Memoir Query Letter

I'm going to follow some of my own advice (see earlier post regarding fear) and do something today that I fear. I'm going to publish my template query letter for the memoir I'm finishing up. I'm going to open myself up to internet criticism (which is often some of the meanest around). Yesterday, yet another person approached me to ask if I was still pursing this project and offered her encouragement. Indeed, I am. Please give me feedback in the comments below or via email: d@dsborden.com. I'd like to know if it grabs you, holds your attention, and communicates the nature of the book. I'm also interested in any advice on how to improve the letter. Thanks.


Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for my non-fiction book titled, You’re Only as Awesome as You Think You Are: Letters from a Father to his Daughter regarding How to Become Unbreakable. I’m querying you because …

On the day her fifteen year old sister unexpectedly died at home, Ruby, aged eleven, wrote the following letter: 

Dear Dad,
It’s hard to think that I will never see my sister again. And I know it’s even harder for you, but as you only daughter, now, I will do as much as I can to live up to Sister and make you smile like she made you smile. I know I’ll never live up to her, but I’ll at least try. So with all my heart I hope we can carry on, but I know it will never be the same without her.

I wrote her back: 

Dear Ruby,
You’re the last person to whom I shall tell your sister’s story from beginning to end. Few people are worthy of its power. I know that you will use it wisely—not to exploit her memory for cheap sentiments, but to take it within you, in order to keep her near, feel her warmth, and learn from her wisdom. And though you knew her your entire life, you don’t know the whole story, especially during the time before your birth. It’s my aim with these letters to help you understand everything: the heartbreak and the joy, the daily slog and the moments of inspired happiness. Although, your sister lived with tremendous pain and frustration, she attacked life with tenacity and humor. She had an indomitable spirit that I wish to impart to you, so that you may keep it alive in your heart to help you through the darkest of times and to remind you to find happiness in the unlikeliest of places... 

My book tackles the complexity of loving someone who is not going to be okay. It is an authentic, first person narrative about finding the love that sustains us through agonizing pain, intimate moments of surprising tenderness, and hilarious absurdities. It describes how we got lost, learned how to survive, even thrive as a family. It is about a father’s relationships to his very different daughters and his hope that through the life and death of one child, the other may learn to embrace the small joys in life, be brave, compassionate, and indomitable.  

You’re Only as Awesome as You Think You Are examines the kind of ugly reality that Andrew Solomon touches on in Far from the Tree, the honesty and inspiration of Barbara Gill’s Changed by a Child, the magic of Martha Beck’s Expecting Adam, and the narrative of Marianne Leone’s Knowing Jesse. It also explores grief and and moving on, such as Joan Didion does in The Year of Magical Thinking.

As a member of the disabilities community, I have been recruited to appear on several local television networks here in Austin, Texas, such as YNN (cable news), KXAN (local NBC affiliate), KVUE (local ABC affiliate), and Fox News Austin to talk about my experiences, as well as being invited to speak and read from the unpublished manuscript. My job as a college administrator affords me great flexibility to promote my book in multiple ways.

I invite you to sample my continuing work at www.dsborden.blogspot.com. I have also posted a “book trailer” on my website, www.dsborden.com. I would be happy to send you sample chapters of the 100,000 word manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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