Even if your ultimate goal is to become a novelist, starting out as a writer of nonfiction is a great way to jumpstart your writing career. If you are a new or inexperienced writer who aspires to writing about your own life, your family history, your memoirs, your nostalgic memories or whatever, you are already on your way to becoming a nonfiction writer.
There is less competition for a nonfiction writer
As a new writer of fiction you are unlikely to find a publisher for your debut novel and there aren’t many print or online magazines which run short stories. On the other hand, if you are interested in getting your writing published, there are many more outlets for nonfiction articles. From club, group and society magazines and local newspapers to specialist national print and online publications – they are all always on the look out for well-written and well-researched articles and features.
Writing nonfiction requires thorough research
Writing nonfiction books or articles does require thorough and extensive research. However, for those of you who have spent many years researching your family or local history, you will already have a wealth of information which you could use to create a book or adapt for articles in family history or specialist history magazines.
As an editor and proofreader of nonfiction works I have come across family history writers who have no plans to publish their family history. Although this doesn’t surprise me I am saddened when they tell me they don’t even expect anyone to read it. I do understand why they might consider their family histories to be of limited appeal, but many include interesting stories/details about historical events etc which could have a much wider appeal. These are stories which could stand on their own and which could could be submitted to relevant print and/or online magazines.
It’s all good writing practice
Any type of writing you do will help you to develop your writing skills and to build your confidence as a nonfiction writer. Writing nonfiction also gives you the opportunity to further your research skills and to become an authority in your specialist subject areas. As an expert in a particular field you may find that publications or the media approach you.
Suggested outlets for a nonfiction writer
Below is a small selection of national publications which do accept queries and submissions from amateur writers but do an online search or visit a local newsagent to find out what else is out there. If your interest is in history then it is worth checking out specialist history groups and local history societies because they often welcome contributions from enthusiastic and knowledgeable writers.
Family Tree magazine ‘helps readers discover, preserve and celebrate their family’s history’.
Discover Your History is an online magazine which specialises in stories and topics relating to family and social history.
History Today ‘brings serious history to a wide audience’. It covers ‘all periods, regions and themes of history’ and accepts submissions for original feature-length articles, Today’s History articles and History Matters articles.
Best of British magazine covers every aspect of life from the 1930s up to the present. Their Yesterday Remembered section invites readers to submit their own recollections and memories of British life.
Although The People’s Friend magazine mainly specialises in fiction, it does include some nonfiction feature articles. Their Filler Features are about 600 words long and can be about almost anything (for example, memories and experiences).