Non-fiction Versus Fiction

My friend Julie Sondra Decker just released her first book, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. This is a non-fiction book, but she is also a fiction writer, and she has two agents. I really wanted to get her on my blog to talk about the non-fiction versus fiction thing because I don’t really know too many nf writers. I’ve split it into two posts because she has a lot of great information, so make sure you come back next week for post two.
 

Congratulations, Julie, and welcome again to my blog. So I’m curious. Did you write your nonfiction book before you started writing novels?
 

No. I completed nine novels (and began four others that aren’t complete) before I thought of writing a nonfiction book. I primarily think of myself as a fiction author, but for some reason the short nonfiction pieces I’ve produced over the years have always gotten more attention than the fiction—probably just because I’m writing in a field that isn’t crowded yet.

 

I’ve heard sometimes that with nf, writers send a query that is more like a proposal. They’ve only written a few chapters of the book and they look for an agent or publisher before finishing. Can you tell us some differences between the nf and fiction writing/publishing processes?

 
Except for the fact that both are made up of words, nonfiction and fiction are Completely Different Animals. That’s everything from how it’s written to how it’s sold. Here are some huge differences I’ve seen while straddling the two:

 
Completed Manuscript:

 
Nonfiction: The book doesn’t have to be complete before pitching or selling. As long as you can describe its structure and content, it doesn’t actually have to be written.

 
Fiction: The book has to be complete before even attempting to get an agent, unless it’s through a special arrangement.

 
Author Platform:

 
Nonfiction: It’s vital that the author has a demonstrable platform and is recognized as some kind of authority on their subject. They may have to demonstrate media appearances, previous publications, or recognized experience in the field.

 
Fiction: They don’t even ask about platform, though if you’ve had any short story sales or relevant writing credits you can mention them in your query. Platform doesn’t get contracts for debut fiction authors unless they are celebrities or are self-published with lots of sales.

 

 
Those are some pretty big differences. 🙂 Do you have any other plans for writing nonfiction or will you just concentrate on fiction?
 

I don’t plan to write another long nonfiction book, but I do write short nonfiction pretty often and will probably continue getting those published in magazines/blogs. However, a novel I have planned for the future incorporates the subject of my nonfiction book—the nonfiction book is about asexuality, and the upcoming fiction has an asexual character—so there will be some tie between my fiction and my nonfiction.

 
Thanks for stopping by, Julie. We’ll see you next week too. She’ll be talking about querying and publishing for nf and fiction.
 

And here is more about her new book.
 

What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?

 
A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
 

Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
 

When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.

 
In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
 

Author bio:

 
Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes fantasy and science fiction for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel) releases September 2, 2014.

 
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6 Responses

  1. I enjoying writing both non-fiction and fiction too, and agree with Julie, they are very different. I find the trouble begins when the readers expect the same from both! lol. Since people are used to ready my non-fiction when they get their hands on the new fiction I have out, I just get a blank stare followed by, “wow. You have an imagination.” I’m getting used to awkward silences.

    Her new book is very interesting and covers a topic I know nothing about but often had me curious. Looking forward to the next interview!

  2. So nice to meet you, Julie! There is so much I didn’t know about publishing NF. It is definitely a different road to travel. So thankful for the information, and congrats on your new book. It’s important for people to understand things like this. Thanks for bringing awareness. 🙂

  3. Really interesting perspective – I don’t know very much about NF, so it’s really interesting to hear about it from someone who writes in both areas. Also, congrats on the new book!

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