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Why Non-Fiction Writing Is Profitable For New Writers – Breaking In

non fiction writingIn What Kind of Writing Do You Want To DO? I said you have to make a decision between fiction or non-fiction.

Of course, that’s not really true, but when you’re breaking in most find it easier to focus on one type of writing or the other.

Since I’m a non-fiction writer (who dreams of maybe getting a detective novel done as soon as I figure out how to plot) this blog is mostly about non-fiction writing and marketing.

I also believe that, on the whole, non-fiction is easier to break into.

Here’s why:

Fiction has fewer paying markets. /t least fewer that are tracked. There were, according to Work Product, of the 274,000 books published 2007 only 43,000 were fiction. These numbers are extremely squishy but the ratio is probably close. The magazine market for fiction is worse I think. I don’t have a feeling for paying fiction markets on the web, but my sense is they are fairly rare. Which doesn’t mean you can’t make a living writing fiction. Obviously some people are able to do it. But fewer markets means it’s harder to break in. And do note the updates at the end of that post – the ratios seem to be about the same.

Non-fiction writing markets keep expanding. The most obvious expansion is the web itself. While it’s true there are a ton of fiction sites, it’s commerce that’s driving web growth and that generally means non-fiction and copy writing. Although there are still lots of places you can write and get poorly paid, I’m finding it easier and easier to get well paid for web writing. I think business owners are realizing good writing is worth paying for. Plus the economic downturn has meant more brick and mortar businesses are hiring freelancers to get their writing done.  Self-publishing has created a bigger market for those of us who ghostwrite books.

There is a huge variety in the kind of non-fiction writing you can do. The Non-Fiction Wikipedia lists about 30 different kinds of non-fiction. While you or I might disagree with some of the list and even add additional types, just the fact of 30 points to a large market. And they don’t include writing for magazines. While it can be difficult to break into consumer magazines like the one’s you see at news stands, most trade magazines (those written for specific job categories) welcome new writers. Plus business writing which covers everything from press releases to sales letters.

Breaking into non-fiction isn’t particularly easy. You’ve got to write reasonably well and you’ve got to market your writing.

It always gets back to the writing and the marketing. There are, however, way more opportunities in non-fiction which means it may be easier to break in.

What kind of writing are you doing? Why?


Would coaching help?

Image made at wordle.net from words found at Non-Fiction-Wikipedia

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • What is your charge for helping to set up a website?

    Also, I would like to know more about you, your philosophy, faith, etc. I am an old retired missionary, interdenom., who worked in 4 countries incl the US, but today am working on a gardening project! That is what I wish to share in a website. A website for me would include what the Scripture says about plant life and gardening.

    myrtle V. Thompson, Suffolk, VA

    • Myrtle, you’d have to pay me a gillion bucks now to set up a website for you… I just don’t do that any more. I’m sure you can find a student in Suffolk who will do it for a fair price.

      I’m a 12 Stepping Buddhist and some of those philosophies show through.

  • Actually, paying fiction markets online aren’t rare (for short stories), but pro rates are 5¢ per word. Usually, that’s for first rights, with a byline, often with non-exclusive archive rates. Duotrope.com is one online directory of many fiction ‘zines. And fiction is also gaining a lot of markets.

    I’m not disagreeing with your premise—that non-fiction writing is profitable for new writers—but fiction writing can be, too.

    • Anne

      Really? I’d love a list to post… or maybe you could do a guest post about paying fiction markets for me????

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