Blog Me MAYbe

May I tell you something about the New Adult category?

NA Alley hopes that everyone had a good weekend! Welcome back to another week of Blog Me MAYbe.
Last week, Juliana posted here about NA. I also want to discuss some of my views on the emerging category, so here we go. I really hope that those of you who may not like the idea of the NA will give this post a chance.

I have heard and seen a lot of resistance from authors and readers regarding the NEW ADULT category. The main point in the resistance, from what I can gather, is that they feel that adding NA restricts readers and authors more and that those who are a part of the NA world are causing more restrictions.
Here’s the thing: The New Adult category is a response to agents, editors and publishers. Honestly, at this point the NA category isn't a choice for those who want to remain true to their vision. 

NA has formed because there hasn’t been any other choice. NA has formed because the very market that doesn’t have the bookshelf space to sell NA—and therefore making publishing NA in the traditional manner very difficult (see Juliana’s post)—has pushed out novels because they don’t fall perfectly into the traditional categories. 

Personally, I would have been fine having my “NA” novels in the upper YA or regular adult category. And I know quite a few other writers who agree.  After all, there is a ton of upper YA that crosses into NA and a lot of “regular” adult that could also be considered YA. But if the “NA” is being pushed out because it doesn’t fall into a traditional category, then it needs to be recognized as its own. 

But here is what happens (often) to those who try to publish novels viewed as NA:
They are told to lower the age of the characters (which would also cause the rest of the novel to be reevaluated because you can’t change ages much without needing to reevaluate the character’s goals, motivations and reactions) so that they fit into YA or to up the ages (and often times add more sex or sexual elements) so that it fits into adult. 

New Adult isn’t something that was created to restrict readers or writers. It was created because the publishing world left no choice. It is a REACTION and a RESPONSE.
Maybe some writers are willing to change the ages, and maybe that works for some stories. Though, I do believe that if you can simply make a 22-year-old into a 16 or 17-year-old without making some serious changes in the novel something is wrong. I’ve wondered how much agents and publishers think of that when they suggest changing the ages because the reality is that if there is that much of a drastic age change, the story isn’t going to be the same story. 

But for those writers who want to tell the story they want to tell, well, now there is an option. The publishing world is what restricted readers and writers, and New Adult provides a way for those writers to write the stories they want and actually will make it even less restrictive for readers.

And, for those who do want to read about a very important time in our lives, then what’s wrong with giving them a direction to look in? We have it for teens, why not for the next and just as important stage of life?

Post a Comment

  1. Every post like this gives me hope! I seriously considered bumping my NA characters to YA, but the story wouldn't ring true.

  2. I love the New Adult category. CMP owns six of my NA novels. They are behind this new space big time! It'll happen. Remember, write what you love, that's what I did when people kept telling me to change my character ages....:) There is hope for sure! Always hope.

  3. D.G., there is hope! As LynnRush said, write what you want to write. This is just going to keep growing and growing!
    Thanks for reading and commenting, Lynn! And you are so right. It'll happen! I'm so happy that CMP is around and doing so much of the NA stuff!

  4. Very awesome, L.G.! :) This was a cool post!

  5. I'm so glad I found this blog. I completely agree that you can't just change ages and leave the story as is :)

  6. You & I have discussed this at length, and there isn't anything I can really add that you haven't already said here better than I could say it. Creating a new category or genre of New Adult is not a limiting factor -- it is an expanding factor, and it on our shoulders to make the publishing world & the reading world aware of the wealth of stories that exist in this space.
    I'm very glad to be a part of this blog, and I'm very glad that so many of y'all out there are supportive of the NA category. I also am happy that those of us writing and reading in this space are willing to stand strong for what we want to write and read, and not change our tastes or styles because of some industry standard. And as my boyfriend very eloquently put it last night while discussing this very thing: "What do publishers know? What does anyone in the entertainment business ever know? Plenty of record companies refused the Beatles and we all know how that turned out." Mostly I like that he compared NA to the Beatles.

  7. Beautifully said!

    I, too, was told to add more sex and violence to make my book more adult, so that it could fit neatly into the adult category. Guess what? Not everyone wants to only have to choose between adult and young adult! Some people DO want something inbetween.

    I don't think it restricts readers because readers can look at as many category shelves as they want. If anything, it will mean there will be MORE books and different types of books to chose from. And if there's more books, there needs to be more shelves anyway. For those who have something specific in mind, it will also make it easier for them to find exactly the book they are looking for.

