Two Different Beasts

Original Question:

I’ve been going back and forth about what to do with a book on suicide I’ve drafted over the past few months. It currently sits around 200 pages and includes everything from sex, abuse, and personal stories in between. I want to copyright it and provide it freely because there is such a huge industry revolving around life coaching and people who exploit those who are vulnerable.

I also implicitly state that I’m also hoping to create an audience for my writing. At the same time, I’m concerned I too will draw the wrong attention and it may just be perceived as airing my families dirty laundry. The bulk of the work I want attention for is my fantasy writing which I wanted to release at the same time. So if people wanted to support me they could purchase the fantasy work. I know there’s a lot to process here so thanks very much in advance!

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Slice of Advice:

Let’s tackle the first book. It sounds like a purge piece you hope others will identify with and help them through their own experiences. I love these because they reinforce the notion of everyone having family secrets or traumas and experiences they hide and making them public removes the stigma of feeling the need to hide them. Good for you for even flirting with the idea of putting it out there. Is it airing dirty laundry? Hells yeah it is, but it’s been stinking up the whole house for far too long. I say shake it out on the front porch and let the neighbours stare. Before you know it, they’ll have their own hanging from their porch swing and you’ll all be chatting about it over the sounds of sweeping the remanence of all the shame and embarrassment onto the front lawn.

Expect to encounter a neighbour or family member who will slam their doors on you or try dragging you back into the fog of seclusion, but persist, and understand that they too are allowed their embarrassment, but it doesn’t mean you have to squat in it with them. A range of emotions will hit you when you hand over the first copy to someone or post somewhere public. Feel what you need to but ensure some of that is pride for refusing to remain hidden.

Your story, your perspective, your voice.

You said you wanted to distribute it for free. There’re many ways to do this—make available on blog and all social media venues, donating to a library or organization who helps those with similar experiences in your book, talk about it on a local radio show, share with other bloggers, etc.—as long as you still plan to do everything you would for any other published works including getting a cover artist and editor to ensure the content is tight and readable. Which means it won’t be free for you, so be prepared to put out some cash without the expectation of a return, though it sounds like you’re okay with this.

Bridging the gap between a non-fiction novel and a fiction novel isn’t easy, though I do know someone who is in the process of doing this. They’re using their same name for both titles, but there was discussion on if they should use a pseudonym for one or the other. That’s a personal question you’ll need to mull over if you haven’t already.

They’re different genres with different audiences. The only thing they have in common is you, so using one to create an audience for the other is tricky. As you post things about your non-fiction novel, you can direct them back to your website where they will see that you write in multiple genres but treat them as the two different beasts they are as your marketing game will need to be on point and there’s lots of books out there that can help.

Check out Rachel Thompson’s book ’30-Day Book Marketing Challenge’ and her site in general. She’s an advocate for many things and the book helps with all genres.

Whatever you choose to do, ensure you take extra care of yourself and any raw feelings the non-fiction book may cause. Choose a pace that works for you and reach out if things become overwhelming.

Good luck!

If anyone has any further advice to give, remember your manners and add something in the comments.

1 thought on “Two Different Beasts

  1. Andrew Butters says:

    Hey there, Question Asker (also waves to Sami-Jo),

    I may or may not be the “someone who is in the process of doing this” as it pertains to bridging the gap between non-fiction and fiction. This is something that I discussed with my publisher and it was their assessment that there likely wouldn’t be any negative repercussions. I publish everything under the same name, whether it’s blog posts, freelance articles, non-fiction, or fiction. My name is my brand and it’s pretty easy for most people to see that I am not a genre writer.

    I’ll be honest, though, I was concerned about my first fiction novel, Hard Truth (a psychological thriller about a misogynistic narcissist who gets trapped in an elevator and receives some comeuppance) having the “Author of Bent But Not Broken” line on the cover (that story being my non-fiction account of my family’s experience with my daughter’s scoliosis diagnosis and surgery). The two titles couldn’t be further apart and I was nervous about the cross pollination that might occur. I was assured that there would be no confusion by the reader and the “Author of…” line let’s readers know that the book they just picked up wasn’t my first. It adds a level of street cred to the name, or so I’m told. The fiction book comes out in November so I guess we’ll see then how it works out.

    I can’t speak to the rest of what you asked, but knowing Sami-Jo as I do I am supremely confident that you can take her slice of advice to the bank. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you good heath and good luck with the books.



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