Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Non-fic vs. Fic

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We are talking about writing conferences this week on A2A, and to be honest I haven't been to a writing conference in at least 2 years. But not because I don't love them...because I do. I really do. I love how motivating they can be. But timing hasn't worked out for any recently.

However, I did have an author visit at my library this evening, and I found it very interesting. Especially since the author was Katie Hacker who writes non-fiction books about jewelry.

And I was once again reminded how different fiction and non-fiction books can be, and yet sometimes they are so similar. So what did I learn about non-fiction books?
  1. They take just as long as fiction books to come out, if not longer. For her, from pitch to finished book it takes about 2-3 years.
  2. But not all books are slow releases. She also writes "books" for national craft stores, and just last month they called up and wanted her to write a complete book by the end of the month and will have it in stores shortly afterwards. Now these are shorter books that usually only show 10 or so different necklaces, and are more pamphlet size when bound. But still it is an entire book in a month.
  3. It helps to have an "in" at a publishing company, unless you are already famous in a given area. She got her start because she was working at a craft book publisher and pitched a jewelry book that ended up selling really well. And everything sort of grew off of that. Now she has multiple books in print that have sold more than half a million copies, a PBS show, a line of products sold nationwide, and more. 
  4. However, since she did work at a publishing company, she did make it clear to point out that anyone can pitch a non-fiction book. And if it's a good idea it will sell, regardless of if you are famous or not. And if that publishing company doesn't like it, just keep pitching elsewhere and come up with more ideas.
  5. You can't write with the trends in non-fiction, just like you can't write with the trends in fiction. She did make a point of saying that it's almost like you have to try to "predict" what trend will be popular in 2 years when pitching books. In her case it would be jewelry trends. So who knows if books make the trends in regards to making your own jewelry or if fashion does? But I'm sure it's fun and hard to guess what the trend might be. 
So what do you think? Any other differences or similarities between non-fiction and fiction?
As a side note: she did talk about her PBS show a bit, and the thing I found the most fascinating is she mentioned that sometimes they film multiple years in advance. Especially if it will be the same guest presenter. It's just easier to get them to fly out once. So she has to keep her hair the same year after year. If she didn't, she'd need to buy a wig. I know they film in advance, but it is interesting to know that some PBS shows film that far in the future.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Bonnee Crawford said...

There are a lot of similarities between fiction and non-fiction, one of which I read about recently is that the author's voice or style still needs to be as captivating in non-fiction as it is in fiction.

DeenaML said...

I wish I had a cool idea for a non-fic book...they can have long shelf lives at the lib too!