Tara Gilbert ON: What Makes a Character-Driven Story, YA vs. MG Novels, and How to Emotionally Connect with Your Reader
"I think it's really just grounding your reader in the story, making sure that they are right up front aware of who this character is or what they want and what their goal is, you want to make sure you're grounded in the character and even a little bit of the world, too, so you know where your character is coming from, and then obviously use that to make a reader laugh or cry or pull at their heartstrings.” – Tara Gilbert, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Abigail K. Perry sits down with Tara Gilbert to discuss the difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult novels and graphic novels, her love for character-driven stories with character arcs that touch a reader’s emotions, her MSWL, and other invaluable publishing and writing insights.
Tara also gives an inside scoop about the types of sub-genres she enjoys reading, examples from some of her favorite books and authors (which would be great comps for her!), and her special interest in books about groups of people.
Tara joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Literary Agent in 2020. She has been a part of the publishing industry since 2017, previously working as an Associate Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency and as an intern with Entangled Publishing. Tara spent over a decade learning the art of negotiation as a staffing professional in the aerospace industry before finding her passion as a literary agent. When Tara isn't reading manuscripts and working with her clients, she is usually caught wandering around Portland with her partner or loving on her fur-babies.
Middle-Grade (ages 9-13)
- Funny, heartfelt stories—best friends stories, family stories, and anything that will make me laugh and cry
- Books with a literary bent
Young Adult (ages 14-19)
- Books with a literary bent to their prose unless it's romance or a funny contemporary
- Light-hearted comedy to really dark, gory stuff.
- Dark speculative fiction with a literary bent is my favorite.
- Funny, heartfelt RomComs, and dramatic, emotional romances.
- Upmarket Fiction and some Literary Fiction, especially if they contain magical elements.
- Historicals, but would prefer to see historicals about and from underrepresented communities (LGBTQ+, POC, neurodiverse).
- Will consider fantasy and sci-fi, but need to be grounded
- Visit Tara’s Pinterest to get an idea of the types of illustrators she’s looking for
- YA and MG from diverse backgrounds
- Metaphysics, spirituality, witchcraft, crystals, tarot, etc.
- LGBTQIA+ topics
- Need a strong platform (social media/blog)
Twitter: @abigailkperry @Literary_Tara
Instagram: @abigailkperry @literary.tara
Books discussed in the episode: