What top Agents desire in a memoir? Part 1 of 4
By Alan Rinzler
Sometimes it seems like everyone’s writing a memoir. You too? So how can you break out of the pack and and persuade an agent to take a look?
Here are four accomplished literary agents, and they’re all selling memoirs. Scroll down to see some of the books they represent.
These agents are the real deal and they tell it here like they see it.
Jim Levine founded the Levine Greenberg Agency in 1989 and now has 13 associates in his New York City offices who represent hundreds of titles, including memoirs. He’s also an author in his own right, and has written seven books and more than 100 articles for popular and professional magazines.
Anthony Mattero is an agent at Foundry Literary and Media, a top agency in New York City, and currently ranks #3 top dealmaker for memoir at Publishers Marketplace.
Joelle Delbourgo launched her own agency, Joelle Delbourgo Associates, 15 years ago after more than two decades as an editorial executive at Bantam, HarperCollins and Random House.
Ted Weinstein opened Ted Weinstein Literary Management in 2001 and handles a variety of authors writing memoir and investigative journalism.
What do you need to see in a new memoir submission?Jim Levine: A story and voice that makes you care and want to keep reading.
Anthony Mattero: A large platform from which to sell the book. This doesn’t just mean a large number of followers on social media (though that never hurts) but that the author is an expert or specialist in a certain field or can otherwise prove that there is a large and engaged fan base or audience that is primed to buy something written by the author.
Joelle Delbourgo: A distinctive voice, fine writing and a story that can be sustained. It’s challenging to create the same key elements of fiction in a nonfiction narrative: plot matters, and so does creating and maintaining tension throughout. Sometimes, it’s best not to tell the whole story of your life. Drawing on a powerful theme, or using a slice-of-life experience, provides a more interesting prism through which to craft a memoir.
Ted Weinstein: Self-awareness; a sense that the author is thinking about their reader, not only about him or herself; a book that is about some larger situation or issue or theme.
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers