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MadScientistMatt
04-01-2005, 06:38 AM
Just wondering... do most authors either pick one of the two and stick to it, or write both? Would a published how-to manual be helpful getting one's foot in the door for writing novels, or vice versa? I've started writing a long nonfiction how-to book, but have a few fiction ideas rattling around inside my head too.

triceretops
04-01-2005, 09:42 AM
Dear Mad--good question

15 years ago I wrote about 14 books over the course of six years. Got an agent and came very, very close with the dozen novels, but alas, did not hit. The two non-fiction books I wrote sold immediately. I don't have an answer for that. So five months ago I began another non-fiction title, but it has run up against some opposition. So, three weeks ago I started another novel, so I'm working on both at the same time. The biggest problem I'm going to face is finding an agent that will represent both my non-fiction projects, and my sci-fi novel. That's going to be one heck of a blancing act.

Tri

Tish Davidson
04-01-2005, 09:58 AM
A lot of fiction writer write non-fiction magazine articles first or to supplement their income. Annie Proulx had a whole career as a non-fiction writer before she published fiction. I think it is easier to learn the basics of putting together a book or a story with non-fiction, because working with factual material gives you fewer chances to wander down the wrong path. You've got some basic info you have to get into the story. The question then becomes to some extent one of craft - how you present the info in a way to engage the reader - rather than concerns about imagination and originality. Having fewer variables, I think, makes non-fiction is easier to write well.

Kudra
04-01-2005, 11:20 AM
Kelly James-Enger comes to mind as an example of a writer who has been successful in fiction and non-fiction. Her website: www.becomebodywise.com

Most of the writers I know started out in fiction, but found more success and money in non-fiction. That's my story, too. But now that I've started earning a good income with my non-fiction freelancing, I have more time to experiment with fiction.

Jamesaritchie
04-14-2005, 09:01 AM
Just wondering... do most authors either pick one of the two and stick to it, or write both? Would a published how-to manual be helpful getting one's foot in the door for writing novels, or vice versa? I've started writing a long nonfiction how-to book, but have a few fiction ideas rattling around inside my head too.

In oen way or another, most fiction writers also write nonfiction, but most nonfiction writers do not write fiction.

Ella
04-14-2005, 09:26 AM
Depending on your writing subjects, you may want to consider a pen name. Works for some authors, who write in different genres.

Lauri B
04-14-2005, 04:25 PM
[QUOTE=Tish Davidson]A lot of fiction writer write non-fiction magazine articles first or to supplement their income. Annie Proulx had a whole career as a non-fiction writer before she published fiction.

I worked with Annie Proulx very briefly when she was the book editor of a small regional paper. She was terrific, and I remember her saying that she had written some nonfiction books (one of them was something like, Building Brick Patios or something) while working on her first book.

MadScientistMatt
04-14-2005, 04:49 PM
Thanks for the additional replies. Ella, I may consider using a pen name. Or possibly publishing fiction books using my middle name and nonfiction using my first name.

veinglory
04-14-2005, 05:08 PM
I definitely write both. Fiction (romance, fantasy etc) as well as essays for various newsletters (spirituality, pet care etc)

TemlynWriting
04-14-2005, 10:27 PM
*raises hand* Me too. I write both fiction and non-fiction.

On a side-note: I have had people question whether or not I am a "writer" though, because of my hand in non-fiction (mostly articles & essays, but I am dabbling with a few book ideas). Apparently some people think that "real writers" are novelists. So what are the rest of us -- chopped liver? *shrug*

Liam Jackson
04-15-2005, 10:07 AM
Just wondering... do most authors either pick one of the two and stick to it, or write both? Would a published how-to manual be helpful getting one's foot in the door for writing novels, or vice versa? I've started writing a long nonfiction how-to book, but have a few fiction ideas rattling around inside my head too.

Prior to writing my novel, I wrote tech manuals for Dept. of Defense, Dept. Of Justice and Dept of Homeland Security.

