Memoir submissions are similar to fiction submissions. The agent wants to know that you have written a compelling story, with all the features of fiction - story arc, character and plot development, and, of course, an ending.
Make sure your query will grab the attention of an agent! Before you submit, go to Query Shark, a website maintained by agent Janet Reid. This is a fabulous resource for writing query letters. (Bottom line: Will your query make the agent want to read your book?)
Note: For a complete list of literary agents seeking clients go to: Agents Seeking Clients
Brandt & Hochman)
She is drawn to both domestic and far-flung settings (while remaining on Earth) that are original and transporting. She is looking for fresh, lyrical, and voice-driven writing, suspenseful plots, emotional narratives, and unforgettable characters.
What she is looking for: “I’m really looking for distinctive stories and strong voices that read like fiction.”
How to Submit: “I prefer e-mail and like the query letter and first 10 pages pasted into the body of the e-mail.” Send queries to epatterson [@] bromasite.com. Query letters should be no more than two pages and should include a convincing overview of the book project and information about the author and his or her writing credits. If querying Emma, do not query Emily, also on this list.
The Stuart Agency)
Rob Kirkpatrick has worked as a senior editor at multiple publishing houses for more than a dozen years. Titles he has helped publish include The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret; Shrinkage: Manhood, Marriage, and the Tumor that Tried to Kill Me; Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. (Viv Albertine); Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws (basis for the miniseries Gangland Undercover); The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution; The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game (Leigh Steinberg); Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ‘70s; Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group; The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses; Black Noon: The Year They Stopped The Indy 500; Cohn-Head: A No-Holds Barred Account of Breaking Into the Boys Club (by ESPN’s Linda Cohn); and Jerry Rice’s latest book, 50 Years, 50 Moments. Rob completed a PhD in English and also is the author of several books himself.
What he is seeking: “I am interested specifically in memoirs from authors who bring significant media platforms or institutional connections that would enable publishers to project a substantial target audience.”
How to Submit: Submissions should be sent directly to rob [@] stuartagency.com and include a query letter in the body of the email along with an attached proposal that provides a description, table of contents, sample chapter or full manuscript (if available), and any relevant professional credentials, including publication and sales data (if available) for any previously published books.
Gordon Warnock (Fuse Literary)
Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Fuse Literary, serving as a literary agent and Editorial Director of Short Fuse Publishing. He brings years of experience as a senior agent, marketing director, editor for independent publishers, publishing consultant, and author coach. He frequently teaches workshops and gives keynote speeches at conferences and MFA programs nationwide. He is an honors graduate of CSUS with a B.A. in Creative and Professional Writing.
What he is seeking: “No misery memoirs or spiritual journeys.”
How to Submit: Please query via e-mail at querygordon [@] fuseliterary.com. Please paste in the first chapter below your query. Unsolicited attachments and links will not be opened.
Alexis Hurley started her career in 1998 and has been at InkWell since its inception in 2004. Alexis works in the dual capacity of Co-Director of Foreign Rights and agent of domestic works in the areas of literary and commercial fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction and more. She is a native of the Berkshires and a graduate of Dickinson College where she received her BA in English and Art History and a minor in Italian.
How to Submit: Queries should be emailed to submissions [@] inkwellmanagement.com. Write “Query for Alexis: [Title]” in the subject line. In the body of your e-mail, please include a query letter and a short writing sample (1-2 chapters). Emails with large attachments will be discarded.
Foundry Literary + Media)
Prior to becoming an agent, Chris worked as an editor for several New York publishing houses, including Hachette Book Group and Random House, and helped launch an independent publishing company. As an editor she acquired and edited works of narrative nonfiction, autobiography and memoir, inspiration, Christian interest, sports, humor, current events and fiction, including bestselling titles such as Time Magazine journalists Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy’s The Preacher and the Presidents and NFL quarterback Brett Favre’s Favre. Chris has a degree in English from Harvard University.
How to Submit: Chris only accepts submissions by e-mail. Please send all queries to cpsubmissions [@] foundrymedia.com. Include a query letter, sample chapters, table of contents, and author bio. Please include your name and project title in the subject line. “Foundry does accept attachments, but your e-mail will bounce back if the files are too large, so you may also paste your materials in the body of the e-mail.”
Dystel & Goderich)
Jessica Papin first joined DGLM in 2003, after spending eight years as an editor at Warner Books (now Grand Central). In 2004, she moved to Egypt, where she spent three years working for the American University in Cairo Press. Upon her return to the United States, she rejoined Dystel and Goderich. With a background on both sides of the desk, she loves working collaboratively with clients to shape and refine their work. Her stay in the Middle East has given her an abiding interest in the history and politics of the region, as well as the broader Islamic world.
How to Submit: Query by e-mail to jpapin [@] dystel.com. Paster cover letter in the body of the e-mail. Include a synopsis, outline, sample chapter (one chapter or the first 25 pages of your manuscript) either below the cover letter or attached as a separate document. Does not open attachments if they come with a blank e-mail.
Anjali Singh (Ayesha Pande Literary)
Anjali Singh started her career in publishing in 1996 as a literary scout. Most recently Editorial Director at Other Press, she has also worked as an editor at Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Vintage Books. She is is best known for having championed Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis after stumbling across it on a visit to Paris.
What she is looking for: “I’m seeking memoirs that are specifically from a minority perspective or deal with diversity in some way.”
