You’ve heard of the phrase “elephant in the room,” right? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s an obvious major problem or issue that people avoid discussing or acknowledging”. Heh. Sounds a lot like a certain underserved market in the publishing world…
 
Today, I’m talking about the New Adult (NA) stigma. 

Writers are often discouraged from writing in this yet-to-be-established category because it’s too risky. Agents and publishers are looking for solid, saleable books. There’s no market for it. There’s no—

Whoa, hold on. It’s not saleable? There’s no market? I beg to differ.

I think we’re seeing more and more support for this category every day. People want to read NA/Upper YA books. The problem is shelving.

I don’t know about you, but I refuse to miss out on awesome stories because writers feel disheartened by the odds. It’s not as if the publishing industry doesn’t like NA; it’s just that they need numbers, reasons, proof that there’s a following before they'll get on board. So, that’s what we’ll give them.

I don’t think you guys realize how much power you have as readers and consumers. If you buy it, they will bend. (Read that again and imagine me whispering it Field of Dreams style. If you buy it, they will bend… *Grins*)
 
First things first, we need more visibility. If we can’t start with physical bookstores, we’ll start with their digital counterparts. There’s plenty of “shelf space” there. All we need is for one of the so-called giants to agree. The rest will follow.


This is where I’d love to hear your ideas. How can we get NA out there? Start an e-mail campaign to Amazon, asking for NA or Upper YA to be made a separate category? Send post-cards to B&N headquarters, requesting the same? Eat cookies until we come up with a better plan? Let’s hear it, ladies and gents! :)

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  1. They say word of mouth works best - just keep touting it.

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  2. @Alex J. Cavanaugh Amen to that. :) Thanks for stopping by, Alex!

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  3. Great post!

    We need a periodically-updated NA reading list and a list of 'NA authors to watch,' too. I'd love to have a web page somewhere to send readers and fellow writers who are interested in promoting NA. :)

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  4. Awesome post Carrie! There is so much we can do as consumers. We just have to band together. This blog is a start :D

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  5. I'm not much of an idea gal, but I think just blogging about it will help. I also think the terminology of Upper YA (rather than NA) might help, as well. All these kiddos who've been reading YA are growing up and going into college, and they still want to read about characters their own age with similar issues, so it's just plain stupid for publishers and retailers to overlook that market. I know there's that whole worry about college students not having the time for leisurely reading, but come on, they still want down time and many still enjoy reading, so why not NA/Upper YA? More than anything, it's gonna take a breakout title in the NA genre to force the market to acquiesce, kind of like HP & Twilight did for YA.

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  6. @Nancy Thompson
    Talking about terminology, Nancy, I'm not a fan of the New Adult term, as I think Young Adult is not a good term either (or do you consider 14-15yo a young adult? I sure don't).
    Agent Sara LaPolla has a good post about terminology and new adult.
    http://bigglasscases.blogspot.com/2011/10/putting-a-in-ya.html
    Unfortunately, those terms are out there already and we have no way to try and change them now =(

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  7. I agree with everyone here ...
    Word of mouth, blogging, tweeting, and e-shelves and self-publishing is what's going to change the game, but it's going to be a slow change.
    And I kind of agree with Nancy about having a breakout title to force the market to recognized NA ... I just wonder if agents/editors are open to taking chances ;)
    I know some agents and editors are looking for New Adult, but I'm not sure they will fight for it as passionately as we would like them to.

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  8. I'm so happy to see someone talking about this. Like Juliana, I agree with the others suggestions and I think it's smart to hone the power NA readers. I wonder how much impact a self-published, free e-book anthology of NA short stores would have. I wonder if it would help readers understand what it is and why they might like it.

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  9. Wow!!! So glad to have found this site. I have been sitting on a fabulous manuscript - if I says so myself and I do - for two years. It has only one flaw - okay maybe a few minor imperfections, but only one flaw - the story is about a girl who is twenty. I've met with agents and editors and fellow writers. Everyone likes the book, the concept, the characters but not the age. I've been told to rewrite the story and make her 18 even though it's about college life. It seems ridiculous to not have books about 20 year olds out there, but they are few and far between. I hope NA takes hold and gets the word out there.

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  10. I think you guys have already done something amazing for NA. I think the key is acting like it's real until it is. :)

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  11. @Melissa Thanks, Melissa! We try to keep the Recommended NA Reads tab up to date, so you could always start there. :)

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  12. @twentysomethingfictionwriter Heck yeah! The NA supporters need to stick together. :) Thanks, Victoria!

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  13. @Nancy Thompson I hereby volunteer to write that breakout title! All you guys have to do is read it and force it upon your non-reading friends…

    Okay, so it’s not a perfect plan. *Grins*

    Seriously, though. You’re right. We need a push to gain momentum! :) Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

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  14. @Juliana Haygert I agree, Juliana. Thanks for the link to Sara's post!

