First, I want to say THANK YOU for making our first week a success! And it's all because of YOU!

Here at NA Alley we love bloghops and this month we're participating of the Blog Me MAYbe, hosted by Sara McClung

Today is Monday and my first post here at the NA Alley. Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about myself. For now, we stick to the Blog Me MAYbe schedule, which is ...

May I tell you something about (New Adult) writing?

Warning: this post may mingle into publishing, not only writing.

I've been on the fight for New Adult for over a year now. I guess you can say it’s been three years, actually, but I didn’t know how to name it back then …

Once, during an #askagent twitter section, I asked an agent if she accepted NA. She told me she saw no appeal on NA, like she saw on the others categories. 

She extended her answer into many tweets and explained YA has the appeal of self-discovery, of first love, first kiss, first time, first fight, etc. All about firsts. Then, she explained Adult had the SEX appeal. Yes, the stories are good and shouldn’t revolve around sex, but, it’s there and that’s what makes those novels be categorized as Adult.

I didn’t reply because I didn’t want to be rude, and she is, in my opinion, a very good agent, so I didn’t want to go against her like that.

But I almost asked her … have you ever watched Greek (ABC TV series), or Felicity? We can also mention Gilmore Girls, One Three Hill, Buffy, Veronica Mars and the first Beverly Hills, 90210 (and many others) once the characters finish HS and go to college. Well, want more drama and problems and firsts and appeal than that? Come on, college age is a great age to explore. It's when you leave your parents' nest. It's when you start facing the world on your own. It's when you have very tough choices to make (career, projects, parties!).

And I only mentioned TV series here. I could make a huge list of movies too!

I was asked many time, but why the damn don’t I write YA or adult and be over with? Well, I could. I did write those genres. I have manuscripts on both. And I even considered changing all my NA manuscripts to either YA or adult—it would just take a lot of time and change some of the central topic of the story—but then, why not have NA? Did you skip the years between your 19th and 25th birthday? No, then why should my characters? It's an important stage of life, like any other.

My voice, my tone, my story and my characters, their maturity level and their problems in life are represented better when written during college age (normally my heroines are 19-21 and my heroes are 22-27).

Agent Meredith Barnes explained to me on her blog, during an #askagent section, that the problem with New Adult is not having a place on physical bookstores.
Her words:
"The reason that New Adult is tricky goes back to the bookstores, actually. Bookstores, particularly the biggies, don't typically have a "New Adult" section, meaning that when the booksellers come to them with a "New Adult" book, the store doesn't know where they'd shelve it. So they're more likely not to shelve it at all.Knowing this, publishers' marketing departments are also a bit stymied because they don't know how best to pitch it--they feel, because marketing categories tend to mirror bookstore categories, that they have to sell the book as an adult or YA. The sales dept will feel this way, too (those are the guys in correspondence with the booksellers/stores).Knowing that marketing and sales feels that way, editors are less likely to be able to champion something that straddles YA and Adult (aka that is New Adult) so they might pass out of hand...and before you roll your eyes at how pedestrian those damn editors are...they're looking at a lot of books that are awesome AND marketable. So it's not that crazy.So, back to us agents. Knowing that editors, sales, marketing, bookstores, etc. all feel the way they do, we're definitely not going to pitch something as New Adult, at least as things currently stand. Unlikely, therefore, to be arrested by a query that claims to be a New Adult."
You can read the whole thing here. She talks a little more about the topic.

So, you see, the problem isn’t that agents don't want it or don't like it (though some will tell you they don’t—but I think that will change with time). The problem are bookstores. Which leads me to this: Hey, guys, everyone pick the phone up now and call the administrative/central offices of Barnes and Nobles and Books A Million, etc, and tell them you want a New Adult shelf. If many people ask, they may consider it LOL well, it's an idea ;)

Anyway. I read every post or article I find on New Adult. I'm enthusiastically cheering for it to become a "recognized" category. And I find a lot of support. Of other writers and of readers. I don't know how it was a few years ago, but now I'm seeing an increase in people looking for NA.

On these posts and articles, many people suggest NA will emerge because of self-publishing. Since self-publishers can put anything they want online, many writers who couldn't find home for their NA novels will publish their work and they will eventually find readership, thus facilitating the recognition of the genre.

