The Non-Fiction Writer
Everybody writes non-fiction. It is almost impossible to become a literate adult before having to write a speech, an article, or at least a letter. Before we leave school, we have commonly written reams of non-fiction. Yet not many people are aware that writing non-fiction is at once an art and a business that is to say, a profession. They do not realize what an opportunity it offers them.
Yet the writer of non-fiction often enjoys more prestige, and may earn more money, than his rival, the writer of fiction. For he may provide his readers with quite as much amusement as any fiction-writer, yet also provide them with much useful information. Thus he appeals to everybody, and makes the best of both worlds.
In fact, the writer of non-fiction enjoys certain solid satisfactions and advantages denied to the writers of fiction. He has a far larger public and a far more stable market; he enjoys a vastly greater range of subject-matter and technique; and he knows his work is useful indeed indispensable – if our civilization is to be maintained.
His readers include almost the entire literate population. For everybody reads non-fiction, from the cradle to the grave. Good books in this kind go on selling, year in, year out, long after novels and plays have lost their vogue and are forgotten.
Any publisher will tell you that a book of non-fiction is an investment, which may go on paying royalties for fifty years; whereas a novel is a speculation that generally turns sour in a year’s time. Writing non-fiction is not a gamble, but a business.
Next: What (Exactly) Is Non-Fiction?