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  15. @Juliana Haygert Slow and steady wins the race, right? ;)

    I have similar feelings. Maybe we should corner a bunch of them and bust out some Celine Dion. *Grins*

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  16. @Natasha Hanova It's nice to see you over here, Natasha! :) You know, the thought has crossed my mind...

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  17. @Sharon Bayliss Thank you, Sharon! I'm with you there. "Fake it 'til you make it!"

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  18. @The Resident Heretic Oh, we definitely feel you there, TRH. We've all been advised to change our characters' ages at one time or another. Unfortunately, that shifts everything in the book. After a few tweaks, the story is almost unrecognizable.

    If we want to truly connect with our readers, we need to write what's in our hearts. Maybe if we all work together, we'll find a way to do that and thrive. :)

    Good luck with your manuscript!

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  19. That's interesting because the publisher that sent me the R&R called my book NA. Totally a market out there.

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  20. @Donna K. Weaver Oo, is this the book that takes place on a boat? I had no idea it was NA. How cool! :)

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  21. We should all eat cookies, Carrie. Cookies. :D Seriously, I think we at the alley are doing something for the category by exposing it to bloggers and writers and readers. If everybody chips in to some degree, whether by reviewing NA or simply purchasing more books with NA characters, I do believe that the market will open up a bit more.

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  22. @Summer Lane Yes! I was hoping someone would agree with the cookie idea. *Grins*

    Good point. As they say, "Many hands make light work." :D

    (...What's with me and the phrases today? lol)

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  23. I think getting a breakout author will announce NA to the world, but gathering momentum with a strong web/blog presence can make it a force to be reckoned with way before that. Giving it a "new cool factor" will get more people talking about it. If there was some way to do a college campus campaign to introduce the countless students to NA, letting them know it's there, it's awesome, and it's on the verge of blowing up! Love the site and I'll start by posting a button.

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  24. Love what you're doing here!

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  25. Oh, new adult! Yes, I have heard of that and I know several writers who just got book deals to write it!

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  26. So great to find this site. I've just put together a blog post for Rache Writes about NA and will be sure to include a link to you.

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  27. I am really enjoying your site. I've been pitching a NA novel for the past few months and I keep hearing that it sounds YA, but it's not YA. One agent says she's been trying to find a place for one of her author's NA novels and is coming up short.

    I do think the term "New Adult" is part of the problem. For one thing, what does it mean? It's confusing to people not in the know. Also, it's difficult to search on Google. You get a lot of 'new adult fiction" instead of "New Adult fiction," if that makes any sense. I think "Upper YA" is a better alternative. Or maybe we should stop being so obsessed with labels...yeah, not gonna happen :)

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  28. The most effective way to create shelves space is to go in a group of at least 2 people to book stores, small and large, and ask to speak with the manager. Telll the manager that you will be happy to come the next day and help to move books aimed at ages 20-30 years old. Especially it will be effective at small independent book stores. Once you do it in one small book store .. take picture of the new shelves and post it here, and go with the pictures to Barnes & Noble. I agree with Julie that the term "New Adult" is problematic. I know it's difficult to come with an appropriate catchy term .. but it should be something like "20/30 Adult" . Not a good term. I know. We have seven briliant NA women here and many more briliant commentators who can think and think about a better term that NA.

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  29. @Michael Pierce Those are fantastic points, Michael. Thank you! We really appreciate it. :)

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  30. @Talli Roland Oo, really? Hopefully we'll get a chance to have them over sometime. :) Thanks for stopping by, Talli!

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  31. @cleemckenzie That would be fantastic, Lee! Thank you. :D

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  32. @Julie
    Thank you, Julie! It's great to have you here. :) Oh, we know how that goes. Frustrating, isn't it?

    Oh, yes. Labels create a great deal of confusion when it comes to this category. I wish we could all agree on one and move on from there... *Sigh*

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  33. @Giora Unfortunately, I don't have any brick-and-mortar bookstores near me. I'd be interested to see how others use this idea, though! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Study the Paranormal movement. How did that start? How did it come about? I think you could find some ideas there.

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  35. I hate to say I finally gave up on writing NA. I had such bad luck with agents and publisher because my MC's were 18. I wish there was a bigger market for NA, because 18-21 is a fun age to write.

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  36. @Emily R. King I can't say that I blame you, Empress King. Trying to get NA traditionally published is frustrating.

    I do hope you try again, though, once the category takes off. We need your voice! :)

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  37. I am really liking this "upper YA" thing. I think it is definitely a category all it's own and I love that genre! There is definitely a place for it and I have no doubt that it'll start to have its own section on the shelf before long. As for ideas.... I'll have to brainstorm! Lets make a picket line outside B&N!!! :D I'll bring the cookies!

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  38. @Leigh Covington Cookies? I'm there! :D

    Thanks for your support, Leigh!

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