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.