I am currently looking for an agent to represent a portfolio of books. But I was wondering, what is considered to be a large portfolio in that how many unpublished books ready for an agent is considered large or small? I have about five THOROUGHLY REVIEWED novels within the Christian fiction genre. They are not series, they are standalone. Is this considered a good number to send to agents? Is this too much? Am I pushing myself too hard?
The fact that you have five books completed is a plus point to literary agents and publishers, but it is not how you approach them. Offering to send an agent or publishing editor five books to read/consider would overwhelm them.
In their mind, you are initially the enemy in that you're going to have, alas, another dud that will waste their timer and energy. The reality of their daily affairs is they are overwhelmed with poorly written manuscripts and aspiring authors who haven't done their homework in how to approach them properly.
You are doing your homework, so I commend you for that!!
My suggestion is to select your best work to submit to literary agents.
You do not submit a portfolio, but rather a query letter and book proposal about a single book you want them to consider for representation. If it's a small to mid-size publisher, you can approach them directly with these items. The larger publishers will not communicate directly with first-time authors and require they have a literary agent as the liaison.
Ideally, you will approach an agent (or publisher) with your query letter. This is typically a one- or two-page professional letter inquiring whether they would be interested in your book. If they are, they will ask for the book proposal, which you need to have ready to send off immediately. Otherwise, you lose your opportunity by screaming, "I'm not a professional" or "I' slow at getting things done and would be a bad candidate for an agent."
There is an expected format for book proposals and query letters too involved for this post. But if you would like more help with this, contact my team at my company.
You're off to an amazing start with having five books already!
If you're an illustrator, you send a portfolio, because you are selling your talent, not any individual piece of work, and because you'll be using that talent to illustrate someone else's writing. But as a writer, you're selling an individual piece of writing, not your talent, so you should pick the best one, and sell that. Once you have a confirmed sale under your belt, you'll have the inside track on selling additional books.
A portfolio of writing is only for writers who have already proven successful, or who are doing writing-for-hire assignments such as ghostwriting or web content. There might be an exception to this rule if you were selling a series as a series, but no one ever buys or sells five unrelated stand-alone books as a group.
Also keep in mind that having multiple completed unsold projects is not generally considered a plus. Agents and publishers will be primarily interested in your past publications, and their reception. If the work you are submitting is very good, they will be glad to know you have follow-ups ready, but even writing quality is not a guarantee of sales, so they'll be more interested in a good sales track-record, if you have one.