My question is: what exactly should be included in a query for a personal memoir? A cover letter obviously, and I believe I've read that sample pages should be included as well. What about a synopsis? And if so, is this the one exception to your "NEVER write the synopsis in first person" rule? Thanks so much.
oh yes, the platypus of the publishing world: memoir. Non fiction that is written and sold like fiction--the "normal" rules don't always apply here.
yes you need a cover letter, and yes you need sample pages.
You'll need a synopsis at some point so it's better to start work on it now cause they are (as we've seen from various comments here) a snarl to write.
Memoir synopsis may be the exception to the first person rule (ya ya I still think chick lit should be in third, but there are people who disagree). Personally I think third person lends distance and objectivity to the synopsis and that is a good thing in a first person memoir.
You might write it both ways and see which sounds better.
I actually wrote the synopsis to the memoir on my list right now cause the author's version was crap. I wrote it in third person using Mr. Pitt and Ms Jolie to refer to the "characters". It works.
The crucial thing I want to know about a memoir is WHY this memoir is important to read, and WHAT does it say about a larger world than just the subject of the memoir.
Memoir is one of the few places that good writing doesn't trump all: you have to have something new to say for a memoir to fly. It can't be "this is my life, it was hard, I survived, you can too" kind of thing.