Stephanie Lawton: “What the heck is ‘New Adult?!'”

Posted January 16, 2014 by Sara | Novel Novice 3 Comments

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If you read and pay attention to trends in the publishing world, chances are you’ve heard of something called “New Adult.” We don’t really focus much on New Adult (or “NA”) here at Novel Novice — mostly because I prefer YA, and since it’s my blog, my rules! 😉

new adultBut it’s an ever-growing new niche in the book world — and has TONS of crossover appeal with older teens and adult readers of YA who want a bit more of a mature story. So today, I am really pleased to welcome back NA author and former Novel Novice contributor Stephanie Lawton with a guest post that’s all about New Adult. Thanks for stopping by, Steph!

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I’m so pleased to be back at Novel Novice, this time as a guest instead of a full-time contributer.

In the past two years since I moved from blogger to author, we’ve seen something amazing happen. An entirely new category has been born, largely out of the wild popularity of Young Adult lit and its readers. Just like the Harry Potter novels started as Middle Grade but progressed into YA as the characters aged, so too have YA novels grown into New Adult.

What is it?

shelf lifeFirst coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2009, New Adult generally covers the 18-27 age range, give or take a few years. Many of the early titles were contemporary romance, which earned it the negative reputation of being “sexed-up YA.” In some cases that’s true, but like anything, that’s a gross generalization.

Here are some hallmarks of the category:

  • Characters leave home for college, job, etc.
  • Characters deal with the independence found in college, including mature situations–both good and bad
  • Characters experience their first serious relationships
  • They often find themselves in a role reversal–taking care of their parents, loved ones, etc.
  • Some characters find themselves dealing with pregnancies or pregnancy scares, marriage proposals and weddings.
  • Older NA has characters who are already established in careers and/or relationships, but are still dealing with life-changing situations.

Initially, agents and publishers brushed off stories of this type as unsellable because there wasn’t an audience for them. Undeterred, the authors self-published. And made thousands. The market absolutely exploded and traditional publishing has been playing catch-up ever since.

Readers, meanwhile, are devouring these titles. Because many NA authors have remained indies, their book prices are lower and they’re much more in touch with their readers, accessible. As the category matures, the options are expanding, too. Contemporary romance remains paramount, but you’ll also find NA horror, paranormal romance, historical, fantasy, etc.

Pick one up

Chances are, you’ve already read an NA novel and maybe didn’t realize it. Obviously, these books contains mature situations and language and they’re not for younger readers, but many have crossover appeal. Authors like Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, Jamie McGuire, Courtney Young and Cora Carmack are mavens of the genre, but there are thousands more.

For more information on NA, it’s history, it’s future and a comprehensive list of titles, I’d recommend NA Alley. They were early pioneers of the category and remain the leading source of information. (I am in no way affiliated.) Their members also help organize the weekly #NALitChat on Twitter every Thursday evening.

About the author

author headshotMy first book, Want, was published in 2012 as upper-YA. It has since been rebranded as New Adult because it contains mature situations. My fourth book, Shelf Life, released Dec. 3, 2013, and is a New Adult contemporary romance/prepper fiction novel. Find me at www.StephanieLawton.com.

Sara | Novel Novice
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3 responses to “Stephanie Lawton: “What the heck is ‘New Adult?!'”

  1. Excellent guest post! I myself have been wondering about what New Adult actually is for a few months now, and Stephanie has done an excellent job of explaining it! I had no idea it started back in 2009, I only started hearing about NA books in the last year. Now I’m off to looking up some titles! 😀

  2. There is so much ambiguity between YA and NA books. While I certainly don’t think 13/14 year olds should even be picking up YA books with main characters that are 17, there are plenty of books that scrape the line between YA and NA that are fine for some high school students, myself included. I generally read “older YA” such as Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols, The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines, or My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, but I’ve read a good number of NA books as well (nothing that is immensely graphic, of course). Easy by Tammara Webber and Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover are NA books that I particularly enjoyed.
    Right now, I’m trying to decide whether or not I should review NA books on my blog.

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