Elle Cosimano

Writing Like Real Estate

In my previous life, I sold houses. Lots of them. I guess you could say I was pretty good at it. The more time I spend immersed in the writing world, the more parallels I find between selling a book and selling a house. It’s just a different kind of property.

Lindsey For Sale Sign

This month, I’ve worked closely with my agent to determine the new direction for my book. As we explore new tones, new themes, new characters, and new plotlines, we’ve come to the decision that the book will be… well… entirely new.

I’ve survived the emotional loss and mourning process after the burial of my first completed draft. I am starting my novel again… nearly from scratch… knowing it will be stronger, tighter, and more gripping for the changes.

As I’ve shared this news with friends and family, people have asked questions, like why didn’t you just choose an agent that likes your book the way it is? Or why not just ask your agent to submit it in “as is” condition? Maybe it will sell?

I didn’t even have to think about the answer; it came as easy as breathing. Because if I think of my book in terms of real estate — it’s my property, and it’s extremely valuable to me, so it’s a reasonable analogy — my answer is no.

Here’s why…

Let’s say you have a house, and you want to sell it. You want to list it for the best possible asking price, and you want it to show well. Not only that, but you want the listing agent to be savvy, aggressive, and honest in their counsel. You want more than just a lop-sided “for sale” sign in the yard and a half-assed ad in the Sunday paper. You want the best possible contract with the best possible terms. So you interview and hire the most professional agent to list your home.

That über-agent will walk through your home, show you the comps, present a comprehensive marketing plan, and tell you what you need to do to make your home show-ready. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll be honest with their feedback. If the house really sparkles, then it will demand a higher asking price from the market, and maybe even yield multiple offers.

In my case, my agent told me the house has incredible potential, but it needs work. We can make it better… and this will involve a few pretty significant repairs. I had a choice. I could go with an agent who might be willing to slap a for sale sign on it and throw it out into the market without much due diligence. It would be a numbers game, a gamble on the possibility of a sale. Or I could choose the savvy agent (who’s going to expect some elbow grease from me) to make sure the property sells for the best possible price.

No contest. I chose Agent #2.

So this is me… stripping ugly wallpaper and threadbare carpeting, remodeling kitchens and baths, giving my story a stronger foundation with crisp decor and a shiny coat of paint. This story is a reflection of me and my choices. So, this is me… working harder, putting my best foot forward, even if it means taking a step back. Because anything worth having is worth working for.



18, 2011 |

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9 Responses to “Writing Like Real Estate”

  1. Megan Benedict says:

    LOVE your perspective Elle!! i think its so easy to get offended when someone criticizes us about something so personal… but when the critiques are done out of love or respect, and to help us improve, this is defintely the right attitude to have! what a positive way to look at it.

  2. It’s a grueling process, but it’s so worth it in the end! Hope all is going well!

  3. I love this analogy! So true….
    Great post!

  4. Heather says:

    You rock, Elle. I think I may have to dub you my writing guru. 🙂

  5. Pamela Witte says:

    Atta girl! Polish, polish, polish, and one day, you’ll be sitting back with a huge grin on your face because you were smart, and did things the right way!

  6. lori Howard says:

    Great analogy…good for you – I’m cheering in your section.

  7. Tamara stone says:

    I’ve read your WIP and I’d hardly call it “ugly wallpaper and threadbare carpeting” but I still commend you for taking the harder, more rewarding route. As if you’d ever do it any other way…

    You’re amazing.

  8. Elle says:

    I’m sitting here reading these amazing replies, and I am awed and astounded by this impressive cast! Three soon-to-be bestselling debut authors, three incredibly talented writers, and seven extraordinarily supportive friends! You ladies rock! I am so grateful for each of you!

  9. […] qualified to post on the subject of USPs. You can read my other posts about writing and real estate here. Elle Cosimano WRITER OF 16 POSTS | WEBSITEMy friends call me Elle. I write YA mysteries and […]

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