Welcome to the first Agentopia interview of 2017! This month Mark Gottlieb from The Trident Media Group is in the spotlight.
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 onpublishersmarketplace.comin Overall Deals and other categories.
What is currently on your wish list?
An ideal project would carry an important social message or moral to the story, and while not only being beautifully written, it should be accessible or have some aspects of commercialism to the writing, even if it is literary fiction.
We represent all genres, generally excluding poetry, short stories, novellas, and textbooks.
We are always seeing a high demand for commercial fiction, genre fiction, thrillers, women’s fiction, romance, YA, literary/general fiction, high-end nonfiction and health books written by authors with major platforms in the areas of history/politics/current affairs, business books and celebrity nonfiction.
Generally speaking, I am not interested in struggling genres such as cozy mysteries, erotica, urban fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, and personal (non-celebrity) memoir.
What's a personal turn-off in a query which is guaranteed to get the author rejected?
There are many mistakes that I’ve seen in query letters, but I will name just a few that would absolutely deter me from requesting the manuscript from an author:
-Submitting queries for novellas, short story collections, poetry or textbooks will usually turn a literary agent off, as most literary agents do not represent such things. Publishers tend not to buy from literary agents in those areas in the first place.
-Word count is also very important. Traditional book length is 80-120K, and commercial fiction tends to be in the 80-90K-word range. Going outside of normal book-length will not produce good results for an author querying a literary agent for a shot at going into major trade publishing.
-Writing within struggling genres such as cozy mysteries, erotica, or urban fantasy is also another way to turn a literary agent off in the querying process. We tend to be weary of that at Trident Media Group.
Do you google authors and if yes, what are you looking for?
Yes and I’m finding that the importance of platform in an author’s career has also made its way into the world of fiction, to an extent. In looking for an ideal fiction client with a platform, I look for authors that have good writing credentials such as experience with writing workshops, conferences, or smaller publications in respected literary magazines.
Having awards, bestseller status, a strong online presence, or pre-publication blurbs in-hand for one’s manuscript is also very promising in the eyes of a literary agent.
Platform is even more important in considering nonfiction authors. It is not enough for an author of nonfiction to be a respected authority on their subject matter—it’s important to publishers to know that such authors have a big online presence or social media following.
That’s why selling celebrity fiction to publishers is almost a no-brainer. Publishers get this strange thought in their minds that if any given celebrity has 100,000 followers or more, if even just ten percent of those followers buy the book, then the publisher is already in good shape.
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