Happy Monday, blog readers!

Here in the Alley, we love to bring you news about all the great happenings in New Adult every week. But we also want the Alley to be a place for discussion, and with that in mind, we asked the Alley community to email us questions for a Q&A session.

This marks the inaugural launch of the Alley’s Q&A Quarterly -- every season, we’ll be answering your questions to us about New Adult. These questions can be about anything: reading, writing, publishing, marketing, blogging, and so on.

For today’s session, we divided and conquered. Remember, seven NA sisters contribute to this blog & the NA community, and while we agree on so much, we are still influenced by our own experiences. Our answers are our own.

Note that question-wording has, in some instances, been changed to protect anonymity. The heart of the question was unaltered. Questions have been answered in order received.

So, let’s get to your questions!

Carrie, Question 1
Q: Since I write historical fiction, I’ve been wondering if the NA category would apply to historical books. The kind of early adulthood experiences my historical characters go through would be things like marriage, having children, and starting to run a household; things the average contemporary NA-aged reader probably wouldn’t relate to doing at the same age. Do you see much of a market for historical NA?

Also, because it was recently suggested to me, I’m wondering if historical teen characters could be considered NA because the 1940s or 1920s version of a teenager was more like today’s version of a late teen or early twenty-something. What do you think?

A: Absolutely! I think New Adult would lend itself well to historical fiction. Over the years, societies have experienced great shifts in roles and responsibility. It's only natural that we loosen our guidelines to accommodate.  I would say:

  • Yes, a historical story with characters transitioning into adulthood—regardless of their ages--would most likely be considered NA. In fact, I know someone who is writing in this particular niche as we speak. Her main character is a teenager. ;)
  • For me, the 'early adulthood experience' is more of a gray area. If the voice leans adolescent and the plot forces the main character to adapt a new (adult) way of life, then yes, I would consider that NA. Otherwise, you might have a better chance marketing it as an adult novel.
Thanks for your question! :)

Juliana, Question 2
Q: NA is such an in-between genre. What would you say is the oldest the main character could be?

A: Usually, I would say to keep the main characters' age between 19-25. But, as with everything else, NA has exceptions, and people have different opinions. In adult books, you'll see characters who are over 25 years old, and that was sufficient to set the book apart. Nowadays, this separation depends not only on age, but also on the content and the theme of your manuscript. It depends on how your character reacts to the situations s/he is in. So, the main character might be 30, but acts more like 20. (Though, I would cap it at 30 years old, even if the main character acts younger.)

Victoria, Question 3
Q:  What is the stance on sex in a New Adult romance?  Is sex okay if it’s not explicit?  Is sex okay even if it is explicit?

A:  Well, I just love seeing this question!  I write NA romance, so I see this talked about quite a lot throughout the social networks.  I find it easier to just put it this way:  think about all the Adult romances, and even some YA romances, you’ve read or heard discussed.  There are different degrees of heat.  In Adult, here are some of the common classifications you see:

·      Sweet romance, sensual romance, spicy romance, and erotic romance.

All of these can vary from:

·      No sex

·      Closed door: You know what’s about to happen, but the author doesn’t show you

·      Fade to black: The “act” starts, but then the author doesn’t show you

·      Complete scene, but many euphemisms

·      Complete scene, but no graphic words

·      Complete scene, but with graphic words

·      Erotic

The list really goes on and on.  The same goes for YA.  Some YA books include sex and some don’t.  With each one that does, they vary in heat level.

With regards to sex in NA, relate it to Adult romance standards.

·      You can have a sweet story.  Example: Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

·      You can have a sensual story. Example: Wasteland by Lynn Rush

·      You can have a spicy story.  Examples: Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens, Easy by Tammara Webber, or Abbi Glines’ While it Lasts

·      If you want an erotic story example, there’s a pretty popular one out right now with a silver tie on the cover. ;)

All of the above NA titles have sex scenes, but they all vary in the way they’re handled.  From sweeter to hotter.

Either way, whether you’re a reader or a writer, it’s about what you’re comfortable reading or writing.  If you want NA with sex scenes, it’s out there to read, and if you don’t want to read NA books with sex, that’s out there, too.  There is no standard, just like with Adult romances or YA romance.  If you’re looking to read a certain heat level, there is one out there for you!  All in all, yes! Sex is okay in NA!

