November 6th, 2009

Fiction vs. non-fiction

I used to wish that I wrote non-fiction, because non-fiction sold better. But agent Chip MacGregor says that non-fiction, at least non-fiction self-help, is tanking. He says, “People have discovered they can find those same answers on the web for free ... People still want answers to the evergreen questions (how can I be healthy? how can I make money money? how can I be at peace? how can I know God? how can I ever be as cool as Chip if I'm not Scottish?), but we're not sure they're going to continue buying those answers in book form if they can get something just as good for free.”

He also says he is representing fewer memoirs these days. He says rather than doing a straight memoir, “consider turning it inside out. In other words, don't focus on your personal story -- focus on the principles for living that come out of your story. Don't just use the book to tell what happened -- use the book to share the principles for living you've learned, and use your story to illustrate those principles. ... So if you feel you've got some sort of dynamite story, don't focus on re-telling everyone what happened in your life. Instead, focus on the lessons learned, write about them, and use some of your story as examples in your text.

You can read all of Chip’s post here.

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Five things on a Friday

1. We are still animals. I like to watch people's mouths when they talk, either out in the real world or on TV. People still use their tongues to communicate, but it's unconscious. Even newscasters. Once you start noticing it, it's amusing.

2. I just though of the best opening for a new book. It's so good I'm worried it's been used before.

3. The Fort Hood shooter was described by the New York Times today as being in "stable" condition. Ain't not such animal. Stable is a modifier. I used to routinely give condition reports about hospitalized patients to reporters, and your choices are: critical, poor, fair, and good. Stable is not a condition. You can be in good condition and stable or in poor condition and stable.

4. I've got too many regulars on my running route. If I slough off, then Rich the smoker who hangs out by his garage, or Jeff, the guy who walks no matter what the weather, will be there to witness it.

5. I just sent my YA editor two ideas for new books. I hope she likes one.

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