5 Ways Fiction Authors Can Make Money Writing Nonfiction

5 Ways Fiction Authors Can Make Money Writing Nonfiction

Today, we’re going to talk about a dirty idea for the creative process – making money. Only, we’re not going to be talking about it by the traditional means of just releasing a novel to the world and hoping for some coffee money here or there, or, for those of us who are extremely talented or lucky, a full time job.

It’s a curious thing – the realm of fiction writers. They paint pictures with words, crafting universes that exist solely in imagination. But, what happens when these architects of dreams steer their ship towards the shores of reality? Is it possible for someone who weaves tales to also stitch together threads of factual prose? Absolutely.

We often compartmentalize. We put ourselves into neatly labeled boxes: fiction writer, nonfiction writer, fantasy author, historian. But creation knows no boundaries. The skills acquired while spinning stories aren’t limited to imaginary worlds. They can be, and should be, applied everywhere.

In the intersection of fiction and nonfiction, there’s a land of opportunity, a niche waiting to be explored. It’s not about abandoning the tales we tell but about enriching them and the world around us with deeper insights, guides, and truths.

Let’s embark on this journey together and discover how fiction authors can not only venture into the nonfiction space but thrive in it. After all, as the adage goes, truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction. So why not blend the two?

Dive into the Backstory: Your Fiction’s Nonfictional Goldmine

Every world you’ve conjured, every character you’ve breathed life into, is rooted in a meticulously crafted backstory. It’s the unsung hero of your fiction, working behind the scenes to give depth to your tales. But what if we brought it front and center?

J.R.R. Tolkien did it masterfully with his creation of the Elvish language, the detailed maps of Middle-Earth, and the histories he outlined in the “Silmarillion”. But it’s not just about elves and hobbits. It’s about understanding the value of the intricate background work you’ve put in. Here’s how you can transform this treasure trove into a lucrative side gig:

1. Companion Guides:
The most direct route. Compile a guide detailing the cultures, legends, and timelines of your universe. Readers who love your stories would cherish a deeper dive into the world you’ve created.

2. Online Courses:
With platforms like Udemy or Coursera at your fingertips, design a course around your world’s history or its magical system. Teach fans the intricacies, the philosophies, or even the politics.

3. Illustrated Encyclopedias:
Collaborate with artists to bring your world’s backstory to visual life. An illustrated guide can be both a collector’s item and a doorway for new readers.

4. Podcast Series:
Transform your world’s histories into podcast episodes. Narrate the ancient wars, the rise and fall of dynasties, or the evolution of magic in your universe.

5. Merchandising:
If you’ve developed unique symbols, crests, or artifacts, why not create merchandise? Posters of detailed maps, customized calendars with important dates from your world, or even stationery with cultural motifs.

6. Workshops & Talks:
Host sessions where you delve into the making of your world’s backstory. Whether it’s an online webinar or a physical workshop, fans would love to hear directly from the creator.

7. Patreon Exclusive Content:
Offer deeper dives into the backstory as exclusive content for Patreon supporters. Monthly snippets, character genealogies, or uncovered myths can be enticing rewards for those who pledge.

8. Collaborative Anthologies:
Invite other writers to explore and expand upon areas of your universe you might not have delved deep into. Publish it as an anthology, giving fans fresh perspectives while staying true to the backbone you’ve provided.

In essence, the richness of your backstory is not just a support beam for your main tale. It’s an entity of its own, waiting to be celebrated, explored, and monetized. It’s not a departure from fiction but an expansion of it. After all, every story, fictional or not, is rooted in the art of exploration. Dive in.

Share Your Journey: The Labyrinth of Creation

Every author embarks on a journey, navigating the intricate maze between the birth of an idea and the culmination of a published novel. Along this path are the highs of revelation, the lows of writer’s block, and the winding roads of revision. It’s a quest that’s as compelling as any plot twist you’ve ever penned. Why keep it in the shadows?

Your journey is a beacon for the sea of aspiring writers looking to chart their own course. It’s a narrative imbued with insights, heartbreaks, and triumphs. Let’s break down how to transform your personal odyssey into a profitable side gig:

1. Memoir of a Writer:
Craft a memoir, not of your life, but of your journey as a writer. It’s intimate, it’s revealing, and above all, it’s educational for those following in your footsteps.

2. Blogging the Process:
Start a blog detailing every phase of your writing journey. From outlining to publishing, it becomes an evergreen resource for newcomers and a refresher for veterans.

3. Behind-the-Scenes Video Diaries:
Whether it’s on YouTube or TikTok, visual glimpses into your process, workspace, or just moments of brainstorming can be both enlightening and endearing to your fans.

4. Workshops & Webinars:
Transform your journey into a structured lesson plan. Host webinars focusing on individual stages, be it character development, world-building, or tackling the ever-daunting editing phase.

5. Patreon or Substack Chronicles:
Offer subscribers exclusive access to real-time journey updates. Share your struggles, your triumphs, and those moments of serendipity in a more intimate setting.

