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  1. #1
    Janet Ford

    Memoir Query Question

    I'm still working heavily on my memoir but I am at least working on a full MS. My question is: do I abide by the non-fiction 'send proposal before work is complete' or as with fiction of 'send query after completion of MS'?

    In other words, can I go forth looking for an agent now or do I need to wait until I've finished? Memoir seems to be such a gray area on such matters.

  2. #2
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    Re: Memoir Query Question

    This is just IMO, but for me memoir is the exception to the rule because even if it's "totally factual" it reads much more like fiction.

    As an editor, I want to know that you can tell a story (never mind that it's utterly yours & nobody on Earth will ever know it in greater detail). It's got to have a great start, maintain the momentum of a literary novel (if not a thriller!), & come to clear & satisfying conclusions that will hopefully leave the reader inspired & empowered.

    Finish it first, & query on that basis. If an editor or agent is intrigued enough, you'll be asked to expand or focus in what they see as the best direction.

  3. #3

    Re: Memoir Query Question

    I believe that some agents manage to sell memoirs based on partial manuscript or proposal, but I think it's more the case that for a new author they are going to want to see the whole thing.

  4. #4
    Jeanne Gassman

    Re: Memoir Query Question


    Anthony is right. Most agents prefer that you treat a memoir the same way you would a novel. (Finish the book before you start querying.) They want to know that you have a good story to tell, one with dramatic tension and growth.

    A book of general nonfiction can be marketed with only an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters. An agent or publisher for this type of book looks more at the organization, topics, research, and writing style.

    The other reason you should finish the memoir is that you may discover that there are some experiences you don't want to write about, but you won't find that out until you dig into them.

    Good luck to you, and keep on keeping on.


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