Hey, everyone. I’m super stoked to be a part of the NA Alley Blog. And I’m even more stoked to tackle this new and upcoming discussion: NA vs. Erotica!   At first I was like, “Huh? Erotica? NA? No way…”

It seems to be a topic of discussion around the Net these days, and it’s insinuating New Adult is just sexed up YA or erotica. Personally, I was a bit shocked. That had NEVER entered my mind.

Now, my publisher, Crescent Moon Press, was among the first presses to have an official New Adult line. My novel, Wasteland, was the first book published under their NA imprint. So, you can imagine, as I went around with the blog tours and interviews, I frequently got asked what this new up and coming category was all about.

Since my publisher bought six of my NA books (five are currently out), they helped me come up with a nice response to the NA question:
 Young Adult stories are just as complex as any mainstream novel, however the romantic element is handled more gently in comparison. Also, the characters are generally in Middle School or High School. New Adult novels take the stories to the next level romantically, and the characters are usually out of school, dealing with life challenges.
So, yeah, my NA novels do have a little more romance, but by no means are they erotica. I, personally, don’t write that genre. Notice how I used the word genre there?

I view New Adult as a category of adult fiction, whereas Young Adult is a category of children’s books. So, yeah, New Adult stories are a bit past the first kisses and awkward interactions of high school, but they’re not quite the intense—and often graphic—stories of adult romance.

Or, like NA Alley Blog defines it: Bridging the gap between Young Adult and Adult fiction.

Just for fun, I checked the dictionary for a couple of definitions:
historical fiction is my favorite genre of literature: category, class, classification, group, set, list; type, sort, kind, breed, variety, style, model, school, stamp, cast, ilk.

his music doesn't fit into any conventional category: class, classification, group, grouping, bracket, heading, set; type, sort, kind, variety, species, breed, brand, make, model; grade, order, rank; informal pigeonhole.

I like the words: sort, kind, variety and classification under the category definition. This feels more like where New Adult fits in.

Back to the dictionary one more time:
erotic literature: sexy, sexually arousing, sexually stimulating, titillating, suggestive; pornographic, sexually explicit, lewd, smutty, hard-core, soft-core, dirty, racy, risqué, ribald, naughty; sexual, sensual, amatory; seductive, alluring, tantalizing; informal blue, X-rated, steamy, raunchy, bootylicious; euphemistic adult.

Wikipedia had an interesting explanation of erotica that alluded to the idea of sex being the primary focus of the literature. And it’s been around for ages as a genre. Click here to read that. And if you Google erotica, it’s mainly represented as its own genre.

Like many genres/categories, lines can get blurred. For example, New Adult usually has characters out of high school. Just starting college or in college. Or maybe the characters aren’t heading to college at all. Just stepping into the next phase of life after high school, which means their issues are a bit different than those often faced in high school.

But in my first NA novel, my main character was over 400 years old. The heroine over a thousand years old. Sure, they “looked” twenty-something …but does that make Wasteland an adult novel?

Not this one; the heat level made it New Adult. Wasteland wasn’t quite as sweet as a YA novel, but not as hot as an adult novel. The second book in the trilogy, though, the heroine was nineteen…

See what I’m getting at? There are suggested boundaries/lines in each category/genre, but they aren’t all etched in stone.

When it comes to NA vs. Erotica…what do you guys think? Does erotica have any business in the NA discussion? What’s your view on the whole category/genre discussion? We want to hear from you! Opinions are welcome; let’s just stay respectful of each other ☺

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  1. This is a bit of a hard one to tackle. I actually wrote about it a few weeks back in a blog post as part of a series on NA that I was doing (the Erotica bit, anyway).

    I definitely think that NA is a category, versus a genre, such as YA; genre would stipulate that it's very narrow and only certain types of books can be NA (in this case, romance and contemporary, mainly), but that's not true. There are other NA books popping up all over the place, and like YA, there are plenty of genres that can fall into NA. I myself write a lot of Speculative fiction, and though I like romance, I don't necessarily have heavy romance, or erotica -- but my books are NA all the same. Saying NA is a category allows for everyone to participate, instead of just romance writers, which is a good thing, because more readers can be reached that way. :)

    As far as erotica...plenty of people argue that Fifty Shades is NA, and I'm not entirely sure on that one (some criteria fits, some doesn't). I honestly think it will be up to the readers, in the end. If books like Fifty Shades start selling well as NA books, then Erotica might become part of the category, a permanent genre. Personally, I think Erotica is more of an Adult genre, but there might blossom some lighter versions of Erotica, such as we have lighter versions of romance (compared to Adult) in NA; perhaps the Steamies fit that description.

    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed the article.



    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alexandra! It's a hot topic for sure!!! I agree to your thought of erotica as more of an adult genre :)

  2. I really enjoyed this discussion, but I think that there are a lot of broad terms being thrown around to encompass lots of books.

    I've never heard people call New Adult--> Erotica. However, I have heard them label it Erotic Romance, in which the plot is not centered around sex, but the romance and involves typically more than two sex scenes. I've read tons of New Adult books that could be considered a type of erotic romance. There is lots of New Adult contemporary erotic romance out there, and yes, 50 Shades of Grey is in that field.

    However, it is not fair to encompass all of New Adult as erotic romance or even romance. I think true readers like you Lynn, understand that New Adult is just a broad topic. There are so many sub categories of New Adult and a massive spectrum where on one side there is no sex at all and the other there is lots.

    Thanks so much for the post!

