Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Interview with Associate Literary Agent Tara Carberry of Trident Media Group

Update 4/1/16: Tara has taken a non-agent job and will be leaving TMG. I'm sorry to see her go - she did a great job for me! And no, this is not an April Fool's joke!  

I've only worked with Tara a short time (my former agent, MacKenzie Fraser-Bub, left to start her own agency), and I feel very fortunate. She's a real go-getter and a pleasure to work with. Also, being a newer agent, Tara is currently building her client list, so this is a great time to query!

Q: What led you to become an agent at Trident Media Group?

A: I earned a Masters degree in English at Columbia University, and then completed internships at Norton and Perseus Books Group before landing at Trident as a literary assistant. Having the internship experience at two very different publishers has proven incredibly valuable, but I quickly realized that being on the agency side ignited more passion and excitement for me. I was promoted to Associate Agent last year and am now enjoying the constant challenges, rewards, and surprises of growing my own client list.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about being an agent?

A: My favorite thing about being an agent is the thrill of discovering new talent. The moment when I’m reading a submission and realize, “Okay, this person can really write,” is one that makes everything worthwhile. As a new agent, I’m working with many new authors, and the shared excitement of pursing new opportunities and reaching new goals or milestones for my clients is very rewarding for me. 

Q: Is it all about the writing, or do you feel that agents and writers should connect personally, as well?

A: I think it is mostly about the writing, but I wouldn’t totally discount a personal connection. As anyone with an agent can tell you, it is a very close working relationship. I’m typically in contact with my clients on a weekly if not daily basis, so at the very least it’s good to have compatible communication and general working styles.

Q: What do you like to see in a query letter? What do you not like to see?

A: Likes: A strong hook; clear, concise writing; understanding of where the book will fit in the marketplace and who the reader is; demonstrated commitment to overcoming hurdles and building a presence as an author (for example, you might be part of a writing group, have won writing awards, have an active social media account dedicated to your writing, or all of the above).

Dislikes: Queries that are too long; overconfidence (ie “This will be a #1 bestseller and a blockbuster film and you’d be a fool not to give this book a chance.”); leading with personal information and not the story synopsis; books that have already been self-published – unfortunately, unless you have massive sales numbers, the odds of a traditional publisher picking up a self-published book these days are very, very slim. 


Q: How do you get most of your clients—slush pile, referrals or writers conferences?

A: All of the above plus I will sometimes approach writers myself if they are unagented or, in the case of non-fiction, seem like they have a great story to tell. 

Q: Describe some of the more outrageous things authors have done to get your attention. 

A: This happened when I was still an assistant, so it was for my boss at the time and not me, but we once had someone FedEx a hand-drawn map of their fictional world to accompany their query. It was complete with burned edges and artful rips and crinkling to make it look aged. A for effort!

Q: Are you open for submissions?

A: Absolutely!

Q: Is one time of year better than another for sending queries? 

A: No. There are times when my inbox is overflowing and it may take me longer than usual to get to each query (sorry queriers!) but I do read each one and I am grateful to receive them at all times of the year.

Q: What genres are you currently seeking?

A: I am looking for women’s fiction, thrillers, romance, horror, literary fiction and lifestyle nonfiction.

Q: Why do you feel it’s important for an author to have an agent? 

A: The publishing world requires a lot of authors today: they not only must write great books but they must understand how to connect with their audiences. It is a challenging and evolving business and, in my opinion, it is more important than ever for an author to have a knowledgeable, trustworthy agent in his or her corner. A dedicated agent allows them to not only focus on what is most important (ie, writing and growing an author platform) but also provides strategy for developing an author brand that can sustain a long career. Agents often wear many hats and, I believe, have a lot to offer authors at all stages of their careers.
Q: Where should writers send queries?

A: Submissions should go through the Trident website: http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/contact-us

Thanks Toby!