WMBTSD Giveaway Day Four: September 4, 2007

Today’s another fiction-inspired day! We’re giving away three–count ’em three–books today. They are:

September 4th: The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published: 90 strategies and techniques for selling your fiction by Even Marshall (Writer’s Digest Books 2003) and Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge (NAL Accent 2005) & Riding with the Queen by Jennie Shortridge (NAL Accent 2003).

Special thanks to Jane Friedman and Jennie Shortridge for provide the books. Jennie’s books are signed too. 🙂

Let’s learn a bit more about Evan Marshall:

Evan Marshall is the author of both fiction and nonfiction books. He writes the popular Jane Stuart and Winky mysteries as well as the bestselling Marshall Plan series of writers’ guides. His book The Eyes Have It is a popular guide to nonverbal communication.

In addition to writing books, Evan has contributed articles on writing and publishing to Writer’s Digest and other magazines.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Evan has a BA from Boston College. He and his wife, literary agent and consultant Martha Jewett live with their two sons in Pine Brook, New Jersey.

publis1.jpgThe book that we’re giving away is The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published: 90 strategies and techniques for selling your fiction. In this volume of the popular The Marshall Plan series, noted author and agent Evan Marshall focuses readers on making a good novel better and taking the next step of sending work to editors and agents—all with an insider’s knowledge. He teaches them how to:

· Improve dialogue, tension and pace

· Edit for clarity, concision and correctness

· Approach agents and editors the right way

· Evaluate their relationships with editors and publishers

· Successfully promote their novel

· Outline the steps for a dream career path

In all, readers will find 87 no-nonsense tips for writing professional quality fiction, plus detailed advice on submitting their work, selecting—and working with—a publisher, and promoting their finished novel.

And…let’s learn about our second author: Novelist Jennie Shortridge lives in Seattle, WA where she is currently at work on her fourth book. Her other novels are Riding With the Queen, Eating Heaven, and the forthcoming Love & BIology at the Center of the Universe, due out in May 2008.
Eating HeavenAccording to Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust: “Eating Heaven (NAL, 2005) combines the theme of family secrets with that of a young woman’s struggle to accept herself as she happens to be—overweight. Eleanor Samuels gives up her job as a freelance food writer to care for her ailing Uncle Bennie and discovers, along with some important truths about the past, that you don’t have to be thin to have a good life, or loving relationships. Smooth writing, a cast of nicely developed characters, and a winning portrait of Portland, Oregon add up to one good read.”

Riding with the QueenAccording to the Rocky Mountain News, Riding With the Queen is “an absorbing novel of a family with hard edges but an unbreakable bond. When tough-talking, 34-year-old Tallie Beck runs out of music gigs, she has little to show for her 17 years on the road as a traveling musician. With the lure of a music job, Tallie returns to Denver, where sister, Jane, has been coping with the erratic mood swings of their bipolar mother since Tallie left home. Forced to seek shelter in her mother’s loft, Tallie meets a new and different mother who has become a highly respected artist surrounded by friends, while Tallie finds herself the outsider, slowly and reluctantly forced to learn humility and find new values. It’s a notable debut.”

[Ed Note: If you write fiction, you must check out Jennie’s website. I recommend it to fiction writers all the time because Jenny sets such a great example: http://jennieshortridge.com/%5D

And here’s the question you must answer in 50-300 words to win today’s giveaway: Today’s first book is about selling fiction so let’s tackle that topic: Are writing and selling fiction different in your mind from writing and selling nonfiction or any other type of writing? If yes, how? If no, why not? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic!

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29 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day Four: September 4, 2007”


  1. 1 monica September 4, 2007 at 4:07 am

    the first difference that comes to mind is when you write your manuscript. fiction — before you send it off to an agent or publisher, non-fiction you have the benefit of testing the waters, so to speak with a proposal.

    both require research. non-fiction more so. fiction is just you with your story and voice. non-fiction has it’s facts. that’s my rambling answer.

  2. 2 Shawn September 4, 2007 at 4:11 am

    Three weeks ago I would have answered no, selling fiction and non-fiction isn’t the same to this question. But, now that I’ve been taking your Pitching Practice class, I can see the answer is yes, they are the same, mostly. Of course, a whole lot more passion goes into a book, period, so the heart is more involved in general in a book, I think. Still, you still need to sell yourself, your writing and your idea all the same. I’m thankful to learn of these two novels, and to follow their stories a little. Thanks.