I hope this answers your question.  Leave a comment below if you want recommendations on varying heat levels to read, or if you have a question about my answer :D

L.G., Question 4
Q: I have a question about marketing. Are there any specific things I should do to promote my book as NA (as opposed to adult)? And where should I promote my book as NA?

A: Personally, I think promoting a novel doesn't vary too much between genres. In the large scheme of things, you're still having to market your novel and yourself, and get your book seen by readers. That being said, there are some specific things a YA writer may do to promote his/her novel that an adult author wouldn't do, and vice versa. And, of course, NA is the same.
Here are two ways to tweak common marketing strategies to a New Adult focus. One, market to the NA crowd. I honestly believe that adults and teens will read (and do read) NA, just as adults read YA and teens read adult. But, initially you're going to want to grab the NA crowd. There are colleges everywhere-- you could even seek them out and see if anyone would want to interview you for the school paper, or that sort of thing. Pretty much, that comes down to promoting your novel to NA'rs.
Two, use NA-friendly social networks. This will probably make an even bigger impact because it will get your novel seen by a larger audience. Here at NA Alley we do Featured Book of the Month, and we also like to do frequent features on NA authors.Authors are more than welcome to contact us about these things. Other websites do reviews and features, as well. Twitter is a pretty popular place for authors to promote their novels (be careful not to over-promote), and you can use tags like #newadult. Also, connect with other authors, especially NA authors. We want to help one another!
If you have any questions, please let me know :)

Jaycee, Question 5
Q:  I’m not sold on the necessity of the “NEW ADULT” category.  Why does there have to be another one?  Can’t it all just be shelved under adult?

A:  Here are my thoughts, and you can take them or leave them.  Leaving these books as regular adult would have been fine at one point, if the publishing industry would have been willing to touch books in this category, but they’re the one setting the standards.  They’re the ones who had the general idea that college age is too old for young adult and too young for adult.  It was them who decided there was a gap between these two and they had no interest in filling it, because they claimed college students don’t read, or no one wants to read about this age.  I’ve ALWAYS wanted to read about this age – in high school, in college, and as an adult, and I could never find the books anywhere – and I worked in a bookstore throughout college.  So I started writing my own stories at this age-level.   

With self-publishing came the ability to put those books out there and see what people really wanted to read.  And read, they have.  With the recent success of books such as Beautiful Disaster (Jamie McQuire), Slammed and Point of Retreat (Colleen Hoover), and Easy (Tammara Webber) in the indie market, we’ve seen proof that people want these books, and they’re hungry for more! And the big six publishers are suddenly snatching them up, realizing there is a market for these books.  Call them Upper-YA, call them New Adult, call them plain-old adult, they’re selling and there is a growing demand for them.

So why is a NA category needed?  It’s about providing more options.  The infamous “they” in publishing set the standard, setting this category apart (and not touching it), and those who want to read these books are happy to see this category stay apart.  We want to find the category that has been neglected and ignored for so long, and read about this important stage of life.  This is what we want to read.  Some people only want to read YA or Sci-fi, and they have a place to go to find books in that category.  Those of us who want to read NA should have that option, too.  

Bailey, Question 6
Q: I keep hearing about NA, and I want to read a few books in the category, but where do I find these books in stores? Where do I find them through online venues like B&N and Amazon?

A: This is a common question right now, but always an important one. With NA, the situation is this: you can’t walk into your local bookstore and ask your bookseller, “What’s a great NA book?” Your bookseller would say, “Huh?”
I have seen this used as an argument for why NA doesn’t exist, or why it shouldn’t exist, or why it will never make it as a publishable category. I think using this situation to promote any of those ends discredits a reader’s want for NA and, perhaps more disconcerting, the reader’s ability to browse for books worth reading. Sure, a few of my favorite books have been recommendations from my local booksellers, but in our current book culture, I am much more likely to take recommendations from Twitter friends, book bloggers, and that fancy feature on B&N and Amazon that goes something like, “Others who purchased this book also purchased....”
So, while you can’t walk into a bookstore and head straight back to the NA section, you bet you can find NA books available online. And bonus, you can even pretend you’re a detective.
You can browse the Recommended NA Reads here at NA Alley. You can browse the books tagged as New Adult on GoodReads. You can simply tweet, “Hey, I want to read a #NewAdult book, what’s good?” (Be sure to use that hashtag.) Finding these books through online booksellers is going to be much easier if you first gather a list of titles from NA websites, book bloggers, and social media. From there, I do recommend you follow that fancy suggestion feature.
I have always preferred being a book browser. I really do feel a bit like a detective when I’m seeking out the next thing to read, and when I stumble upon a New Adult book I haven’t heard of before, it’s kismet in motion. Because, at least until I tell Twitter, I get to feel like I’ve just discovered something. Something just for me, and my reading pleasure.

