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View Full Version : Fork in the road: Which is the path to success?



Scribe4264
11-19-2011, 07:50 AM
Ok, here is my dilemma:

I have two projects at similar stages in their development.

One is non-fiction about the life of a former major league baseball player from back in the early part of the last century.

The second is a sci-fi novel.

I have 20+ years experience as a newspaper sports writer/editor while I am just starting out as a fiction writer.

Should I go forward with the non-fiction book and hope my experience increases my chances to land an agent, as well as a publisher, and once published then proceed with the fiction work?

Or, roll the dice on finding an agent willing to work with a newbie fiction writer?

Which seems to be the way to go to maximize my chances of getting published?

Drachen Jager
11-19-2011, 07:55 AM
Non-fiction would be the way to go to maximise your odds.

There are far more fiction writers, and more non-fiction books sell. Plus, you actually have the background to write the non-fiction.

You could probably query the non-fiction now, many agents will take a proposal and a sample chapter to work from for non-fiction with a qualified writer.

rainsmom
11-19-2011, 09:13 AM
Write the proposal for the nonfiction. While you're looking for an agent to rep it, work on the sci-fi novel.

Novels have to be finished and polished before you query them. If you have a publishable novel, agents don't care that you're unpublished.

NeuroFizz
11-19-2011, 05:23 PM
Finish one then finish the other. Write each to stand on its own merits (don't rely on one opening the door for the other--if it happens, it's a bonus). Choose the order you find more appealing to you as a writer, or try to work on both at the same time (some writers can do this, some can't--just find your best way to finish them).

Jamesaritchie
11-19-2011, 08:32 PM
Finish both. There are no odds, there's only writing what you most love to write, and writing it well.

Nonfiction or fiction, good books that catch the public eye will sell. Bad books the public won't buy do not.

To me, this one will be a success and make me money, and this one probably won't, is a poor way of thinking. Writing any type of book simply because it's what you really want to write, and then having the talent to write it well, is the road to success.

Michael Davis
11-21-2011, 02:49 AM
Here's an interesting stat I use in a workshop DVD I did: 75% of readers gravitate to non fiction vs fiction. Also saw somewhere that agents have more outlets for NF. if your experience has real life facets, it would give you a leg up. If you do become successful as a NF writer you would definitely have a greater change than the newbie with no inroads.

There is one question you haven't eluded to: where does your heart lead you? For example, I did write one NF and did not enjoy it at all compared to the thrill I get each time I complete and hold a new novel of mine just released. JMTCW.

Susan Littlefield
11-21-2011, 04:10 AM
Which one do you feel most passionate about? In my opinion, that would be the project to go with, regardless of your experience.

However, if you feel passionate about both, then finish them both.

Never short change yourself trying to figure out the odds of anything. Just write. :)

Paul
11-21-2011, 04:13 AM
Sorry, did you say fork?

well, i'm guessing that means its past my bedtime. night nite. :D

Scribe4264
11-21-2011, 07:19 AM
Which one do you feel most passionate about? In my opinion, that would be the project to go with, regardless of your experience.

However, if you feel passionate about both, then finish them both.

Never short change yourself trying to figure out the odds of anything. Just write. :)

I am definitely finishing both. Here's the thing, I am equally passionate about doing the NF as I am getting started as a fiction writer.

I guess what I needed to know was will I have the better chance to attract an agent with a finished NF as opposed to a finished fiction novel?

Scribe4264
11-21-2011, 07:20 AM
Michael,

I want to do fiction, but the NF is about a baseball player from the 1920s who played a part in several historical moments in baseball and hasn't got the recognition I think he deserves. So doing this project is very high on my list.


Here's an interesting stat I use in a workshop DVD I did: 75% of readers gravitate to non fiction vs fiction. Also saw somewhere that agents have more outlets for NF. if your experience has real life facets, it would give you a leg up. If you do become successful as a NF writer you would definitely have a greater change than the newbie with no inroads.

There is one question you haven't eluded to: where does your heart lead you? For example, I did write one NF and did not enjoy it at all compared to the thrill I get each time I complete and hold a new novel of mine just released. JMTCW.

NeuroFizz
11-21-2011, 10:39 AM
I guess what I needed to know was will I have the better chance to attract an agent with a finished NF as opposed to a finished fiction novel?
Just a hint (not a judgment). Agents absolutely bristle when one uses the phrase "fiction novel" because it is redundant. It's a pet peeve of many, many agents and editors.

triceretops
11-21-2011, 11:01 AM
I broke in hot and heavy with two non-fiction books, while I had a couple novels finished and ready to be edited. I was told by the pros in 1987 that non-fiction outsold fiction 3:1, and that stat has held up over the years to the present. My largest store and libraray placement, largest advances, best publicity and best sell-through came from the non-fiction, and they still reign supreme to this day, inspite of five/six novel sales. Admittedly, the novels are indie and small press sales.

I have yet to hit a NY house that provides a good advance and distribution, even with three agents in my corner over the two decades I've been subbing.

Without doubt, if you have platform with the non-fiction work, I would blaze your first trail with that one. There's also a good opportunity for a second edition, and and third and so on...

Tri