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loosebricks
06-23-2008, 06:15 AM
Hi, I'm a n00b here and posted something similar to the life story forum but thought I might get some additional and different feedback here.

Buy This Book With Cash is just one idea for the title of my book. The other is something along the lines of Popped-Collar Criminal: The Miseducation of An American College Student.

I know that it always comes down to the writing, but I am wondering how much interest there is in the story itself. Friends and party acquaintances seem interested in the story, but I'd like some non-biased opinions.

As an upperclassman at a top 30 university I sold three million dollars of marijuana, give or take a million. I cultivated clients in order to fund a grow-house and deliberately turned one thousand dollars from a federal student loan into $150,000 (and who knows how much for resellers).

As my reputation and business grew I met people across the spectrum of student life, from middle-class kids to those whose surnames were synonymous with campus buildings and scholarships. There were no clique biases; the only bias was against bad pot. Along the way, I found success was inversely proportional to sobriety.

After this, my description starts to become pretty cliche (if it doesn't already seem that way) - the rise and fall of a [college] drug dealer. However in my research I haven't found a similar book.

There are personal conflicts (much like characters in the Wire, I was neither bad nor good) - I struggled with identity and sexuality, stayed away from hard drugs, grappled with the idea of civic responsibility, and was otherwise an average college student trying to find his way. Friends even looked up to me, coming to me for advice on drugs, love, and life.

The allure of 'the game' was too great and eventually I was arrested. Asked to snitch, I declined, choosing instead to take responsibility for my actions even while most everyone abandoned me.

As for market, there are 11 million Americans who admit to using pot on a regular basis. And for those outside that 11 million, I think a description of how easy and innocently one can grow such an empire highlights the impact of social networks and the ineffectiveness of the so-called War on Drugs.

However, I'm not sure I have the necessary platform to do this, whereas selling it as a memoir (maybe its just vain male ennui) seems more plausible.

Thanks!

aka eraser
06-23-2008, 09:27 AM
Dude.

Write it.

Seriously.

But there's no way you're selling this on a proposal/synopsis (IMO).

It sounds to me like you have a story there. Your chops will tell whether it's worth reading. Go for it.

Bluestone
06-23-2008, 07:14 PM
I love the story. Hate both titles. They do nothing (IMO) to titillate or give a sufficient preview of the potential explosiveness of the story.

You should write it as a memoir, but it will have to be finished first.

I'm not sure your market is just average recreational pot smokers. A larg number of those are baby boomers who think nothing of occasional pot smoking, much as they would have a drink. It doesn't mean they are interested in a pot selling college kid.

My own thinking is a broad range of college students, parents whose kids are heading off to college, plus across varied readers who love a good story, well told. If it makes the NYT Bestseller list, or gets enough positive review attention, it will interest a broader range still. And of course if you name names, you'll have a whole other audience too!

And what you are doing now, and how successfully you've been "rehabilitated" will also impact the appeal of the book.

Good luck!

talkwrite
06-26-2008, 01:11 AM
I agree with Bluestone I love the story.but the title demeans the story.
You can actually go two ways- as a memoir aka "what happens if you do as I did" or you write it as a matter of fact and unapologetically. I'd talk the idea up to a couple of agents to get their take. As a content editor I have to ask how are you going to deal with naming the institutions where you studied?

loosebricks
06-26-2008, 02:55 AM
I agree with Bluestone I love the story.but the title demeans the story.
You can actually go two ways- as a memoir aka "what happens if you do as I did" or you write it as a matter of fact and unapologetically. I'd talk the idea up to a couple of agents to get their take. As a content editor I have to ask how are you going to deal with naming the institutions where you studied?

I'm on the fence with both points you've brought up, but they're good points and I appreciate you asking the questions.

The main lesson I learned was "don't get caught," though this would've admittedly been much easier to accomplish by not doing what I did or stopping earlier (though after you start stopping becomes pretty hard). However, I did feel something nagging (perhaps a conscience) that I was 'selling myself short.'

As for naming institutions, from an editor's POV, what would be preferred/more marketable? It's not an Ivy, if that matters much. I don't really mind naming the institution but not naming means having to use a pen name, and I would like any associated notoriety.

Additionally, outside of attending conferences/seminars/whatever, how would I go about 'talking up an agent' for a first book? (Because I thought it comes down to the writing)

talkwrite
06-26-2008, 06:16 PM
Let me try and address each of these questions one by one.
Before you outline or develop the storyline, gauge your feelings about your own personal history. Once you start writing you can't restrict your flow by telling yourself- "I have to make it sound like...."
Ask yourself - Do I feel like I have a message here that can stop people from making the same mistake? or is it that " I feel like this is the way I lived my life, it is interesting and I am not worried about being judged"
Also read- similar memoirs from the past few decades for both style ideas and to become acquainted with publishers.
The naming of the institutions will either be with permission or you won't be able to use their names. Permissions for the second book in my series in which diplomats and the United Nations were cited, took over a year and the author was responsible for those permissions. Granted if you can't use the names the story won't change, just the marketing. This will be a discussion you should have with your editor and if you choose to get one, your agent. So write on- name the institutions in your draft to aid your recall and keep the picture in your mind.
Meanwhile after you have read some similar memoirs, hit the book signing s of memoir authors- or go to their websites and ask them how they handled it. Authors who are successfully published are the best tool for any author. You can post that question here on AW too in the Telling your Life Story thread.
The third one is a very common question-I believe it is answered in several parts of this forum- Basic writing questions, Ask the Agent- and I highly recommend the magazine Poets and Writers www.pw.org or Writer's Digest www.writersdigest.com There you can learn all about agents and editors and publishers and contracts and even about AW. Yes, you are a writer now and this journey means you have to swim in the writing material as it is an ongoing education. But a lot of us love these waters.
Hope this helps.

