Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Interview with literary agent Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group

Mark Gottlieb
Trident Media Group is a large New York agency. It represents over 800 authors in a range of genres of fiction and nonfiction, many of whom have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers Lists and have won major awards and prizes. For more than ten consecutive years, Publishers Market Place has ranked Trident number one for sales in North America. Trident is also among the top ten agencies in the UK.

Mark Gottlieb attended Emerson College and was President of its Publishing Club, establishing the Wilde Press. After graduating with a degree in writing, literature & publishing, he began his career with Penguin’s VP. Mark’s first position at Publishers Marketplace’s #1-ranked literary agency, Trident Media Group, was in foreign rights. Mark was EA to Trident’s Chairman and ran the Audio Department. Mark is currently working with his own client list, helping to manage and grow author careers with the unique resources available to Trident. He has ranked #1 among Literary Agents on publishersmarketplace.com in Overall Deals and other categories.

Many thanks to Mark for giving this interview and to the Wednesday afternoon “Extreme” class for coming up with the questions. ~Brian

QBF: What do you think of novels based in Canada? Do you see a Canadian setting as a risk? If so, are you willing to take the risk?

Mark: I find this to be an odd question. To me, good writing is good writing, regardless of the setting. Look at a film like "Fargo" which could have been set in Canada if it weren't set in the Midwest, just south of the Canadian border. Or look at many of the novels of Michael Ondaatje, a client of ours, since his novels have much to do with Canada, many of them set there. 

QBF: Your website states you’re “actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres.”  That seem unusual – most agents have some specialties or preferences, so why so very open?

Most literary agents want to brand themselves as the de facto "guy you go to for writing conservative fiction" or "the woman you go to if you want to write women's fiction," but I consider myself and my brand of representation to be the brand I am offering authors, rather than trying to make people come to know me by the type of book I do.

I am also very open to many types of fiction and nonfiction because I do not like to place all my chips in one basket. For instance, romance and erotica spiked and then took a deep dive after the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon subsided and much of those books moved toward self-publishing in the eBook space. Rather than place all my chips in one basket, I prefer to work on projects that interest me and hold promise in my eyes. Not to say that I'm a Renaissance man, but I'd also like to think that my talents as a literary agent extend beyond representing just one genre of fiction or one type on nonfiction.

This also enables me to work with authors who like to write across various genres. I'm very open to most things, especially from authors with platforms, or bestseller/award-winner status, but I prefer not to work with struggling genres such as personal memoir without platform, cozy mysteries, horror, high fantasy, soft sci-fi, historical YA, erotica, paranormal romance, early reader books, chapter books, cookbooks, sports, true crime, etc. 

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti,
one of Mark's clients
QBF: If you get a query that looks good but isn’t to your taste, would you ever pass it on to another agent at Trident? If you reject a query, is it okay to query another agent at Trident? More generally, how much and in what ways do you consult with one another?

Mark: If I receive a query that seems promising, but is not for me, I am very good at sharing with one of my colleagues. They are the same way with me. A rejection from one literary agent at Trident Media Group is generally-speaking a rejection from all of Trident, but our website form allows an author to resubmit following a 60-day period. 

Along the lines of being collegial, we converse with each other at staff meetings and in visiting one another at our offices to discuss helping one another find the right editor for a project. We will consult with one another sometimes editorially as well.

QBF: How do you feel about your authors writing multiple genres – for example, both mainstream women’s fiction and middle grade books?

Mark: I am perfectly fine with authors writing across multiple genres if they can fully accomplish that feat. 

QBF: Canadian agents don’t seem especially interested in taking on short story writers. What is your understanding of how American agents in general feel about writers of short fiction?

Mark: American literary agents and publishers are the same way with regard to short story collections and novellas from debut authors. 

QBF: The publishing industry has a reputation for not being customer friendly towards potential authors.

Mark: I suppose every book publisher and editor are different in their attitudes. As book publishing's leading literary agency, we do not have trouble getting responses from publishers. As a result of the clout of our literary agency and the fact that our business goes to the bottom line of most every book publishing company, our submissions get read quickly and receive responses. Perhaps an author will have more luck working through a more esteemed literary agency than trying to go it alone or working with a smaller literary agency with less pull with book publishers. 

QBF: Is there a particular genre or category that is most popular right now? Or what do you think may be on the rise? What’s overdone right now?

Mark: Right now there's a lot of growth in thrillers, women's fiction, general nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, biography, middle grade, children's fantasy, children's picture books and graphic novels. Above, in an early answer, I described the genres that have been overdone {personal memoir without platform, cozy mysteries, horror, high fantasy, soft sci-fi, historical YA, erotica, paranormal romance, early reader books, chapter books, cookbooks, sports, true crime}
~ ~ ~ 
To query Mark and for full submission information, go to Trident’s submissions page here.
More about Trident here

Author Kira Vermond will be one of the guest
speakers for the Kid Lit class (see here)
Brian Henry will lead a How to Get Published workshop on Saturday, April 22, in Midland, with literary agent Sue Miller (see here).
Note: For updated postings of current How to Get Published workshops here (and scroll down).

Also, Brian will lead a Writing and Revising workshop Saturday, March 25, in Toronto (see here).

And Brian will lead Writing for Children & for Young Adults workshops on Saturday, April 1, in Windsor (see here), on Saturday, May 13, in Caledon at the Bolton Library with Yasemin U├žar, senior Editor at Kids Can Press and author Jennifer Mook-Sang (see here), and on Saturday, May 27, in St. Catharines with Anne Shone, senior editor at Scholastic Books (see here). Brian will also be leading a weekly Kid Lit class,Monday afternoons, April 10 – June 19, in Mississauga (here).
Note: For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down).

And don't miss the June in Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, June 2 – Sunday, June 4 or Monday, June 5. Details here.

For more information or to reserve a spot in any Saturday workshop or weekly course, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

This spring, starting the end of March, Brian will offer a full range of classes from beginner to advanced:
Welcome to Creative Writing, Monday evenings, April 10 – June 19, Burlington Details here.
Writing Personal Stories, Thursday afternoons, April 27 – June 15, Burlington Details here.
Writing Kid Lit, Monday afternoons, April 10 – June 19, Mississauga. Details here.
Intermediate Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings, April 12 – June 14, starts by email April 5, Burlington. Details Details here.
Intermediate Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, April 13 – June 15, starts by email April 6, Georgetown. Details here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 11 – June 13, starts by email April 4, Burlington. Details here.
Extreme Creative Writing, Wednesday afternoons, April 5 – June 21, starts by email March 29, Burlington. Details here.
Details of all seven classes offered this spring here.

For more information or to register for any of the above, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tip: If you're searching for a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post. 

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