When the struggling writer is pitching a book to an agent, he or she had better have a book, right? Well, Finnish SF author Hannu Rajaniemi sold three of them to classy UK-based Orion imprint Gollacz based on a mere 24 pages. Could you also be 24 pages away from selling your book? Find out how Rajaniemi managed the feat.It was British agent John Jarrold who sold the title to Simon Spanton of Gollacz. Jarrold represents a spate of European SF writers, and took on the Finnish SF writer in June of this year. Rajaniemi has a PhD in mathematics, and though he's been published in anthologies, this first book of three will be his debut novel. Jarrold told SF Scope:
After fifteen years in an editor's chair, I am very aware how unusual it is for an offer to be made for a debut novelist on only twenty-four double spaced pages—particularly at a time when many publishing executives are more interested in the opinions of their sales and marketing directors than those of their senior editors.
In addition to agenting, Jarrold has also run his own press. Jarrold admits it was a gamble, but after reading the first chapter, it sounds like a deal got done later that day(!). Still, while this story emphasizes the importance of a stellar beginning, it may be the best recipe in the long run. If you're thinking about querying an agent or publisher, this is generally not the way to go, as Robert J. Sawyer recently noted in responding to a fan query about whether it was okay to submit without that completed manuscript:
Yes, it would be unfair — and it would be a waste. If they like it RIGHT NOW, and are enthusiastic about seeing it RIGHT NOW, then your best career move is to send the rest as soon as they ask for it. Six weeks, six months, or six years from now that agent may no longer be taking on new clients, whatever market trend the agent might have perceived your work as fitting into may have passed, and so on. You can't grouse later on, "But you SAID you wanted to see it!" If you don't have a finished manuscript ready to go to market, you and an agent have no business to do together, and it isn't fair for you to take time out of his or her day. Also, your encouragement must be internal to you: you need to want this so badly that you can't STOP writing; if you think you will be coddled every step of the way by people patting you on the head every time you write a few pages, you are sorely mistaken.
There's some advice for you, Hannu. Hannu Rajaniemi sells book on basis of 24 pages [SFScope]