Source: (CC BY-SA 2.0 CollegeDegrees360
The other day, I was skimming through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) archives.

…What? Don’t judge me. *Grins*

Anyway, I found a brochure from 2009 called Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy’. Huh. Not too long ago, right? So, I opened the PDF and had a look at their charts. All I could say was, “Holy sweet statistics, Batman!”

Source: (CC BY-SA 2.0 CollegeDegrees360
You know how I’m always preaching that categories like ‘new adult’ (NA) are around to give us expectations and not to dictate what we read? (I know. This is typically where I bust out my movie rating analogy.) Well, I’ve found something for our friends who disagree.

To some people, ‘new adult’ is a heat-seeking missile aimed at college students. You can talk about demographics until you’re blue in the face, but they’ll still drone on about how the 18-24 market doesn’t read outside of school. They think readership strictly correlates with the age of the protagonist—you know, because that makes sense. [1]
 
The point is: Even if that were the case, their complaints would still be unfounded.

According to the NEA’s Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, literary reading rates for those 18-24 rose 21% between 2002 and 2008. [2] That’s more than any other age range they studied. Of course, if you take out required reading, you’ll have a slight declination, but you know what the NEA calls that? ‘Not statistically significant’.

Maybe that’s their way of telling us to drop it. ;)

© Carrie Butler
Now, let’s go ahead and take the e-revolution into consideration. Since the NEA survey, we’ve seen a boom of e-readers and tablets. I wonder how many of those belong to our young, techno-savvy market? What about computers and smart phones?

…Exactly.  


The 18-24 market may not be the only audience we're writing for, but we shouldn't count them out. They are reading. 

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Let’s summarize with a little Q&A for the blog-skimmers:

  1. Are NA books solely intended for a college-aged audience? No.

  2. But if they were, isn’t it true that the 18-24 market doesn’t read outside of school? No, they’re reading more than they have in years. Check out the NEA study (PDF).


  3. So, categories don’t dictate what we read? *Eye twitch* Right. NA could appeal to anyone. Soccer moms, skydiving grandmothers, men waiting in doctors' offices, high school jocks on the bus to state finals, etc. The category is there to give you a content expectation.

  4. What should I say if someone tries to tell me NA is a marketing ploy? That depends. Is it a troll? If so, do not engage.

    If it’s anyone else, just tell them you respectfully disagree. It’s okay. :)

  5. What if they tell me the 18-24 market doesn’t have enough time/money to read? Ask them if they’ve ever met someone 18-24. They’re resourceful.

    (Then remind your conversation partner of Q&A #3.)

  6. What if they bring up the fact that most Big Six publishers don’t think NA is a real category? Ask them if the Big Six always considered YA a ‘real’ (marketable/profitable) category.


  7. Well, who does consider NA a real category? Check out our Publishing tab.  We have a great listing of NA-friendly agents and publishers.

  8. So, NA is happening? You better believe it! :)
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Have a great week, guys! ♥
1.     Sarcasm.

Post a Comment

  1. Great points once again, my friend. Maybe one day the old excuses will tire. Or maybe they won't and they'll continue to yell the entire time our shelf is being installed, LOL. Oh, we'll. At least it will be there. They'll just have to close their eyes really tight and pretend its not there :D

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    1. I just pictured us darting through B&N all stealth mode, trying to put up our shelf. Haha! Thanks, Victoria. :D

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  2. great article! na is the new ya, ha! it is when they get a little older =)

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    1. Thanks, Tara! :)

      Yes, let those characters move toward the next stage in life! *Grins*

      Delete
  3. Great post, Carrie! Go NA!!!!! <3

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    1. Thank you, Morgan! :) Heck yeah! Go NA!!

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  4. Awesome post, Carrie!
    Love the humor (and the sarcasm =P)!

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    1. Thanks, Juliana! I have to remind myself to behave during these posts. *Grins*

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  5. I think NA is definitely HAPPENING!
    Totally makes sense to me & I love it!

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  6. Awesome post! I think that e-readers have really gotten more people 18-24 to read more. It's just so easy and with indie authors publishing books left and right books are more affordable on e-readers.

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    1. Thanks, Kayla!

      Oh, absolutely! It's inexpensive and convenient. What more could we ask for? :)

      Delete
  7. I never understood why some agents, publishers, and others insist that people will only read about characters their own age or older. I've always read books with characters of many ages—my age, a little older, a little younger, a lot older, a lot younger. It's never been about the age for me, but about the quality of the writing and the appeal of the story.

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    1. Same here! We must share the same name and wavelength. :D

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  8. Very interesting food for thought. Might be a decent topic for my podcast. :)

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    1. Oo, you'll have to let us know if you do. I'd love to hear it! :)

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  9. As a teacher, I feel like kids are reading more. Kids read across the spectrum and so do adults. How many people over the age of 35 read Harry Potter and Hunger Games? I don't care for the moniker, new adult, but I believe that age range is a great market.

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    1. Exactly! We should be connecting with readers who enjoy our work, not bickering over how old they should be.

      Oh, and you're not alone. Many people prefer "Upper YA" or "Mature YA". Whatever works! :) Thanks, Susan!

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  10. This is a great article!! Thank you for sharing! It has my brain exploding with thoughts and ideas!

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    1. Thanks, SM! :) Did you catch last week's #NALitChat? There were tons of NA scenarios tossed around!