    At the end of the day, readers should be able to read what they want. Whether we think their tastes are "narrow" or not, who cares? If they only want to read books ab out space aliens with pet collies, that's on them. At least they would be reading....

  8. I completely agree with the sentiments in this post. Somehow I think that those who suggest a writer "just" age characters up or down doesn't realize how difficult that is, and how much unraveling and reconstruction that requires, sometimes of more than one book.

    While doing a significant rewrite and restructuring of my first Atlantic City book recently (it was too short and most of the original Part I consisted of chapters introducing each character instead of telling any actual story), I decided to make the characters' ages ambiguous, though it's known that they're under the age of 12. I had reasons of my own for doing that, though I don't think many books can successfully have ambiguity around the age.

    I always liked shows about college-aged characters when I was in my teens, and was disappointed when many of those shows (like Saved by the Bell: The College Years) were cancelled before the full four years. Granted, some of those shows did give what I later discovered was a very inaccurate depiction of college life, but not all movies, shows, and books about those in-between years are full of clichés and stereotypes. I probably would've enjoyed books about characters my age at that age.

  9. I was wondering, do you guys know that "new adult" is actually invented by a publisher, when that publisher called for authors to write in this genre?

  10. I must return to add to this discussion that a few years ago I was working on a novel idea (one that's shelved for now but I do still genuinely enjoy) and when I first imagined & began writing the story, the characters were college-aged. Then, I aged them all down for no real reason other than I just felt this pressure from everyone I talked to. I'd say, "Oh yes, they're in college..." and then immediately I'd hear, "Oh, why not just high school?" So I tried it and it completely ruined the whole story arc -- so much so that I put it down & walked away.

    Working through my current WIP has made me realize the problem was listening to other people say, "Why not just high school -- that's easy and there is a market for that." I think ages are integral to characters, and I learned from that experience that they aren't just random even if at the beginning I didn't know exactly why it was so important that my characters were in their late teens and early 20s.

  11. "Personally, I would have been fine having my “NA” novels in the upper YA or regular adult category. And I know quite a few other writers who agree."

    Yup, I'm one of those writers, but like you've pointed out the current traditional publishing industry doesn't support that. With my NA book I wanted to write about a 20 year old character. It wouldn't at all be the same story if I aged the character down (or up, for that matter). I'm so pleased that there are now options for stories that don't fit into the traditional publishing framework!

  12. Celine, yes wwe are aware of that. I want to say it was St. Martins, but I could be wrong.
    Thanks for the comments everyone!
    Becca, I remember your struggle with that (struggle in the sense of them telling you to change ages). And it totally worked out with your original ages! And readers should be able to read what they not and not be restricted.
    Carrie, it is a huge change! I always wonder if people think about that before suggesting drastic age changes.
    I will add more soon but I have to run for a bit

  13. Hey, what are your thoughts on demographics in general. A couple members of the writer's forum I'm at don't have a high opinion of them in general.

  14. Every time I hang out in the 'Alley, I want to high-five everyone. Such great discussions going on here!

    I wouldn't mind pitching my NA books as Upper YA or Adult. As long as the category is acknowledged, I'm happy. :)

  15. Well said, L.G.
    Like Carrie said, I want to high-five everyone!
    If we keep this up, if we don't lose hope and be patient, we can do this. New Adult is going to be recognized ;)

  16. C.K, thanks for the comment! I think there is a large # of us who feel that way. But I am glad that there is also a large number of us who want to support each other in NA recognition!
    Bailey, I know what you mean. We discussed that quite a bit, and you are right--it isn't the same thing when you change the age. Could you imagine kitty-man (lol) being 17 instead of his early 20's? Even though he would still be "by the book", it wouldn't be the same. And neither would it be with Vera or Connor.

  17. @lgkelso Seriously. I am giggling at what teenage kitty-man was like, though. I bet he was a bit fumbling without knowing it.

  18. Hear, hear! I was told many times to age down my college freshman character and I struggled with it because it really changed the story. It doesn't seem right that 18-20 year old's can't be represented in books. :) When I really accepted that it was NA and didn't try to push it into YA, THAT's when I started to get full requests and ultimately a publishing contract.

  19. @CelineYes, we know this. St. Martin's Press started it, which we've discussed on this board before...I'm thinking the first post. I actually entered this contest, too. There were lots of great entries. :D

  20. You make an excellent point here, LG! If you can easily change your characters, then something is seriously wrong. :D

    Great post!


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