  3. 3 Lisa September 4, 2007 at 4:28 am

    I think that fiction writing doesn’t have to rely on the facts as much as non-fiction writing. Yes, both genres require research; however, writing non-fiction has to be factual and correct, while writing fiction can be imaginary and made-up. I like the freedom in writing fiction, because you can embellish the truth, make-up anything you want, and basically the page is your oyster. I also like researching places for incorporation in fiction, so that factually, the reader can relate to an area on a personal level.

    A difference in the two, is you really have to look for different agents and/or publishers when selling your work. Some specialize in fiction while others specialize in non-fiction, and that’s an important consideration when looking for publication.

  4. 4 Andrea McMann September 4, 2007 at 5:10 am

    I’ve basically been writing fiction since elementary school, but I’ve only just started pursuing non-fiction. This has made me more confident in my writing abilities when it comes to fiction, and I’m able to send off short stories for publication with less anxiety and self-doubt than I would feel if I was sending out a non-fiction article. Honestly, though, I think that, with time, I’ll become more confident in my non-fiction writing abilities, and I’ll have fewer qualms about sending my artcles out into the world.

  5. 5 Erika D. September 4, 2007 at 5:34 am

    Writing and selling fiction are, to my mind, very different from writing and selling nonfiction. (Here I’m talking primarily about short stories in the first case, and articles in the second. Essays are another matter.) Basically, you do not “query” when you’re writing short stories for literary magazines and journals. You must submit the completed piece, essentially “on spec.” Which is very different from a huge chunk of nonfiction freelance writing. Similarly, a first-time author will generally need to have completed a book of fiction before it sells (or finds an agent), whereas nonfiction writers (again, with some exceptions, like memoirs) can rely on the book proposal, not a completed manuscript, to do the heavy selling. Lots more to say, but that should do it for now!

  6. 6 Meryl K. Evans September 4, 2007 at 6:32 am

    I believe selling fiction is different from selling non-fiction simple because they have different purposes. A non-fiction typically has a job to do — educate, inform, inspire. Fiction is for enjoyment and with so many fiction books — a writer has to work harder to prove this isn’t just another fiction book and has a uniquely woven story.

    As for writing for these — fiction writers may need to rely more on brainstorming, mind maps, character outlines and maps, and so on. They need to explore ways to describe the story, character, setting and action without falling into clichés.

    This is from a writer mama’s perspective as a non-fiction writer. This mama ain’t done fiction since grade school. 🙂

  7. 7 Michele Decoteau September 4, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Growing up I always saw fiction and non-fiction as two entirely separate entities: Fiction for the heart, non-fiction for the brain. They have separate Dewey Decimals and for me the library system was tantamount to a law of nature! Now as a writer and editor, I see less separation both in my own work and in my own reading. Blurring the lines are works that embellish historical events, alternate histories, and fanciful science fiction that uses soon-to-be current technology. This is not even to go near places that James Frey took us in his fictional autobiography!

    I am working on a book that totally blurs the line taking a local historical landmark and creating a story over time that stays true the facts but is a work of fiction. It does feel different that my writing that is complete non-fiction. It is harder! Where to sell such a beast is a good question and so far I have ducked out on answering it! I see more writers doing the same thing.

    Bottom line: lines are less clear about what is fiction and what is non-fiction I believe that publishers are going to have to work harder to fit many books into neat categories.

  8. 8 Heather September 4, 2007 at 7:55 am

    In my mind, they’re worlds apart. I have to admit that I still have a romantic, artsy impression of fiction writing. I imagine it to involve endless hours of solitude in which to craft complex characters and plots, finally resulting in a true work of art despite much emotional duress. Whereas, non-fiction writing seems more like corporate work, searching out the facts, pounding them out on the keyboard, and presenting them in a no-nonsense way to the buyer in order to make a sale.

    Now, deep down I realize that my image is skewed, and I certainly mean no disrespect to either craft. Writing is work. Period. Writing is creative. Period. But I chose to delve into non-fiction early on because it seemed the quickest way to earn an income, and when income is the goal, it feels more like a job, less like art. When I want to write for the sheer joy of it, I write fiction. My own novelist dream lives on, somewhere amongst the article ideas and magazine markets. I’d love to one day write fiction AND earn an income, and have a chance to disprove all my romantic notions about fiction writing.

