New Adult: Here to Stay?

Photo credit: midnightglory on Flickr
If you keep an eye on the publishing pulse, or otherwise are a writer on Twitter, chances are you’ve heard of the emerging categorization of New Adult. 

While there have been many definitions and speculations on what exactly the category entails floating around the internet, I’ve found the one off NA Alley to be the most helpful: 
“Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence—a life stage often depicted in Young Adult (YA) fiction—and true adulthood. 
Protagonists generally fall between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, though exceptions may apply. NA characters are often portrayed experiencing: college, living away from home for the first time, military deployment, apprenticeships, a first steady job, a first serious relationship, etc.”
For more information on what NA is all about, check out their full “What is New Adult?” page, which has a great explanation. 

Far more interesting than the actual definition of the category, to me, has been people’s opinions on NA (which range from we don’t need it to where have you been all my life?) and people’s expectations of where NA will go from here. 

Right now, NA has been pretty focused on contemporary romances such as Cora Carmack’s Losing It and Faking It, Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster and Tammara Webber’s Easy, which is fine, but I’d love to see it expand to other genres—and I truly believe that it has the potential to do so. 

But as agent extraordinaire Suzie Townsend said in her post on New Adult and different genres, where the category goes from here will depend entirely on the readers. And to me, that’s an exciting prospect. 

The eighteen to early twenties segment has always been difficult to break into—a large part of the reason most of the characters I’ve written about until recently are about seventeen. Many publishers were convinced that readers didn’t want to read about characters within that age bracket, and so it went largely ignored for a long time. 

But now self-publishing has changed that. The massive success of self-published NA novels has brought attention to the previously unmarketable age range, and now people are starting to pay attention. 

In essence, readers have created New Adult, and whether or not it evolves and grows will depend largely on readers’ reception of this new category. 

And to me, that is something very special. 

What do you think? Is New Adult a fad, or will it continue to grow and change? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do you think New Adult is a fad, or is it here to stay? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog! (Click to tweet)

Why one writer thinks readers are making New Adult something special. (Click to tweet)


Melissa Maygrove said...

Great post!
My historical WIP is NA, so more genres are coming...
(If I can ever get it published. :P)

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Melissa! And I think that's fantastic—I look forward to watching NA expand into other genres. :)

Carrie Butler said...

An exciting prospect, indeed! :) Thanks for the NA Alley shout-out, Ava!

Ava Jae said...

Absolutely! Thanks for the great NA breakdown—I, for one, have been referencing it quite a bit as the category has started to expand.

Carrie Butler said...

Yay! That makes me happy. :)

RoweMatthew said...

This is me! I never felt comfortable with the YA label as my characters are older, swear freely and face more adult challenges. I'm a New Adult fantasy writer! Yay!

Ava Jae said...

Awesome! :D Yay!

Margaret Alexander said...

I am literally crying out for an expansion in the New Adult market. My main pet peeve with young adult is high school, which I try to avoid as much as I can, because I just don't like writing about it. I love young adult, but outside of the typical high school setting. So I love New Adult because of all the opportunities. You can still be playful and young and silly yet cover serious topics about life, love, etc. And as it's hit big with contemporary romance I'm really hoping it goes elsewhere, like you said. Great post, Ava!

Ava Jae said...

Thank you, Margaret! I agree entirely. With one exception, I usually find ways to get around high school, because as you mentioned, it's not the most exciting thing to write about. New Adult really does open up a world of possibilities, and I look forward to watching it develop.

AJ Davis said...

Thanks for the breakdown and the links to NAAlley. I've been trying to understand what NA is since I heard the category.

I have to agree with everyone else, NA just seems so natural. There is an obvious gap between the usual YA stories and Adult fiction. I hope to see more.

Ava Jae said...

Glad to hear you found it helpful, AJ! I agree entirely and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how NA evolves over time. :)

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