Sounds great, right? Except I, as a published author, am not autistic! However, my 28-year-old Asperger’s client is! Together, we have written her memoir entitled Stumbling Through Asperger’s. As with my three mystery novels, I paid to have this manuscript professionally edited. Now comes the fun part of emailing query letters and the first few chapters of the manuscript to literary agents who represent memoirs!
It takes hours to research each literary agent, although Writer’s Digest, Literary Marketplace, and the Internet are veritable ways to start! Yet, a query must include an interest, hobby, geographic location, or another specific reason you chose to query that particular agent — and that’s just in the very first sentence! That first sentence is wherein the research lies!
The second sentence that also takes some real thought before sending out the query is the “hook.” The hook is a short, direct, attention-grabber. Yeah, well this time around, I completely blasted that hook description with this: Stumbling Through Asperger’s, a 57,000-word memoir, describes how my life-coaching client, Akira Frankel, diagnosed at age 4 with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, clawed her way out of a destructive home environment perpetrated by a vindictive sister and a passive father.
Would my hook have been half as exciting had I written “Stumbling Through Aspergers is a memoir about a 28-year-old life-coaching student of mine who has autism” ? I think not, but that’s just my opinion. (No matter your decision, make sure to include your manuscript’s total word count in that first paragraph, along with its genre. My genre was memoir.)
In the second paragraph of my query, I indicated why my student’s memoir should be published: Over 1.6 million children — 1 in 45 — in the United States are diagnosed with autism. I added that my readership would provide hope to the millions of parents, educators, and therapists of children and young adults with autism.
In my third and final paragraph, I mentioned why my personal and professional background qualifies me to write this particular memoir: Special education teacher, life-coach, former journalist, published author.
I made sure my email was divided into three single-spaced paragraphs, with a double space between each paragraph. Then I asked the agent to contact me if this was a project she/he was interested in undertaking.
Finally, I listed my website and contact information. Then I had three of my family members, as well as my freelance editor, review my query letter. After everybody’s thumbs up, I sent my query out!
I will let you know what happens!