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Question
Dear Ms. Aleshire,

I appreciate the opportunity to ask you a question.

I'm having trouble with book proposal classification.  I have an autobiographical memoir which contains real events peppered with exaggerated, dry humored details.  The book also, in alternate chapters, tackles well known environmental issues within my home town.  Those facts are accurate and have been documented in the news.  The marriage of styles works for me, and I'm aware some editors will "get it" and others wont - but I do need the correct publisher to physically get it.  I dont want to deceive - just keep my style and classify it correctly.  Thanks for any help.  

Answer
David you actually have alot of options.  Let's talk about keeping your style.  My advice is just keep it.  It sounds like it would make a wonderfully readable book.  

Now, classifying it.  Are the "exaggeraged, dry-humor details" true?  Are you making any of them up?  Or are you showing them from a different perspective?  As long as you are using pure exaggeration to reveal a truth, these parts can be left in memoir or autobiography.  Throwing a spot light on an issue from a point other than the norm is an effective way to get people to think differently about a topic that the news might treat in the same old way.  So, the exaggerated and the dry-humor should work if the details can be proven true.

Now, did you participate in any meaningful way in the environmental issues in your town?  If you, did those chapters will also fit the memoir/autobiography genre if they're told from your point of view.  But, to plop straight nonfiction/journalism in between chapters of memoir will be confusing to the reader no matter what a publisher thinks of it.

So to sum up:  Question 1 is:  Are you making anything up?  Question 2 is:  Are you involved in the chapters on the environmental issues?

If the answer to 1 is no and the answer to 2 is yes, I believe you can call it memoir or autobiography keeping in mind that you have a better chance selling autobiography than memoir.  And you can go a long way towards finding a publisher who 'gets-it' if you do you homework on who to pitch it to.  Literary Market Place as well as Writer's Market are good places to start.  They will provide you with the names of publishers who sound like they'd handle a book such as yours.

And don't give up!  The best books are the ones written with passion.  A cliche, I know, but too true.  Get into a reputable critique group or hire a professional to look at your manuscript.  Passionate writing with a readable style will sell if you don't stop after three rejections.  After fifty rejections you might reasess but even then, send it out some more.

Hope this helped, David.  And good luck!  If you have any more questions feel free to contact me at All Experts.  And let us know how you do with the book!

Liz Aleshire
Random House Guide to Antique Quilts
www.lizaleshire.com

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Liz Aleshire

Expertise

What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?

Experience

I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Organizations
Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Publications
Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

Education/Credentials
B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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