How Writing Romantic Fiction Helped My “Serious” Writing Career

Ghostwriting romance novels was my dirty professional secret. Then it became something to be proud of.

As a full-time professional writer (copywriting and ghostwriting), the bulk of my time is spent writing nonfiction. My days are spent drafting everything from website content for retail brands to blogs for pharmaceutical executives.

But my nights are devoted to fiction — ghostwriting romance novels for book publishers. I also write fantasy under a pen name.

I used to keep my fiction writing under wraps, considering it “unprofessional” compared to the “serious” writing I did during the day. Then I was interviewing for a ghostwriting position for nonfiction books — and the interviewer asked me if I had ever completed a full-length book project.

I hemmed and hawed briefly. The publisher I was interviewing for writes “serious” nonfiction books, covering topics from finance to healthcare.

And then I spilled the truth. I explained that while I had never written a book-length nonfiction work (although plenty of shorter long-form nonfiction), I had written multiple full-length fiction books.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

The interviewer was thrilled. My fiction experience showed them that I had the dedication needed to power through a full manuscript. It testified to the fact that I could produce a comprehensive outline — and stick to it. And, above all, my fiction writing testified to my storytelling ability — something that’s relevant in nonfiction too.

Long story short, the thing I had considered my “dirty” professional secret, ghostwriting romance novels, ended up netting me one of my best recognized and paid gigs in my “serious” writing career. It was an invaluable launching point.

Since then, I’ve gone on to work on several nonfiction book projects. Meanwhile, I continue to write fiction at night.

But I don’t let my fiction writing hide in the shadows anymore. I share it openly, explaining how it’s helped improve my writing and transformed my writing career. And most people are genuinely curious and want to know more.

Is my fiction writing the best paid out of all the writing gigs I do? Absolutely not. It’s hands-down the worst, if I’m honest with you. But I genuinely enjoy the process. And I recognize the value it holds for my career as a whole. So, in my book, it’s well worth it.

Thank you for reading! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.

NOW that that’s done… I’d love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments! You can also connect via my blog:



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Alison Kilian

I’m Alison & I tell stories! ​I’ve been writing professionally for 10+ years, crafting everything from CEO blogs to bestselling romcoms. I ❤ a good story!