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FAME-ISH (nonfiction pop culture)


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#1 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 08:57 AM

As suggested by the moderator, I am posting my query here in this section - imagine I'd get a different sort of feedback here. I am gonna trim some, but wanted to see what you thought. Thanks!

Dear xxxxx,

There are traditionally two ways to be well-known in pop culture: Fame, usually the result of something positive (winning an Oscar, hosting a successful talk show, writing a book about leading the Allied forces against the empires of evil) and infamy, which typically comes from being, at best, shady, or, at worst, mustache-twirling and dastardly (abdicating the British throne, cheating on a quiz show, being Tila Tequila).

As a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist, critic, blogger and lover of the intriguingly obscure, I'm a champion of a third sort of notoriety that gets sometimes snickered at, that I'll call "Fame-ish." That's when you're known for achieving something legitimate but still not being recognized by the mainstream, at least not currently. Maybe you had five hits in 1985 that are still used in movies and still have a fan club, although some people are confused that you're alive. Maybe you're a soap star, a figure skater or an MMA bruiser who's huge in their niche but "Who?" elsewhere. Maybe you're only famous in Latvia, or in Ft. Lauderdale. Or perhaps you're that guy who sells that thing someone bought that time on the TV at 3 a.m.

Whatever the reason, these people are achieved a certain amount of fame for some real accomplishment, however long ago or goofy, deserve as much respect and play as, say, bleary 20-somethings who drunk-stumble their way to national acclaim, or real housewives who are neither housewives or real, at least in the anatomical sense.

I want to humorously and fabulously tell the stories of the pro wrestler, the two-hit wonder, the soap legend and the long-time weather guy. I come not to mock, but to explore the highs and lows of being fame-ish, of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having the friend say "Uh, not so much." I have both covered the "Fame-ish" at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, but share a little of that limited limelight myself as a newspaper columnist with my picture in the paper. I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within county lines.

Tentative chapters include: "Big in Spokane: The Ballad of the Local Celebrity;" "Extreme Dreams: MMA, Sweat and Literally Beating Your Way To The Big Time;" "It's Only Fair: Rocking Out on the Fair and Casino Circuit" and "The Executive Hot Tub: People Who've Used Reality TV as a Career Ladder, Not as a Career."

Fame-ishness is funny -and "Fame-ish" will be funny, heartfelt and honest about all of the aspects of this peculiar type of notoriety - the fans, both fickle and faithful, what it's like to be a god in some circles and a goof in others, and just an enthusiastic hand clap for those who exist on the fringes of fame.

I have never published a book before, but am published just about every other day as a writer for the Palm Beach Post, in West Palm Beach, Fl. For 17 years, I've covered everything from crime to small-town council meetings to entertainment, the latter being my concentration for the past 13 years. I've won some awards from organizations like the National Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Headliner Awards and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and have appeared on local and national radio and television as a commentator, pundit and person who's often wanted to shake some sense into "American Idol's" Randy Jackson. I also recently married at the age of 38 (my twin sister and I just started a blog called Bride At 35, about getting hitched in your late 30s and beyond), am a slow runner, a karaoke trouper, and the owner of a red Afro who used to get mistaken for Macy Gray all the time (I have actually gotten mail addressed to "Macy Gray Streeter."


Thank you for your time!

#2 Jean Oram

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:55 AM

Leslie, the biggest thing agents want to know is this: Where is the market? Who is going to buy this book. Why can't the world live without this book? What's the competition?

I hate to say it, but your query talks a lot without really saying anything that an agent can bite into. This is a selling and marketing document. You've got to sell the idea in terms of market, etc. I like that you have some funny bits and explain fameish but there is no indication of what your title will be or word count, etc. These are things agents want to know--even if they change drastically when you begin the actual writing. They need to see your vision for this book so they can say, "Yeah! Love it."

Some agents have said that a query's sweet spot is around 350 words (never go over one page is a pretty good rule of thumb too)--that might help you out with length when you consider revisions.

Best of luck.

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#3 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 04:13 PM

Thanks Jean! That is the kind of thingI need to know. The title would be "Fame-ish," but I am getting the feeling that it needs to be shorter. And I think there is a market, because of the vast market of pop culture books. We are fascinated with the B-list and one-hit wonders and the like, but there are vast markets that keep such acts going, both in niche places and in the mainstream.

I just have to say that, huh?

Will shorten and resubmit! Thank you!

#4 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 06:53 PM

Here is my new, shorter version. Is it better?

Dear Ms. Janczuk,

What do you call it when you're somewhere between "that guy that did that thing that time" and "quirky not quite household-esque name"? Fame-ish!

