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Let's talk about this.
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:23 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

About a month ago, I attended an industry event solely devoted to New Adult books and authors. Why is it such a hot genre? Why did it come into existence? 

It was really interesting to hear the perspective of editors and agents, but I want to hear what you think: the writers and readers of NA. Why do you write NA? Why do you read it? Let's talk about this.
Also, I want to share a really nifty summary of the genre that was formulated at the event:  
This category of novels—from overnight sensations like Jamie McGuire, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Nicole Williams, Cora Carmack, and Tammara Webber—is aimed at the post-high school and young professional crowd, a consumer base that previously hadn’t been an editorial focus. 


BC coordinator

Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:44 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

*cough* MARKETING PLOY *cough*
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 10:51 AM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

Here we go again..... angel
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:40 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 2

I simply don't see the need for labels. Everyone always tries to categorize things. Could not someone in an older bracket relate to the "new adult" genre by reflection. It should just be called fiction.
Lucy Silag
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 2:24 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

I think of New Adult as a bit of a "workaround" for  novelists who want to be able to write freely about sex, drugs, and anything else that might scare off parents, teachers, and librarians (who buy a great deal of the genre for their collections).  If we can have a genre that is expressly for over-18s, then we don't necessarily have to worry about the politics of the content being marketed toward young people.  Since most kids and teens "read up," then those young adult readers who want to read about more risque subject matter will find their way to these titles.  I'm kind of excited about this development in publishing myself!

--edited by Lucy Silag on 7/2/2013, 2:27 PM--

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 2:22 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

dgsutter wrote:
I simply don't see the need for labels. Everyone always tries to categorize things. Could not someone in an older bracket relate to the "new adult" genre by reflection. It should just be called fiction.


I see what you mean--categorizations can be frustrating. I respect that.  

 Personally, I think they are necessary, because they make it possible for readers to identify the kind of stories and novels they like to read.  



For example, if both fantasy and romance novels were just "fiction," it might become hard for fans of both to find appropriate reads, especially since the two groups' tastes don't often overlap. =)


I think of New Adult as a mash-up of contemporary romance and young adult fiction, but it's at an early point where it could take a different direction! It's exciting to be able to witness the evolution of a genre.


I think that someone is an older bracket can definitely relate to the "New Adult" stories; in fact, even though I'm in my twenties, I am a voracious reader of YA myself. =)

--edited by Nevena Georgieva on 7/9/2013, 2:26 PM--

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:32 PM
Joined: 7/18/2013
Posts: 2

I think New Adult is an interesting concept and may be a necessary genre. So many teens, especially younger teens and tweens, are reading Young Adult. The characters are usually no older than 19. I have two teenage daughters (ages 16 and 19). They both enjoy Young Adult novels, but the older one is getting tired of reading about high schoolers. She made this observation, "I'm tired of reading about girls in high school who meet the love of their life or have it all figured out finally at the age. I don't think that's realistic. So many of my friends have not and did not meet their ideal mate in high school. They are still looking. And they are not sure what they want to do with their lives yet. Several have changed their majors several times already and have only completed their first year of college." I think there is a need for New Adult novels, even if labels seem unnecessary. A lot of the novels that are not categorized as Young Adult are aimed at older readers, not people my daughter's age. She enjoys those other novels, but is searching for novels about people and subjects to which she can relate. I'm not so sure that these novels have to have explicit sex scenes in them (she actually said she would prefer if they didn't have to be so explicit), but I do think that there may be other people like her who want novels that deal with college, finding careers, romance, first jobs, and identity.

Beth Marie

Lucy Silag
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013 9:23 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Great point, @Beth Marie! I love what your older daughter had to say about how YA books often end on a note of total resolution (ie finding the love of your life in high school and having all your big decisions made). We all know that life changes A LOT between the ages of 18 and . . . well, every age! The PG-rated, unambiguously happily-ending conventions of many YA novels are appealing to lots and lots of readers of all ages (including me!). But as readers, we might also sometimes want to read fiction that explores the real drama that accompanies transitioning into adulthood.


I wish that this genre had been around when *I* was a new adult! It would have been gratifying to see the things my friends and I were going through reflected back at me in an entertaining way.


When I was a student of writing, all my teachers told me not to worry about genre. "Just write," they said. "Your publisher will figure out how to sell your book. Your job is to write a book that you love, and that's good enough that someone might want to sell it."


Because of that I sometimes chafe at the idea of strict literary categorization, especially during a time of so many genre-bending books and crossover hits (50 Shades, Game of Thrones, etc.).


However, I also giddily adore the Book Country Genre Map and its accompanying flags for all the literary categories. There's something in me that really identifies with certain genres as a writer and a reader. I think of BC literary categories a little bit like Girl Scout badges for reading or writing--with hard work, you can collect them all (though you had more fun earning some than others).


Having a quick literary categorization also makes it easy to talk about a book--not just for publishers and booksellers, but for fans. I know this because my favorite thing to do is to tell people about what I am reading--and if I can't describe it quickly, they lose interest and want to move onto a new topic (like the aforementioned Game of Thrones). Do you think that's part of the reason that literary categories have become such a defining factor for writers and publishers?


Maybe I am getting a leetle bit carried away with how much I love the BC Genre Map, but I also just love the metaphor that this is a world with open borders. Readers and writers can move around the map freely, galloping through Western in the morning and flying over to Travel by nightfall. In a way, genre is also about self-identity, and saying, "I choose this genre not because the book wouldn't necessarily appeal to a diverse crowd, but also because I love the ethos behind this genre and want to be a part of it." But that doesn't mean you don't want to be part of other genres, too, or write a book big, powerful, and ambitious enough that it has the ability to fly the flags of many genres at once.