Aragon
06-27-2008, 09:43 AM
Write it, have proof that it happened and make money. Don't like the titles, but man, I would by the book. You would be recommended by me when I reccomend the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

By the way, read that through first, might give you a good way to present the book.

loosebricks
06-27-2008, 10:57 AM
Write it, have proof that it happened and make money. Don't like the titles, but man, I would by the book. You would be recommended by me when I reccomend the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

By the way, read that through first, might give you a good way to present the book.

That seems to be the general consensus on the titles. Hopefully one will come to me later.

As for proof - I can't prove the numbers with any 'hard' evidence as I didn't keep a ledger, but there were plenty of people who saw my operation firsthand. The fact I was dealing is indisputable, and the extent of my operation can be verified by multiple sources (though they won't be named).

I've heard about Electric Acid Kool Aid test (and know that its being made into a movie) so I'll have to check it out. I only ran into one famous person during my time, but he has had a tv show on Comedy Central (and is an alum of my university, has an apartment in my town, and hopefully will write a blurb for me).

talkwrite
06-27-2008, 07:57 PM
I only ran into one famous person during my time, but he has had a tv show on Comedy Central (and is an alum of my university, has an apartment in my town, and hopefully will write a blurb for me).
Not if he was a customer of yours, he won't.. Tee hee ;)

loosebricks
06-27-2008, 10:50 PM
Not if he was a customer of yours, he won't.. Tee hee ;)

Haha, thankfully he wasn't! He was an alum of my friends' fraternity and he showed up at a party there one night - a bunch of us went upstairs and smoked a few bowls with him. He was extremely wasted beforehand, and much more so afterwards. He had two writers (or assistants, or whatever) tagging along who seemed to want to spoil the fun, but also to hit the bowl.

I ran into him again a year later or so, when delivering an Aeron chair for a store I was working for. I told him this story and he admitted to being wasted and assumed I was wasted as well. His apartment was newly renovated and I told him that I knew two guys who lived in his apartment before the renovations (he says: it was a shithole). One of the guys was aptly nicknamed Crackhead Dave.

A lot of my stories run circular/coincidentally like this, which I find interesting.

tombookpub
06-29-2008, 03:54 AM
Why is the original poster and commenters so "obsessed" with the title? Frankly, during the writing of the book, many ideas for the title and sub will come to mind. Plus, if you go with a pub house, they will throw in their large TWO CENTS and may dictate both. So, don't even worry about these at this stage! It's really a waste of time to finesse these now.

Bluestone
07-02-2008, 01:14 AM
Why is the original poster and commenters so "obsessed" with the title? Frankly, during the writing of the book, many ideas for the title and sub will come to mind. Plus, if you go with a pub house, they will throw in their large TWO CENTS and may dictate both. So, don't even worry about these at this stage! It's really a waste of time to finesse these now.

Frankly, I read no obsession in any of the posts and certainly didn't "obsess" on it myself. It was a passing observation in response to Loosebrick's original post. However, since e-queries are so common these days, in this case it might actually have a positive affect on Loosebrick's queries to come up with a title that does not begin in the subject line to an agent: Buy This Book With Cash.

loosebricks
07-02-2008, 01:21 AM
However, since e-queries are so common these days, in this case it might actually have a positive affect on Loosebrick's queries to come up with a title that does not begin in the subject line to an agent: Buy This Book With Cash.

Speaking of titles, is there a good thread or forum for advice/suggestions on titling memoirs?

talkwrite
07-02-2008, 07:34 PM
Why is the original poster and commenters so "obsessed" with the title? Frankly, during the writing of the book, many ideas for the title and sub will come to mind. Plus, if you go with a pub house, they will throw in their large TWO CENTS and may dictate both. So, don't even worry about these at this stage! It's really a waste of time to finesse these now.
Nor do I see obsession here by the OP, nor am I obsessed with titles. But when a writer offers it up for a comment- it deserves respectful consideration.
Titles are a big part of the whole package- some people keep the first title in mind as a sort of outline. And yes publishers do have input- they have a vested interest in the whole package too.

DevinPhilips
07-06-2008, 04:04 AM
Loosebricks, The title is wrong, but you will think of a better one.


I was arrested. Asked to snitch, I declined, choosing instead to take responsibility for my actions even while most everyone abandoned me.There are thousands of guys awaiting trial and ready to make deals with the U.S. Attorney. Maybe you should consider using a pen name... know what I mean ;)

loosebricks
07-06-2008, 04:09 AM
There are thousands of guys awaiting trial and ready to make deals with the U.S. Attorney. Maybe you should consider using a pen name... know what I mean ;)

I've considered it, but the case has already gone through the courts so it doesn't really matter. All other names will be changed though.

X900BattleGrape
07-14-2008, 07:30 AM
This is a very interesting subject for your book and I, like others, would possibly buy it. Although I didn't intend for this reply to your thread as my first post here, I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a pun. Would the title "Smoke and Majors" work? Yeah, probably not, but like I said I had to throw it out there :)

The one bit of advise I agree with, but by no means know for sure, is getting permission for naming the institution. The book I am working on with require, I assume, permission from a number of institutions even though in practice the book is helpful to them and so they shouldn't care one way or another. Good luck!

jenngreenleaf
07-14-2008, 11:55 PM
This sounds like a book I would read for sure (and, it also sounds like one I would love to write). Don't worry about the title - that'll come. Worry about the facts, as everyone else has mentioned. I hope you keep us updated on your progress through here or blog entries - I'm very interested in following your story about writing your story. :)