By C. Hope Clark
Mark Gottlieb is an agent with Trident Media Group, a strong literary agency well known for its successes. FundsforWriters was lucky enough to land him for an interview, and with his great answers, our features for the month of November (National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo) will be dedicated to this interview. This interview is meaty and chocked full of straight-talk. We hope that you find great information here for your writing future.
HOPE: Mark, thanks so much for offering your expertise to our readers. Let’s start off with an easy question. The publishing world continues to shift and recreate itself, unblinkingly fast, as technology creates new ways to publish and promote. In my speaking with writers, they juggle whether to indie or traditionally publish but dealing with agents seems to intimidate them. Please explain how agents can be assets, even this day and time when indie publishing beckons with more and more success stories.
MARK: Yes, it is all too easy for a discouraged author to turn to self-publishing. However, many successful self-published authors shift to traditional publishing in order to take advantage of having a team of professionals who help them take their work to the next level.
A literary agency with industry knowledge can bring huge value for an author, evidenced by many of the success stories we’ve created for our clients, the bulk of which are award-winning and bestselling authors. We’ve actually built self-published success stories into mega-bestsellers, giving authors a Godzilla-like footprint in the industry.
Trident Media Group is a full-service literary agency, handling accounting, legal review, management, foreign rights (books in translation), book-to-film/TV, audio books, etc. We’re also a literary agency with tremendous clout in the industry, so we get many things for authors from publishers and film / TV buyers that authors could not on their own.
HOPE: Your credentials are remarkable, as are those of the agents in your agency. What should an author seek in an agent’s credentials? What is considered a minimal requirement, and what is considered golden?
MARK: I always believed in this saying: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
What makes our literary agency unique is that we rank #1 on Publishers Marketplace for fiction, non-fiction and literary agencies, both in overall volume of deals and six-figure+ deals. We’ve ranked that way for over a decade. That ranking is a result of the tremendous resources at Trident Media Group. For instance, I think one would find it difficult to find another literary agency that has a Digital Media and Publishing department, focusing in large part on digital marketing and publicity strategy for our authors. Many clients of ours have greatly benefited from such a service by hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers lists.
Most literary agencies tend to be very small (several employees in a home office setting), and therefore they farm a lot of their work to third party companies. They are more inclined to give rights away to publishers where they either can’t fend the publisher off or just plain don’t have the resources to properly sell those rights on their own. However, at Trident, as a company of close to fifty employees with the entire 36thfloor of a Madison Avenue building in NYC (huge for a literary agency and bigger than most independent publishers), we do not farm our services out to third party companies. Trident Media Group’s contract review, accounting, foreign rights, audio books, film/TV, etc. is performed within our company walls. We’re more inclined to keep communication between departments rather sharp and we hold onto more film/TV, foreign and audio book rights for our clients in order to help them properly exploit those rights with other publishers. The economics are not entirely in favor of the author in sharing those rights with a domestic publisher.
Because of the clout of our agency having many #1 New York Times bestselling authors and award-winning authors, and the fact that our business really goes to the bottom line of most publishers, we can get the very best things for our clients in their book publishing deals and contracts.
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.