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  11. Haha, I love the CliffNotes section for the blog skimmers! Great post Carrie.

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    1. *Grins* I know how Mondays are in the blogosphere...

      Thanks, Jessie! :)

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  12. Ah. The voice of reason.
    Great post! :)

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  13. Look at all the info! I agree that technology has increased readership. Glad to see NA making waves.

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    1. Hooray for technology! :) Thanks for stopping by, Empress King!

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  14. Nice post, Carrie!
    I think it's silly when people say that NA doesn't exist because it isn't recognized by the Big Six. I'm always like, helllloooooo, it's new. It takes time. It's not like one day the entire world and publishing world woke up and said, "Oh, hey, let's all officially recognize YA." Things, especially when it comes to business, take time.

    And it drives me insane when people say college kids don't read. When I was in college, I was incredibly busy. I could get into it, but I will leave it at that. Anyway, I still read. And not only did I read my ridiculous amounts of text that was required for school, I also read for fun. In fact, I probably read more during those years than I had in high-school.

    Well said, Carrie!

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    1. Thanks, L.G.!

      Oh my gosh. I want to stamp "THIS" across your comment. I so agree!

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  15. This whole idea that people only read within their age group is a bunch of hooey. I've seen more 40 year old women drooling over the Twilight hotties than teenaged girls so that blows that idea all to hell. My thing about NA is that it will appeal to readers of ALL ages because that time period in a person's life is so rich--so many things happen during those years that is great fodder for writing. Universal themes, people!!!! Great stories transcend genres and labels anyway. In another five years NA will be all the rage!

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    1. Hooey, indeed! Who says we have to read about characters our own age? It's like you said. Universal themes, people! ;)

      Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

      Delete
  16. I wish you guys had been around a little over a year ago when I first started writing The Gifted. My MC originally started as a 19 yr old, but because I hadn't heard of NA and I saw a lot of people saying DON'T DO THAT, I changed her age to 17. I'm a kinda tempted to change it back=)

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    1. Do it! Change it back. We'll fight for you, Kathleen! :D

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  17. Yeah, what Lisa said. And I read YA, yet I'm an old woman. So whose to say I won't read NA, too. BTW, did you see C. Lee McKenzie's guest post over at Rach Writes. It's about the NA market & she mentions NA Alley.

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    1. First, I don't consider you an 'old woman'. :P

      But yes, I can totally see you reading NA. In fact, you have read NA (mine). I hope you'll read more!

      Yes, I saw Lee's post. It outlined some great points and garnered some much-needed support for the category. Woohoo! :)

      Delete
  18. Some weirdness has just happened here. Am I the only one not able to read this post? It's totally scrambled on my screen, yet I can read the comments.

    I'm guessing what you wrote, Carrie, based on the comments and the responses, but I'd really love to really read this.

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    1. Eek. I haven't heard of that happening to anyone before, but we'll definitely look into it. In the meantime, I'll e-mail you my post. :)

      Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Lee!

      Delete
  19. This is unrelated, but as soon as I read "Holy Sweet Statistics Batman" I knew it was you. Good post, namesake! I learned something! I can't remember what, but I do remember thinking "Ah."

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    1. Hah! I must have a distinct blogging voice. (I hope that's a good thing...)

      Thank you for stopping by, Joylene! I hope you remember whatever it is you learned. :D

      Delete
  20. Great post, Carrie! I'm not at all suprised by those stats, although it makes me wonder why industry peeps are even saying that college students don't read with this kind of info available. Or are they just basing it of experiences from the late nineties and the mentality has stuck around?

    Things that make you go hmmmmm.

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    1. Thanks, Jaycee! :) You know, that's a good theory. Sometimes it's easier to go with the information we've always known, instead of what's right in front of us. Hmmm, indeed!

      Delete
  21. Replies
    1. Thank you, C.K.! I appreciate that. :D

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  23. Great article Carrie, lots of very true points!

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  24. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ciara! :)

      P.S. Congratulations on your release yesterday!

      Delete
  25. Heck yeah it's happening! I don't think readers distinguish between the characters' ages nearly as much as publishing houses do. And to assume people only read about people in their same age range, how silly. Which is why I love that you all are doing such a great job on this site!

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    1. Thanks, Nicki! I love your enthusiasm. It totally made my night. :D

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  26. When I was a child or a teenager, I mostly did not read books that featured children or teens. I read books that featured adults. I might have been in 3rd or 4th grade when I first read The Hobbit, and Bilbo Baggins was fifty years old!

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  27. I'm late to the comment party (wow!) but can I just say I love that you used an NEA article in this? I've actually read that article in the past for a similar argument in a different (academic) scenario. HUH. I can't believe I didn't remember it in all this but I am so happy you found it and have shared it here. Wonderful!

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    1. Research nerds unite! Seriously, that's so cool. :D Thank you!

      Delete
  28. Gah! I don't know what more people want. The books are there, the writers are there. The statistics are there to say that age rage if reading, and even then NA appeals to people outside the 18-24 market. 50 Shades of Grey could fall into the NA category, and look how popular it is. I don't understand why people are still insisting NA can't work, when in fact is IS happening.

    Great research, and fantastic write up of the stats Carrie. :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks, Clare! I think people are just resistent to change. Once NA gets more exposure, they'll see its value. :) Onward!

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