  9. 9 Mary Jo C. September 4, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Having written and submitted both, but not selling either (yet!), I do believe there is a difference. For me, fiction comes naturally, an extension of my perceptions and attitudes crafted into make believe characters for their make believe world. Yes, it needs to feel real and research is involved, but seems a little looser, more pliable. (I am currently researching the Ashanti tribe and Twi dialect for my novel.) Also, the publications seem more tolerable of unpublished writers and submissions without a query.

    Writing and pitching non-fiction has always been more difficult for me. The topics, research and accuracy involved and fitting my unique voice to the readership and publication seem a bit constricting. Timing is so important, and I usually come up with an idea or angle just as the hype in our culture is fizzling out. But, because non-fiction is in much higher demand, I plan to persevere!

    P.S. Thanks, Christine for the site on Jennie Shortridge – great stuff there!

  10. 10 Tammy September 4, 2007 at 8:53 am

    I sorta have the non-fiction thing down. If anything, I know enough people in my niche that I am comfortable with the process. There’s still a learning curve when I submit to a new editor.

    But fiction – that’s a mystery to me. Mostly because I haven’t done a whole lot of it. I’ve only submitted to contests at this point. I would love to have this book about submitting fiction, to get a feel for how it’s different than my experiences with non-fiction.

    Then, at some point, I need to write some fiction that I actually want to see the light of day. Any books on neurotic writers who need to know how the system works before they’ve written a word?

  11. 11 Renee Roberson September 4, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Heather shared her story about writing non-fiction first because it “paid the bills” and that’s essentially where I am in my life too. I have always dreamed of writing fiction, but I still remember my step-father discouraging me from that dream when I was in high school. He told me I couldn’t possibly be the one to have my manuscript accepted out of all the millions of writers out there in the world. Although I know I shouldn’t take it to heart, I still have that notion lodged in the back of my head. Non-fiction seems to be the way to help contribute to my family at this point, and I’ve been successful at it.

    But my dream of writing fiction is still very much alive. I’ve put it off this long because of how different it is from writing non-fiction, particularly in the pitching/querying phase. You pour your heart and soul into a work of fiction, often writing about very personal themes, and then you have to make copies and copies of it to send out in the hopes that an agent decides to take a chance on your manuscript. Non-fiction is more of an outline/proposal pitch, and it seems like you do more of the work after you’ve sold an idea rather than the other way around.

    Either way, I’m game to try both genres, and I believe we can all be successful writers if we really work hard enough.

  12. 12 Diane September 4, 2007 at 10:42 am

    For me, the main difference between fiction and non-fiction has been where the ideas come from.

    I haven’t written non-fiction for quite awhile (as I’m concentrating on novel-length children’s fiction right now) but when I did, I found myself developing articles from a marketing standpoint first. I’d pick a particular magazine I’d want to query (kid mags only because that’s my niche) and read back issues until an idea sparked. And then I’d submit just to that particular magazine.

    With fiction, the ideas come from my head only (and usually while I’m in the shower, for some reason). Instead of using what’s gone before to find the spark, I just ask “what if? and then what if?” until I can’t stand it anymore and have to write it down.

  13. 13 Rhianna Finnegan September 4, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I’d like to think they are wildly different, but when it comes down to it, writing is like any other art. You are essentially selling you and what you can do with you. Fiction is different simply because you don’t have to be Brad Pitt or a Ph.D three times to attempt it. But, honestly, it probably helps to be both. I am with Tammy about wanting to know everything about a system before I attempt it. I put off my ‘real’ writing for years and gave myself a myriad of excuses, but the truth was, I was unfamiliar with really getting your words published. Luckily, there’s tons of great stuff to teach you how to do just that!!

  14. 14 marnini September 4, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I love to write fiction. As much as I love non-fiction I find it more challenging to make up something that someone else may be able to get lost in. There are differences between fiction and non-fiction (we all know the obvious). The thing I found most interesting when deciding to write fiction is that all information must be researched for a reader to consider your writing believable. E.g. I cannot write about a specific flower blooming in October if it only blooms in May. A reader can pick up on this and instantly become turned off. So even in a fiction book you must have correct factual information if you want the reader to believe the story you are telling.