6. Guided Journals:
Design a journal inspired by your process. Offer prompts based on your own journey, spaces for readers to jot down their eureka moments, and perhaps sprinkle in anecdotes from your own experience.

7. Collaboration with Podcasts:
Narrate chapters of your journey on writing-centric podcasts. It offers a fresh voice and genuine insights to listeners and broadens your reach.

8. Merchandize Milestones:
Turn significant moments of your journey into inspiring merchandise. Think quote cards, motivational posters, or even bookmarks that capture the essence of particular stages in your writer’s voyage.

The journey of crafting a novel is as transformative as the story itself. By sharing your experiences, not only do you provide a roadmap for others, but you also immortalize the countless hours, sleepless nights, and beautiful revelations that are part and parcel of every author’s voyage. Your journey, with all its intricacies, is a story worth telling. Embrace it, share it, monetize it.


Craftsmanship Essays: The Anatomy of Artistry

Every word you pen, every character you sculpt, every plot twist you weave—these aren’t just products of whim. They are results of deliberate decisions, intricate strategies, and profound personal philosophies about storytelling. The way you craft dialogue or build tension isn’t merely technique; it’s an art. And this art has layers, nuances, and theories waiting to be dissected.

Your craft is a universe in itself, and diving deep into its mechanisms is a treasure trove for both novice writers and literary enthusiasts. So, how can you turn your mastery into insightful essays and then into a rewarding side gig? Here’s the blueprint:

1. Serialized Essay Collections:
Pick aspects of your craft and write detailed essays on each. Compile them into thematic collections, be it character development, setting landscapes, or the subtle art of foreshadowing.

2. Collaborative E-Magazines:
Join forces with fellow authors to publish a digital magazine. Each issue can center around a specific element of storytelling, providing readers with multifaceted perspectives.

3. Guest Posts:
Offer to write about your craft on established writing platforms or blogs. Not only do you share your wisdom but you also tap into a new audience.

4. Online Masterclasses:
Design courses around your essays. Platforms like Skillshare or MasterClass are always seeking experts. Dive deep into subjects, like “The Rhythm of Dialogue” or “The Geometry of Plot Twists.”

5. Subscription Newsletters:
Platforms like Substack allow you to send regular insights directly to an eager audience. Dive into different elements of your craft, one newsletter at a time.

6. Interactive Workbooks:
Turn your essays into interactive experiences. Design workbooks that let readers apply your techniques, complete with exercises, prompts, and feedback mechanisms.

7. Podcast Monologues:
Why only write when you can speak? Create a podcast where you narrate your essays, adding a personal touch with spontaneous thoughts and anecdotes.

8. Live Q&A Sessions:
After sharing an essay, host live sessions where readers can ask questions, discuss your insights, and even challenge your viewpoints. Platforms like Clubhouse or even Instagram Live are perfect for this.

9. Craft Retreats:
Organize writer retreats focused on specific craftsmanship topics. Imagine a weekend diving deep into the nuances of dialogue, surrounded by like-minded individuals.

By meticulously dissecting your craft, you do more than just share knowledge; you demystify the magic of storytelling. And in this demystification, you create a space for learning, dialogue, and growth. Your craftsmanship, once confined to the pages of your fiction, can find a broader stage, teaching and inspiring a generation of storytellers. The art is in the details, and those details? They’re worth their weight in gold.

Research Revelations: The Backbone of Believability

Behind every dragon’s roar, every spaceship’s hum, and every ancient spell lies a foundation of research. It’s this research that lends credibility to our tales, making the fantastical feel plausible and the distant feel near. The line between a winged serpent and a dinosaur, or between a warp drive and actual scientific theories, is often a fine one, blurred by our imagination. But these connections, this intricate web of reality and fantasy, hold vast depths of knowledge.

So, how can you unveil the research behind your stories and turn this exploration into a profitable venture? Let’s journey into the realm of possibilities:

1. Annotated Novels:
Re-release your books with annotations, side notes that delve into the research behind particular scenes, characters, or concepts, enriching the reading experience.

2. Spin-off Encyclopedias:
Compile a comprehensive encyclopedia on the real-world inspirations behind your universe. From historical epochs to scientific principles, make it a treasure trove of knowledge.

3. Behind-the-Scenes Blog Series:
Dedicate a blog to dissecting the research behind each novel or series. Break down the real-world parallels, the inspirations, and the liberties you took.

4. YouTube Documentaries:
Blend visuals with narrative to craft mini-documentaries. Explore the historical castles that inspired your fictional ones or the real galaxies that birthed your space odysseys.

5. Collaborative Panels:
Team up with historians, scientists, or experts in fields you’ve researched. Host discussions, comparing the fictional representations with real-world facts.

6. Research Tours:
Organize trips to places that inspired your settings. Whether it’s a historical city or a renowned space observatory, give fans a firsthand experience of your research journey.

7. Subscription-Based Deep Dives:
Platforms like Patreon can host exclusive deep-dive content. Provide monthly breakdowns, research snippets, or even interviews with experts who guided your research.

