When most people talk about books or writing they usually mean fiction. I’ve created plenty of my own worlds and original stories, but my most prominent tales are all true stories. Nonfiction is incredibly underrated. From Michelle Obama’s memoir to I Am Malala, Born Free, and even works like On Liberty, true writing holds the power to give readers realistic solutions to everyday issues.
Even lighthearted books like Marley and Me give us all the insight we need to enjoy a happy life with a plentiful sense of humor. My first major nonfiction piece was in a Chicken Soup for the Soul Book and described getting through a very dark time in my life, yet instead of being written to make everyone cry, it is merely a representation of how far a person can go when they make peace with their past and give those who helped them the credit they deserve.
Fiction has its place, but many modern tropes seem to add struggles and tension merely for the sake of tension. It’s less about a concise believable story and more about keeping readers from losing interest. To me, tension or plot twists aren’t the only way to keep people entertained.
But that’s probably why my bread and butter comes from writing about real life. I like to find the light in the dark and even laugh at my past misfortunes in order to allow others to learn from my own experiences. I appreciate that style from writers like Ishmael Bea, Richard Smyth, and Aayan Hirsi Ali. These are authors who can take grim subject matter and offer it with a laugh or at least a smile.
In my latest release, Walk Your Path, I fused memoir with instructional genres because I myself don’t like reading manuals. It’s more fun to get to know the people behind the information: the “hows” and “whys” behind the practices being offered.
It was not well-received by agents or most of the publishing industry. Too out of the box. Not easily categorized or chopped up into labels.
That’s okay. That one was more for me to get the hang of full length nonfiction novels. I write a lot of short from for magazines and have a couple of columns, but books are a different monster. I knew selling it to the Big 5 was a long shot. I did get interest from the World’s largest spiritual publisher, but they requested too many changes. I had other work I could do for them that would better suit their needs.
This book deserved love from someone who understood its nature. I wasn’t going after the commercial market. When I wrote it I was writing to the many readers who have sent me messages and fan mail asking for details on my specific journey through life.
It was always for them, not the publishers or the agents. So I turned down a larger deal to work with a smaller publisher who appreciated the heart of what I created.
It was clear from the beginning that this would be a labor of love more than a lucrative marketing scheme. Despite that I’ve sold an ample amount; we reached the top 50 in our genre on amazon, and best of all the responses from readers have been incredibly supportive.
That’s all that really matters to me. I am a Pagan woman and the content is all about that aspect of my life, yet I’ve had atheists and even Christians read it and thank me for sharing it.
There are no lines drawn. My writing is for everyone. I was luckily brought up by a woman who understood that all faiths are connected. Even the virtuous side of atheism has commonalities with my beliefs because humanity is universal.
My Walk Your Path book tour had to be cancelled (like many events this year) but I wrote another book and am happy to say that THAT title has been picked up by that major publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide. It is contracted to be released next year, simply titled: The Magic of Nature. (Because I am that nature loving hippy you were all warned about)
Every writer has their story. No matter what they’re writing the industry is a strange place to navigate.Tweet
I’ve been doing this without an agent for 9 years now. I’ve written fiction and done my best to construct it based on the modern ideals of tension and twists to “hook the reader” and “keep them going” but nonfiction is where I can fly free. It produces books with less constraints that have so much to say about all of us.
If you’re been stuck in fictional worlds and they’re not making you feel any better about life or the state of the world, I highly suggest checking out the authors mentioned here. Or if you’re feeling really bold, check out mine.
Written by Jessica Marie Baumgartner