Mark Gottlieb, Literary Agent, Trident Media

Yesterday, I posted a list of the Top Agents 2016 for Picture Books, Middle Grade and YA. Today, I’m excited to host an interview with Mark Gottlieb, Literary Agent of Trident Media.

Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media: agency for picture books, middle grade and YA. |

What are your favorite books of 2016? Please list a picture book, a middle grade novel and a YA novel and explain why you liked it.

  • Picture book: KID CRAZY AND THE KILOWATT KING by Claudio Sanchez ( front man of the band Coheed and Cambria) and Arthur Mask. I loved it because it reminded me of LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND and THE LITTLE PRINCE. In the story our hero thirsts for adventure in a bustling and colorful city and stands in front of a sour frumpy king to teach him a lesson in manners—namely the importance of the word “please,” instead of demanding things, and that simply asking politely gets you much farther in life.
  • MG novel: Hollywood Book Festival, New York Book Festival and San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention recipient, Andrew Buckley’s HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES, which reminded me of R.L. Stein’s THE WEREWOLF OF FEVER SWAMP, Curtis Jobling’s RISE OF THE WEREWOLF, and Tyler Posey’s “Teen Wolf,” and it’s a Scholastic Book Fair Pick, to boot! I enjoyed how the book used the myth of the werewolf to explore the animal side of boys as they transition through puberty.
  • YA novel: ALA/YALSA’s 2010 Top Ten author “J.R.R.R.” (Jim) Hardison’s FISH WIELDER, in which a legendary, enigmatic and often depressed barbarian warrior is hoping to get himself killed on a last adventure when he stumbles into a sinister plot; now it’s up to him, accompanied by his best friend, and his noble steed, to battle the forces of evil and face his greatest challenge: the dark secret of his own mysterious past. It’s an epic-fantasy series of novels in the tradition of Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD Series and Piers Anthony’s XANTH Series. At times it even recalls NARNIA.

What’s hot? What’s not?

Generally speaking, I’m seeing the fastest growth area in publishing in YA, probably because the secret about YA is that the readership is largely adults. The need there tends to be more contemporary/romantic YA with the leanings of a John Green book, whereas for boy readers it is more so accessible coming-of-age SFF in YA. Post-Apocalyptic YA has been slow for a while. Very few agents operate in the picture book space and even middle grade and chapter book space because of lower advances/price points. One has to bank on the PB/MG/CB winning awards or hitting bestsellers lists like our book WONDER by R.J. Palacio has done for Knopf. Also a lot of PB book ideas are developed in-house by editors, written and illustrated there. However, I do find a growing need for graphic novels among publishers of children’s books as GNs are being taught in schools more and more now…

Are you an editorial agent? How much input do you have in your client’s stories?

I generally know when a manuscript needs work and when it doesn’t. For instance, I’ve written ten-page editorial letters, and then I’ve written a few minor notes. Sometimes a manuscript comes in and it is very tightly-written and feels ready to me. So it really depends but I try my best to leave creative decision matters ultimately up to the author and/or editor in order to avoid stepping on any toes.

Are you more excited about commercial or literary success? That is, would you rather your client win a Newbery or Printz award, or would you rather they receive a six-figure advance?

Honestly, I am happy either way, since one will usually lead to the other. A six-figure advance can mean that a publisher is heavily-committed to a book’s publication in making it a bestseller/award-winner. And a relatively small advance/quiet publication that somehow leads to a major award can often lead to a bestseller with lots of royalties or future deals for that title with six-figure advances. Ultimately, it’s about believing in an author.

Would you consider representing a hybrid author, one who has self-published some titles?

Yes, so long as the self-published author had self-published to great success as a bestseller or won awards. If an author struggled in self-publishing, they should consider removing the editions from online and be quiet about the fact that they had self-published to little or no success.

Are you currently open for submissions? If so, what’s the best way to contact you? What genres/age level books do you handle? Are you looking for illustrators?

Yes, we are open for submission and prefer to receive submissions via our website’s submissions/contact us page form:
I’m open to books across PB, CB, MG, YA and GN. I do look for illustrators, but tend to prefer author/illustrators.