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Why I'm Branching Into YA (Plus a Cover Reveal!)

Photo Credit: Flickr Joaquim Pinho
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

In a recent post I shared that I have a Young Adult (YA) book releasing next March 2015.

I've been writing adult historical romance for the inspirational market for the past four years and currently have six full length novels published through Bethany House Publishers with three more slated to release through 2016 (including an enovella releasing in October to kick off my new lighthouse series).

Things are going relatively well. Bethany House has been an all-around excellent publisher to work with. With all the horror stories out there about traditional publishers, I really have nothing to complain about.

So why branch out? Why bother writing more? Why start writing young adult (YA) books too?

There are many reasons I wanted to try something new and why I chose to write a medieval YA series. Here are just a few:

1. I'm a prolific writer. Once I complete a first draft of a book, I'm always eager to start the next one. In fact, if too much time passes between first drafts, I become somewhat discontented. I'm most satisfied when I'm in the creative mode that comes with the writing process. In addition, my writing muscles are honed after years of constant practice. Thus, I'm willing and able to write more than one book per year.

2. I'm an ideas person. I count myself blessed that I don't struggle to come up with new story ideas. Sometimes I find myself having too many. With the ideas clamoring for my attention, it's difficult to be content with just one genre.

3. I want to have versatility. In today's turbulent publishing industry, nothing is certain. Authors could once count on reaching a sustainable livable income. But once-popular authors now struggle to keep readers and maintain adequate sales. As genre popularity comes and goes, some authors don't have contracts renewed. Others have quit altogether. Having some versatility seems wise in today's market.

4. I'm writing what I love. I love historicals AND I love YA books. With three high school students, I've tried to stay current with popular YA books so that I can discuss the books with my teens. In the process, I've found myself falling more and more in love with the YA genre.

5. I'm fulfilling my dreams. During my childhood, some of the first stories I wrote were about handsome knights, strong castles, and daring damsels. Those fairy-tale like stories have always been at the back of my mind. I've always wanted to write them. The dream hasn't died. It's only gotten stronger, until I've realized I needed to give it birth.

As part of the process of branching out, I had to consider quite a number of factors, including whether I should take a pen name. After all, I don't want to confuse my brand. Most of my readers know me for my adult historical romances, especially for basing my stories off of real events or people. Wouldn't writing medieval YA confuse readers?

After much debate, I decided that since medieval fits under the umbrella of a historical writer, that I'm still staying fairly close to my brand. And I've found that most adults enjoy reading YA almost as much as teens. Ultimately, I believe that my current readers will enjoy my medieval YA as much as any of my other books.

So there you have it! My reasons for branching out into YA!

And now . . . drum roll please! The cover of my first YA, An Uncertain Choice!


An Uncertain Choice

One beautiful lady. Three handsome knights. 
And a life-changing choice.

Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice—if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights—the one who appears the most guilty—had not already captured her heart.

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How do YOU feel about authors writing in more than one genre? Do you give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down? Why?

 

43 comments:

  1. I think this is great news. I actually love to see authors branch out. Good writing is good writing, and when an author I love tries something new, it forces me to follow, and I experience something different, also. Congratulations, Jody. And, I love the cover!

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    1. Thank you, Liza!! I like your perspective! It's tricky because on the one hand readers come to expect something from an author and that's what they want, but on the other hand if we branch into a new genre, then at least they know to expect something a little different.

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  2. This looks great!

    I have NO problems with authors branching into other genres as long as the author has read the books in that genre and knows how to write it and not just because their agent sees it as a way to get into a more popular trend. Not that I think your book would be like this at all, but there's been far too many times I've seen authors put out a YA book because it seems like the thing to do and it's very very clear they've never read a YA book. The book seems exactly like one of their adult books with just a younger protagonist and the subject matter is something that most YA readers (teens or adults who read YA) won't even normally touch.

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    1. Thanks Deborah! I personally wouldn't have even considered writing YA if I hadn't been immersed in reading it over the past couple of years. As I said, I've grown to love it, and as I've written and edited the book, I've also learned a lot about how to write YA (especially with advice from my agent). It's a unique genre and has it's nuances just like every other genre. :-)

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  3. I'm really excited about your decision and very much looking forward to reading An Uncertain Choice! Congrats! :)

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    1. Thank you! I hope you'll enjoy it! :-)

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  4. This is good news. I'm a fan of writers branching out if they do it properly, with research and attention to detail. Yes, you're writing in a different genre, but it's still historical and still stays true to what you've already built for yourself. I'm looking forward to this one.

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  5. Congratulations!! I love the cover and premise for your YA story. I think it's awesome that you're branching out into other genres. Because historicals tend to have younger heros and heroines as a whole (my next heroine is 18), I've always felt YA and historical romance are close cousins (if not siblings). :) Have fun!!