Not exactly a standard route into the realm of darK fantasy/horror. (Okay, maybe that's debatable.)There have been several other tech writers who have passed thru AW on their way to fiction writing.

zeprosnepsid
04-15-2005, 11:36 AM
I write both. If you want to write both I don't see much disadvantage. Although I don't know that it would necessarily help you. I guess it's possible that you could get an agent for your non-fiction proposal and then maybe be able to get them to look at your fiction work, but this is no certainty.

I'm currently reading Foucault's Pendulum and I know Eco writes both fiction and non-fiction. Stephen King recently wrote his non-fiction book on the Boston Red Sox's winning season (it's next in my pile!). So I think it's more common than you realize.

Torin
04-15-2005, 03:46 PM
I write both, and of course, Isaac Asimov wrote EVERYTHING. I think he's the only author to have a book in almost all (if not all) categories under the Dewey decimal system. :)

Torin

Kudra
04-15-2005, 10:55 PM
I write non-fiction. It's almost like a day job to me. My dream is to write fiction. Specifically, I want to write YA novels.

Zoe King
04-21-2005, 07:46 AM
I write both. I started out in journalism, moved to fiction maybe six or so years ago, and have now gone back to non-fiction, plus moved into editing. Problem is, I find it very difficult to write both at the same time, so when I'm working on non-fiction projects, the fiction tends to disappear. I wish that wasn't the case, but...

Zoe

Inspired
04-21-2005, 02:26 PM
I'm working mainly on magazine articles.

I do both non-fiction and fiction. I think it's great for my brain. It's like a muscle getting a workout. I like to give it many different kinds of exercises. Right now I'm finishing a non-fiction article for young kids while working on a fiction book for mid-graders. I don't get stuck or blocked (yet!) because I give one part of my brain a rest while I work on another. It lets me have a fresh perspective when I come back to the other piece.

CalissaLeigh
04-22-2005, 07:06 AM
I do both. I have to. Fiction is my passion. After finishing a few novels, I realized how much work rewriting will take and I needed something to pay the bills. So now I'm writing articles for money and I am working on my first book proposal. (After selling a few ebooks)

My goal is to sell nonfiction for profit, to sell fiction for fun. :)

dsw
04-23-2005, 11:02 PM
You hear all kinds of "rules" quoted in the publishing industry about not crossing over genres/categories, but there are all kinds of examples of people who do it successfully. I think it's more about the content of what you write than its genre/category. Unless you're a Stephen King or a Dean Koontz, it's probably the case that people would be buying your fiction or nonfiction book because of its subject matter and the benefit they expect to derive from reading it rather than because of name recognition.

My recommendation? Do what feels good!

Susie
04-26-2005, 01:33 AM
Hi, all,

I write fiction short stories, and non-fiction articles. I enjoy going back & forth as it's more interesting than to stick to one genre. I love writing articles on the craft of writing and have been fairly successful with them. My short stories have sold more now than in the past, so I might be getting the hang of it.:) Best of luck to everyone.

Warm regards, Susie:)

thewriterslife
04-27-2005, 09:44 AM
I write both, too. I think someone mentioned something about using a pen name which I'm going to consider when I switch over to chick lit. I'm working on a how to book right now and since I'm the editor of a writing zine, I'll stick with my professional (and real) name for that.

As for having your non-fiction manual get that foot through the door, anything you write and get published will help. I say go for it.

Dorothy
www.dorothythompson.net (http://www.dorothythompson.net)
www.thewriterslife.net (http://www.thewriterslife.net)

Tish Davidson
04-28-2005, 09:55 AM
*raises hand* Me too. I write both fiction and non-fiction.

On a side-note: I have had people question whether or not I am a "writer" though, because of my hand in non-fiction (mostly articles & essays, but I am dabbling with a few book ideas). Apparently some people think that "real writers" are novelists. So what are the rest of us -- chopped liver? *shrug*

I've written half a dozen non-fiction books for both adults and children. The other day my daughter (who is old enough to know better) asked me when I was going to write a "real book."