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Im a Mexican/American by the border of South Texas. I have a real story to tell from crime to redemption what publishing companies publish these type of books?

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What you’re writing would be termed a memoir. What you’ll find is that in general, for publishing a memoir at any major publisher (and many minor) you need to get an agent.

To get an agent for a memoir (and all of this applies to fiction as well), you will need a complete manuscript as perfect as you can get it. These are non-negotiable prerequisites unless you’re already famous. Of course complete and good are not enough. It needs to tell an interesting story and one that will compel readers to pick up a book by someone they’ve never heard of. This is an uphill battle.

So you’ve labored with your book and it’s complete and good and interesting. Now you need to write a query letter. This is where you condense your story down to a paragraph and make it as compelling as possible (think the sort of copy you see on the dust jacket flap for a book—in some cases this has its origin in the original query letter). Some sources will say that you should talk about your potential market, but really it's enough to say what the genre of the book is (in your case, memoir. In other instances, you would say, e.g., mystery or young adult novel. Do not make the faux pas of calling a book a “fiction novel.” If it’s a basic non-genre work of fiction, it’s just a novel, full stop). I'm not going to go into the full details of writing a query letter here, just try typing “how to write a query letter” into the Google and you’ll find plenty of good advice. I would say prioritize what you hear from agents over from writers. Most writers, especially those who are successful, don't really know what makes for a successful query letter.

Your query letter is in many cases going to be the only thing that a prospective agent reads so it needs to be good. A lot of writers will cry “no fair!” at this, but in my experience, I can see the flaws of a book in miniature in the query letter. The letter that runs over a page in length (or has an author who thinks that by using small type and vanishing margins he can somehow get around the recommendation that a query letter only be one page), for example, usually accompanies a book that could and should be cut by 50% in length. A vague directionless query usually points at a vague directionless book.

Now you need to find agents to query. There are numerous resources online. I use querytracker.net but others are equally good. Look at books similar to yours and read the acknowledgments to see if the author thanked their agent. Add the agent to your query list.

Make a long list. Expect rejections. Divide the agents into buckets of good-better-best based on things like what sort of publishers they land their clients at, who their clients are, how appealing they seem from their on-line profile.

Query in batches of ten. You’ll generally hear back (if you're going to hear back at all) within a month or two. If you get nothing but form rejections, your query letter needs to be improved. If you have a good enough query letter, typically the next steps are to get a partial request and if the agent likes what they read, they'll ask for a full. If you're still getting rejections after you reach this point, it’s worth noting any feedback that the agents might give you (which is not a guarantee) and seeing if you agree and can see a way to improve the manuscript before you do the next round.

Expect to be rejected over and over again. There’s a lot of luck that comes into play and persistence can pay off but not always. Be prepared to work on the next thing.

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  • This was amazing advice, thank you so much. I'm not schooled or anything, I'm purely self taught. But I have a real story..."God don't make monsters, the world does" is the title of my book. I can tell just by reading your response what type of writer you are. I hope to one day be able to acquire those skills. Nov 13 '20 at 3:12
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The majority of memoirs are by famous people, because they are the ones who have a built in audience. It's possible to sell a memoir as an unknown if you have an extraordinary life story, but it's not common. If you're in the second category, you'll need to be a really good writer, and you'll need to write your own story as if it was a novel --meaning it will need to be entertaining. True is not enough. With that said, the crime aspect definitely helps --there's a large audience out there for crime non-fiction. (Iceberg Slim is a good example of someone who became famous from writing a gritty urban crime memoir.)

You might consider writing an autobiographical novel instead, which is fiction based on your life. The advantage is that you don't have to stick exactly to the truth. You might have fewer friends and relatives mad at you (or old enemies looking for you)! And it's typically easier to find a publisher for a novel than for a memoir.

