9+ Non-Fiction Genres that Are Actually Really Different

There are many non-fiction genres but people don’t give it too much thought at first. I guess it’s because the genre breakdowns aren’t as exciting as fiction. Even still, I think they’re pretty cool!

What are the Different Non-Fiction Genres? (Nonfiction?)

Whether or not it’s nonfiction or non-fiction (can someone help me? I really don’t know), if you want to publish a not fiction book it’s important to understand at least the basic breakdown of the genre.

Non-fiction genres

Let’s start with a big list of common non-fiction genres. Ones you’ve probably already thought of.

  • Journalism
  • Essay
  • Biography
  • Memoir
  • Science
  • Technical
  • Opinion (also called op-ed)
  • History

You still with me? Straightforward, ish.

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But maybe you’re wondering why genre matters, why we’re talking about it at all.

If you want to be a freelance writer, knowing the difference between non-fiction genres will be a great asset!

First reason: you will know what type of writing you do (I write bios or I write history, for example).

Second reason: you will know what types of publications to pitch your writing to. If you write op-eds, for example, you’ll go to publications that publish op-eds. Not everyone does so it pays to know this before you pitch!

Third reason: if you’re thinking of writing a book one day, word count changes based on your genre. Yes, in non-fiction genres too! Understanding what you’re writing will make all the difference.

What are the Different Non-Fiction Genres?

Don’t worry, we can go deeper

Once you dive into the wonderful world of non-fiction writing you can get into the nuance of the craft.

Going deeper and refining your writing style by genre makes you a stronger all-around writer. It also allows you to offer more specialized services to your clients.

And, thus, charge more for your expertise.

Here are a few more examples to get your wheels turning. For the complete list head on over to Wikipedia.

  • Creative nonfiction
  • Dictionary/Encyclopedia/Thesaurus
  • Textbook
  • Theology
  • Philosophy
  • Handbook/Guide/Manual
  • Letter
  • Literary criticism
  • Academic

Yes these are all legitimate genres and ways you can write for money. So think big, think outside the standardized package and lean into your natural strengths.

Extra reading: What is Prescriptive Non-Fiction?

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There are many non-fiction genres but people don't give it too much thought at first. I guess it's because the genre breakdowns aren't as exciting as fiction. Even still, I think they're pretty cool!

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There are many non-fiction genres but people don't give it too much thought at first. I guess it's because the genre breakdowns aren't as exciting as fiction. Even still, I think they're pretty cool!