8. Interactive Workshops:
Host workshops that not only share your research but also teach attendees how to research effectively for their own writing endeavors.

9. Merchandise with Infographics:
Convert your research into engaging infographics, which can then be printed on posters, bookmarks, or even apparel, blending education with artistry.

The art of storytelling isn’t just about weaving tales; it’s about grounding them in elements of truth, however elusive. By spotlighting the research behind your narratives, you not only amplify the depth of your stories but also celebrate the vast tapestry of knowledge that exists in our world. Your tales are bridges between the known and the imagined, and in that intersection lies endless potential for exploration, enlightenment, and enterprise. Dive deep, and let the revelations unfurl.

10. Freelance Research Services:
Your knack for research isn’t just beneficial for your own tales; it’s a sought-after skill in the writing community and beyond. Offer bespoke research services on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. Help budding authors shape their worlds with solid facts, or even assist professionals in other industries who require detailed, meticulous research. With your experience and proven track record, you’re not just providing data but an understanding of how to weave that data seamlessly into a compelling narrative. It’s the fusion of factual precision and storytelling finesse, a unique service that many would find invaluable.

Personal Anecdotes & Life Lessons: The Mirror of Authenticity

Storytelling, in its essence, is a mirror, capturing reflections of life’s myriad moments—its sorrows, its joys, its lessons. The characters we design, the worlds we sculpt, often bear traces of our personal narratives. These imprints, while discreetly woven into fiction, are brimming with raw, unfiltered truths. And it’s these truths, these authentic slices of life, that resonate profoundly with readers, for they see themselves in them.

But how do you distill these personal stories and life lessons, transcending from fiction to nonfiction, and translate them into a rewarding endeavor? Here’s the compass to navigate this terrain:

1. Memoir-ish Essays:
Instead of a full memoir, pen short, poignant essays on significant life events and their subsequent influence on your fiction. It’s introspection meeting art.

2. Podcast Story Sessions:
Narrate personal anecdotes through podcasts, adding layers with voice modulations, background scores, and raw emotions. It’s intimate, it’s touching.

3. Illustrated Life Stories:
Collaborate with artists to transform significant anecdotes into illustrated stories or comic strips. Visuals amplify the emotional connect.

4. Live Storytelling Events:
Join platforms like The Moth, or organize your own events, where you share personal stories in front of a live audience, creating moments of shared empathy and understanding.

5. Anecdotal Workshops:
Host sessions teaching aspiring writers how to infuse personal experiences into fictional narratives, demonstrating with your own examples.

6. Personal Blog Series:
Maintain a dedicated section on your blog where you share these stories, creating a repository of real-life tales and the lessons they bore.

7. Patreon Exclusive Tales:
Reward your most loyal fans with deeply personal stories, perhaps ones too intimate for the broader audience, building a closer community.

8. Collaborative Anthologies:
Join hands with other authors to compile an anthology of real-life stories. Multiple voices, diverse experiences, unified by authenticity.

9. Story-driven Merchandise:
Condense certain powerful anecdotes or life lessons into quotes or illustrations for merchandise. Wearable wisdom or decor that inspires.

10. Personal Story Consulting:
Offer services to those seeking to tell their own personal tales but are unsure how. Help them shape, refine, and present their stories, drawing from your own experience.

Unveiling the personal layers behind your fiction is not just an act of sharing; it’s an invitation to connect, to find common ground in the shared human experience. By stepping into the realm of personal anecdotes and life lessons, you bridge the gap between the author and the reader, creating a bond that transcends the written word. This space is intimate, real, and immensely powerful. Embrace it, share it, and let the tales of your life find the resonance they deserve.

The Alchemy of Diverse Ideas

As we wind down this exploration, it’s evident that the world of writing, especially for fiction authors, is not confined to the realms they conjure. From diving into the detailed backstories of your universe to sharing the undulating journey of your writer’s path; from dissecting the intricate artistry of your craftsmanship to unveiling the research that anchors your tales; to the power of personal anecdotes that mirror life’s realities—each avenue is a testament to the expansive canvas a writer possesses.

Yet, it’s essential to remember: not every path is for every author. Some of these avenues may remain flights of fancy, enticing in theory but not quite fitting your personal brand or passion. That’s okay. The essence isn’t in adopting all, but in understanding the potential each holds.

However, even a single resonant idea, pursued with dedication, can become the catalyst for not just creative satisfaction, but financial stability. It can be the bridge between your talent and tangible success. And even if none of these resonate directly, let them be the sparks. The world is ever-evolving, and perhaps your unique twist on one of these ideas, or an entirely new concept birthed from them, could be the next big thing.

Writing isn’t just an act; it’s a journey, an ever-unfolding map of possibilities. As Seth often says, it’s about “shipping” your art—sending it out into the world. So, explore, experiment, and embrace the myriad ways your words can shape not only narratives but also your narrative as a writer. The pen, as they say, holds immense power. How will you wield yours?

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