PDA

View Full Version : Is this a memoir?



cunparis
06-18-2007, 12:14 AM
Greetings,

I'm working on a book about my experience moving to and living in France. I plan for the first part to be about my experience and the second to be a comparison of French and American cultures.

Would this be classified as a memoir? I'd like it to be classified with the other books on France. Or maybe being classified as a memoir would be a good thing?

I ask because I read the agent profiles and what they like and don't like and since my book idea is a mixture, I'm not sure what I should consider for submission criteria.

Thanks,
Michael

AmyBA
06-18-2007, 01:13 AM
Hi Michael,

I think it depends-- will your book have a definite part one and part two, or will they kind of blend together, like a memoir with your commentary along the way? If you know you want your book to be classified with other books on France, then maybe it would be a good idea to focus your book on the comparisons between French and American cultures and use your personal experiences to support your points of view.

Hope that helps...

alleycat
06-18-2007, 02:00 AM
I don't think I would call that a memoir in any case. More like, Non-Fiction, True Accounts.

cunparis
06-18-2007, 09:27 AM
Hi Michael,

I think it depends-- will your book have a definite part one and part two, or will they kind of blend together, like a memoir with your commentary along the way? If you know you want your book to be classified with other books on France, then maybe it would be a good idea to focus your book on the comparisons between French and American cultures and use your personal experiences to support your points of view.

Hope that helps...

Hi Amy, this is very helpful, thank you for your response. I'm currently debating on the two strategies that you mentioned. I'm working on the outline and I think I definitely need a Part 1 & 2 because Part 1 is about the process of finding a job and moving to France. Part 2 will be about comparisons. Your idea of using personal experiences is what I had in mind for Part 2. I've considered dropping part 1 but everyone wants to know how I did it. I can make part 1 shorter maybe..

I'm going to keep working on the outline and try different approaches to see what I come up with.

Thanks,
Michael

cunparis
06-18-2007, 09:30 AM
I don't think I would call that a memoir in any case. More like, Non-Fiction, True Accounts.

Hi Alleycat. I must admit when I found out what a memoir was (had to look it up, I have no writing experience outside of the IT profession) I kind of thought "oh no! I don't want my book to be classified as a memoir." Then I researched it some more and got even more confused. Agents list what types of books they're looking for (and not looking for) and I don't know how to categorize my book. So far I haven't seen agents asking for true accounts for expats or books on french culture.

-Michael

Mac H.
06-18-2007, 09:58 AM
Run to your local library.

Borrow "A year in Provence" by Peter Mayle.

It's part travelogue (or travel-memoir), part cuisine guide, all light entertainment.

I'm imagining your story as being a cross between "A year in Provence" and 'The Office'. (Sorry - just the 'work' bit triggered that thought)

Good luck!

Mac.

cunparis
06-18-2007, 11:42 AM
Run to your local library.

Borrow "A year in Provence" by Peter Mayle.

It's part travelogue (or travel-memoir), part cuisine guide, all light entertainment.

I'm imagining your story as being a cross between "A year in Provence" and 'The Office'. (Sorry - just the 'work' bit triggered that thought)

Good luck!

Mac.

Unfortunately here in Paris there are only a couple of English bookstores and selection is very limited, but I can order it online from the UK and have it delivered. I just checked out the Amazon ratings and it is very popular. This book escaped my searches because it does not have France, French, Paris in the title. I've never lived in Provence but I've often dreamed about it, so I think this book will be a pleasant read. Thanks for the recommendation.

-Michael

ResearchGuy
06-18-2007, 11:30 PM
. . .Would this be classified as a memoir? . . .
I ask because I read the agent profiles and what they like and don't like and since my book idea is a mixture, I'm not sure what I should consider for submission criteria. . . .
Suggestions. 1. Write the best book you can, and solicit honest feedback from readers. Revise as might be needed in response. 2. Query several agents who look to be likely prospects (or publishers that will read a query). Don't worry so much about classifying it per se as about demonstrating quality writing in the query and identifying audience and comparable books. 3. Be clear about audience for the book and about your platform as author (that is, how you can be an asset in marketing -- speaking, organizations, mailing list, newspaper column, and so on). 4. Study what is now on the market that is reasonably comparable and take notes on publishers and (if you can identify) agents who handled the books. (You will be at an advantage if you can do that.)

IMHO FWIW YMMV

--Ken

P.S. the part 1, part 2 thing troubles me. I think the two-fer would be harder to position and sell than an intgrated narrative encompassing both aspects.

cunparis
06-19-2007, 01:07 AM
3. Be clear about audience for the book and about your platform as author (that is, how you can be an asset in marketing -- speaking, organizations, mailing list, newspaper column, and so on). 4. Study what is now on the market that is reasonably comparable and take notes on publishers and (if you can identify) agents who handled the books. (You will be at an advantage if you can do that.)