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  6. This sounds fantastic! The cover is really good and makes me excited to read! But now I have to wait :(

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  7. Thank you for writing for young people! I love your cover and the story sounds awesome. If you need an influencer, I am ready and willing! :) I also have 2 teenage daughters that would love to read this book! Have a great day!

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  8. This is great news! I always say that it is too long between the releases of your books, and this YA books sounds fantastic! I love the cover. Can't wait to read it!

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  9. I think it's great to branch out. And it kind of looks like your in the same genre just adding a whole new audience!

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  10. I think it's wonderful when authors can and do write in more than one genre. I do it myself. I think it allows the author to grow in so many ways, to be able to shift gears and write something interesting for another entire readership group. It also allows the readers to branch out as they investigate the other genres a particular author writes in.

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  11. I think writing in different genres would be something I would want to do as an author. I hope you do well as you shift gears slightly and follow a dream! Being the mother of a ten year old reader....I love that people write lots of different kinds of books! :)

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  12. Love the premise of your new YA. Looking forward to sharing it with my daughters!

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  13. Big thumbs up! I know of plenty of successful authors in the children's publishing world who write for different ages. Jane Yolen, Kevin Henkes, even Suzanne Collins. I don't see why anyone should limit themselves to one age group or genre.

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  14. Love the cover--and the premise! Congratulations. Looking forward to reading the YA books.

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  15. Love that you're branching out, Jody! And I can't wait to read An Uncertain Choice!
    I admit, YA medieval romances are my weakness. :) I've devoured every book Melanie Dickerson has ever written, and I'm ecstatic to have one of my favorite Historical Romance authors (you!) added to the genre! Congrats!

    #fangirlingthatgorgeouscover

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  16. Congrats, Jody! I LOVE(love) this cover art and am all the more eager to read your debut in the YA market - it's so exciting to see Christian authors tackle this genre since before hand, it was virtually untouched in the market. Looking forward to your take. :)

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  17. You could write cookbooks and I'd read 'em! :) Congrats on the exciting voyage into YA; the story sounds awesome and I look forward to reading it! (And the cover is beauuuuutiful.)
    God Bless you and your writing,
    Kerry

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  18. Two thumbs up! I will follow a favorite author across any genre. Super excited to read this one!

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  19. Even us old grannies enjoy YA if the story is good and the writing strong. I look forward to reading this!

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  20. YES!!!! Two thumbs up! Can't wait to read it!

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  21. Thumbs up because writers are so creative. Why be limited to any one genre? And great cover, Jody!

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  22. First off, your new book sounds great! If you end up needing an extra influencer, I'm available. :)
    Someone else actually brought up this topic recently, so I've already been thinking about it for several days. Here's what I've concluded (and yes, it will probably be long, but bear with me, there is a point): I personally, have no problem with authors changing genres, or at least trying new ones. I've never understood the mentality that an author must stay in whatever genre they started with. Everyone grows, their likes and dislikes change, they reach a new stage in life, they find something new they enjoy, and authors are no different. When one of my favorite authors decides to step out of the norm and try something new, I will almost always follow them (sorry, no Amish), and at least try their new book. No promises I will love it as much as their other ones (I am a creature of habit, after all, and it sometimes takes me a bit to switch over), but regardless, I will applaud their effort. So, by all means please, try something new, stretch your writing wings and see what happens. Who knows, you may find you're soaring. :)

    ~Sarah

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    1. Hmm, actually wasn't as long as I had anticipated. :)
      Oh, and I forgot to say that I love the cover for your new book!

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  23. I'm probably biased being a writer myself, but two thumbs up for me, you have to please yourself first, even as a lay reader I respected an author's need to branch out, and often authors who branch out reach readers they wouldn't otherwise. There are positives to that.

    If a horror writer wrote in a genre I'm apt to read (no horror elements) I'd more be willing to give it a chance.

    There are times we need to branch out of what we usually do, and while there's more to consider for authors like you and my friend who are WAY further in their career than I am (I just sold my first middle grade novel two years ago, and I'm still working hard with my editor on it) the stakes aren't as high in some ways, I still feel that your creative needs as a writer still have to come first.

    Yes, the readership you've built up, that matters (that's still a dream I'm working toward) but you're also not serving your readers if what you bring to the proverbial table isn't the best you can give and has the best of where you are as a writer right now in it.

    As long as you're still writing the books you're known for you'll be fine, this YA might be a miss with some of your loyal readers, but like you said, many might still be keen since this is still within the genre they know you for.

    It's not like you're an erotica author who now writes picture books.

    I have a writer friend who also writes a lot of YA, and she started out writing for younger readers, so her situation was a bit different from yours, like you she also struggled whether or not to have a pen name, but she decided it was necessary in her case as she first got published via magazine stories and picture books for younger readers.

