T-Zero: Have you always been a writer? Do you have any particular background or creative writing courses that you draw from?
NH: Even before I went to kindergarten, I remember running around with little pieces of paper I'd scribbled on. So yes, I think I've always been a writer. When I was in high school and college, I loved researching and writing term papers,which is probably why I enjoy writing non-fiction articles today.
Although I didn't take many creative writing courses in college, my degree is in English--which means I did a tremendous amount of reading. For me, being a writer means being a reader. Reading good writing--whether fiction or non-fiction--always inspires me to improve my own work.
As you know, many non-fiction writers dream about writing fiction and I'm no exception. I've taken several fiction courses through Writer's Village, and find they also help my article writing as well. My favorites are the series on Mythic Structure.
T-Zero: Tell us exactly what a Niche Market is.
NH: A niche marketis a specialized market. As a non-fiction writer, I'm interested in awide variety of subjects, which makes me a generalist. However, I learnedlong ago that editors are more comfortable working with you if they feelyou are highly skilled and informed in their particular niche.
It occurred to me that although I am a generalist, I can specialize in several different niches. I picked the areas I know the most about, and went about presenting myself as a specialist in those areas. For example, I wanted to write about genealogy,so I started a genealogy newsletter and built a genealogy-related Website. Both positioned me as an expert, and helped in getting some ofmy first genealogy assignments.
T-Zero: You've developed several of your own niches; genealogy, collecting and computers. Did this develop from a special interest you had in each or did the interest develop once you found the market?
NH: Those particular niches were based on my own personal likes. However, I learned to develop my own "niche within a niche" in each of those fields. For instance, althoughI've been interested in genealogy since childhood, I positioned myselfas an expert on Internet genealogy. Because I've been online since 1986(my first subscription with CompuServe), it was easy to call myself anonline expert.
I've had computers for years, but it wasn't until I bought a Handspring Visor--they're like Palm Pilots--that I really got interested in writing about computers. My first articles were on using Palms for various hobbies. I sold pieces on Palms for astronomy, Palms for health and Palms for genealogy. Once I had my footin that particular door, it was fairly easy to get other computer-related assignments.
I'm a great believer inwriting about things you really enjoy. Why go after assignments that you'regoing to hate writing?
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