Q. I'm a first time author, and have written a memoir about my autistic
son. How important is having a platform for a memoir? I keep
hearing that memoir is treated like fiction. I'm wondering if my query letter might be the reason for rejections. I'm getting no response. Can I re-query with my new query letter? What is the standard word length for memoirs? Mine is 53,000 words.
A. Lots of questions. Let's take these one at a time.
A platform is attractive, but not totally necessary. Memoir is essentially treated like fiction, so if you're written an amazing, touching manuscript, you are golden. However, a good platform could help your case if the manuscript is only "very good" and not "outstanding." I am a fan of writers creating mini-book-proposals for their memoirs to help set their work apart.
Hank, if your queries are getting no requests for a partial (sample pages), then yes, the problem lies with the query itself.
I would wait at least a year or two before requerying the same agent. Change the title and completely overhaul the query letter before you do so that agents will approach it with a fresh eye.
Memoirs usually run the same length as a novel - 70,000 to 100,000 words. Yours seems a bit short. Push it to more than 60,000 words and then start querying.