As far as where to sell it: Most big publishers and agents will do the occasional memoir. I'm sure there are some that specialize in it, you'll need to do a search. True Crime is a recognized genre, you might do a search for that: http://agentquery.com is a good place to start. Cash Money Content is a Simon & Schuster imprint that currently owns the Iceberg Slim library --they might be a good fit for you. Another good idea is looking for a targeted niche publisher --maybe a regional one that focuses on the Southwest, or one that is promoting Latino or Mexican voices (those do exist). You might not need an agent if you are working with a smaller publisher.

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  • Awesome thanks ! This was very informative as far as cultural writing goes. It sounds like the book game is like the rap game haha Nov 13 '20 at 3:28
  • @JohnnyDinero - There's definitely an audience out there for "urban fiction" that feels AND sounds "authentic" i.e. true to the streets. You just have to find the right publisher. However, you still need strong characters, plot, descriptions and so forth. I would really recommend looking up Iceberg Slim if you've never read him. He is a very good writer, but his voice is very street. You might also try "Manchild in the Promised Land," a famous urban memoir. // Joining a writers group might also be a good idea. I'm part of an online one called Scribophile and I've found it very helpful. Nov 13 '20 at 13:53
  • You might find this article helpful: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_fiction . If you have a pre-existing audience and are really good at direct sales, you can do well at self-publishing. But that only works if you're really willing to work hard at selling your own book yourself. Self-publishing success is more about being a good salesman than being a good writer. It's a hustle where you're pushing a product. Nov 13 '20 at 13:59
  • bro I added you on Fb Johnny Dinero Nov 13 '20 at 17:18
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While it's true that many people are writing memoirs these days, the key to publication is having a story worth telling--and often that comes down to how you frame it. Nobody cares about your whole life (sorry, but it's true). But if you can tie your experience to a larger cultural or geographic backdrop, it starts to get interesting. For example, racism is on a lot of people's minds today. If, say, overcoming rough childhood circumstances in an inner city got you where you are today, there's a story to tease from there that resonates with readers beyond it being YOUR life....that is, they can relate on some level. The angle you use to tell your story is often more important than the story itself.

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  • Hi Lit_agency, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. Please review our expected behavior regarding self-promotion. Relevant promotion is allowed when properly disclosed however it is discouraged to include it in unrelated posts.
    – linksassin
    Nov 10 '20 at 5:49
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You could self-publish, which is the better option as you will have to market your book no matter how it is published, unless you're an established author already.

Unless you're famous or did something truly amazing, then traditional publishers won't care about your book.

Good luck with trying to find an agent for such a memoir-style book. They know that publishers do not care about these types of books as there are millions of them being written and generally they don't sell well.

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  • You really shouldn't repost deleted answers, but since you object to the deletion of your original answer, I'll defer this to the other mods and/or the community at large, and see whether they think this one should stay. Maybe they'll agree with me that it should be deleted, but maybe they'll agree with you that I made a mistake.
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 10 '20 at 8:20
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    @F1Krazy - I downvoted this answer, but I definitely wouldn't delete it. It's a completely legitimate answer. If people disagree with it, as I do, that's what the downvote is for. Nov 10 '20 at 15:12
  • And actually, after further thought, it's not really a bad answer, it's just under-supported. I've rescinded my downvote Nov 10 '20 at 15:23
  • I have good following in the Rio Grande Valley where I'm from. I used to do music and know the streets very well, I actually have people wanting to buy the book already. This is my conflict though. I'm hood, but writing is generally proper I just feel like I'll lose my integrity by typing it in such a formal manner. I talk nothing like that in actuality, so it conflicts me. I like Gucci Manes book but as a reader I feel like ehhhh Nov 13 '20 at 3:27
  • @JohnnyDinero with that update I would say you should write it but definitely self publish in ebook format. Also write it to your readers. Do they prefer formal writing or a more informal style. You need to please your audience not some prof in some snooty English department and certainly not some NYC editor for a big publiher.
    – user47584
    Nov 13 '20 at 19:33

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