SFFMP 131: When a Literary Agent Makes Sense for New and Established Authors

Today, literary agent Mark Gottlieb chatted with Jo and Lindsay. He’s from the Trident Media Group and represents a lot of genres, including science fiction and fantasy. We asked him about getting an agent as a newer author and also as an established indie author with some titles under your belt.

Here are a few specifics of what we discussed:

  • Whether print-only deals are still a thing or a likely option for indie authors who sell well.
  • Whether most clients are coming out of the slush pile or if networking at workshops and conventions is important for getting an agent.
  • What kinds of rights (foreign rights, audio rights, film rights, etc.) are useful for indie authors to know about.
  • Whether getting a film deal or an “option” is really that lucrative, or if it’s mostly marketing to help an author sell more books.
  • The role of agents in a hybrid author’s career.
  • Whether the traditional publishing houses are signing as many authors as they used to, and if they’re fostering young authors’ careers.
  • If some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy do better with self-publishing instead of traditional publishing.
  • What’s been trending the last couple of years with trad publishers and what they’re looking for now in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
  • Whether it’s better to query with a series that’s in the middle and selling well, or if you should pitch something brand new.
  • If it’s possible to get an agent and a publishing deal when your self-published book or books did not sell well.
  • How much advertising a trad publisher is going to put behind a typical author.
  • How much marketing you’re expected to do for yourself when you trad publish.

You can find Mark Gottlieb on the Trident Media Group site, and he mentioned that John Silbersack also seeks out SF&F with their agency.


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  • Kevin

    Wow. I thought you folks were incredibly polite and professional to a man who just basically trashed our profession. Thanks for running this. Gottlieb made absolutely sure that hundreds of indie writers will never go ANYWHERE NEAR “Trident Media Group”, with his own trash talk and incredibly blatant ignorance of the industry. Good to know the people to avoid out there.

    As always, a huge fan of the show. 🙂

    • I looked for comments just to be sure I wasn’t the only one who felt disrespected by this agent. Okay. Thought maybe it was just me. (Breathes deep sigh of relief)

    • SFFpodcast

      I don’t think he was trying to be insulting. Just has a different perspective on the publishing industry from many indies, and is more used to people having the goal of a trad deal.

      • Maybe he wasn’t trying to be, Lindsay, but he *was* insulting.

        “Self-published authors who experience a modicum of success…have a whole lot of nothing.”

        Still, I was looking at him and listening to what he was saying, and then looking at your lovely, happy face, and just thinking about all the books you’ve written and I’ve enjoyed, and all the money you’ve made, and how happy the whole arrangement is, and I thought: the only thing to do with this guy is laugh.

        And the fact that both of you remained calm, polite, and professional with him is hugely to your credit and made me feel kinda proud. Like I’m on the right side here, with the good guys. 😀

  • Jennifer

    Like others I found him very condescending and snobbish and I was very impressed with how polite you were in response.

    I was unclear on how he and his company can benefit authors except if we want to debase ourselves to the trad publishing industry. I came out of this episode even more determined to avoid agents and trad publishing. I’ve dealt with that world in non-fiction and I can tell you that they don’t do a lot and if your “next” book doesn’t do better than your first, they are much less interested in you.