Of all the querying writers in the world, I empathize most with memoirists because of the challenge they uniquely face. Memoir falls into a gray area where some agents/publishers are most interested in seeing you pitch the work like any other nonfiction book (with discussion of platform, market, and media potential), while others would rather have you pitch the work like a novel (that means focusing on story, and your unique voice or style).
Ideally? You have both story and platform to offer.
The good news, if any: Memoirists have a lot of leeway in choosing a pitching strategy that works for them, guided by the strengths of their project. But with freedom comes great responsibility, and it’s easier to get into trouble when there isn’t a tried-and-true formula to follow.
In my 15 years of evaluating queries, here are the three biggest pitfalls I see in memoir queries, regardless of your pitching strategy.