. And, with your platform-building suggestions, you showed me how to address people the way a publicist would. You made it seem like I could do it on my own, and I actually explored going in that direction. That made the book real, and it resulted in a more attractive pitch, opening people’s eyes to the possibilities of where and how the book would sell. And now that I have a hardback book to show off, the TV deal is moving forward with a “based on” credit.
The niche you have helping people get agents is just—nobody else does it like this. Writers ask me for advice about publishing all the time and I say what has worked for me and lot of the same tips writers can learn at seminars. It’s all good basic information, but not specific to any one project. I now recommend you to my clients as soon as they are interested, whether they are just starting, or when they are about to give up.
You’re the only one who exclusively helps authors get agents, and you’re the only one who’s helped hundreds of authors get agents. Thank you for believing in my book, and for helping me share the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part!
Author of A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books and distributed by Simon & Schuster
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A Boob’s Life Reviews
“As women we are always asking ourselves, are we enough? Leslie Lehr’s witty, wise, and sometimes heartbreaking memoir, A Boob’s Life, uses our relationship with breasts, and the ways others define us through them, to explore what it means to live in a woman’s body. Original, thought-provoking, and with an elegant sense of humor, A Boob’s Life is a must-read.” ― Salma Hayek
“Lehr combines stories from her own life with cultural analysis to illuminate our society’s fixation on the feminine form, breasts in particular, and how that focus shapes us all.” ― People Magazine,”Best New Books”
“You might as well get to know the sacks of fat and tissue that form the major locus of human life, and there’s no better tour guide than Leslie Lehr, a witty writer and breast cancer survivor, who holds nothing back. This is part memoir, part manifesto, part history.” ― Glamour Magazine, “10 Best New Books to Read This Month”
“A serious and provocative book with enough lightness to keep the pages turning.” ― Kirkus Reviews
“Novelist and screenwriter Lehr blends memoir, history, and cultural criticism in this witty and incisive look at American attitudes toward women’s breasts. Lehr’s appealing sense of humor runs throughout, as does her sharp analysis of broader social issues. Lehr’s engrossing and empathetic account will appeal to women of all ages.” ― Publishers Weekly
“When I was a little girl dreaming of having breasts, I had no idea about the non-stop ogling and boob worship I was in for as a woman in America. Leslie Lehr explains it all in this funny, passionate, upbeat book. You’ll never look at yourself in the mirror the same way again. Wow!” ― Leslie Morgan Steiner, New York Times best-selling author of ‘The Naked Truth,’ ‘Crazy Love,’ and ‘Mommy Wars’
“Deeply personal, wisely funny, and moving. This isn’t just a fantastic, intimate memoir about how cancer, survival, and life in general changed Lehr’s entire relationship with her body parts, but an exploration of how our breast-obsessed culture, women’s lib, and men, have shaped our feelings about breasts. Insightful, delightful, and eye-opening.” ― Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You
“A powerful emotinoal chronicle of a young girl’s budding awareness of the power of breasts; a young woman’s negotiations as an object of male desire; a mother’s loving perspective on her children’s food source, and an adult woman’s struggle with a disease that could take her life. An insightful, comprehensive, modern-day manifesto that champions a woman’s totality.” ― Hope Edelman, bestselling author of Motherless Daughter’s and The AfterGrief
“Poignant, powerful, and ultimately hopeful—who would think a breast could properly capture the history of women in our country? A Boob’s Life makes you realize women in America have been through a lot. That you have been through a lot. Equality must be the next wave. It can’t come soon enough.” ― Kaira Rouda, international and USA TODAY bestselling author
“Told with heart, humor, hope, and a whole lot of sassiness. Lehr fearlessly and candidly brings us along on her breast cancer journey and beyond. Have a box of tissues at the ready as you read this deeply personal memoir. You’ll need them to wipe away tears of heartache and laughter.” ― Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and This is How I Lied
“Brave, honest, and funny, this book will open your eyes, break your heart, and make you reflect on your own life and history.” ― Brenda Janowitz, author of The Grace Kelly Dress
Click here to get a copy of A Boob’s Life.
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Leslie Lehr – Biography
Leslie Lehr is the author of A Boob’s Life, a memoir that reveals the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part. Her book is ALSO the basis of a TV series in development for HBOMax by producer Salma Hayek, who called A Boob’s Life “Original, thought-provoking, and with an elegant sense of humor…a must-read.”
Leslie is serving as an executive producer on the show, and, as if that isn’t impressive enough, Good Morning America has listed A Boob’s Life as a Must-Read…Glamour Magazine has it on THEIR Top Ten Must-Read list…Katie Couric announced that her book expert, Zibby Owens, host of the popular podcast, Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books, has included A Boob’s Life in HER list of books that helped her survive Quarantine…and…People Magazine just included A Boob’s Life on their Best New Books page.
In addition to authoring A Boob’s Life, Leslie is the prize-winning author of seven books. She’s also an essayist for The New York Times “Modern Love” column, and she’s the Novel Consultant for Truby’s Writers Studio.
Learn more at LeslieLehr.com.
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