Literary Agent Fishing: How Many Books Do You Need to Sell to Hook an Agent?

I’ve written before on how the conventional publishing market is changing, and how literary agents are increasingly focused on the authors capable of selling lots of books right out the door. I suggested in an earlier post that 5,000 books a year is probably a minimum. Then, someone very knowledgeable about the process suggested the threshold was closer to 10,000 or more.

I recently ran across an admission from a major literary agent (she represents a few best selling authors) that she usually doesn’t consider picking up an existing author unless he or she is selling 1,000 books a month, consistently, over a period of time. So, that translates into 12,000 a year. (Btw, that could mean annual author royalties of between $12,000 and $50,000 depending on your publishing agreement.)

This number might be misleading and on the low-end. The agent was answering a question about an independently published author hoping to snag a conventional publisher. In other words, the agent thought that an independent author capable of selling 12,000 copies of her book on her own likely has a marketing platform that a conventional publisher could leverage into much sales volumes through their established distribution channels.

Very few books make it into this category.

But remember, you can make money on selling as few at 500 books through an independent publisher; that’s just not a level high enough to interest the biggest fish in the ocean (or in New York).

Like what your read? We'll make it easy for you to share....