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Literary agent in brown suit at get a literary agent hosted by Mark Malatesta

Mark Malatesta is a former AAR literary agent turned author coach who’s helped hundreds of authors (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books) get a literary agent, publisher, and book deal through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.

Author Coach/Consultant Mark MALATESTA

Photo of Author Coach and Consultant Mark Malatesta, founder of Get a Literary AgentMark Malatesta is an author coach and consultant whose writers have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the New York Times bestseller list, and had their work published with houses including Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson.

Through his company Literary Agent Undercover (which is part of The Bestselling Author, LLC) Mark Malatesta has helped more than 300 authors get literary agents and/or traditional publishers. His writers have sold millions of books, had their work licensed around the world, and won countless awards.

Mark Malatesta’s most notable clients include Nelson Johnson, author of Boardwalk Empire, adapted for HBO and produced by Martin Scorsese for HBO; Leslie Lehr, author of A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You, now being developed as a TV series by Salma Hayek for HBO Max; and Scott LeRette, author of The Unbreakable Boy (Thomas Nelson), adapted for feature film with Lionsgate starring Zachary Levi, Amy Acker, and Patricia Heaton.

Mark Malatesta lives in Beverly Hills with his soulmate, Ingrid, who he met at a writers’ conference in Santa Barbara where he was speaking. Mark proposed just 2-1/2 weeks after they met, and, fortunately, she said yes. More than 20 years later, they’re still in love–and the proud parents of two Ragdoll cats: CoCo and YumYum.

Former Literary Agent & Former AAR Member Mark MALATESTA

Prior to becoming an author coach and consultant, Mark Malatesta was a literary agent who then became president/owner of the literary agency. Authors Mark represented were published with book publishers including: Amacom, Andrews McMeel, Ballantine, Barron’s Educational, Broadway, Contemporary, Entrepreneur, F&W, Harcourt, Hyperion, New Page, Peachtree, Penguin, Pocket Books, Prentice-Hall, Random House, Renaissance, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Sourcebooks, St. Martin’s, and Workman.

Mark Malatesta was also a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), now know as the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA). Only twenty percent of literary agents are members, as they must apply to be accepted, provide two existing members as sponsors, and sell ten book traditional publishers within eighteen months. Members of the AAR must also agree to abide by the association’s canon of ethics. Since Mark Malatesta is no longer a literary agent, he is no longer a member of the AAR, and his past membership does not mean the AAR sponsors or endorses Mark Malatesta in any way.

Mark Malatesta’s most notable literary agency clients included Harry H. Harrison Jr. whose parenting and gift books, such as Father to Son, have been on the New York Times and Book Sense list of bestselling nonfiction trade paperback books for more than ten years; and Carol Plum-Ucci, author of more than half a dozen YA novels published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt including The Body of Christopher Creed, which have been nominated for and won dozens of prestigious awards.

Other popular authors Mark Malatesta represented include Jim Brown, author of the mystery/thriller novels 24/7 and Black Valley, both books published by Random House and optioned for feature film; and Michael Dahl, author of more than 100 books for young readers including the Finnegan Zwake Mystery Series, published by Scholastic and Simon & Schuster. His work has received rave reviews and been shortlisted for the Edgar Awards as well as the Anthony Mystery Awards.

Former Marketing/Licensing Manager Mark MALATESTA

Mark Malatesta also worked for several years as the Marketing & Licensing Manager for Blue Mountain Arts, the book/gift publisher that invented e-cards, then sold their e-greetings division for nearly $1 billion dollars, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. This was one of Mark’s favorite periods in publishing, as it allowed him to interact and work with people in every aspect of the business: administrative, creative, editorial, sales, and marketing.

As a former literary agent, Mark Malatesta brought book publishing industry knowledge to Blue Mountain Arts. He redesigned their book catalog, took over the genre or “BISAC” classification of their books, and helped scout new books and talent. Mark also traveled to Costco national headquarters and successfully pitched various book titles for placement in their stores.

Mark was responsible for all Blue Mountain Arts international book sales and licensing during his time there. He negotiated deals with publishers around the world at international industry events such as Book Expo America (BEA), the London Book Fair, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. When Mark Malatesta left Blue Mountain Arts, their cards, books, and other products had been sold or licensed in many dozen countries.

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How I Got My Book Agent

Successful Authors

Photo of author NJ sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

Thanks in part to your query letter, manuscript suggestions, and support prioritizing agents, I received multiple offers from agents. Within two weeks of sending out the first query, I knew who I was going to sign with. I value our friendship.

N E L S O N . J O H N S O N

NY Times bestselling author of Boardwalk Empire, produced by Martin Scorsese for HBO, and Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer

NJ Book Cover for BE on boardwalk with cast from the HBO TV series, posted by Get a Literary Agent

Photo of author LL sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

After following your advice, my book was acquired, the prestigious PW gave it a great review, and Time Magazine asked for an excerpt. Thank you for believing in my book, and for helping me share the surprising truth about women’s most popular body part!

