The truth is, as a first time writer you are more likely to make money out of non-fiction writing than fiction. And if you write genre fiction (horror, sci fi, thriller, crime etc) then your chance of either getting picked up or making money drops even further.
Many fiction writers don’t consider non-fiction as an option for an alternative income stream. They would much rather slog away in an hermetically sealed glass building dodging office politics all day. Also the propensity to downgrade the value of anything you know a lot about, just because you know about it, means you might be cheating yourself out of a great second income.
If you pick up your local writer’s market guide you will see that there are significantly more non-fiction publishers than fiction. Their print runs and advances might be smaller, but they take on more books than some of the small fiction presses, and highly target their markets, meaning that when they print your book it will be more likely to sell.
I know you are thinking; but who wants to read a book on ‘making up excuses for getting to work late’ –if you have found a need to get good at something, there is a big chance that there will be others who also want that skill. I would recommend steering away from ‘serious’ topics (self-help, medical etc) as these require you to have recognised qualifications (obviously if you have the qualifications then go for it).
The other thing to consider is that non-fiction books are the big sellers in the self-publishing arena. Self-published books that have put their authors on the best-seller list include ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, ‘What Color is Your Parachute’ and ‘4 Ingredients’ –all non-fiction!
And what better way is there to meet publishers than by getting published? Just remember, you need to enjoy what you write if you want to write well, so choose wisely.