  15. 15 Laura September 4, 2007 at 11:11 am

    To me, writing fiction and non-fiction are much the same. Both require putting my words down on paper (actually, on the screen these days), and both require pulling from deep inside of me. When writing anything, I am crafting My thoughts, My words, and guiding and changing them as they grow. Then, like small children on the first day of school, I send them off to be viewed & weighed by a publisher, to see if they are found worthy.

    Though much the same, writing fiction pulls from different areas within me. Both require creativity, but whilst non-fiction tells about what was and what is, fiction tells about what could be. Fiction answers the question, What if? I have so many characters, and story premises in my writing folder that started with this simple question.

    I love writing both fiction and non-fiction, but find that while I long to write the former, I have more confidence in writing the latter. I hope that by connecting with other writers, writer mamas in particular, I will gain the confidence to try.

  16. 16 Donna McDine September 4, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Springing out from the “slush” pile can be a daunting task. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction you must sell your idea in the cover letter with a fantastic hook in the first paragraph so that you can stand up and be noticed. Also, when you soar into the depths of your soul and let the creative juices flow for fiction or non-fiction a well written manuscript, article, short story, etc., usually emerges.

  17. 17 Jenna Bayley-Burke September 4, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Can it depend? Selling short pieces is different than longer in that for both fic and non-fic you can write what you are inspired to and sell it afterwards. With longer works (novels, features) you start differently. Getting a pass on a feature is hard – people didn’t like your idea. Getting a pass on a longer work of fiction, even if it isn’t completed (i.e. submitting at the partial stage) is personal. They didn’t like your WRITING. Ouch.

  18. 18 Beth K. Vogt September 4, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Is writing fiction different from writing non-fiction or poetry or stream of conciousness or drivel–yes or no?
    No. Nope. Nyet.

    Any kind of writing requires you put your butt in your chair and you do it. Write. Write some more. And some more. Then you rewrite it. And rewrite it. Cross out the bad stuff. Realize the good stuff is bad too. Start over. Go through your rough drafts because you just know somewhere in there is a bit of brilliance–and lo and behold! there is!
    Submit your article or chapter or poem to your writers group and let them tear it to shreds becasue they love you and only want the best for you–and because, hey, they know you’re gonna’ critique them until it hurts!
    And do it again and again and again because you are a writer and no matter how many rejections you get, you find yourself facing that blank Word document and thinking, “This time, I’m going to get it right.”
    It’s who you are. It’ what you do–no matter what form it takes.

  19. 19 LauraE September 4, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    The writing and selling of fiction and non-fiction require research, dedication and inspiration but the one thing that sets nonfiction writing apart from fiction writing, in my experience, is that the non-fiction editorial calendar seems so much more friendly than submission guidelines for fiction. With my fiction writing I let my inspiration take my story where it needs to go and then I figure out where to sell it. My nonfiction writing is tailored to the needs of the publication and I find that comforting and easier to sell. My fiction is not yet published but I look forward to the day when I can read submission guidelines and feel more confident.

  20. 20 Susan Flemming September 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve had much more success with selling my non-fiction than selling my fiction; articles vs short stories . (I haven’t attempted yet to sell a novel or non-fiction book.) So I do see selling the two as different.

    For one thing, there is a bigger demand and market for well written articles than there is for short stories. The paying market for short stories has steadily declined over the past several years, while the demand for articles has expanded tremendously with the advent of the internet and number of magazines serving niche audiences.

    Also, in my experience, the actual writing of non-fiction goes much faster. When I’m writing a short story or working on my novel, it can take me hours to get a scene down exactly the way I want it to read, with the tone and atmosphere I want to create. And then it may take a couple more edits to polish it up.

    But with non-fiction, I’ve got the facts that I’ve researched, my interview notes (if I have them) and all I need to do is turn those facts into a publishable piece. While working as a newspaper reporter, I learned to write quickly and as close as possible to publication ready in the first writing, so that it needed little editing. There’s nothing worse than turning in a piece and having it come back for a rewrite or having a piece not run because there’s no time for a rewrite.

    If I could just translate that ability to my fiction writing, I’d be finished my novel and on to the next book in no time.

  21. 21 Joanne September 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Writing and selling any type of writing demands the same fundamentals from the writer: The work must be accurate (nonfiction must be factually accurate. Fiction must be accurate within itself); it must be entertaining, even compelling; the writer must be willing to follow the story where it leads and the work must tell the story as it is, not as the writer imagined at the beginning of the project. Of course, any work must be original.

