Fiction Writers Can Write Great Non-Fiction Books Too

I have several non-fiction books at various stages of completion which I plan on self-publishing. These are about things that are important to me, things that I know something about, and that I want to share with others. Writing for me is first and foremost because it’s what I love to do – what I always will carry on doing even if I win the lottery. At the end of the day though, the goal for the self-publishing author is to earn enough to support yourself. So it’s good to point out that having a non-fiction book or two out can be a great way for an Indie to create another source of income, and also find new readers for your fiction who might not have come across it if they hadn’t been looking for a How to Groom a Poodle book.

The ebook market is glutted with hundreds of thousands of really bad, quickly cobbled together tiny How To books, published by people who are doing this purely to make money, and mostly from outsourced material. They’ll pay a freelance writer a tiny amount of money to produce a short book on a supplied subject, whack a cover on it, load it up on Amazon, and then move on to the next book to churn out. When I first started buying books on Amazon I was green enough to buy a couple of these dreary, and often badly researched little tomes, but I soon learned my lesson. Now I look for quality How To books when I want them, just as I’m sure everyone else learns to do. Books that have been written with care and attention by authors who know what they’re talking about. They’re easy to spot, and you can see by their rankings that they’re being found by readers who aren’t as easily tricked into buying teeny books pretty much copied from the internet. How To books sell very well because there will always be hobbies and interests that people love or want to find out more about.

Writer’s block doesn’t come into play with these. All you need is your subject, your knowledge, research, and your writing style. If you haven’t considered doing this before, you might be very surprised at how much knowledge you have about your own passions, and also how many people out there would like to benefit from that knowledge. I have piles of recipe books, inspirational books, books on health and fitness, gardening books – the list goes on. When I was still into my horsy show jumping days I bought every book on horses that I saw. Even people who don’t read fiction buy How To books, so as a self-published writer looking to make some money as well as writing their beloved novels, this is definitely a course to consider. You could find that you really love this way of writing too – I do.

So what do you love? It could be a real life subject from your fictional work that you know a lot about. Or a hobby or interest like fishing, golfing, macramé, pet care, or a health issue that you have overcome or learned to deal with. Gardening, herbs, recipe books – all of these things can be just as much of a joy to write about as is your fiction, and possibly have a little better edge when it comes to making money. You can publish them as both ebooks and paper books. CreateSpace can produce some gorgeous large format glossy books that are big enough to lay open on a tabletop, so you can really go to town with images and illustrations. Most modern phones have brilliant cameras, so even if you don’t have a good camera there’s nothing to stop you using your iPhone or similar to capture lovely pictures of your subject matter.

The world of all books is the Indie’s oyster, so stretch your wings and share your knowledge and passion with the world, as well as with your worlds of fiction. You’re so much more than simply a researcher, or expert in a field. You’re a writer. Add your writing skills to your knowledge and experience of any non-fiction passion, and you’re already ahead of the pack.

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19 thoughts on “Fiction Writers Can Write Great Non-Fiction Books Too”

  1. Great post! I first imagined myself as a fiction writer when growing up, but it was nonfiction that saw me spread my wings and start a writer career. It took me 10 years before going back to original fiction writing (since I’ve had fiction writing as a hobby in the shape of roleplaying on a Star Wars forum since 2008). I write about topics I love, whether fiction or nonfiction. I think that passion and perseverance are at the heart of writing, no matter what. 🙂

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      1. Thanks for the compliment! I look forward to reading your non fiction projects. And yes, I do have new non fiction coming out between late 2015 and early 2016, 3 individual chapters and one contracted book (Women in Science Fiction Television). I’m mostly focusing on fiction writing right now (these upcoming non fiction papers and book are either ready for publication or will go through last revision stage depending on what the editors want later this year). Yet, I have several projects in mind and with notes, including a book project about Dana Scully in the X-Files (with new episodes coming out this year, I’ll probably work on the book in 2016).

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    1. Thank you for sharing Mary! I’m more of a pickle muncher than pickle thrower. 🙂 Now that you mention it though, I do grow and pickle my own, so if I practice lobbing them I could legitimately write the book. 😀

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  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I have usually got one non-fiction on the go with some lighter fiction on the side.. it works well the other way too and most of us have a past occupation, skill or hobby that finds a niche market.. Now with ebooks that market has become worldwide.. I am sure that there are quite a few Pickle Tossing groups globally who would be avid readers of Jo’s chosen subject….love it.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Sally! Did you write fiction or non-fiction first? Do you have a preference? It is amazing how really good we get at the things we enjoy, and it’s been a real eye-opener for me how much fun I’m having writing it. I think this Pickle Tossing thing could really be the next best thing. 😉

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  4. I am a non-fiction writer and I do encounter writer’s block. A well crafted non-fiction book takes time, thought, effort and creativity. It isn’t something I can just sit down and crank out — but maybe that’s just me. 🙂

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    1. I haven’t been writing non-fiction for very long, and I’m also not prone to writer’s block in general, so I’m probably not the best one to say. Do you remember a particular occasion when it happened? I’m also going slow with mine, although I have all the material I need, it needs to be stitched together properly. 🙂

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  5. Writer’s block happens a lot for me when I try to force myself to just sit down and write. That so doesn’t work for me. I end up staring at a blank screen. At this time in my life I’m pretty much able to just drop everything when ideas and words start coming fast and furious and write (or work on my art — it’s the same way). Now once a publisher gets involved and deadlines kick in it becomes a whole different ballgame. That’s why I’ve been experimenting with eBooks.

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  6. Among my “Manuscripts Lost” was a non-fiction book about the metaphysical properties of gemstones. I never quite finished it, because (believe it or not) the topic had been done many times, and i was trying to find a unique approach. As for writer’s block… constant struggle when it’s my novels. Good luck Jo. If anyone can do it, it’s you. 🙂

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  7. Informative and entertaining post, Jo.
    Fiction is what I’m about, but I have tried my hand at non-fiction now and again. Had to fictionalize a non-fiction piece because I was too close to it. The second go-around w.a.s. more fun. 🙂

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