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Thread: Literary Agent says I must buy 5,000 copies of book

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Literary Agent says I must buy 5,000 copies of book

    Am I naive or does this sound strange...

    I contacted a literary agent who has positive buzz on this blog and she said the reality of the business was that I had to commit to buying 5,000 books before she could sell the book to a publisher (a non-fiction business book). When I said that I didn't think things worked that way, she called me naive.

    I had sent her an outline and said that it would be about 60 days till I complete the final draft and she said before she would take it on she wanted to see my website, list of speaking engagements, list of stores it's in.

    I didn't think I was talking to a rep from a vanity publisher, but that seems to be who she was.

    Anyone else out there have the same experience. Again, I more than a bit surprised since she has positive buzz on this website.

  2. #2
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    No.

    Report her to P&E, Writer Beware and put the name here.

    That's SO not gonna fly...

  3. #3
    I'm super! Thanks for asking Siddow's Avatar
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    No, that's not normal. What this agent's name?
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  4. #4
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    That sounds really wrong. Who is this agent?

  5. #5
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Hah! Name this transgressor! Noooooo way is this even right.

    Tri

  6. #6
    Bored fanatic Craig Gosse's Avatar
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    "Money flows towards the writer." - Uncle Jim
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  7. #7
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Who is this agent?

    If there is already a thread about the agent, it would have been best to add to that thread.

    Welcome to AW.
    Last edited by brianm; 03-13-2008 at 03:40 AM.
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  8. #8
    A work in progress Saundra Julian's Avatar
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    Well, damn...sure would make her job easy, "I have 5000 pre-orders!"
    What a crock...I'd lose her addy fast!

  9. #9
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    5,000 copies???? Egads that's a lot of books - where the @$%!@ would you put them???
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  10. #10
    Back in the black, & staying there! Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
    5,000 copies???? Egads that's a lot of books - where the @$%!@ would you put them???
    If the literary agent would be so kind as to bend over...


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  11. #11
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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  12. #12
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    Classic. Screw the writer. We must have huge targets on our backs. Name the crazy idiot.
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  13. #13
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I understand your situation. You mention that the agent wants to know what stores your book is in, which makes me wonder if you're looking for an agent to market a self-published project to a commercial publisher. To interest a commercial publisher, a self-pubbed project usually has to show sales of several thousand. Could that have been what she was referring to?

    Or are you trying to sell a non-fiction proposal for first-time publication? In that case, asking an author to commit to buying 5,000 copies of their own book is bizarre. Certainly no reputable publisher would expect this.

    Knowing the name of the agent would help. If you don't want to post it publicly, feel free to contact me privately by PM or at beware@sfwa.org.

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  14. #14
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    I was wondering how an agent could get an author to commit to purchase a certain number of books that haven't been sold to a publisher yet? No offense to DaDa, but not every agented manuscript sells. That seems bizarre to me as well...

    And I have to admit, I'm curious to who this agent is, since she's gotten positive buzz here... hmm...
    "Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional." ~ scarletpeaches



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  15. #15
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    I had sent her an outline and said that it would be about 60 days till I complete the final draft and she said before she would take it on she wanted to see my website, list of speaking engagements, list of stores it's in.

    Uh, how can this book be in stores if it's not finished yet?

    Tri

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    I had sent her an outline and said that it would be about 60 days till I complete the final draft and she said before she would take it on she wanted to see my website, list of speaking engagements, list of stores it's in.

    Uh, how can this book be in stores if it's not finished yet?

    Tri
    That's what I was wondering too.

    No reputable agent will ask you to commit to buying large numbers of your own books.

    However, if what the agent was really saying was that a self-published or vanity-published book needs to have sold 5,000 copies already before a commercial publisher will consider it, that is normal. Furthermore, buying those copies yourself would not count.

    So, either that agent is not actually asking what that agent seems to be asking, or that agent is not legitimate.

  17. #17
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaDa View Post
    I had sent her an outline and said that it would be about 60 days till I complete the final draft and she said before she would take it on she wanted to see my website, list of speaking engagements
    This is pretty standard operating procedure for non-fiction, especially when the author is positioning him- or herself as a topic expert.

    list of stores it's in.
    I'm as confused as everyone else about this part.

  18. #18
    Banned
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    Have we a troll here?

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW CasualObserver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Swords View Post
    If the literary agent would be so kind as to bend over...
    Queen of Swords for the win! \('o')/
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  20. #20
    Somewhere in the hills.... Appalachian Writer's Avatar
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    Them's fightin' words, if you ask me! I'm no expert, but I think this agent is preditory and you need to offer the story and the agent's name in Bewares and Background! Glad you saw through it.
    Remember; GONE WITH THE WIND was rejected 132 times!


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  21. #21
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Before we get up in arms about predatory agents, I think we need more information. There's enough confusion about what exactly is going on here that I don't think it's possible to draw any conclusions at the moment--especially since we don't know who the agent is.

    - Victoria

  22. #22
    Seen 'em come, seen 'em go Gravity's Avatar
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    Another one-post wonder. Smells like last week's tuna special to me.
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW CasualObserver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravity View Post
    Another one-post wonder. Smells like last week's tuna special to me.
    It's been four hours since the post. Give the OP some time, I'm an addict and even I can't be counted on to get back to a thread/PM within 24 hours.
    Never do anything you feel uncomfortable explaining to the paramedics.

    Current WIP: 9903 words. Crit welcome in SYW

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  24. #24
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    I think the original poster should clarify their post and also what is meant by 'before she would take it on'. That decision point could be many months in the future - maybe even after self publication - who knows.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Really???

    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    This is pretty standard operating procedure for non-fiction, especially when the author is positioning him- or herself as a topic expert.

    Is this true? if you sell a non-fiction book to random house or prentice hall or pearson or whomever you have to buy 5,000 copies of your own book first.

    I'd really like to hear people's experiences with non-fiction sales. Maybe I am naive. I thought the publisher's print the book and then try to sell them thru stores, internet, etc. Author's have to do their share of selling but I didn't think it was to whittle down their own inventory.

    If anyone has had this experience, please speak up. If I'm wrong I don't want to bad mouth anybody.

    Regarding the confusing part of my statement about the literary agent wanting to know what stores the book is in, etc. - I'm as confused as you all are. I was clear, in several emails, that I'm still working on the final draft. I guess some agents (surprise, surprise) do more talking than listening.

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