While reading through some comments on the blog I came across advice from one reader to another. The advice was that if Reader A had a special hobby or expertise (and platform, of course) it might help her to write nonfiction first, find an agent, make connections in publishing through her nonfiction, and then try to sell her fiction. The suggestion was that it might make it easier to market her fiction.
First let me thank the reader for offering advice. I always like to see writers helping each other. That being said, I want to clarify something. The fiction and nonfiction markets are two completely different beasts and getting published in one, and making contacts, won’t do much of anything to get you in the door with the other. Sure, if you are a New York Times bestselling author of fiction you can probably get a book or something that relates to your work published in nonfiction, but let me tell you from experience: nonfiction doesn’t often translate to fiction.
Besides your needing the ability to write both, not all agents represent both genres, and if your book fits into only one certain niche it will be even more difficult. For example, we do represent fiction and nonfiction, but not all sub-genres of either. If you write a cookbook and erotica, for example, we could represent your erotica, but not your cookbook. We don’t do cookbooks.
My advice is this: If you want to write both fiction and nonfiction, go ahead and do so, but don’t plan that by writing one you’ll have easy entry into the other.