The "genre" misconception.


Lately, there has been quite a bit of talk about NA. I've heard agents and editors pipe in and give their opinions. Some of them are positive; some of them are negative. Twitter and blog posts on both sides of the spectrum have been done.
Now, I'm not going to point to specifics, but in most of the negative comments there is something like this "NA isn't a genre. NA isn't real. NA doesn't exist. It's a marketing trick." As I said, that isn't a quote, but rather just a few things I have heard all lumped together.

If you're like me, NA bashing can make me irritable. So let's take a moment to relax. 

Peaceful, right? 

Let's look at this "NA isn't a genre."
And guess what, they are right. NA ISN'T a genre. It is a CATEGORY. So, sure, whoever said that is right in that regards. But here's the thing-- if they are bashing NA and referring to NA as a genre, they don't really know what they are talking about. My point with that: Don't sweat it when someone complains about how NA isn't real etc and is referring it to a genre.
I think this is a common misconception. I hear NA advocates call it a genre. And, honestly, I can see to an extent why. But let's look at genre versus category so that we can clear up this misconception.
According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, it feels so wrong to use Wiki, but it's actually accurate in this case), screenwriter Robert Mckee defines genre conventions as the "specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres." Wiki goes on to list several genres, which include action, fantasy, mystery, romance etc. You can see the whole list here. All of these genres have specifics that make them what they are. Romance has specific "requirements", fantasy novels tend to have certain type of settings, roles and events. From there, you get into subgenres. An example would be in genre fantasy you can have the subgenres of paranormal and urban fantasy. There are specific things that separate paranormal from urban fantasy.
Now, category is defined as "1. a class or group of things, people, etc., possessing some quality or qualities in common; a division in a system of classification" (reference).
Adult books is a category. Young Adult is a category. MG is a category. I even hear publishing experts refer to these as genres, but really, they are categories.  
Sometimes category and genre is used interchangeably,  especially since there is the classification of "literary" and "genre", but "genre"  then divides into more classification (the adult, ya etc).
New Adult is a category. New adult books are all about the new adult age range and new adult themes, and adds a division to a classification system. 
Category:            Adult       New Adult        Young Adult       Middle Grade    Children books
Genre:                  Fantasy   Romance     Mystery      Action    Thriller
Subgenre:           Epic Dark Paranormal   Urban  Romance  etc.

For NA to get the attention it deserves, we are all going to have to unite and be on the same page. I do see why NA could be called a genre-- in fact, I even called it a genre at first-- but really it's for classification.
And you know what is great about it being a CATEGORY?
It's easier to market. A lot of the negativity I hear from agents is that they can't market it. I hear "where will they shelve it?" and "it's a trick for marketing adult books" and "where would it go? with the adult books or the YA books?".
Well, since it's a classification, it can get its own shelf.  The question about to put it with adult books (would we put NA fantasy in adult fantasy or YA fantasy?) becomes obsolete. If it was a genre, I could see why they wouldn't know where to put it. But it's not. It can get its own shelf or section, just like YA and MG has know. YA has a section that breaks down into genre in most bookstores. The one I usually goes to has the YA zone, which is broken up based on new YA, paranormal romance, fantasy, fiction etc. That is how NA could work.
So when you hear the "where would we shelve it?" and "does it go with YA or adult?", just remind them that NA is a CLASSIFICATION and so the question is pointless.
I would love to get into the other things mentioned (marketing trick?), but I don't want to overload the blog today so I'll try to touch on that on my next post.
Have a great day everyone!

Post a Comment

  1. Totally agree, LG. NA should be viewed as a category. We had a good, albeit unintentional, debate at the last NA Lit Chat about just that.

    There was discussion about whether 'erotica' belonged in NA. Some argued that gratuitous smexy belonged in the 'adult' category. (To name a body part, or not to name ... that was the question. lol)

    My thought was this: If NA is a category (it is), then why can't erotica be a GENRE within the category? Just like Sci-fi, para-rom, etc. NA readers are 'of age' to read about anything they choose. So why not write that broadly?

    Ultimately, I believe being NA has mostly to do with age (of readers and protags) and themes, not content and plot. Just my take. :-)

    Great post!

    EJ

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  2. Hi EJ, thanks for reading and commenting!
    I agree with you; NA is a category so why shouldn't it be allowed to have "adult genres". I mean, the characters are often still adults, albiet "new" adults. I also am on the same page with you regarding age and themes. The content and plot will vary. It will be the age and the themes that make this a category, same for YA and adult and MG.
    L

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  3. Wow, I didn't even know :/ O_o I mean, um, I didn't even know the difference, but now that you put it that way.. freaking awesome!! :) I really like NA and I wish people would stop refering to it as something wrong or something whatever. I really like it <3 GREAT post!!

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    1. Hi Nea! Thank you so much! I am so glad you liked it :) It's one of those things that when you think about it, it totally makes sense. Thank you again!
      L

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  4. "But here's the thing-- if they are bashing NA and referring to NA as a genre, they don't really know what they are talking about" <----I loved this.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for clearing this up LG. Very true information and hopefully when can all get on the same page. :)

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  5. Well said, L.G.! I try to stress the category point whenever possible. :)

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  6. V & Carrie-thanks girls! I appreciate it. And I'm glad you liked that line, V.

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  7. Awesome post, sister!
    Every time I see agents tweeting "NA isn't a genre" I almost reply "well, of course it isn't!" lol

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    1. Right! I think we should start doing that... and then explain. Same goes for when they refer to YA or adult as a genre. I'm like....really? Cause no.

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  8. Awesome post. I feel like all those things are just begging the question. Bottom line is: NA will require a movement. Movements take effort and funds and interest, just like YA did. This economy's not the best time to do it, but if not now, then when? I'm glad NA is emerging little by little and I'm absolutely certain it will make headway. A lot of publishers/agents don't want to take the risk, and that's understandable, but sooner or later it will catch up with them and they will have to embrace it. It has huge potential, both as a category and also as a tool to get high school and college kids reading. Thanks for the post! :)

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    1. You make a good point with the economy. Publishing is business, so publishers are going to have to make decisions based on what they feel is best for their business. So, it may take time, but I do agree that it will get there. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  9. This is a fantastic explanation of where new adult 'fits in'. It's actually helped clarify my own thoughts around the issue, so thanks for that! I would describe my novel The Big Smoke as new adult contemporary realism - new adult being the category, contemporary realism being the genre. Nice and tidy. :-)

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Cally! And you nailed it with your categofy genre description. I'm looking forward to reading The Big Smoke!

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  10. Very well articulated. New Adult is a category with defined ages for protagonists, but it includes all genres--contemporary, romance, historical, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, etc. No matter what its theme or world, the story is told from the perspective of a new adult facing the adult world without the benefit of experience. These characters are experimenting, questioning, feeling, and making a place for themselves in a new realm of responsibility and independence.

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  11. Great points you made there. I wanted to see if I could re-print your posting (giving you full credit, of course and a link back to your blog). I review New Adult books and also like discussing the category as well. Let me know if that's okay...:o) Nevaeh

    http://nevaehnewadultbooks.blogspot.com/

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