Well, I’m all for it! I do hope the e-revolution helps our cause.

Meanwhile, we’re here to support you all and ourselves and share disappointments and achievements. Hopefully, more of the latter ;) No matter what we do and how much we work for it, New Adult recognition won't happen overnight, meaning we also gotta be patient, because this fight will be long ... 

Post a Comment

  1. Excellent post! I didn't really how much struggle there is to get NA published! It's as legitimate a genre as YA or Adult, therefore I can't see how it wouldn't have appeal. It's a great age group to write for - self-discovery doesn't end in high school!

  2. NA seems interesting. I think back when I was writing a collab project, it was actually in this demographic. The main cast was split between high schoolers (including my character; guess who the youngest writer was?) and college students, but we consider ourselves too mature for YA, yet we didn't go all the way into Adult.

    Perhaps I should bring this up with the old group later. Too bad we disbanded before we could get one episode up.

    But self-publishing will be the herald of NA. By the time it runs with it, producing some five/six-figure books, the Big Six will be two years behind.

  3. I'm a supporter of NA Fiction. I consider my years at university and now in my early twenties as the years that I've found out who I really am and what I want to do with my life. I've been more independent and free and it's something I think teenagers should be able to read about.

  4. Yes, it's me, and I still have so much to say about this, so I've pulled from our discussions off-blog and added even more. Here you go:

    The bookstores and marketing is actually a really huge deal on why it's hard to pitch on all ends -- as the writer with the query, as the agent to the publisher, and as the publisher to the bookseller. That is a very real dilemma, and one that needs to be sorted out, but the only way to do that is to write terrific NA novels and stand behind them and make agents say, "Well, darn, this book is so good I want it regardless of the struggle it might be to find it a home." It's also why self-publishing and/or independent publishing is a viable and good option right now; we have the internet, we can sell print copies to people who want them through an online space -- which makes me a little sad, too, because I do like promoting bookstores. There is also the option to shop it out on your own to independent bookstores, if you have the numbers online to back up that it'd be a seller.

    I don't understand why an option, for now, in bookstores is to shelve NA in Adult with tables and promotional end-caps pulling NA out and giving it a little spotlight. I think that would be an extremely legitimate way to both get NA books into bookstores, and begin creating a readership from within bookstores. Once upon a time, there was not a YA or a teen section -- those had to be created and demanded, and it happened. Books with teen narrators were still "adult" fiction because it was usually written from the perspective of an adult reflecting back. YA has managed to set itself apart and become a section, and I think we can do the same with NA if we (a) respect all sides of this endeavor and work together, and (b) work hard, work constantly, and remain patient. Sometimes I think we expect and want too much to change too quickly, and that just frustrates everyone involved in this process.

    I do believe what we’re doing here, with this blog, is an extremely important part of creating awareness, and supporting the writers and the readers. We need to realize, though, that we’ve all signed up for a marathon, and we may have to sign up for a few more, before we see NA recognized in the same ways as other readerships. I think that’s fine, and I even think that’s good. I remember the day I walked into my Barnes & Noble and saw one whole aisle for TEEN readers. I was eleven and that was such a fantastic day. I want that day to come for NA, and I think we can make that happen if we embrace change & always encourage patience and respect.


  5. Preach on sister, cause I couldn't agree more! I love NA. And I just know there is a market for it. If it's a stinking shelf that's holding us back, heck, I'll go to B&N, with a piece of wood, and "nonchalantly" install one myself. LOL

  6. Very interesting to hear that explanation about the bookstores! Sadly, though, it does seem a bit like a vicious cycle: there aren't enough NA books being published right now to result in bookstores creating a separate shelf, so publishers don't recognize the category, so NA book pitches get rejected, which means NA books aren't getting published. I hope that the self- and indie-published ones will, as you say, help the category to get recognized and legitimized!

