Query Critique #6

Today’s query is an adult memoir. Since I’ve never written a memoir before, I had to do some research to figure out how to provide feedback. What I’ve discovered is when pitching a narrative nonfiction, the query letter will look very similar to that of a fiction novel, but with a few differences.

  • Choose the correct POV — unless you refer to yourself in the third person, you’ll want to write your query in 1st.
  • Target Readership — explain who this book will appeal to

Submitted Query:

Dear Ms. Neagle,

There is a saying at Guide Dogs for the Blind: It takes a puppy to raise a community. I always thought they had it backwards, backward but when a traumatic event triggers my undiagnosed depression, it threatens both my marriage and my life. <<Traumatic event is really generic. You need to hook us and you might do that by being more specific or simply stating that you were depressed. It will take a lot more than just a cute and cuddly puppy to bring me back from the edge; it will take a community. I like how you brought this full circle. I wonder if it would be more powerful if you combined the sentence about your depression with the last sentence. Something like: I always thought they had it backward, but when my depression threatened both my marriage and my life, I learned first-hand that it would take more than a cute and cuddly puppy to bring me back from the edge. It would take a community. I’m really curious how you became connected to Guide Dogs for the Blind and beleive other readers will be as well. 

Ten years, and eight puppies, and one film project later, our Guide Dogs for the Blind community has become my family, standing beside me through personal hardship, tragedy and, eventually, tremendous triumph. This book is a journey into the redemptive power of human connection while also an exploration of the indescribable partnership that exists between human and dog.

I’m currently seeking representation for my memoir, No need to say that because it’s redundant. PICK OF THE LITTER, approximately is 53,000 words. This story is “Another Good Dog” meets “Scent of the Missing” or “Thunder Dog.” I think I’d revise this to fit the typical comp line: Fans of <<author>> Another Good Dog, <<author>> Scent of the Missing, or <<author>> Thunder Dog will enjoy PICK OF THE LITTER. I noticed that you had opened critiques for query letters and thought this might be a good match for your current interests. <<Nice way to connect 🙂

I am a graduate of LeTourneau University in Longview, TX with a BA. BA in what? I regularly speak as an ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind and have built strong relationships with raisers and trainers across the service dog industry. Maybe revise this to simply say: I am an ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind… In January 2018, KTF Films released a feature-length documentary, also titled “Pick of the Litter,” to critical acclaim, in which I am featured as one of five puppy raisers. <<I know agents will want to know what this critical claim is. Maybe mention some specifics here. Same is true for the next line that states it’s a multi-award-winning film. State what awards the film won. Being as specific as possible is going to help you here. >>It is now a multi-award-winning film with a 30-city theatrical release beginning in September 2018. <<Congrats, that’s super cool, btw! I have been heavily involved in publicity for the film and have been interviewed numerous times in conjunction with both the film and my puppy-raising experience. I wouldn’t include this information about being interviewed unless it’s by a large or well-known organization. Both Guide Dogs for the Blind and KTF Films are fully supportive of this book. I am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and I have self-published one previous book. I wouldn’t include the self-published information as it doesn’t pertain to this unless it has great sales. 

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

Congrats on all your success with the film! I hope it comes near Washington DC so I can check it out! 

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