Monday, April 29, 2013

Are you there, New Adult? It's me, Bekah.

Today I'm talking about this New Adult fiction business. What's New Adult, you ask? Well I've been asking the same thing for a few months and over the weekend I decided to get to the bottom of this for my own selfish reasons. I've read three titles that I enjoyed, Homecoming by Nell Stark, LoveLife by Rachel Spangler, and Sheltered By Charlotte Stein. I'm currently reading Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey, but only Jeanette's book was presented to me as a New Adult book.

The New Adult genre has been a thing for a long time. I'll even go as far to say it's been around as long as stories themselves, but recently St. Martin's Press and the rest of the publishing industry decided to slap a title on these stories.  Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the genre (with a little help from St. Martin's and NA Alley).

"New adult literature touches upon many themes and issues to reach the readership that falls in between the categories of young adult and adult fiction. Many themes covered in young adult fiction such as identity, sexuality, depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, familial struggles, bullying[6] are also covered in new adult fiction, but the various issues that are dealt with in the category hold it separate. 

Some common examples of issues include: first jobs, starting college, wedding engagements and marriage, starting new families, friendships post-high school, military enlistment, financial independence, living away from home for the first time, empowerment, loss of innocence, fear of failure, and so many others[7].
This category focuses heavily on life after an individual has become of legal age, and how one deals with the new beginnings of adulthood. Commonly, these themes and issues have been seen taking place post-high school in popular new adult fiction titles, but there are exceptions[8]." -- Yes, I'm citing Wikipedia because they had the most clear definition.

Inside Romancelandia, I've seen a bit of a divide on the subject. Some think this is simply a marketing gimmick, another set of quick buzz words to push something that already exists. And others actually find this is new description to be rather helpful and exciting. I actually fall into both camps. Do I think it is a bit of a marketing ploy? Yes, but honestly that's how you sell things. You use marketing techniques to drive customers to your product. Books are a business. But for me categories like this help me understand what I'm getting.

I want to know if I'm reading about a certain age group or certain themes. A perfect example would be Regency romance and Westerns historicals being separated under the umbrella of historical romances. I love historical Westerns, but I'm not a huge fan of Regency romances. These categories help me find what I'm looking for as a reader. As a reader, I also enjoy reading about the 18-26 age bracket. These romances a bit more mature than YA.

I'm at a point in my life where the Boyfriend and I are struggling to get beyond our college life-style. I mean I have to put in the effort to not stay up all night, watching cartoons and eating junk food. He recently just bought his first car. That was a traumatic experience. It's only been in the last couple of years that I've stopped calling my parents every time something goes wrong. For a while I felt that I was reading romances with characters that we too serious and in periods of their life (secure in their careers, too mature to get swept up in slightly immature (fun and hilarious) situations etc.) that I just couldn't relate to at all. New Adult solves this problem for me as a reader.

What does this have to do with me and my books? I'll tell you. When I first started writing Better Off Red, I realized that I hadn't read many books about characters in college. I think. I wanted to read more stories, particularly more romances with characters that were of college age.

When I first started sending Better Off Red out for submission, I knew I had  unique problem. Now there are Young Adult books with sex. Forever by Judy Blume is one that immediately comes to mind. That book has a lot of sex in it. A lot, but it's a straight up YA novel. It was written for the YA audience and the main characters are in high school. Better Off Red has explicit sex, but Ginger is 18. She acts and talks like a typical New England 18 year old. She's a bit on the angsty side. She's trying to nail down her sexuality and a good studying schedule. Ginger's life just didn't fit in with the standard romances I was reading.

So who the hell was I going to sell this book to? Luckily Bold Strokes was willing to deal with me and Ginger, and that part of the story is history, but then I had to market the damn thing. And that was tricky too. I could say it's a paranormal romance, but it still didn't fit in with the adult or the YA paranormal romances I was seeing out there.

Then along comes this New Adult business and I feel like Ginger and the girls of Alpha Beta Omega finally have a little place where they belong. Where dealing with class schedules and new relationships and parents and vampires all makes sense. So I'm taking a stand or jumping into the pool (thanks Jeanette), and I'm going to say that my vampires series is most definitely New Adult. All of my main characters will be between 18-22. They will all be in college and dealing with their sexuality and their parents and race and the undead.

Yeah. New Adult feels good.


  1. Yeah, I was a little surprised when my book "Timothy" was labeled "new adult"--I didn't know what it was. But I'm down with it.

    --Lord Herren

  2. Excellent article. And very good. I'm still trying to figure out the post college thing (i bought a stove yesterday! A STOVE!) and I'm way older than that. We all love to jump around at times and it's nice to know what age group you're getting into.

    1. a stove eh? im looking forward to my first LG washer/dryer. :)