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Query or Proposal? Finished work?


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#1 stillbreathing

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:03 PM

Hello, I am new to the forum and I have been reading posts and found a bit of conflicting information on this topic. So I hope you don't mind me asking right out the gate if a query or a proposal would be more appropriate for a memoir? Depending on the answer, I am sure I may have a few more questions if you do not mind. I am also wondering as there seems to be conflicting information on this as well - should the work be finished before the query/proposal is sent? I am 84,413 words into mine but not yet finished. I just wanted to get some ideas as to how to proceed. Thank you kindly in advance.

#2 Kalinda Knight

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:49 PM

Welcome aboard, Stillbreathing.

Proposals are letters sent to agents or editors on a work you are Proposing to write - meaning you haven't yet written it. It's used in the case of non-fiction.

A query is based on fiction and you should never send a query to an editor or agent unless the work is finished and polished to the nth degree. This is because, if they should like the sounds of the story and request you send them any or all of it for review - you don't have it! Or, at least, you don't have a polished version of it. You would have wasted a perfectly good source and they would not be pleased that you wasted their time.

A memoir is non-fiction. But it's extremely unlikely that a memoir would be accepted on proposal, unless you are famous or infamous in some way. But personal experience is very often at the root of a work of fiction. I would suggest you take your experiences and weave them into a work of fiction. Unless, of course, you actually are famous in your own right. :smile:

Just in case you hadn't noticed it - this site will be down temporarily somewhere between 12/26 and 1/2 - or all of those days. Thought I'd let you know so you didn't think we were ignoring you during that time. Again, welcome aboard!

#3 stillbreathing

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

Kalinda,

Thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me so quickly. I did notice the site may go down. I am on winter break and did not want to waste a day. :smile:

I understand what you are saying regarding fiction vs. memoir. I am not famous nor infamous that I know of, unless you are a Google whiz because I just can't seem to get those searches to go away. However, my life has been one gigantic soap opera whether I want it to be or not. Unfortunately, you just can't make this kind of stuff up, or probably fictionalize it in my case.

That being said, would a proposal be my best option then? Or since you said

A memoir is non-fiction. But it's extremely unlikely that a memoir would be accepted on proposal,

should I finish my work and create a query? I am sorry, I am still a little confused.

#4 Kalinda Knight

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 03:01 PM

Stillbreathing,

You are 84k words into your memoir, though you don't state if that means it's almost done or halfway there. At this point in time, you could go ahead and finish it and then query it as based on a true story. However, I would caution you about legal issues. You could be opening yourself to some major law suits here. Even if every word you say is accurate and can be proven, it could cost you a fortune to defend against such suits. I would consult an attorney in this matter. Simply changing names may not be enough protection against a suit, if the characters are still readily identifiable.

#5 mwsinclair

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:04 PM

Although they are nonfiction, memoirs are queried like fiction. You need to have the memoir written completely. I'd also highly recommend that you hold off on querying it until after you've taken time to edit the manuscript yourself -- quite possibly more than once - and send it to trusted readers who will give you feedback about what works and what doesn't. That feedback will help you in yet another draft of your memoir. You need to have as polished a manuscript as possible in order to capture an agent's attention.

And welcome!

#6 stillbreathing

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:38 PM

Hello,

 

Thank you for the responses. 

 

Kalinda - that is quite scary.  However, in my Legal Business class that I just took, I covered against libel because even though it is my story and names are changed. Do you have an example to refer to where law suits were an issue with an non famous person's memoir?   

You could be opening yourself to some major law suits here. Even if every word you say is accurate and can be proven, it could cost you a fortune to defend against such suits. I would consult an attorney in this matter. Simply changing names may not be enough protection against a suit, if the characters are still readily identifiable.

 

 

mwsinclair - thank you for your response.  I apologize for not providing enough information. At my current word topic I believe I am roughly 3/4 of the way through the book.  I am writing a lot of detail though therefore as I do review and read and edit as you suggested, my writing may lessen.  How do I find trusted people to read this book that are outside of my situation and can give an honest, unbiased opinion?

 

thank you again!



#7 mwsinclair

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:25 PM

You can post an item up in the classifieds forum here, but you might also have personal friends who can give you honest feedback. The idea is to determine whether it's a compelling read. Obviously, your ultimate audience will need to be much broader than people who know you and your situation.






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