As a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist, critic and blogger for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fl and a lover of the intriguingly obscure, I'm a champion of a reknown that gets sometimes snickered, when you're known for achieving something legitimate but still not being recognized by the current mainstream. Maybe you had five hits in 1985 that are still used in movies and still have a fan club, although some people are confused that you're alive. Maybe you're a soap star, a figure skater or an MMA bruiser who's huge in their niche but "Who?" elsewhere. Maybe you're only famous in Latvia, or in Ft. Lauderdale. Or perhaps you're that guy who sells that thing someone bought that time on the TV at 3 a.m.

I want to humorously and fabulously tell the stories of the pro wrestler, the two-hit wonder, the soap legend and the long-time weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of being fame-ish, of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having the friend say "Uh, not so much." I have both covered the "Fame-ish" at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, but share a little of that limited limelight myself as a newspaper columnist with my picture in the paper. I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within county lines.

Tentative chapters include: "Big in Spokane: The Ballad of the Local Celebrity;" "Extreme Dreams: MMA, Sweat and Literally Beating Your Way To The Big Time;" "It's Only Fair: Rocking Out on the Fair and Casino Circuit," "New Edition, Teddy Riley, Teena Marie and friends: Things We Never Told White People About," and "The Executive Hot Tub: People Who've Used Reality TV as a Career Ladder, Not as a Career."

Fame-ishness is funny -and "Fame-ish" will be funny, heartfelt and honest about all of the aspects of this peculiar type of notoriety - the fans, both fickle and faithful, what it's like to be a god in some circles and a goof in others, and just an enthusiastic hand clap for those who exist on the fringes of fame.

Thank you for your time!

Leslie Gray Streeter

#5 mwsinclair

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 05:39 PM

I think you can still trim a bit and work on some phrasing I find awkward.

For example: "...I'm a champion of a reknown that gets sometimes snickered, when you're known for achieving something legitimate but still not being recognized by the current mainstream." (the bold section read funny to me.)

How about: "I'm a champion of those best known for remarkable achievements, even if those remarks are made in passing by the current mainstream."
(feel free to disagree)

And instead of "I want to humorously and fabulously tell the stories of the pro wrestler, the two-hit wonder, the soap legend and the long-time weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of being fame-ish, of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having the friend say "Uh, not so much." I have both covered the "Fame-ish" at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, but share a little of that limited limelight myself as a newspaper columnist with my picture in the paper. I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within county lines"

I'd try:
"In "Fame-ish" I will tell the humorous and fabulous stories of the pro wrestler, the two-hit wonder, the soap legend and the long-time weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of being fame-ish, of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having that friend say "Uh, not so much." Not only have I covered the fame-ish at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, I share a smidgen of that limited limelight myself as a newspaper columnist whose picture is in the paper. Like the fame-ish, I wade through occasional autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers."

#6 mwsinclair

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 05:40 PM

One other comment: I liked your original first graf. I think you've lost some of your voice in this version.



#7 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 06:32 AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

How about this:

Dear xxxxx,

There are traditionally two ways to be well-known in pop culture: Fame, for positive pursuits (Oscar winner, successful talk show host, leader of the Allied forces against the empires of evil) and infamy from being, at best, shady, or, at worst, mustache-twirling and dastardly (abdicating the British throne, cheating on a quiz show, being Tila Tequila).

As a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist, blogger and champion of the intriguingly obscure, I'm a fan of what I call "Fame-ishness." That's being legitimately well-known, but not to everyone. Maybe you had five hits in 1985 that are still used in movies and still have a fan club, although some people are confused that you're alive. Maybe you're a soap star, a figure skater or an MMA bruiser who's huge in their niche but "Who?" elsewhere. Maybe you're only famous in Latvia, or in Ft. Lauderdale. Or perhaps you're that guy who sells that thing someone bought that time on the TV at 3 a.m.

Whatever the reason, the Fame-ish deserve as much respect and play as, say, bleary 20-somethings who drunk-stumble their way to national acclaim, or real housewives who are neither housewives or real, at least in the anatomical sense. I want to tell the humorous, fabulous stories of the pro wrestler, the Filipino pop star, the two-hit wonder and the long-time local weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having their friend say "No, actually, I don't." I have not only covered the "Fame-ish" at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, but share a little of that limited limelight myself - as a newspaper columnist with my picture in the paper, I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within a 40-mile radius.

