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OUT OF COMMISSION (memoir)


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#1 Fishpaw

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 09:12 AM

When 31 year old Christopher quits his dead-end retail job to become a real estate agent, he is sucked into a world of deadbeat clients, ruthless competition and ugly apartments on his quest for financial success and self respect.

OUT OF COMMISSION is a completed 77,000 word memoir that tells the story of Christopher Markopoulos, a frustrated, 31-year-old man who quits his demeaning, dead-end stock boy job at a high-end designer boutique for the high stakes, commission-only world of Manhattan real estate. His days are peppered with bizarre coworkers like Kelly, a paranoid alcoholic who never eats solid foods, and Diana, a ruthless pregnant woman who runs circles around the competition. He will learn that just about anything can piss a client off, from nearby housing projects to the standard 15% New York City rental commission rate, while he tries to find clients for everything from classic, prewar apartments to thinly-veiled crack houses. His journey will take him all over the island of Manhattan on his quest for real estate glory and client loyalty, while he fights the two most powerful words in the industry: No Fee.
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#2 Joel Q

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 02:00 PM

Almost everything in the hook paragraph is repeated in the second paragraph.
To me that's a waste of space.

The query does have a good pace and a decent voice. Has some interesting people and conflicts
But I'm not drawn into reading the book.
I think I need more of Chris in the query and a reason to care about him, because I don't care one bit about real estate. Then again, maybe this book isn't for people like me.

JQ
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#3 Wildcat

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 02:37 PM

I'm going to be totally biased here because I love real estate (which makes this sound like an interesting read to me), but I am curious as to what the overall plot may be. I'm assuming it is just Christopher's new happenings in real estate and the people around him? (And true that about anything can piss off a client...I'm an expert in that field).

Overall, it sounds like a catchy book to me. But like I said, I'm biased for real estate. And take everything I say with a grain of salt; I suck at writing queries...I'm here to learn, too. By the way, it sounds like you may have some experience in real estate. You may want to mention that so prospective agents will know that you know something about the profession.

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#4 Fishpaw

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 03:45 PM

Almost everything in the hook paragraph is repeated in the second paragraph.
To me that's a waste of space.

The query does have a good pace and a decent voice. Has some interesting people and conflicts
But I'm not drawn into reading the book.
I think I need more of Chris in the query and a reason to care about him, because I don't care one bit about real estate. Then again, maybe this book isn't for people like me.

JQ


I see your point about the repetition. It's really a fish-out-of-water story about me and my awkwardness within the industry. Maybe I need to make it more about who I am. Real estate really is a polarizing subject. I've had a lot of blank stares upon telling people what my book is about. Thanks for your feedback.
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#5 Fishpaw

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 03:47 PM

I'm going to be totally biased here because I love real estate (which makes this sound like an interesting read to me), but I am curious as to what the overall plot may be. I'm assuming it is just Christopher's new happenings in real estate and the people around him? (And true that about anything can piss off a client...I'm an expert in that field).

Overall, it sounds like a catchy book to me. But like I said, I'm biased for real estate. And take everything I say with a grain of salt; I suck at writing queries...I'm here to learn, too. By the way, it sounds like you may have some experience in real estate. You may want to mention that so prospective agents will know that you know something about the profession.

ERD


You were correct in assuming that this was about settling into a new career. I guess it's not that evident in my query yet. Queries are not easy. I thought they would be, but I was really stuck with this one. Had to leave it alone and come back to it many times. Reading the backs of books in the bookstore helps a lot. Thanks for your feedback!
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#6 Countrymouse

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 03:57 PM

HI,

Since this is (I presume) your story, I think it should be written in first person. I know for fiction, you'd write third, but for memoir, I think first reads better.

Good luck!
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#7 Fishpaw

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 01:33 PM

HI,

Since this is (I presume) your story, I think it should be written in first person. I know for fiction, you'd write third, but for memoir, I think first reads better.

Good luck!


Most of what I've read about queries tells me that I've written it in the correct tense (i hope). However, the book is written in the first person and it works really well. Thanks for your advice!
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#8 JMB

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 08:51 AM

Most of what I've read about queries tells me that I've written it in the correct tense (i hope). However, the book is written in the first person and it works really well. Thanks for your advice!


When people talk about the right "tense" for a query they mean verb tense and the general advice is write your query in present tense even if the story is told in past tense. As for person, Query Shark says you should write a memoir query in first, not third, person. I am sure you can get other opinions on this but I love Janet Reid's advice.

Also, I think you need some sort of arc to your story. It is probably not enough to say man enters fiercely competitive world of real estate and meets lots of quirky people. Everybody thinks their office is filled with fascinating people and funny vignettes. You need something to drive the story forward--a goal--like getting your name on the office door.

Lastly, I didn't get the closing line. "...fights the two most powerful words in the industry: No fee." I am not in real estate so I don't get the punch line.