    1. Thanks for chiming in!! Great viewpoint. I'm glad you brought up Erotica an Erotic Romance. Thanks for commenting!!

  3. There was a discussion this weekend on Twitter between two agents who represent YA. One decided she would like to see some NA queries, even though she doesn't "get" the category. Another agent sent her a condescending tweet, telling her to enjoy the flood of porn in her inbox. I was both shocked and appalled, as was a NA author who send me the tweets. Comments like this do nothing for NA, and it was obvious the agent hasn't read any. Plus, it's obvious he doesn't know what porn means, since it's not the same as erotica.

    What irritates me is I'm sure a number of his clients have dealt with their books being banned. He's no better than the individuals who call for a book ban without reading the book.

    Sorry for the rant. I'm just sadden how people view the category based on the comments of those who haven't read the books.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stina. Such a wide range of opinions can really make things interesting, huh? I know it happens to all the categories at some point! I remember I was so shocked about the mention of erotica and NA together. I always just thought that since it was the filling the gap between YA and Adult that it was obvious it wasn't going to be a super sexed up story--that it was middle ground. All I know is *I'll* continue to write it that way... :)

  4. Hello! I've also never heard NA referred to as erotica. Maybe erotic romance in some cases but in my mind erotic and erotica are two very different genres. Erotic is lots of sex with a story line. Erotica is less about the story and more about the sex. At least that's how I view it. But NA....it gets blurry and sometimes confusing. I've read NA that read like a YA and I've read NA that read like a normal romance.

    1. Hi, Nikki. Thanks for coming by to chime in.

  5. Lynn, being the flagship author of a publisher's NA line is phenomenal. Congratulations! I really enjoyed reading your post and how both you and your publisher weighed in on the matter. Very informative.

    1. Thanks, Faith. It was quite an honor for sure. I'm just so glad NA is getting out there and people are taking notice!!

  6. Woohoo! We're so happy to have you here, Lynn. :) Great post!

    1. Thanks, CARRIE. I'm super excited to be here!!! :)

  7. Great post, Lynn. Glad you're part of the Alley. :)

  8. Fantastic first post, Lynn! (Feels good to get that one down, right? I haven't hyperventilated once since last week. :D)

    I also believe NA isa category--like YA or Adult. I think this is a fascinating debate, primarily because of one big question: Would people consider erotica a genre of adult fiction? If so, maybe there's room for the erotica genre within NA, too. But also, maybe not, because you certainly wouldn't find it under YA. :)

    There's definitely a perception in some circles that ALL NA is erotica, which is definitely not true. I loved your definition during the chat the other night, and glad you brought it back up in this post: "...wasn’t quite as sweet as a YA novel, but not as hot as an adult novel."

    I like the general concept of NA not being as 'sweet' as YA, but also not as 'hot' as Adult--in helping people get a broad grasp of what they can expect from their NA romances.

    Well done! Proud to call you my NA Alley sister for sure. :)

  9. I was writing NA and wasn't even aware that's what I was writing. Honestly, when I first heard of NA, I thought I'd stay away from it because, well, I had never heard of it. As I read a few novels in the NA category, I started wondering if NA really existed and if it would be accepted.

    THEN, I realized TWO of the manuscripts I had written could actually fit into this category. Why? Was it the sex involved in my story? No! Because I don't write sex scenes, even in my adult books. I write it all behind closed doors. Yes, I elude to it, but that's as far as I go with it.

    I changed one of my manuscripts from YA to NA and one of my adult manuscripts to NA. And that's because of the age of my MC and the circumstances surrounding them. Not just because they were in college, but because they were in a certain age bracket.

    If NA is all about erotica and sex, I wouldn't write it or read it.

    NA is a category. Not a genre. So I would think if a person wrote NA Erotica, it would be the same as a person writing Adult Erotica, or YA Fantasy, or MG Science Fiction.

    And that's my 2 cents.

  10. This is a relatively new topic for me. But I enjoyed reading this post, mainly because there is a lot of good information.


  11. A great post that addresses one of the sadly common misconceptions about NA - possibly because several articles in the media have misrepresented New Adult as "YA erotica" or "sexed-up YA romance". Thankfully I've seen some other articles recently such as the one in USA Today which actually 'get' what NA is about - specifically that it's a category, not a genre, and anything from romance to fantasy, sci-fi and paranormal can fall into the New Adult category. Even NA romance doesn't have to be explicit - it all depends on the author. A lot of New Adult novels are perfectly suitable for YA-age readers (after all, Mature YA is sometimes used as a synonym) so it's annoying and misleading when people - even some publishers and agents - assume that all NA novels feature graphic sex, which couldn't be further from the truth! It's always interesting to read different authors' and readers' opinions on this. :)

  12. This is a great article. I consider my novel, Colour Wielders NA. But there is some sexual situations but they are not described in graphic detail. The mc is 22, her brother is 25, everyone else around them are centuries old. So I guess my question does a more detailed sex scene raise it to Adult?

  13. Glad you are fighting for NA to be considered Adult reading! But why can't NA also be hot? My understanding is that NA is more about the age group and the issues, and sex is a huge issue for anyone in this age group. Also, don't readers in this group enjoy some heat? Not everyone, but that's why we have heat labels for adult romance.

    The women I know in this age group like heat and are asking for more!

    I think there is a big gap between erotica and erotic romance, and I'm not sure why NA can't be also a little erotic? If the issues are about bridging the gap between 18 and thirty, then shouldn't sex be part of the equation for some authors? I write hot, but also about these issues: separation from the family, adult issues such as dealing with money, and adult relationships.
    I also think there is a big gap between something like Fifty Shades and erotic romance. Fifty Shades is more erotica, yes there is a romance, but the heat level and issues are more about her journey through sex, the romance is there, but not the issue. Her growth is bigger. Hence I would classify it as erotica, not erotic romance.
    Great subject and discussion!


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