I write both fiction and nonfiction, so I don’t have a bias here. I just thought that before you write, you might like to know how I see the ease of publishing falling in the debate of fiction vs nonfiction.
If the book you are about to write is nonfiction, you have a little more freedom than fiction writers. Here are some of the advantages…
1. It’s usually okay to submit a book proposal on a nonfiction book before you finish writing the book. As a fiction writer (and especially a new fiction writer), it’s never okay to submit the book to traditional publishing houses before you write it.
It’s true. In many cases, publishers of nonfiction books will gladly look at a book proposal. You do have to have three sample chapters and a chapter-by-chapter outline to show them that you are serious and have planned out the book, but you don’t have to write the whole book on spec.
I find this very freeing. If you have two or more great ideas for nonfiction books, this means that you can work up book proposals for each, send them off, then concentrate your writing time on the one that shows the most promise.
2. In most cases, you’ll need an agent in order to make it past the screening desk at traditional publishers with your fiction manuscript.
Not so with nonfiction. In many cases, it’s okay to submit your nonfiction work directly to an editor without going through an agent. When doing this, it’s important to check the guidelines of the publishing house to ensure that you show them that you are professional and serious about your book proposal.
3. Self-publishing seems to be a bit more open and easier for nonfiction writers. If you choose to self-publish, you’ll probably find it much easier to identify your market and to subsequently promote your book.
This is generally just because nonfiction falls into concrete categories much easier than fiction. For fiction, you, of course, have genres, but with nonfiction, you have solid categories defined by associations, professions and clubs (such as Association of Bird Watchers, nurse entrepreneurs, or Orchid Club) that are more searchable than attempting to find people who, for example, enjoy reading mainstream women’s fiction. Therefore, it’s easier to take your book to these people during their monthly meetings, through their magazines and journals, or online through their websites.
These are a couple of the biggest advantages to writing nonfiction. Do you know of others? Let’s hear about them.