    When she began writing New Adult books she needed the pen name so younger readers searching her wouldn't find her New Adult books before they were ready. This was a couple years ago, and she's still struggling to know what fits under either name outside her picture books.

    I wish I felt more open to writing YA myself, romance or not, but I'm more at home writing for readers under 13. That might change someday. I do read and enjoy romance, though, just outside the YA arena.

    Some of my stores do have a love story, but it's usually a subplot and doesn't fit the mold of traditional romance.

    I'm probably different than most readers my age (Older than 18, younger than 30) as I never clicked with YA much, even when I was a teen myself, story too long to share here! (LOL)

    Anyway, congratulations, nice cover, and I hope all goes well.

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  24. An author should write whatever she/he is led to write. The genre difference shouldn't really be an issue. You have already proven yourself to be a very gifted author, and branching out into different directions is only natural. I love seeing you venture into YA fiction. Your audience will most definitely increase, and more people will have the opportunity to enjoy your work. The cover for "An Uncertain Choice" is very inviting! Looking forward to many more books authored by you!

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  25. Thank you ALL so much for your words of encouragement today and the thumbs up for what I'm doing! It means the world! I've enjoyed reading all of your comments and thoughts! :-)

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  26. Fantastic, Jody!

    I'm branching into YA myself, this year, and expanding from purely urban fantasy to steampunk fantasy, with Lady Raven. Like you, I decided that my existing readers would probably be perfectly happy with my own name appearing on the new books.

    I kind if like seeing authors try their hand at different settings and genres. I take it as a sign they're not getting stuck in a rutt. Sure, not everyone will enjoy the new genre, but it does help to broaden your audience.

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  27. I am really excited about your YA series. Would you be willing to share some other great Christian YA authors/series with us? I've been looking for some great books, but am having a hard time finding Christian ones.

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    1. Hi Heather, the CBA market currently doesn't publish much YA. In the past, it hasn't sold well so publishers are somewhat hesitant to take a risk on it. In the past year or so, I've seen a little more. Check out Harper-Collins Christian Publishing "Blink" line. http://blinkyabooks.com/

      Melanie Dickerson has also written medieval YA and has some really good books with Zondervan. Anne Elisabeth Stengl writes YA fantasy for Bethany House.

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    2. Hi Heather - butting in here ;-) Look for Lisa T Bergren's River of Time series (time travel/medieval) and her YA dystopian, Remnants (also published by Blink), Erynn Mangum writes fab contemporary romance YA, and you can't go past Jenny B. Jones' YA books. Amy Clipston also has a couple of YA books. Plus what Jody said!

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    3. Yes, thanks for chiming in about Lisa's River of Time books! They are VERY good! My daughter couldn't wait to get her hands on each book as they released!

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  28. I absolutely love YA books (I write them myself!) and can't wait to read this one as well. I think it's smart to write under your own name. I actually like it when authors branch out and try different things. Your author voice will probably still shine through--in a good way. Good luck with this next adventure!

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  29. I think you would be perfect for writing YA. I agree, as authors we need to diversify. We wouldn't want to get in a rut. Once I retire from my day job, I plan to do delve into other writing besides middle readers/tweens. I look forward to reading this book.

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  30. For me it depends on the author...but usually as long as they stick to the Christian base the rest of it doesn't matter as long as it sounds intriguing! :) As far as the depending on the author part, where you are concerned Jody, you are AMAZING!!!! I absolutely LOVE A Nobel Groom and couldn't get enough of it! I could read it over and over again and the way you tell a story is SO Fantastic!!! So in my opinion as long as I'm interested in the genre to begin with you can write in whatever time, theme, place, genre, whatever, and I'll want to read and review it! :D Thank you for using the gifts God has blessed you with and sharing them with us! :)

    Many Blessings, Amada (pronounced: a.m.a.th.a )Chavez

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    1. Hi Amada,

      Thank you for the very sweet words! I'm so glad you liked A Noble Groom! :-) Now I'll hope that you like this new YA series too!

      Blessings to you too!

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  31. Great to see you expanding into another genre, Jody

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    1. Thank you, Rel! I'm hoping kids AND adults will like the new series! :-)

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  32. Jody, I'm looking forward to your entry into YA lit. Lisa Bergren writes in both adult & YA. Can't wait to read this book -- will you be doing a blog tour? If so, please count me in!

    Carol G

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  33. I plan to do the same: write in more than one genre. Good luck, the book looks fantastic!!

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  34. I have visited the castle featured in that photo- its called Bodiam, named after the village where it is located, in East Sussex, and dates back to the later 14th century....

    Have to say though that don't like covers of Medieval novels that seem too whimsical or cartoonish- I prefer a little more realistic- but it is good that Christian Medievals seem to be getting more popular. I wonder if the major publishers would accept British authors of these...?

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