Happy Monday!

It’s Bailey here today. We're starting our weekly posts today, so you can look forward to getting a new post from us at least every Monday (occasionally we'll have surprises for you mid-week).

From the title you can guess a little bit at what I’m going to talk about today -- I mean, it’s a pretty self-explained title: “Getting into NA.” But I want to take it a little further than just all the big things and little things you can do to learn about NA or be involved in promoting NA or writing & reading NA. I think we, as a blog, cover all of that pretty extensively with your Resources and Recommended Reads pages, and certainly with our posts.

Today, I want to focus on writing New Adult and I want to focus on how you can maybe begin considering if you actually write NA fiction and if the category is the perfect fit your book(s) and characters and your readers. 

During the first month, I read a lot of a comments on the blog to the effect of -- “I’ve never really heard of / considered New Adult, but it really does fit my book well! I’ve been trying to make my book more YA / Adult for the market -- I’ve been getting letters saying I need to age up or age down -- but this NA thing sounds pretty nifty!”

I get that. I remember the first time someone asked the question on Twitter, “Do you write New Adult fiction? Are your narrators between 18 & 29?”

And I said yes. To the second question.

That question & answer exchange on Twitter prompted all of this for me -- learning about New Adult and how this category was making its way onto the publishing stage; researching if New Adult really fit my book & my characters; joining this blog to promote the New Adult category with all its facets.

Today I want to say two things, and the first thing is this: I wasn’t immediately sure about New Adult. I wasn’t sure whether or not my book was actually New Adult or just a younger Adult narrator. And I think that’s OK. I think it’s perfectly OK to be curious but cautious. Especially as a writer.

I just write the stories I like to tell (like every writer I know). In the beginning, I knew my characters (18 - 24) were too old for YA and I was hoping they wouldn't be too young for Adult. I've read a small grouping of adult books/series with characters who are in their younger twenties, but their voices sounded older to me. Which isn’t inaccurate, exactly. I’m blessed to have a few younger friends, in their late teens & early twenties, that are “old souls”. But the two narrators I’ve focused on in the last three years -- one is 23, one is 19 -- they have life experiences and independence, sure, but they don’t quite know what to do with these two things.

And beyond that -- and really, I think it’s the beyond that that makes the stories worth telling in the first place -- both stories are about strong women in  urban paranormal settings. These stories deal with death and suicide and abuse and mental illness and loss. These stories deal with family and love and lust and happiness. And above everything else, these two stories really deal with all kinds of fear. These stories are so much more than the age of their narrators, and  yet, it seems like age is all anyone gets hung up on in the end.

The second thing I want to say is that the “New Adult” category -- while I think a very important category-- is rooted in the publishing sphere of the fiction world. To get a little philosophical on you, I’ve never much cared what age the narrator was so much as I’ve cared about the story being told & if the issues and conflicts are ones that I’m interested in being told. It’s why I like YA and Adult fiction -- both categories tells stories that deal with all the things I love to read. An actual book is about more than the age bracket we fit it between, but that doesn’t mean that an age bracket shouldn’t exist or doesn’t have a readership. The publishing sphere of writing is very important & very influential, and discussing and confronting these gaps should be equally important to us.

Since my initial, timid wade into NA, I have decided that New Adult is actually the right fit for me, and for my books, and for my characters, and maybe most importantly, for whatever future readers I may be lucky to have.

I do think writers should seriously consider the NA category for their books with younger adult narrators; and I think writers should seriously consider the other themes and motifs that fit well within the NA category when deciding if their book fits here -- because while age is a good place to begin classification, I think a category is about more than that (and that’s something that’s been touched on here and elsewhere and I’m sure will be discussed further but there isn’t time for it here & now in this post).

And regardless of whether or not you feel what you write or read is an NA story, we should all be here to promote the emersion and inclusion of a wide-range of narrators in an array of life-moments.

Post a Comment

  1. Good post, B!
    I agree with you. NA is much more than just age, and the decision to write "NA" shouldn't be made just using the characters age. Motifs, themes, the characters experiences...all of that influences the category. And these "old souls" sound interesting ;)

  2. Excellent post, Bailey. I agree wholeheartedly that (especially when crafting a story) age shouldn't really be THE point. Let the journey of telling the story dictate how we feel about the characters and how they grow and change. Not how near or far they are from puberty.

    I wanted to write an NA story (although at the time I had zero clue that's what it would be called :) because my most pivotal years--the years I actually grew into the person I am right now--came during college. Not in high school. I know lots of people have really formative years in secondary school, but I didn't. I was too busy being a kid to grow up. I realized I couldn't be the only person that felt that way.

    I now have nieces and nephews in that 18-24/college range, and it struck me as silly that there just weren't that many stories for those people. If you were college-aged, you either had to read "edgy" YA with a few curse words and maybe a couple of "guilty" sex scenes, or you had to go straight for the house-spouse, vampire porn. (Being dramatic to prove a point. lol)

    Where was the stuff for normal burgeoning adults? Where was the stuff for the people who are living mature lives even if they aren't ready for it? When do the people who are many times on their own for the first time in the big world have someone write stories to them, about them?

    Anyway, I'm very excited to see it catching on (can you tell?) and am eager to contribute to it if I can. Really glad you ladies are banging the pots and pans. Hopefully it'll bring some good attention.

  3. One of my concerns about labeling certain of my books New Adult is that I write (20th century) historical, and thus, up till a few decades ago, people of the NA age group would've been considered adults, period, just as the average teenager earlier in the century would've been considered more or less a mature adult as well, not a "young adult." Would a modern reader still consider a book New Adult even if the characters are married, running households, and having babies, even if these are first-time experiences for them as part of their becoming adults?

  4. @E.J. Wesley I agree with what you've said here, and saying much in response would just be me repeating exactly what you've already said. Seriously, you nailed it for me here.

