Q. I have a completed draft of a nonfiction book. It is, I think, a memoir. My question is this: who do I look for? I'm thinking that it might be in the memoir list of agents, but some might not want to deal with me. I don't know of any stories similar to mine, nor who would jump at my story. And then part of me wonders who are the better agents -- I have no real way of knowing who is good.
A. OK. First things first. Is it a memoir or a nonfiction book? If it's about your life experiences and your journey, it's memoir. You have to define it before you go much further.
Next: Your sentence saying that you don't know who would jump at your story is worrisome. I'm assuming you're saying, "I'm not sure what type of readers would buy this book." Is this correct? If it is, then you're in a bit of trouble. Memoirs have to be well written, but I also recommend having at least a small book proposal (business proposal) that you can submit with the manuscript itself. This book proposal needs to define similar books in the marketplace, to which you compare and contrast your story. You also need to define some types of audiences (e.g., "dog lovers," "divorcees") who would buy your product. No book is wholely unique, so you need to start looking at other memoirs out there to see what's similar to your book, because there are probably several.
Lastly, concerning which agents are "good," simply research agents who acept memoir by looking in a print or online database of agents. WritersMarket.com is one such database. Look for agents who have sold some books, and then never pay any upfront costs when dealing with them. Those are the basic and most important tips.