Learning to skate – A.G. Henley

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By A.G. Henley

Writing in two genres with one pen name feels a little like learning to skate. You need focus to keep both feet heading in the same direction, and if one or the other foot catches an edge, you could find yourself in a free fall to the cold, hard ice.♥

Up to now, I’ve written young adult novels under my pen name, A. G. Henley. My Brilliant Darkness fantasy series is complete, and I’ve published several short stories in anthologies with an author/publishing group. I’ve enjoyed writing YA, and I plan to continue to publish in the genre, but I also found I had an itch to write new kinds of books, particularly for adults. So March 22nd, I’m branching out into the adult publishing world with The Problem with Pugs: A Love & Pets Romantic Comedy. It’s the first in a planned series revolving around characters with seriously funny love (and pet) problems.

Once I decided to change genres, a lot of decisions needed to be made. One of them was whether to publish under A. G. Henley or create a new pen name. Starting a pen name felt cleaner. Readers would know what to expect from that name, and Amazon’s algorithm wouldn’t get confused and direct YA readers to my new books instead of rom-com readers. On the other hand, author friends who had used more than one pen name told me it was a lot of work. New website, new social media accounts, starting an email list from scratch. And after all that, the new name wasn’t always successful.

Ultimately I decided to keep one author name. Here were my thoughts. First, I’m a practicing psychologist as well as an author. I barely have time to keep my social media accounts active for one pen name. How would I keep up with two? Second, I’ve been indie publishing for six years, and I have a pretty solid fan base now. I made the USA Today bestseller list last year, something a new pen name would not be able to claim.

We’re all fighting for exposure and readers in the indie market; I can’t afford to lose momentum by starting over. Plus, I reasoned, my YA readers might be happy to give my romantic comedies a try, too. The jump from YA to adult rom com isn’t that vast. Both series feature young women trying to decide how they want to shape and live the rest of their lives. The main difference between them is the protagonists’ ages and stage of development.

With my Love & Pets romantic comedy series yet to release, I’m not sure if I made the right decision to publish under my author name. I hope I can publish regularly under this name in multiple genres. I want all my books to find readers who love them and want to stick around to read more. But that might not happen. My skates could go in wildly different directions, and I could epically flop. If that happens, I’ll be disappointed, but I will have taken a chance and learned from it, which is a big part of being a publishing entrepreneur, and a big part of a life well lived.

So for now, my skates are pointed firmly forward, ready to negotiate any bumps in the road that may come.

Wish me luck.

A.G. Henley is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and fantasy novels and stories, including the Love & Pets romantic comedy series. The first book in her young adult Brilliant Darkness series, The Scourge, was a Library Journal Self-e Selection and a Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. She’s also a clinical psychologist in Denver, Colorado, but she promises not to analyze you . . . much.


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