#9 kellyann

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 01:52 PM

I am only writing this because I have heard it a million times when i posted my memoir query etc... what makes your story different - why would I want to read it (especially me whose worked as mortgage underwriter for years and real estate agents aren't my fave people no offense)

again I have been through this all and yes miss snark and others. (myself included) agree write it in first person, past tense UNLESS you want to go the route and make this a fiction story? which you might think about

kellyann
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#10 Pete Morin

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 03:16 PM

Hiya Fishie,

So I've been thinking about this. You've described what this memoir is about in a manner that it reads like a list of events, the objective being "real estate glory and client loyalty."

Until I get a sense of who you are, how you view this journey, whether I'm going to like you, I don't see the mission being big enough - worth my emotional involvement. Real estate glory? Like being Donald Trump? Dude, unless I love you, I'm not rooting for you. Does that make sense?

So reading this, I get no sense of your voice, your perspective in this game. Is this a kind of non-fiction Bonfire of the Vanities? Is it satirical? Are you a victim or a viper? Are you loved or feared? I want a sense of that.

The venue and the theme have a lot of promise. What's your personal story in it?
Pete

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#11 Fishpaw

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 11:57 AM

When people talk about the right "tense" for a query they mean verb tense and the general advice is write your query in present tense even if the story is told in past tense. As for person, Query Shark says you should write a memoir query in first, not third, person. I am sure you can get other opinions on this but I love Janet Reid's advice.

Also, I think you need some sort of arc to your story. It is probably not enough to say man enters fiercely competitive world of real estate and meets lots of quirky people. Everybody thinks their office is filled with fascinating people and funny vignettes. You need something to drive the story forward--a goal--like getting your name on the office door.

Lastly, I didn't get the closing line. "...fights the two most powerful words in the industry: No fee." I am not in real estate so I don't get the punch line.


Thank you for your feedback!

No Fee refers to a client's desire to rent an apartment without paying a commission fee. There are landlords that would pay the agents (me) directly, so I don't have to charge the client. Hence, it is a no fee apartment. I am going to take that part out of the query to make it eliminate that confusion. To me, it sounded like a nice ending, but now I understand why it's a head scratcher for so many.

I guess that because it's a memoir, I didn't focus enough on the story arc. I guess I got caught up in all the insane day-to-day encounters that I lost sight of that. My goal was to become a broker at the end of the day and I will edit both the letter and the book now to reflect that.

I have to continue reading Query Shark as I develop this letter. That place is a goldmine.
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#12 Fishpaw

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:03 PM

I am only writing this because I have heard it a million times when i posted my memoir query etc... what makes your story different - why would I want to read it (especially me whose worked as mortgage underwriter for years and real estate agents aren't my fave people no offense)

again I have been through this all and yes miss snark and others. (myself included) agree write it in first person, past tense UNLESS you want to go the route and make this a fiction story? which you might think about

kellyann


Trust me, after the time I spent in that industry, they aren't my favorite people either. Especially considering what has happened to the world economy because of it.

So you say first person past tense? Like this: "When I quit my job and became a real estate agent..." It's interesting, because it sounds so much more personal that way.

I've thought about making it a fiction story, too. Look what it did for the Devil Wears Prada!

Thanks for your help!
Chris
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#13 Fishpaw

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:14 PM

Hiya Fishie,

So I've been thinking about this. You've described what this memoir is about in a manner that it reads like a list of events, the objective being "real estate glory and client loyalty."

Until I get a sense of who you are, how you view this journey, whether I'm going to like you, I don't see the mission being big enough - worth my emotional involvement. Real estate glory? Like being Donald Trump? Dude, unless I love you, I'm not rooting for you. Does that make sense?

So reading this, I get no sense of your voice, your perspective in this game. Is this a kind of non-fiction Bonfire of the Vanities? Is it satirical? Are you a victim or a viper? Are you loved or feared? I want a sense of that.

The venue and the theme have a lot of promise. What's your personal story in it?


Great points, Pete. Since it was my personal story, I forgot about how people view real estate agents and I guess I saw myself as an innocent victim in this game, but didn't touch on that enough.

It's a fish-out-of-water story and I probably didn't put enough of that in there the first time around. I have to learn how to look outside the box (ignore the horrible corporate cliche) when I write these things. Since posting this, I've been re-writing it I think it gives you a much better sense of who I am, what the story arc is, and what I want to achieve at the end of the day. Thank you for your honest feedback.
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.

#14 Pete Morin

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:40 PM

Fish-out-of-water is EXACTLY what I was wondering!

Yeah, the query really ought to be dripping with that woe-is-me-I-hate-New-York (if that's what it's about).

I look forward to seeing the update.
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#15 Fishpaw

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:53 PM

Fish-out-of-water is EXACTLY what I was wondering!

Yeah, the query really ought to be dripping with that woe-is-me-I-hate-New-York (if that's what it's about).

I look forward to seeing the update.


I actually LOVE New York, but there will be plenty of "woe-is-me-what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into?" by the time I'm done with it.
"Do you want another whippin' with that car aerial? It's right in that closet don't forget." - Female Trouble.




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