L E S L I E . L E H R

Author of A Boob's Life: How America's Obsession Shaped Me―and You, published by Pegasus Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster and now in development for a TV series by Salma Hayek for HBO Max

LL Book Cover posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Photo of author SL sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

Fine Print Lit got publishers bidding against each other [for my book]. I ended up signing a contract with Thomas Nelson (an imprint of Harper Collins) for what I’ve been told by several people is a very large advance. What cloud is higher than 9?

S C O T T . L E R E T T E

Author of The Unbreakable Boy (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins), adapted to feature film with Lionsgate starring Zachary Levi, Amy Acker, and Patricia Heaton

SL Book Cover for TUB with photo of boy on beach with jester hat at sunset, posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Photo of author MLP sharing a Mark Malatesta review at Get a Literary Agent

AHHH! OMG, it happened! You helped me get three offers for representation from top literary agents! A short time later I signed a publishing contract. After that, my agent sold my next book. I’m in heaven!

M I R I . L E S H E M . P E L L Y

Author/illustrator of Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper (Penguin Books/Philomel), Scribble & Author (Kane Miller), and other children’s picture books

MLP book cover of S and A with paintbrush drawing cute animated figured, posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide

Photo of Mark Malatesta - Former Literary Agent MARK MALATESTA is a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark now helps authors of all genres (fiction, nonfiction, and children's books) get top literary agents, publishers, and book deals through his company Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author. Mark's authors have gotten six-figure book deals, been on the NYT bestseller list, and published with houses such as Random House, Scholastic, and Thomas Nelson. Click here to learn more about Mark Malatesta and see Mark Malatesta Reviews.


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Social Services

Prior to being exposed to the publishing industry, Mark Malatesta worked with several social service agencies in South Florida, serving adults with developmental disabilities and psychological disorders, and at-risk children. Mark was a Behavior Specialist, Behavior Safety Coordinator, and Community Educator. He developed, promoted, and conducted child abuse prevention workshops in homeless shelters, and initiated converting a group home for teens detained in locked facilities to a live-in foster home, where he volunteered to move in.

Mark Malatesta has also worked with social service agencies in Colorado, including serving as an Emergency Intervention Specialist, Crisis Responder, and Trainer for staff, families, and caregivers of children and adults with developmental and cognitive disabilities. Mark led multi-day workshops during which he taught verbal and physical techniques to build rapport and prevent/de-escalate dangerous situations, including how to manage police in a crisis, as they aren’t always well-trained regarding people with developmental disabilities.


Mark Malatesta is a graduate of Ambassador University, formerly known as Ambassador College, a liberal arts school, where he studied Psychology and Communications. Mark attended Ambassador University because he wanted to got to a “character institution,” one where the culture put equal attention on who you are, not just what you planned to study or do for a living.

Mark Malatesta also attended Ambassador University because he was able to participate in their work/study program. Mark worked at the sprawling wooded campus on a tree crew (he planted far more trees than he cut down), twenty hours a week while school was in session, and forty hours each summer. Doing that meant you could pay nothing for your schooling, and graduate with no student loans.

While at Ambassador University, Mark Malatesta also wrote hundreds of love poems (he’s a diehard romantic), but he had no idea he’d end up working in the publishing industry. His original plan was to become a psychologist, but he eventually discovered working with authors was a better fit (though one might say author coaching and consulting can include a bit of psychoanalysis).

Prior to attending Ambassador University, Mark attended community college for one year, at no cost, due to an early graduation program that allowed students with good grades at his school to replace their last year of high school with a year of college.

Early years

Mark Malatesta was born in Miami, Florida. Though Mark now uses his father’s last name, “Malatesta,” he used his stepfather’s name, “Ryan,” for many years, including the period during which he was a book agent. Mark legally changed his last name to Ryan at his mother’s request when she remarried while he was a teenager. Mark changed his last name back to Malatesta in 2007 to honor the memory of his father, who died of a heart attack when Mark was eleven years old.

Mark’s memory of his birth father is that he was an honest, hardworking U.S. Navy veteran who was always kind to neighbors and strangers, and quick to stand up for what was right. Mark’s parents divorced when he was only nine years old, and Mark grew up with his two older half-sisters. Mark found role models in the church they attended every weekend, and he found comfort in books.

Growing up without many advantages, Mark decided early in life that he would work harder than anyone else to give himself an advantage. He also trusted he would have an advantage if he was a person of good character. Many years later, Mark has not forgotten his humble beginnings. He does his best not to take anything or anyone for granted.

How I Got My Book Agent

Successful Authors

Mark helped me get five different offers for representation from top literary agents. I signed with Stephanie Tade who got me a 6-figure book deal with Penguin Books, which published my book in hardcover! When Stephanie first contacted me, she was very excited and said, "I can’t get your book proposal out of my head. It’s brilliant - I mean, really, it's fantastic. Editors should be salivating by the time they get to the chapter outline." Working with Mark was completely worth it.

A M Y . J O . G O D D A R D

Woman on Fire (Penguin Books)

AJG book cover for WOF with black background and red silk, posted by Get a Literary Agent Guide


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