Mar 11, 2011

Query: The Narrow Way

Dear (Agent's Name),

In 2007, after twenty years of addiction, depression and attempted suicides, I finally found the courage to come out to family and friends as being gay. This profound inner shift was the spark for a spiritual revolution that would open my eyes to the teachings of Buddhism and lead me all the way to a life changing pilgrimage in India and Nepal.

Part psychological mystery, part spiritual adventure story, The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming Out, Getting Clean and Finding Buddha traces my life from the confines of the closet and hopeless addiction, all the way through an extraordinary transformation into a man who has finally learned to love himself.

I hope that the book I have written about this journey will not only be a guide for the people and families who are working through the coming out process but also a source of comfort and support for the millions who suffer the pain of addiction and an inspiration to all who read it to live according to their highest truth.

Since coming out three and a half years ago, I have traveled for two months in India and Nepal, completed a college course on creative non-fiction, written a full-length memoir and continued to stay clean and sober. I also teach weekly meditation classes in Colorado Springs under the guidance of Tibetan Buddhist nun, Venerable Tenzin Kacho.

I believe that The Narrow Way fits your agency’s criteria as a work that “sees the world through an uncommon lens” and that your passion and commitment to stories that inspire and promote positive change in the world make you a perfect choice for representation. As a result, I am sending this query exclusively to you.

The completed manuscript of The Narrow Way is approximately 62,000 words. A comprehensive book proposal, including a detailed market analysis and promotion strategy, is also available upon request.


Chris Lemig


Anonymous Author said...

Okay, I know absolutely nothing about queries for memoirs. I assume this is okay, it reads pretty smoothly, and though it seems a tad long at 313 words it's not super-long.

Here's what I know about querying agents.

Some will get back to you in ten minutes. Some will get back to you in two months. A goodly number won't get back to you at all. One got back to me a year later-- offering representation. (I declined.)

More and more are no longer sending rejections-- "no response means no". A few still ask for an exclusive. I gave an agent an exclusive once. This agent asked for free copies of my already-published books, didn't get back to me for months, and finally rejected me when I called to ask for an update.

If the agent you're querying is your dream agent and only considers exclusives, then go for it. But I hope you won't make a habit of it.

Irene Troy said...

I am also writing memoir and getting ready to start the query process. I strongly urge you to do further research into memoir queries. From what I’ve learned, the format for fiction and the format for memoir is pretty much the same. Never forget, you are telling a story, not preaching gospel. Whether memoir or fiction, if you don’t capture the reader’s attention in the first few paragraphs they will head elsewhere. This query tells us a lot, but almost nothing about the story itself and everything is “told” rather than shown – a major mistake.

Start over by jumping immediately into the action part of your story. Leave out anything that does not immediately support the active part of your story and leave out the part expressing what you hope the work will deliver to readers. Agents are interested in one thing: how marketable is this book? All the “touchy-feelie” stuff should be left out of the query. Finally, try hard to keep the query under 250 words. Good luck!