And here ends our first Q&A Quarterly.

If you have any follow up questions or new questions, please leave them in the comments below. If you have any comments or suggestions extending from what we’ve said here, say it in the comments. If you just want to say hello, you guessed it, say hello in the comments.

We love to hear from everyone who stops by our blog, whether or not you’re a follower. But if you want to know when we’re taking questions for the next Q&A Quarterly, the best way to say up-to-date on all things in the Alley is to hit that “follow” button.

It's Bailey here all week in the Alley, hanging out with you Twitter at @NAAlleyBlog, and I will be moderating #NALitChat this Thursday night at 9pm EST with E.J. Wesley. Come around often -- I love to chat.

Post a Comment

  1. Ah I love this post ladies! And I love reading all your answers! When talking about Age.. I just read Love Unscripted and although the protagonists are 26 and 27 I think they perfectly fall into the New Adult genre. This is at least where I would put it, although you can also easily put it into adult...
    Tons of grey zones here, which is why I feel publishers have been reluctant to actually label books with New Adult.

    And talking about Romance! There I think NA totally rocks because you can have everything just like Victoria said and it just depends on the story how far you'll let it got!

    That's why I love NA so much, it gives the author more freedom!

    1. Danny, thanks for your comment!

      I'm glad Juliana's answer on age and Victoria's answer on romance were especially important to you. I think you (and Juliana) are right that while age is the guideline, it's really about voice -- which I think can even be seen in YA and Adult. (I can't say about MG or Children's because I don't read many of those these days.)

  2. Thanks for this post. Suzi Townsend of New Leaf Literary Agency recently posted on her blog about queries she's received: "Strangely enough I've seen a lot of New Adult, which is not a genre. It's an age group, and even then it's not really a thing. For the record, I don't believe in New Adult, because I can't go into a bookstore and ask a bookseller what a great New Adult book is. Or I could but they would have no idea what to recommend. Also, I can't call editors and say I have a New Adult book because most will say "a what?" You're better off giving the genre--ie where will it be on a shelf in a store--and then say it has crossover potential."

    I think she's missing out! I like YA but I specifically enjoy something a little more mature in the YA category -- so I think NA makes perfect sense.

    1. Lori, thanks for your comment.

      We have all read Suzi Townsend's blog post that references NA and her opinion on it. She is one of many who use the, what I have dubbed, "bookstore approach" to denounce the validity of New Adult. This ignores so much of current book culture, though, and as I said in my Q&A, I think it really does undermine a reader's ability to browse for books. Or maybe I just have never been one to seek out suggestions from booksellers -- I much prefer finding my own books, and with fancy smartphone apps and free Wi-Fi most places, I have the freedom to do just that.

      This isn't to say the "bookstore approach" isn't a strong argument or that not having a shelf in a bookstore isn't a detriment to publishing NA -- it most definitely is. But I think we should find ways, still, to change this environment and that begins here, online. With ebooks. With POD. With readers who will read, no matter how they get their hands (metaphorically) on a book.

  3. Great post, ladies. I'll be tweeting this one. :)

  4. Great job with the post Bailey! :D Everything came together really well!

  5. The post looks great, Bailey! Thanks for putting it all together. :)

  6. Awesome post, Bailey! I loved doing this!
    Stay tuned folks, cause we'll do more!

  7. Lots and lots of great answers. Though I'm writing upper YA currently, I'm so intrigued by new adult, and I love, LOVE the reads you mention above. Love new adult!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Heather. I would be curious to know your answer to this question: Do you consider upper YA and NA to be different categories? and if so, what would you define as the difference?

  8. Thanks, NA sisters! I had fun putting it all together.


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