The Surprising Similarities of Working with a Home Stager and a Book Agent/Editor

Recently I shared that there are a lot of similarities between building a new house and writing. Selecting everything from paint colors to countertops to woodwork in my new home has been, for me, a very creative process. Like writing, I got to put a very personalized stamp on my upcoming home.

But before moving into new digs, many people have to sell their existing residence. To get the best price, my realtor suggested having a stager come in for an evaluation. I quickly found the process akin to publishing: My house was my manuscript and the stager was an agent/editor. Realtors will tell you that people too often get very emotionally attached to their houses, just like authors get attached to our words and characters. It’s frequently true.

Imagine your manuscript is accepted for representation. Then, much like an agent, a stager tells the homeowner what furniture needs to be moved around for a more spacious appearance, any items such as artwork that are deemed too personal that need to disappear, and accents like plants and pillows that should appear. Not much different than major revision or killing our darlings altogether in an effort to make our writing the best it can be. The major difference is there is no personality of the current owner whatsoever, where an author may demonstrate a particular storytelling or writing style.

That does not mean however, that the stager is rejecting everything (unless your house is an absolute disaster). Like a good agent, the stager will tell you what they like – this is nice room, etc. But, for me at least, there was a keen sense of rejection. My home actually needed little work done, but I still experienced that rejection. As an author, I always feel as though I should be used to writing getting rejected by now. But I’m not. I do however, certainly cope better with it.

It’s also said that selling your home is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. That can be said about building a house too, especially when you have a partner and compromise is a big part of not driving you both to the brink of insanity (or divorce).

I accepted the stager’s comments the same way I deal with an editor’s – I immediately began making the changes she suggested. With an editor’s revisions, I generally take the time to let them digest and come to acceptance before jumping in. With selling a house, you may be on a tighter deadline. But in selling/building my house, I’m struck by the similarities to writing. Seeing those commonalities has helped me take a step back when necessary and ultimately move forward to achieve my goal.

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