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  6. @Carrie-AnneI think that's an extremely relevant question, Carrie-Anne, and it's also a question I don't have the answer to.

    It's been said on this blog a few times already, and I'll repeat it here now, but NA is a response to the publishing industry not necessarily wanting to publish novels being written with narrators in a certain age-range. I think historical actually might fall outside of that generalization because I've read a ton of historical novels with younger narrators, and I've found those in both the YA and Adult section. This starts to also get into Bildungsroman, which is about coming-of-age but is a more adult literary term. It's why I think Catcher in the Rye is still an adult literary novel even though Holden is a teenage narrator. It's also why I think it doesn't ultimately matter where things get shelved because people are going to read what they want to read & what they like to read.

    But the major issue here -- what we're trying to address as a blog and what the NA category has been created to address -- is that there is NO SHELF SPACE for these books & their narrators. (Obviously there are some exceptions but, as they say, exceptions don't make the rule.)

  7. @bailey m kelseyI want to add here, Carrie-Anne, that I think it also is very important how the WRITER approaches the age of the narrator.

    It probably wouldn't be too hard for me to make my 23-year-old narrator "more" adult -- whatever that might mean. To me, she is an adult, but to some very influential players in the publishing business she isn't quite old enough yet maybe. Like I said in my post, I really don't know if that narrator will swing as a younger adult narrator or if her age & her outlook will really have a negative impact on my abilities to query when I'm at that stage. I'm not writing her to fit into any shelf at this point, I'm writing her as her. And a very important part of her is that self-awareness of naivety I think we all begin to develop in our early twenties -- when we really begin to understand our limits as adults and human beings. And then the response to that to become more self-aware, more self-sufficient, and more responsible humans. It's a struggle between growing up & actually understanding what it means to be a grown-up.

  8. Well said, Bailey! NA includes a wide array of genres, just like MG, YA, and Adult. That's the fun of NA, and part of the frustration. I wish publishers would see how wide a market it really is, instead of trying to age the MC's up and down to fit the existing markets.

  9. @Emily R. KingSeriously! Thanks for stopping by & commenting -- there is as much that can be explored in the NA category as there can in other categories, and I rarely meet readers who actually read for a particular age. Most readers I know prefer genres and themes and, heck, even narrative style over the actual age or age-appropriateness of a book. I think much of the publishing / writing world needs to also recognize that categories, while helpful, don't entirely define who reads what. There is a reason adults read YA novels and why teens and kids still love the classics.

  10. Nifty post. ^_^ I think it's going to be interesting to see how the publishing industry deals with NA, though I think it might be a while before it really gets acknowledged. We need a few really successful books in NA to get the word spread. But hey, these kinds of things usually start small and build, and getting people together at a blog like this might be just what we need.

  11. Amen, Sista!
    I totally agree with you, especially about the age thing. It's like saying that all NA books should have a college as setting. Just because it's college-age, doesn't mean our characters need to go to college. I know a lot of people who didn't go to college ... also, think about YA. I remember reading lots of YA books that aren't set in HS or any kind of school.

  12. Wonderful post, Bailey! This should be a must-read for everyone on the fence. :D

  13. Great, post, Bailey! And I agree with Mason. It's really going to take some break out books and banding together to make this thing happen!!!

  14. @Mason T. MatchakMason -- I agree that these things start small and build, and obviously I think getting this blog together was a right step in the right direction. I also think it will be more interesting to see how the big players in the publishing industry "deals" with NA and the rest of us writers who proudly claim NA because we also support indie and small publishers, as well as self-publishing. I think more than most groups, and definitely more than most as a very great first option. That necessarily changes the relationship the biggers houses may want to have with us.

  15. @Juliana HaygertMhmmm -- I think my next post might take into serious consideration what else goes into NA. Maybe an "ask the readers" type discussion post so we can all get to talking about how else this classification should be applied beyond just age. And how to differentiate for those narrators that are more on the fence between YA and adult.

  16. @twentysomethingfictionwriterDefinitely! And we all here have a great opportunity to promote both the banding together and the break out books (as you know, but I think I should state the semi-obvious for readers of comments).

  17. Great post. I agree that NA is much more than about the age of the characters. I write romance, so it's about the steam levels, too. A little hotter than YA but not quite as hot as Adult. It's multifaceted for sure. :) Love this category, it's taking the publishing world by storm right now! It's long over due! LOVE IT

  18. @LynnRushI believe there will be a discussion about what all else goes into the NA category other than just age -- levels of content, I suppose. Obviously that's very subjective, but I think also a very important discussion to have. I don't think everyone need agree, but I do think it should be talked about -- and I'm definitely going to seek you out for your input.

  19. This was an awesome post, Bailey. I remember when I was writing a novel last year and my characters were falling into the ages between 18 and about 27. Once I started blogging, I noticed that there was actually a small category called 'New Adult,' and I remember being beyond thrilled. NA deals with more graphic things than YA (although I've seen YA stretch its age boundaries considerably in the last few years with edgy themes). Like with drinking or language or whatever. But that's reality in some cases, and especially with the NA age group.

  20. @Summer LaneI think the drinking thing could be very interesting -- there is a stigma that comes with turning 21 and most people assuming younger adults magically turn into crazed party beasts. There is a certain "Now that everything is legal, what will happen?" aura around younger narrators in NA (I'm thinking 18 - 25 here).

  21. @bailey m kelseyOr, as someone put it to me the other day, "If you're in high school and punch someone, that's severely reprimanded & used to teach a lesson. If you're an adult and punch someone, that's assault and you can go to jail now."

  22. @bailey m kelsey

    OH yeah. I'm all for that :) I love talking all things NA for sure. :) It's such an exciting new space out there. :)


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