Why Write Nonfiction?

A literary agent tells you how nonfiction can jumpstart your writing career

Discover the many benefits of publishing nonfiction books and articles, even if your goal is to be a successful novelist. Nonfiction can jumpstart your writing career.

Every writer should seriously consider nonfiction. Here’s why:

Quicker Sales. You don’t have to wait years to get published, especially in the articles markets.  The time to a publisher’s contract for nonfiction is shorter in the book industry, too.  Unlike novels, nonfiction books are marketed and sold before they are written.

More Openings. From small town newspapers to global commercial publications, the market for nonfiction articles is almost unlimited. In contrast, have you noticed how few print publications run short stories these days?

More Money. In general, entry-level nonfiction book authors are paid better than their fiction counterparts. The income from nonfiction articles is much greater than the payment from short fiction, which may amount to little or no money, or perhaps only one or two free copies of the publication containing the story.

Less Competition. At least half of the people we meet say they want to publish a book, usually a novel; some industry studies place that statistic even higher. Since there are far, far more writers trying to publish fiction, the nonfiction markets (comprising approximately half of all trade books published), hold better odds for a sale.

Valuable Credits. Your writing experience is a major part of the package you present to a publisher when you are seeking a writing contract. Previous sales make you look like a professional. Editors and agents are more likely to trust you to write well and meet deadlines, since you’ve already proven you can do it.

Build Confidence. After you get a few sales under your belt, you will come to believe that you CAN do this. Each success will lead to bigger and better successes as you develop your career, getting you past that inner voice doubting your abilities.

Writing Maturity. Any writing that you do will increase your ability to write well. Writing skills develop through experience, by actually writing, regardless of what type of writing it is.

Build Your Knowledge Base. Writing nonfiction, whether it’s short pieces or full books, requires research and, probably, interviews with experts. What you uncover as you develop your material will lead you to discover other salable nonfiction ideas. The information you collect will be useful to you if you write fiction, as well, adding richness and depth to your work.

Update: 2010. The paid markets for print nonfiction articles are no longer open but the internet now provides opportunities for writers to access a vast audience, potentially generating good income.

Copyright 2006 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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