A memoir can be a difficult thing to tackle for many reasons, one of them being that nobody wants to read self-serving dribble. Perhaps it sounds harsh, but in a round table of editors and publishers on the travel memoir genre, all agreed on that, for sure. If you are coming to the table as an unknown writer, your voice needs to carry across that query like a megaphone.
On the flip side of the coin, what they are looking for is a unique hook. Something that either hasn’t been done, or that is a hot seller but hasn’t been done the way that you have done it.
With the shifts in the role of a publisher in today’s market, it also has to be acknowledged that roles have reversed. Where the publisher once brought the audience to you, if you bring an audience to a publisher they will be more likely to pay attention.
You can develop an audience through blogging about your travels, through being published in magazines and other print sources, and maybe even through simply having a presence.
There is certainly a market for memoirs, made apparent by the marriage of a good memoir and a good movie. Coupled with a good audience analysis, your memoir could easily fit into many popular book markets. For instance, a 2009 survey found that biographies were already the second most favored genre, coming in at 33%. It was second to mysteries and thrillers; so a travel memoir about time spend in Afghanistan can (and currently does) sell well.