Tentative chapters include: "Big in Spokane: The Ballad of the Local Celebrity;" "Extreme Dreams: MMA, Sweat and Literally Beating Your Way To The Big Time;" "It's Only Fair: Rocking Out on the Fair and Casino Circuit," "Teena Marie, Guy, New Edition and other things White People Never Found Out About," and "Climbing the Reality Show Career Ladder"

Fame-ishness is funny -and "Fame-ish" will be funny, heartfelt and honest about all of the aspects of this peculiar type of notoriety - the fans, both fickle and faithful, what it's like to be a god in some circles and a goof in others, and just an enthusiastic hand clap for those who exist on the fringes of fame.


Thank you for your time!

#8 portiag

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:00 PM

Leslie, I want to offer a little feedback, and I mean little. Anyway, this idea sounds like so much fun. Its like a "where are the now" special. And my friends and I always try to remember who was the kid from that sitcom or who was the group who sang that song...we have a ball. I can see this being a fun segment on TV or even a board game or game show. So, I guess what I'm saying is for me what is missing is the fun! And I agree that it is a bit too long.

#9 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 12:51 AM

Thank you Portiag! So you mean you need more fun examples in the query? Let me work on that! Thank you so much!

#10 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 08:25 AM

Hey guys! Here is the latest version!

There are traditionally two ways to be known in pop culture: Fame, for positive pursuits (being an Oscar winner, successful talk show host, leader of the Allied forces against the empires of evil) and infamy, from being, at best, shady, or, at worst, dastardly (abdicating the British throne, cheating on a quiz show, being Tila Tequila).

As a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist and blogger for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fl., and a champion of the intriguingly obscure, I'm a fan of what I call "Fame-ishness." That's being legitimately well-known - just not to everyone. Maybe you still make a living touring with your five hits in 1985, although some people are confused that you're alive. Maybe you're a soap star, a figure skater or an MMA bruiser who's huge in their niche but "Who?" elsewhere. Maybe you're only famous in Latvia, or in Ft. Lauderdale.

I want to tell the humorous, fabulous stories of the pro wrestler, the Filipino pop star, the two-hit wonder and the long-time local weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having their friend say "No, actually, I don't." I have not only covered the "Fame-ish" at various state fairs, tiny club shows and second-chance book tours, but share a little of that limited limelight myself - as a newspaper columnist with my face in the paper, I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within a 40-mile radius. And then there's that old dude in Starbucks who told me I'd gotten fat and invited me to his Overeater's Anonymous meeting. Yeah. That happened.

Tentative chapters include: "Big in Spokane: The Ballad of the Local Celebrity;" "Extreme Dreams: MMA, Sweat and Literally Beating Your Way To The Big Time;" "It's Only Fair: Rocking Out on the Fair and Casino Circuit," or "Teena Marie, New Edition and other things White People Never Found Out About."

Fame-ishness is funny -and "Fame-ish" will be funny, heartfelt and honest about all of the aspects of this peculiar type of notoriety - the fans, both fickle and faithful, what it's like to be a god in some circles and a goof in others, and just an enthusiastic hand clap for those who exist on the fringes of fame.

Thank you for your time!

Leslie Gray Streeter

#11 mwsinclair

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:04 PM

Hey Leslie, sorry for the delay on this one. I kinda like it. It's still a bit long perhaps, but I believe I understand what you're trying to sell and I think I'd see a market for it. Obviously, more needs to be put together when you get the proposal stage, but I suspect you'd spark some interest in this idea.

#12 Cat Woods

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:23 PM

I'm intrigued and I hate celebrity of all kinds. It bores me silly. But that's probably because we only ever see the sterling reputations or the fallen angels of our times.

I love the new hook paragraph. You've done a nice job with nabbing my attention. I also like your transition into your credentials.

I think what you may be missing is a bit more succinctness to your other paragraphs, as well as a compelling audience statement.

The tentative chapters section could probably go. It's a list which reads "boring" to me. I'd rather see you word it in a different, engaging and comical way. Not sure what that is, but I think a previous poster is right. Find your humor. Don't tell me it's in there. Prove it.

Lynn Price at Behler Blog is an editor at a small publishing company. She has some good (somewhat cheeky) insights that might help you as you navigate your way through the query and proposal process.

Good luck with this~

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#13 portiag

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:12 PM

Leslie, I enjoyed your update. It has got the fun factor and my interest. I would agree that the sample chapters are not needed but, all in all, I think it conveys excitement and it flows. I like the way you end (almost another hook). Good job and best of luck!

#14 Jean Oram

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 01:31 PM

Hi.