So I guess this is suffice to say that I think genre's cool, and genre-bending is cool, and flouting genre conventions is cool, too.  At the end of the day, it's really just about how good the book is, and how willing I was to read to the end.


@Beth Marie--What are some of the New Adult books your daughters are reading these days?




--edited by Lucy Silag on 7/20/2013, 2:18 PM--

C M Rosens
Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 11:20 AM
Joined: 5/8/2013
Posts: 25

I think I might write "New Adult" fantasy, because the characters are in their 20s - that wouldn't be the primary classification for my novel, however, but if an agent or editor specifies they represent NA fiction, it's the first thing I'd say about the genre of the story.


Mercenary labelling for query purposes aside, I do see the benefit of a smaller bracket within the more general "non-teen fiction" or "adult" fiction category. Psychologically, it's a fact that people in their 20s are going through a distinct phase in their life as they move from being teens to being "grown up", and, generally speaking, it's in your 20s that you find out who you really are as a "grown-up", how to stand on your own two feet, and make all the mistakes and stupid decisions that eventually (with a bit of luck) turn you into a more responsible 30-40 year old.


Personally I would class NA as specifically about 20-29 year olds, maybe up to 31/2 at a push. Am I right?? It depends on the level of the character's maturity, and the kinds of things they discover about themselves. Even if it's set in a fantasy world, the issues that emerging adults face are cross-genre and should be relateable. People mature at different rates depending on their background and circumstances, personality, environmental factors, and so on. That's exciting ground for a writer to explore, and if it helps to put a label on it, I don't have a huge problem with that!





Lucy Silag
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 12:07 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Interesting recent debate about New Adult on the Huffington Post:


Critical of the New Adult genre viewpoint is here, and a pro-New Adult viewpoint is here.


Posted: Monday, September 2, 2013 4:23 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

Thank you for starting this thread Nevena. I'm getting ready to send out my WIP, and I think it falls into this category, but it seems to me that no two people have the same definition of what it is, so how can I be sure? Is it just the main characters' ages? Is it tone? Voice? Do all the genre's fit underneath this new label? indifferent

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 9:17 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

The interesting thing about this debate is that I come to it from the other side: I conceived of the novel then wondered if I could tweak it to fit into a New Adult framework. The really useful thing about it was that the idea of what a New Adult novel should contain helped me figure out where the plot was going. I don't think I'd have gone for the whole motherhood angle I'm swinging for in (albeit in a very weird way), but I think that without the concept and ideas of the genre Dyson Academy would be very different.
Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013 4:46 PM
Joined: 7/18/2013
Posts: 2

Some of the New Adult my daughters (ages 16 and 19) are reading (and me too):

Easy by Tamarra Webber

Between the Lines by Tamarra Webber

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I also read Wait for You by J. Lynn but did not recommend it to my daughters because the sex scenes were too explicit for me to want them to read them. Not every young girl has sex in high school or even early college years -- and so I prefer books for my daughters that explore the more mature themes of self identity and dealing with college and independence without the somewhat explicit sex scenes. My 19-year-old can read whatever she wants, but she does not have as much time to read fiction while classes are in session (she's a pre-pharmacy major) and she says she does not want to read that right now. 

Angela Donnell
Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 11:10 PM
Joined: 6/5/2012
Posts: 2

I like the concept of having a "New Adult" category.  Somebody here mentioned  that they would be more prone to write "New Adult" fantasy.  I can see that happening with this genre.  I wouldn't be surprised if it went in the fantasy/science fiction direction.  Think about it.  What if J.K. Rowling wrote about Harry Potter in college instead of as a teen?  I believe it would have been the same phenomenon as it was.  What I'm saying is that the biggest and most popular Young Adult books are fantasy series.  Part of the reason I wrote my novel was because I felt that I was too old to relate to Young Adult books or even enjoy the fantasy ones because the main characters were teens.
Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014 8:55 AM
Writing exclusively for Yuppies?  We'd have to learn the cool jargon, overloading sentences with all the belabored words and phrases currently in vogue, such as tons of, iconic, memes, tweet, twerk, back in the day, hashtag, arguably, reticent, logarithm, etc. Every genre has its own particular language, which the writer must learn in order to be successful. Some enterprising writer will publish books on how to write for each genre, like the "Dummies" books, perhaps even one titled, "Idioms for Idiots." Writing strictly as a business, dancing gingerly on the razor's edge of a mercurial Zeitgeist, presents many new opportunities for young writers equipped with bloodless lexicons and regarding the art of writing simply as a career choice.
Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:25 AM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195

New Adult confuses me because when I was one I had already been reading ordinary fiction categories for years...not just science fiction  and mysteries, but political novels, thrillers (mostly spy-related), etc.    Do today's high school students feel they must limit themselves to YA?  Don't they just go on and read whatever they find that they like, beyond that?   (Confession...by high school, I hated the books aimed at high schoolers--quite a few of which I'd read in junior high--and didn't read some of the really good ones until I was beyond "New Adult" and into plain old adult, by age.  In my era, YA for girls was aimed at making girls feel comfortable with settling down into service jobs or marriage.)  Other people in my cohort who read for fun (not all did, of course) had also moved straight into ordinary adult-level fiction, and we were finding favorite authors and topics and genres that we continued to read in for the next ten years.   I can't quite get the notion that books are like grades in school--you're supposed to read this one when you're 18 and that one when you're 20, and this one when you're 24...


But then, I was a transgressive reader as early as elementary school, reading a wide variety of books that were not written for whatever age and grade I happened to be.  Once I was out of high school, with access to a big university and big city library, I in a constant state of reader-fizz, surrounded by more books than I could possibly read, even leaving out the boring ones.  (Boring at the time, anyway.)   I read all the time...but never looked for books written for (or about) people my age. 


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