Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crossing Over (Into Fiction)

Dear Ms. Rejecter,

I just launched my writing career recently, and I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve had two education books published, and I have six non-fiction children’s books coming out by year’s end. I have the prospect of several more non-fiction books on the horizon. So, of course, I’m not satisfied. I want to write fiction, which has always been my first love.

My question is, just how much leverage will my non-fiction success buy me in trying to get an agent for my young adult novel? Am I likely to be pigeon-holed as a non-fiction author? Or will previous publishing credits make agents more likely to take me seriously?

We do see a lot of people who have written non-fiction books for either a textbook or academic market and now want to cross over into fiction. It's not uncommon and it's not bad. It shows you can write. Usually it's not a huge help because these authors are authors of extremely technical texts within their field (medicine, corporate management, computer coding) and now they've written a thriller with lesbian detectives. Okay, there's only one detective, and she's a lesbian, but she has a girlfriend and therefore there's sure to be some hot monkey lesbian sex. And the author is a guy. (In other words, some people can talk all they want about how to organize a flowcart but probably shouldn't try their hand at a novel)

In your case, your background is a huge support to your presentation of a children's novel. It still has to be a good book, but if I were a children's book agent, I would definitely ask to see it.


Anonymous said...

I crossed over from technical writing/journalism to fiction and I can tell you it's not apples & oranges we're talking here, but apples and butterflies; the difference is that extreme.

The technical writing helped me organize, the journalism, because I wrote funny stories sometimes, helped me speaka da english, but the learning curve is insanely difficult to climb.

But it can be done. Wouldn't hurt to take some courses on fiction writing or find a good writing coach to shorten the time to lesson the agony and time.

I have a friend who is a screenwriter who crossed over. Not quite as difficult, but still, he had/has tons to learn before he can write fiction that is likely to be published.

That's my two cents for what it's worth. Hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Assuming of course that all this success is NOT due to Publish America or the like.