Q – Is it common for a writer to stick with nonfiction or fiction, or do they cross over to the other? And if it's OK to cross over, how would you know when to do that?
The answer to that question probably depends on where you are in your
writing career. One of the keys to success in writing is to start
building a reputation as a writer who does a certain kind of
writing—especially if you write nonfiction. You want editors to
recognize you as someone who can handle certain topics, or types of
writing—such as feature articles, how-to pieces, devotionals,
inspirational material, family or marriage topics, or whatever. Once
that reputation takes root, editors will often come to you with
assignments. For that reason, at the start of your writing career,
you will want to give some serious thought as to which path you will
follow. Jumping around too much in your choice of topic or type of
writing defeats that goal.
are a fiction writer, doing short fiction, you will want to write for
a specific age group or particular genre to gain recognition in that
arena. If you are writing novels, you will likely need to stick with
one genre or target audience initially. You could run into a problem
if you switch from writing children's novels to adult novels, or visa
versa. You never want to confuse your target audience.
that as background to answer your question about switching between
fiction and nonfiction. If you are well established in your writing
career, being known for writing a certain type or genre, switching to
the other side can create problems for your readers. It is similar to
what happens when you switch from one target audience to another—age
wise. If you have always written children's novels, and suddenly
switch to adult, readers may buy your adult book for their
child—thinking it is a children's novel.
you want to make a switch it's often a good idea to create a pen name
for the new genre. That way you make a smooth transition with no
confusion. Of course, there are writers who do both successfully For
example, Debbie Macomber has written general market fiction,
Christian fiction, devotional and inspirational nonfiction, and as I
recall she has a knitting book because a knitting store plays a part
in her fiction. A situation like hers is an exception because she is
so well known and it's part of a plan to continually feed her
readership. She's also a great marketer who always makes her readers
aware of what books are coming out next.
you want to make the switch, don't do it until you are
well-established. You will also want to seek the advice of your agent
or publisher who can help you make that decision as part of an
overall plan to expand your career.