How to Submit: Query via the online agency form.
Vanessa graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in May of 2015 with a degree in English literary studies and a minor in professional writing. Vanessa was Managing Editor of her college’s undergraduate literary magazine for two years, where her love of literature thrived, and her passion for the publishing world was created.
How to Submit: Please query Vanessa Robins by e-mailing query [@] corvisieroagency.com and putting “ATTN: Vanessa Robins–Query [Book Title]” in the subject line. Vanessa prefers if you write a brief query letter in the body of your e-mail and attach a 1-2 page synopsis and the first five pages of your manuscript to the e-mail in separate Word .doc files. Your query letter should include links to any social media or author websites.
Jennifer De Chiara (Jennifer De Chiara Agency)
Jennifer De Chiara is President of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, which she founded in 2001. Before forming the agency, she was a literary agent with two established New York agencies, worked in the editorial departments of Simon & Schuster and Random House, and was a writing consultant for several major corporations. A New York City-based writer, she is a frequent guest judge for the WRITER’S DIGEST, WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING, and THAT FIRST LINE writing contests, among others, and is a frequent guest lecturer on publishing and the art of writing at universities and writers conferences throughout the country, which have included New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, the Penticton, Canada Writers Conference, the San Diego State University Writers Conference, Backspace, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and the Learning Annex.
What she is looking for: “I love anything and everything Hollywood, especially celebrity bios/autobiographies. I’m always looking for beautifully written memoirs about people who have overcome incredible odds, books about the arts and performing arts, behind-the-scenes-type books, and books about popular culture.”
How to Submit: Please email a query to jenndec [@] aol.com and put “Query” in the subject line of your e-mail. Please attach the entire proposal as a Word document (the proposal should include a sample chapter), along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis of your book in the body of your e-mail.
Carrie Pestritto joined Prospect Agency in 2011 after working as an assistant at Writers House. With a B.A. in English from Amherst College, she has experienced all sides of the publishing industry, having worked as a ghostwriter, freelance writer, and as an intern in the editorial acquisitions department of the Greenwood Publishing Group. As an agent, she loves the thrill of finding new authors with strong, unique voices and working closely with her clients to develop their ideas and manuscripts.
How to Submit: Upload submission through the agency’s online submissions page. Do not query by mail or e-mail.
Roz Foster (Sandra Dijkstra & Associates Literary Agency)
Based in upstate New York, with a BA in English literature from UC San Diego, Roz studied philosophy for a year at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and earned her MA in English, with an emphasis in composition & rhetoric and creative writing, from Portland State University. At PSU, she taught writing in exchange for tuition. She began learning French in 2009. Roz spent over five years as a qualitative researcher in high-tech consumer products marketing. In 2008, she co-founded a web design company for which she provided non-profit organizations with audience-focused market research, project planning, and digital design. She joined SDLA in 2013.
How to Submit: Send queries to roz [@] dijkstraagency.com. Please send a query letter, an overview of your project (including a chapter outline), a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), a description of competing books, and the first 10-15 pages of your first chapter. “If we are interested, we will ask you to send your complete proposal. Please send all items in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment.”
Erin Niumata has been in publishing for over twenty-four years. She started as an editorial assistant at Simon and Schuster in the Touchstone/Fireside division for several years; then moved over to Harper Collins as an editor, and then she went to Avalon Books as the Editorial Director. Erin has edited many authors including Leon Uris, Stuart Woods, Erica Jong, Brenda Maddox, Lawrence Otis Graham, Joan Rivers, and more. She has represented NY Times Bestselling cowboy romance writer Carolyn Brown, pet expert Sandy Robins, Discovery Channel’s Fast N Loud, North America and Cash Cab; TLC’s – The Cake Boss and Extreme Couponing; Animal Planet’s Too Cute, Finding Big Foot, River Monsters and Puppy Bowl; inspirational speaker Josh Shipp, graffiti artist/speed-painter/inspiration speaker Erik Wahl, momadvice.com founder Amy Clark, former gangster turned dog groomer James Guiliani, Skin care expert and co-founder of SoKo Glam Charlotte Cho, actress Angela Featherstone, Greenwich Girl founder Laura McKittrick and many more. She’s worked on 28 NY Times Bestsellers.
How to Submit: Please submit queries to erin [@] foliolit.com. Please include the query letter and first ten pages of your manuscript or proposal in the body of the e-mail. Please be sure to write “QUERY” in the e-mail subject line.
The Rights Factory)
Sam worked at the literary magazines Blood & Aphorisms and The Quarterly in the 90s. He ran the edgy micropublisher, Gutter Press, from 1993 to 2002, as publisher. He launched the literary division of The Lavin Agency in 2003, where he built a list of clients and did his first deals.
How to Submit: Send queries to sam [@] therightsfactory.com.
Brandt & Hochman)
Emily Forland represents voice-driven literary fiction and non-fiction, among them bestsellers and prize winners, and has a special place in her heart for original writing that jumps off the page. Equally drawn to a traditional domestic novel as she is to more idiosyncratic work, she seeks out beautifully crafted writing, characters that come fully alive on the page, and stories rooted strongly in their setting.
How to Submit: Send queries to eforland [@] bromasite.com. Query letters should be no more than two pages and should include a convincing overview of the book project and information about the author and his or her writing credits. If querying Emily, do not query Emma, also on this list.