As a non-fiction editor, I don't care how much street cred or social media standing most authors have. What I want is expertise, reputation, understanding. A good masters degree in the subject, preferably a PhD, or years of working in the field. Name recognition. A good history of publications, if possible. Something meaty we can use to show that this is the book people should buy, out of all the others out there which are similar.
How do you react to someone who has found their ideal subject after publishing on other, unrelated subjects previously? I ask because I now have five published books, six peer-reviewed journal articles, and a published (not produced) screenplay under my belt. All of these are in different subjects. One of the books and five of the peer-reviewed articles are on paranormal dreams (something I am considered an expert researcher on), three of the books are computer graphics textbooks, the most recent book and one of the journal articles are on how expertise is developed. The screenplay is a paranormal thriller.
I don't want my prior writing credentials to detract from what I am doing now or to obscure the kind of writer I am. I have enjoyed a moderately successful career in the visual arts, so I haven't made any serious effort to sell my work as a writer. That is, not with the idea of becoming a full-time writer.
When I have sold my work, it tends to be one of two scenarios. In the first, someone offers to pay me to write something for them. This usually happens in the middle of a conversation about something else, when they'll stop and tell me, "I think you'd be a good writer," and then they make me an offer.
In the other scenario, someone has asked me to write something, but not for publication, and it has occurred to me that it might be salable. I have on those occasions looked for and found a way to publish those and get paid for the work. I should note that I have written two books that I wasn't able to sell, both on request from my daughter. She asked me to write her a novel, and I did, all 85,000 words of it, and then a memoir, and I did that too. It wasn't even her birthday, but at least she can't ever say I didn't go over the top for some of the presents I gave her.
Most recently, I was approached by two different web publishers to write on current events for them. I had nothing else to do that week, so I agreed to start writing for them. One was paid, the other wasn't. It's been a month now and I've written 40 articles and started a book. Finally, I am writing about subjects that, though handed to me like all the rest, seem a natural fit. I will be sending a submission out once I'm happy with the outline for the book and the first three chapters. Until then, I am concerned that my PhD (Education) and earlier writing are unrelated to current events and that a prospective literary agent or editor would be less interested in my proposal for that reason. Is that a fair concern?