Thanks for the feedback, very good suggestions there. I have a few questions:

3 - I'm living in France and would like to target several markets, first the US market but also the French and UK markets. Will the fact that I'm in France hurt my platform? I certainly would love to travel to the US to promote the book, but that could get really expensive if I have to pay for it.

4 - I've already identified the publishers of several competing books. Do you know how I can find out who the agent was? Most of the publishers don't take unagented proposals.



P.S. the part 1, part 2 thing troubles me. I think the two-fer would be harder to position and sell than an intgrated narrative encompassing both aspects.

I'm going to think on that but I'm having trouble seeing it and I think I will need some help. I'm working on the detailed chapter outline, once I get that ready then I think I can play with rearranging it. I agree with you in theory but just with my subject I'm having trouble seeing it.

-Michael

ResearchGuy
06-19-2007, 02:13 AM
Thanks for the feedback, very good suggestions there. I have a few questions:

3 - I'm living in France and would like to target several markets, first the US market but also the French and UK markets. Will the fact that I'm in France hurt my platform? I certainly would love to travel to the US to promote the book, but that could get really expensive if I have to pay for it.

4 - I've already identified the publishers of several competing books. Do you know how I can find out who the agent was? Most of the publishers don't take unagented proposals.

I'm going to think on that but I'm having trouble seeing it and I think I will need some help. I'm working on the detailed chapter outline, once I get that ready then I think I can play with rearranging it. I agree with you in theory but just with my subject I'm having trouble seeing it.

-Michael
The Web, email, and podcasts might work for you. Platform is not so much where you are as how well you are known and your communications channels. Anyway, platform helps, but job number one is a superb manuscript with a big and accessible potential readership (big enough, anyway).

As for finding out who the agent was -- sometimes that info. is mentioned or alluded to in acknowledgments. Also, you might get lucky with a Google search if an agent lists titles he or she has represented.

By the way -- although many publishers say they do not accept unagented manuscripts or unsolicited proposals, you might be able to get an editor to read a one-page query. If that hooks interest and the editor asks for more, the proposal or manuscript is then not unsolicited. That might be a shot in the dark, but who knows . . . These are tips I have encountered too many times (in books and articles and from writers) not to pass along.

I can privately give you (when the time comes) contact information for two agents I know. At least they would read your query.

--Ken

cunparis
06-20-2007, 09:46 AM
P.S. the part 1, part 2 thing troubles me. I think the two-fer would be harder to position and sell than an intgrated narrative encompassing both aspects.

I've been thinking on this as I work on my chapter outline and I am wondering if perhaps I could separate part 1 & part 2 into two books. At this time I'm not sure if I'd have enough material for part 1 but I can continue investigating it.

Do you think it would be a good idea to separate them?

-Michael

ResearchGuy
06-20-2007, 05:54 PM
I've been thinking on this as I work on my chapter outline and I am wondering if perhaps I could separate part 1 & part 2 into two books. At this time I'm not sure if I'd have enough material for part 1 but I can continue investigating it.

Do you think it would be a good idea to separate them?

-Michael
Without seeing the manuscript, I am not sure anyone could say for sure. I know I cannot. There may be value in experimenting with and evaluating different approaches, including shaping the material as articles rather than book or books. Hopefully you have access to capable readers who can give you honest feedback privately.

--Ken

bruisernyc
07-29-2007, 06:04 AM
If the comparison you make is about your impressions about the differences between French and American culture, this can fall into the memoir category. If it reads as more of a travel guide or text book, then it strays from memoir.

cunparis
07-29-2007, 12:35 PM
If the comparison you make is about your impressions about the differences between French and American culture, this can fall into the memoir category. If it reads as more of a travel guide or text book, then it strays from memoir.


Hi Bruiser, thanks for your response. I debated on this for a long time and ended up taking a break for a few weeks so I can come back to the subject. I'm still not sure how I want to do it. I'm afraid if I just write about daily life in France and how things are different (which will all be based solely on my experiences), well I'm afraid it'll be a bit boring or have limited appeal.

So then I was thinking of more of an academic perspective (and not memoir) where I make a comparison between daily life in the US & France.

I'm still debating, I don't know which would have more appeal. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be grateful. Thanks.

-Michael

Deirdre
08-18-2007, 12:47 PM
Also see Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals, about his family's move to Corfu prior to WW2. It's often shelved in with Animal Essay because of the focus on nature.

Personally, one of the things I love about Travel Essay is, in fact, how things are different elsewhere, and how much we take details for granted.