I think you can still trim a lot of it down. Also watch the commas and long sentences. Agents read queries in about 20 seconds--make it easy for them to pull out what they need in that short timeframe. I put a few thoughts on your first paragraph in blue.

Hey guys! Here is the latest version!

There are traditionally two ways to become known in pop culture: Fame, for positive pursuits (such asbeing an Oscar winner, or a successful talk show host, leader of the Allied forces against the empires of evil) and infamy, from less positive pursuits such as being, at best, shady, or, at worst, dastardly (abdicating the British throne,or cheating on a quiz show, being Tila Tequila). (Notice the parallelism I created? It makes for a smooth and easy read while saying the same thing.) However, [pull this part up as it is part of your hook/intro] as a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist, and blogger for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fl.,[This slows us down and can be mentioned in the bio paragraph. Right now it is important to establish yourself as someone with expertise and a possible platform and this is enough to do so.] and a champion of the intriguingly obscure, I'm a fan of what I have created a third category called I call "Fame-ishness." (I think this might work as a hook--you have identified two ways and then as a reporter, created a third. Next you can define it, why it is fun and amusing and why there is a market for a book about it, etc.)



I love connecting with and helping other AQCers outside this forum as well. You can find me all over the place!

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#15 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:06 AM

Thank you so much for your responses! So far, I've gotten five "no"s out of 19 queries sent - and in a weird way I don't mind because it is early and because it's a sign that I'm putting myself out there. And Jean - those are great edits! I'm gonna tweak and then see what you guys think!

This is such a great process! I appreciate it!

#16 LeslieStreeter

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:17 AM

OK! How's this?



There are traditionally two ways to become known in pop culture: Fame, for positive pursuits (like being an Oscar winner, successful talk show host, leader of the Allied forces) and infamy, from more dastardly projects (abdicating the British throne, cheating on a quiz show, being Tila Tequila).

As a veteran pop culture reporter, columnist and blogger, and a champion of the forgotten and obscure, I've come up with a third category: "Fame-ishness." That's being legitimately well-known - just not to everyone. Maybe you still make a living touring with your five hits in 1985, although some people are confused that you're alive. Maybe you're a soap star, a figure skater or an MMA bruiser who's huge in their niche but "Who?" elsewhere. Maybe you're only famous in Latvia, or in Ft. Lauderdale.

I'll tell the weird but fascinating stories of the pro wrestler, the Filipino pop star, the two-hit wonder and the long-time local weather guy. I come not to hate, but to celebrate the highs and lows of having some fan gush to a friend "Do you know who this is?" and having their friend say "No, actually, I don't." And I know - as a newspaper columnist with my face in the paper, I get autograph requests, kudos and prison mail stalkers - but only within a 40-mile radius. And then there's that old dude in Starbucks who told me I'd gotten fat and invited me to his Overeater's Anonymous meeting. Yeah. That happened.

Tentative chapters include: "Big in Spokane: The Ballad of the Local Celebrity;" "It's Only Fair: Rocking Out on the Fair and Casino Circuit," or "Teena Marie, New Edition and other things White People Never Found Out About."

Fame-ishness is funny -and "Fame-ish" will be a funny, candid look at all of the aspects of this peculiar type of notoriety - the fans, both fickle and faithful, what it's like to be a god in some circles and a goof in others, and just an enthusiastic hand clap for those who exist on the fringes of fame.

#17 Jean Oram

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:19 AM

No problem. Just remember... the more simple and straight-forward you can make your query at this stage, the better. You can always layer in later if it is too flat or not quite rounded enough. Think speed readers garnering as much as they can in 20 seconds. There are certain things you want them to pick up such as, that you have a platform, that you are an expert in this field, that there is a market for it (those are the top three things that will help you stand out), that it is fun, that you can write, and of course, what the proposed book is truly about (that can be as little as two sentences). the idea is to get them to say, "Gimme the proposal. I want to read more!"

I love connecting with and helping other AQCers outside this forum as well. You can find me all over the place!

If you are looking for more about writing, you may find my blog helpful, as well as my Twitter feed:

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I write stuff (www.jeanoram.com)

 


#18 LeslieStreeter

LeslieStreeter

    New Member

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:30 AM

Awesome! Thank you!

#19 mwsinclair

mwsinclair

    Elephant with a trunk full of novels

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 12:26 PM

Yes, those are good edits, and I think you've regained that voice you showed initially. This is sharper. Good job!

#20 LeslieStreeter

LeslieStreeter

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 12:36 PM

Hope it works! Again, thank you for all of your help. Going to go pay it forward and read some other writers' queries now!




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