If you’ve got an interesting life story to tell, then perhaps you’ve pulled together all those fragmented details into a manuscript that you want to see published. Memoirs are a popular genre to self-publishing; however, many authors want to seek an agent to represent them and a traditional publishing deal for their book. If that sounds like you, then you’re going to need a query letter!
Though this website is about self-publishing, we’re very supportive of our traditionally published friends. In fact, many authors choose to go both routes during their careers!
In this article, I’m going to share with you some advice and tips for querying an agent or publisher for your memoir or autobiography. Afterwards, you’ll find a template for a query letter that you can use and modify as needed for your own querying journey!
Sounds good? Then let’s get started!
Tips for Querying a Memoir
When writing a query letter to an agent as a memoir author, your primary focus should be on showcasing the unique perspective, transformation, and insights your memoir brings.
Unlike other non-fiction genres, memoirs are deeply personal and introspective. They require a compelling narrative arc akin to those found in fiction, coupled with the authenticity of non-fiction.
Your query letter should begin with a compelling hook that encapsulates the essence of your memoir. It should capture the transformative journey, unique experiences, or profound insights you’ve gathered and how these can engage the reader. A well-defined hook can make the difference between a query that piques interest and one that doesn’t.
In your summary, focus on the themes of your memoir and how these resonate on a universal level. Agents need to know why your personal story could captivate a broad audience. Be sure to highlight your story’s emotional arc and how your experiences led to personal growth or change. It’s not merely about what happened but how those events shaped you.
Comparable titles (or “comps”) play a critical role in a memoir query letter. By referencing successful memoirs similar in tone, style, or theme, you help agents quickly understand your target audience and your memoir’s place in the market. Be sure to choose comps that were published in the last few years and truly resonate with your work.
Your personal background is particularly significant in a memoir query. Any credentials, life experiences, or expertise that lend credibility to your story should be highlighted. If your memoir involves specific topics, mention if you have professional, academic, or personal experience in those areas.
It’s important to remember that each agent has specific submission guidelines and preferences. Make sure to follow these when crafting your query letter. Customizing your letter for each agent and showing that you’ve done your research can increase your chances of getting a positive response.
Finally, as with any writing, proofread your query letter carefully before sending it. An error-free, well-written query reflects your writing abilities and your professionalism, both of which are crucial for a successful memoir.
Query Letter Template
Please feel free to use this template however you like (for personal use only)! Modify the placeholders with information about your own book, and customize the letter to suit the specific publisher or agent you are contacting.
[City, State, ZIP]
Dear [Agent’s Full Name],
I am seeking representation for my memoir, “[Your Memoir’s Title]“, complete at [word count].
“[Your Memoir’s Title]” is a deeply personal journey through [provide a brief summary of your memoir’s theme or subject matter]. This memoir [describe what makes your story unique, emotionally compelling or insightful]. The narrative is reminiscent of the emotional depth of “[Comparable Memoir Title 1]” and the raw honesty of “[Comparable Memoir Title 2]“.
I am submitting to you because [mention why you chose this particular agent. Did you read an interview of theirs? Do they represent an author whose memoir you admire? Show them you’ve done your research.]
I have [mention any relevant credentials, prior publishing history, or personal experiences that lend credibility to your memoir. This is especially important in non-fiction genres like memoirs. If your story involves particular settings, experiences, or professions, mention any firsthand experience or qualifications you have in those areas.]
Per your guidelines, I have [included or attached any materials the agent requests in their submission guidelines. This might include a proposal, a chapter-by-chapter summary, the first few chapters of your manuscript, etc.]
Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to the possibility of working with you.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
Don’t forget to check out the specific agent or publisher’s requirements for querying authors. Always go with what they are specifically requesting over a template! However, most of them won’t specify what should be inside your query letter, so you can use this template as a starting point.
I hope that you find all the success you are seeking in your publishing journey! Best of luck with your querying, and if you are looking for any more advice on publishing and writing tips, check out my other blog posts to see what you might find interesting. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again soon!