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How to Write a Memoir Proposal


A memoir is a personal story that provides a snapshot of a particular time and place in your life. Memoirs can cover most any subject of human interest. If publishing a memoir is your goal, it's a good idea to write a proposal to sell your work. An effective nonfiction proposal presents a firm story idea, preliminary market research and targets the right agents or editor. Start with the proper format and structure to increase your chance for publishing success.

Basic Proposal Structure

Your memoir proposal has three parts: an introduction, an outline and a sample chapter. To create the proposal properly, you must know intimately the specifics of the story you plan to tell. Describe what your story is about and when and where it takes place. Create a concise synopsis of your memoir, including reasons why the story is relevant to readers now. For example, if your memoir is about how you overcame a devastating childhood loss, use the synopsis to convey the story's message in strong emotional terms.

Introducing Your Story

After finalizing the synopsis, prepare the introduction. You must grab the agent or editor’s attention with a compelling fact, statistic or detail about your memoir. For example, a recent statistic on how children grieve after a loss can help to explain why your memoir is important to share now. This first bit of information should pique the editor's interest to keep reading. The introduction is also the place to reveal your memoir title, the length of your book, the target market or demographics and information about you.

Preparing the Outline

Next, create an outline of your memoir. The outline should list proposed chapters with a one- or two-paragraph summary of each. This takes a bit of work, but the outline forces you to clarify your memoir writing goals and to structure and organize your writing so you can sell your proposal with confidence. The chapter titles do not have to be exact, but make them interesting enough to capture readers' attention.

Create a Sample Chapter

Write a sample chapter to include in your memoir proposal. However, in the case of memoirs, some editors may want to see completed works. If this is your editor's preference, submit your completed memoir along with a synopsis, bio and outline. Otherwise, a sample chapter will do. The sample chapter need not be the first chapter, but it needs to be well-written in the style you would use to write the book. Package and submit your proposal to a specifically targeted agent or editor known to scout for and publish memoirs. Follow up on your submission and be prepared to promote your work if accepted.

About the Author

Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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