Q. Is it common for an author to stick with fiction or nonfiction, or do they cross over? How do I know if I should stick with nonfiction, or cross over to fiction?
A. This question is a good example of the thinking that comes from watching the success of others and trying to duplicate it—rather than sticking with what you know. Fiction and nonfiction require totally different writing skills, and few writers are successful in crossing over from one to the other. Which ever one you start out writing, it is important to stick with that at least until you have built a strong reputation in the genre. If you happen to be one of the writers skilled in both fiction and nonfiction, you might want to make a switch at that point. The problem is that often causes confusion among your readers—as well as publishers. If they have always read your nonfiction books, they may be shocked to find that the latest title of yours they picked up is actually fiction—or vise versa. Such a move needs to be carefully orchestrated so the readers are made very much aware of your change. You may also lose some readers who only read nonfiction (or only read fiction) and are not willing to follow you into this new territory. If you have an agent, you will want to discuss and plan such a change with them—as well as with your editor.