    Also, on an unrelated note: thanks very much for adding my challenge button to the blog! :D

  7. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful post, Juliana!!!!! The intricacies of trying to not just write, but sell New Adult fiction is something that should be talked about more often. It's very interesting that book stores have such a huge say. I have a theory about it, though. Since bookstores are all going out of business (which I am extremely sad about), this will open the avenue up to e-books and online stores, which can easily accommodate NA fiction and other in-between genres. I think it WILL happen, as long as we continue to draw attention to it. :)

  8. Just out of curiosity, have you ever tried pitching/querying a New Adult novel as an adult novel? I don't mean aging up the characters. I mean trying to get a novel with a 20-something year old characters published as a mainstream novel.

    I agree that we need more novels featuring New Adults, but I don't think we necessarily need a new category for it. I don't see why these novels can't go on a general fiction (or genre fiction) shelf.

  9. @YaelYes, I've done it and been told my characters either needed to be older to stay adult, or younger and make it YA. They didn't want anything to do with a college student story.

  10. Ah, the struggles of pitching NA. I feel ya, sister! :) Here's to hoping this blog helps NA get the recognition and acknowledgment it deserves!

  11. That seems like a very short-sighted view by the agent who made the comment about self-discovery and YA. I think the college years-mid twenties are just as much a time of self-discovery. That's when people are truly out on their own and forced to learn who they are outside their comfort zone. And I think lots of girls experience their first time and their first love during those years. Plus, their first jobs, first roommates, etc. All great story material!

    Keep preaching NA! I'm a proud member of the choir!

  12. @Kyra Lennon
    Exactly, Kyra! Self-discovery doesn't end in high school ... and it doesn't end in college either, though we do grow up a lot at that age ...

  13. @Chihuahua Zero
    You should bring it up again!
    I do hope self-publishing helps our cause, especially now that self-publishing is seen differently than 2-3 years ago.

  14. @Robin Moran
    I also hear lots about people in university reading less because they time is meager. But if you think about it, who reads more YA? Teenagers or adults? Then why wouldn't adults read NA too? I think it would even be more appealing to them ...

  15. @bailey m kelsey
    Like I said before on our off-blog forums, AMEN SISTA! lol

  16. @jaybird
    Thanks, Jaybird!
    And I love your idea! Let's all go to B&N and build a shelf ourselves lol

  17. @danya
    Exactly, Danya, it becomes a vicious cycle!

    And you're welcome!

  18. @Summer Lane
    Aw, thanks, sista!
    I'm also sad bookstores and their imminent end, even if it takes years yet, I think it's going to happen ...

  19. @Yael
    I did too, and the same happened. They ask me to lower the age and make it YA, or go up and make it adult.
    It's sad, but it's true.

  20. @Jennifer
    You would be amazed about who that agent is. But I'm not telling.
    Yup, I think there're lots of firsts during college-age too!
    Thanks, Jennifer.

  21. Nice post Juliana!
    I personally think that those years have often have more self-discovery than the teen years. Or at least that has been my experience.

  22. It's so funny (and upsetting) that so much comes down to shelving in the publishing world. And as a middle-shelfer, I know how frustrating that can be! Especially unfair since these days so many books are not sold on actual shelves! :)

  23. Awesome post lady! I haven't sought out publishing yet, but I definitely did feel that sting when I discovered the bleak reality for my future with the college age characters I wrote. But now that I know there are other options out there for publishing I'm not defeated anymore. I'm excited and I hope that one day I will be able to query anyone and they will know what the heck I'm talking about when I put New Adult on my query letter!

  24. This may help your cause:

    a huge book deal for a 19yo MC.

  25. @Sarah Nicolas
    Isn't that neat? I'm sure it'll help! Yay for New Adult!

  26. @twentysomethingfictionwriter
    That's right, sister! We have other options now and it won't stop us!

  27. @Sharon Bayliss
    Yup, Sharon, I agree. E-books are dominating ... I hope Amazon also open a New Adult search on their website sometime soon!

  28. I recently came to the realization that I wasn't writing YA and it was such a relief! I never felt like YA fit my MS, so it's nice to know what I can call it now. It's a little disappointing to know that not only is the category not recognized and is overlooked, but that it's often purposefully turned down. That doesn't change anything, of course. I'm still going to write what my muse tells me to. :)

  29. I had a number of "firsts" AFTER I left high school, so we definitely can't restrict the firsts to the YA category only! I think (and I hope I'm right!) that NA will slowly become more and more recognized as a category. And blogs like this one are helping that!


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