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 is Part 3 of a four-week feature. (Find Part 1 and Part 2 here.)
HOPE: Indie authors rarely worry about more than print or ebook rights. Talk a little about other rights that an agent can handle for an author. How difficult is it for indie authors to handle these rights themselves?
MARK: As I write these responses to you, Trident Media Group is gearing up for the Frankfurt Book Fair, one of the biggest media events in the world, where publishers from everywhere gather to buy the rights to books for translation. We also attend the London Book Fair, BEA and the Bologna Book Fair, all of which are similarly big events for the sale of rights. Those are expensive and time consuming trips as we take hundreds of meetings per day and send a contingency of at least six literary agents to hand sell.
On a regular-basis, we have foreign publishers into our offices, audio book publishers, as well as film/TV companies looking to do book-to-film/TV. It is very difficult for an author to navigate these sorts of things on their own, for the written word can take many manifestations that are extremely beneficial to an author’s career. For instance, audio usually ends up comprising about ten percent of an author’s overall business, and foreign rights often comprise about a third. Foreign, audio and film/TV buyers are more turned on to an author’s project when there’s a traditional publisher in the picture. Self-published authors usually cannot get into independent bookstores, chains and mass merchandise retailers without a literary agent and traditional publisher.
HOPE: Would you handle these other rights for an indie published author who wants to retain their print and ebook rights?
MARK: Self-publishing can be complementary in a hybrid publishing model between traditional and self-publishing, especially since traditional publishers aren’t much open to publishing novellas and short story collections, even from established authors.
Outside of that, it is very difficult to be in business with an indie author that wants a literary agent to merely sell their foreign and audiobook rights. That’s an author afraid to take the risk of trying major trade publishing for a chance at drinking the champagne. It’s ultimately of detriment to the author’s own career and makes for a difficult time for the literary agent to convince every foreign, audio and film/TV buyer to take on a self-published author.
HOPE: Most writers start with Writers Market to find an agent. How do you suggest a fledgling author seek out an agent? How do you usually find your new clients? How many new clients does an agent take on per year?
MARK: Writers Market is a good site being tied with Writer’s Digest, but I would suggest Publishers Marketplace, considered the gold standard in publishing where industry news and deals are announced in real time. That site is more inwardly-focused on the publishing industry, as opposed to Publishers Weekly, Poets & Writers or Writer’s Digest as publications for readers, writers and publishers. Every literary agency worth their salt is listed on that site, scrutinized and ranked. The proof is in the pudding. As I mentioned before, Trident Media Group ranks #1 on that site.
As for taking on clients, every agent is different. I represent a few dozen authors, all at different points in their careers. Some of those clients might write a book a year, while others complete a book every five or ten years. Other clients might just write one book their entire life! While some agents represent one genre or type of author, I prefer to have many irons in the fire, working on projects and various genres that interest me. With that said, my list tends to skew toward science fiction, fantasy, and graphic novels, and I happen to rank #1 on Publishers Marketplace in deals for those categories. I also like a lot of mystery/crime/thriller, as well as some women’s fiction, general fiction, creative nonfiction, pop culture, humor, celebrity memoir, picture books, YA, MG, children’s fantasy and various nonfiction categories. I would like to see more commercial fiction or a major literary debut on my list, perhaps even some serious nonfiction. I’m open to new clients.
(TUNE IN NEXT WEEK . . . for Part 4 of this interview by C. Hope Clark with Trident Media Group literary agent Mark Gottlieb)
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.