    If a writer can meet these terms, then she can write anything and market it.

  22. 22 Rose September 4, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    For my birthday one year, I fulfilled a childhood fantasy and took a flying trapeze lesson. I was able to get two very different non-fiction articles published from the experience and even sparked some ideas for a fiction piece. When I’m beginning the writing process, I try not to give myself too many restrictions and see how many possible publication options open up.

    When I’m selling both fiction and non-fiction, I try to ask myself not just “How can I sell this to an editor?” but “How is the publisher going to sell this to the reader?” An author at a seminar I attended told us to stroll down the aisles of the local bookstore and read the category headings, figure out where you see your book and look at the ones that are already there. Dissect them. And then go back and dissect your work. It helps me look at my work with some healthy detachment. The consumer equation can seem a bit crass but I have to decide whether I am content to be a starving artist in my happy hypothetical world or whether I want to be an author in the real world.

  23. 23 edna September 4, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Writing and selling fiction is different from other types of writing and markets. Fiction is based on a world of your own creation. Much hinges on the power of your story, the authenticity of voice and ability to connect with readers. Nonfiction and other types of books frequently address something of interest (pop, trendy stuff) or fulfill a particular need in our society (financial books by Suze Orman for example).

    With nonfiction, the author’s credentials and research are very significant factors in a sale to the publisher. However, with fiction, an unknown can have her/his story plucked from the slush pile, get acquired and go on become a bestseller. Ah, the stuff of fiction… 😉

  24. 24 Elizabeth September 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Very different, in my mind. I approach the selling of nonfiction with a little more detachment. There could be many reasons why a nonfiction piece or proposal doesn’t hit the mark, many of which have nothing to do with me personally or my presentation. However, if my fiction doesn’t find a home, well, then clearly I have no talent! Fiction feels more like my “baby”; nonfiction, more like a sales job.

  25. 25 Deb Cushman September 4, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    I think the biggest difference between selling fiction and nonfiction is that word “Platform.” In nonfiction platform is fairly easy to explain — how will you show publishers that you have a built-in audience, that you have a large group of people who already follow your expertise, and that you can sell lots of copies of books to these people. With fiction, platform is a tad bit different. You may not have thousands of people checking out your website to find out the latest tips and hints on a particular subject. The fiction platform is a bit more elusive and may take a lot of work and creativity on the part of the author to find a way to establish. (Not to say that nonfiction authors can’t be creative, just that they seem to have a headstart on this interesting thing we call platform.)

  26. 26 Shonna September 4, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    One big difference I see between fiction and (most) non-fiction is world building. I’m still learning, but world building is all about setting the scene, tone, atmosphere, rules, etc of your story world. It’s making the picture you have in your mind come alive in print so that someone else can see it for themselves. It’s the little details that add up to subtly take your reader out of the living room and into the story. World building holds true whether you are writing fantasy, a western, or historical children’s novels.

  27. 27 Lea September 4, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    For me, writing fiction takes more patience and more guts. It’s so easy to second-guess myself and wonder exactly how I should shape each character. The possibilities are endless, so narrowing my focus and sticking to a plan are harder. A non-fiction story (especially one assigned by an editor for a publication) usually has a specific topic and word count so it’s easier for me sit down and write until I have the story complete.

  28. 28 Richelle September 4, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    The biggest difference for me is the ego factor. I’m proud of the work I do in the non-fiction arena. I strive to do my best. But in the end, I’m writing for a client, and the client is the one who has to be happy with it. When the person purchasing my non-fiction asks me to delete huge swaths of copy, well, that’s the way it goes. It doesn’t even make a dent in my sense of self.

    But my fiction, I write for me, of me. And so when an editor rejects a story, or my writing group has trouble with my novel, it’s a much more personal blow.

  29. 29 Karen September 4, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    I’m tempted to not reply, because I could say “ditto” to most posts already (and wow, have I learned a lot the last three days!). OK, so the last two non-fiction articles I’ve written have a source sheet a mile long, but I crafted the articles so the reader would be there with me, hopefully shocked at what I saw, and licking the raindrops off their lips maybe before I told them to. Isn’t that the same as in a fictional story? All that I can offer is that the market doesn’t seem the same; the person who picked up the magazine with the non-fiction version probably isn’t the same person who is going to pick up the creative version I will eventually write.


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