It was great to see several blog readers at the Harvard Medical School Publishing Course, including Connor Moore, Jeannette Samanen and Dan Peterson. For those of you who couldn’t make the course, and I know a few of you expressed regret that it didn’t work for you, I’ll be sharing a few pearls of wisdom and some insider takes on the state of the publishing industry over the next few days.
I enjoyed meeting a new faculty member at the course, Albert LaFarge from Albert LaFarge Literary Agency, which handles general nonfiction, from documentary history to narrative journalism. I asked him about bulk sales on behalf of a particular client. His remarks were enlightening.
Albert agreed that publishers love bulk sales and that alone can make a publisher interested in a book. However, he pointed out that publishers are also quite skeptical about whether a bulk sale is truly likely. If you’re going to tout bulk sales in your proposal, you need to back it up with evidence. While you may not be able to get a commitment in writing (which would be ideal, but difficult), you can demonstrate your relationship with the company (the company president and the author are golfing buddies and spend time together every Saturday, for instance). If your plans for bulk sales predictions sound spurious, it may be better to leave it out altogether, according to Albert.