Not too long ago, I went to twitter to see what you guys would like to see a post on. And miss Melissa Grey mentioned NA expanding beyond contemporary.

If you're one of my fellow NA Alley contributors, you know that THIS IS PERFECT FOR ME. (L.G. = Self-Proclaimed Speculative Fiction Spokesperson)I pretty much harp about this all the time to to my Alley lovelies. It's not that I'm against contemporary--far from it. I read some contemporary and I even write some contemporary. But my passion really is the fantasy side of things. I love when an author can take the unrealistic--the fantasy--and make it reality.

But this topic goes beyond my preferences and my passions and touches on the fact that books are books and WE, as readers, WANT CHOICES. We as writers want CHOICES. No category has, nor should it have, one genre.
Before we get into this, quick reminder: New Adult is a Category, just like YA and Adult are categories. Each category has multiple genres: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary etc.

So far, we have seen a lot of contemporary in NA. And that's great. But there are other genres out there. Just within the NA Alley contributors we have writers of many different genres, ranging from dystopian to paranormal to sci-fi.


Here's my theory on why contemporary took off the way it did:
Note: I believe that contemporary really helped bring NA to the stage, so to speak.
Disclaimer: This is just my theory. I am in no way indicating this as the view of NA Alley or its contributors. Feel free to ignore any or all of it :)

As we all know, YA had a HUGE paranormal trend. And people eventually got sick of paranormal, just like they do with every trend. It explodes and it seems like it's all people read and all people publish. Publishers want to sell what they know will sell. In that case, it was paranormal. But then publishers also got tired of paranormal and they wanted something new, but once again, it's a business and they still wanted what they knew they would sell. This led to, what I feel, less variety.

Talk about a tough market for non-paranormal and paranormal that didn't fall into the guidelines of what was selling well.

Paranormal became hard to sell. It's still hard to sell. There are always people who want paranormal (raises hand), but the market got saturated.

Agents started wanting contemporary. I saw this on twitter and blogs. They requested it; readers asked for it.

Enter New Adult.

While there was some speculative NA at this time,  there was also contemporary. It was a major breath of fresh air from the paranormal YA trend. Why?

  • It wasn't paranormal
  • It wasn't YA

It was another option for those who had been reading YA and wanted something a little different, with maybe some more mature themes. The want for something new, for contemporary, latched onto NA and contemporary became the thing. 

I could go on and on, but there are my thoughts in brief.

And, just like the YA paranormal, trend writers jumped on the contemporary bandwagon. The market sold/sells contemporary and so that's what continues to be published. By the way, trend writers can really make it hard on the rest of us. Resist the trend writing!

It doesn't mean that contemporary is all that is available. It just overshadowed the other options. But those options are wonderful and those other genres are growing in NA. NA is still new and is going to continue to grow. The best thing we can do to add to the number of books in other genres is to read the speculative fiction, and support the market for it. 

I think NA has come a long way in a very short time frame, and it's going to continue to go up.
For a look at some non-contemporary books, check out a post from Laure Carter, @LoopyLu, on her BLOG. She makes some great recommendations. You can also check out the Speculative New Adult Fiction page on Goodreads





Post a Comment

  1. It seems that every time I look for a new NA book, they all sound and look the same! Always contemporary and always with two POVs: a female MC and a male MC. I would definitely love for NA to expand more into speculative fiction.

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    1. Hi Kelly! Thanks for reading! I totally know what you mean. I think he dual POV is a definite NA trend and I think it has become that way because NA has really been fueled by self-published work, and obviously those authors who self-pub have a lot more freedom with doing things that generally are "against the rules" in traditional publishing--like dual POV.
      Check out that list on goodreads and keep an eye out for it. I know there are some good ones and more continue to be published. I know some of us here, including myself, have speculative works in progress.
      L

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  2. Great post L! Another reason I think contemp took off is because new adult is a brand new category. It's natural to want to "see the basics" in a sense of twenty something life and experiences at the core ie "the real world" then use that as a stepping stone to tell the more adventurous side (speculative). Can't wait to see what the future holds for NA spec :)

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  3. Love this post!
    I agree with V - I also think another reason NA started with contemporary because it's "the real world."

    Yay for more NA speculative!

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  4. Good point, girls! I agree. I think since it's so focused on the college years, people automatically think it must be realistic.

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  5. SO TRUE!!

    I'm obviously trying to buck the contemporary trend by throwing a fantasy in there, but even if the contemporaries would leave the college campus, that would be a start. I'm going to speak in February at a Sci-fi/Fantasy convention to see if I can introduce new adult to a new set of writers and get them thinking about adding a little color into our NA world. NA is such. a. great. age!!! and there is so much that can be done with it beyond contemporary.

    I think it's going to explode just like YA did into all the genres. And you're doing such a tremendous job of keeping the catalog -- I think that helps readers expand into more than contemporary. I'm still working on my local library (keep your fingers crossed that I can get them to add an NA section---and that will help across the country (and globe)!

    KEEP UP THE FANTASMO WORK!

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    1. Yay for trend bucking! Love the fantasy. That would be awesome at your library- please keep me updated if you get them to do it!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  6. Great post. As someone who jumped into the NA category with a historical, I feel the difficulty trying to buck the trend too. Many of my early reviewers mentioned being reluctant to pick up a historical novel or being mostly contemporary romance readers. But I've also heard from a lot of readers who were glad to pick up something different! :)

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    1. Historical NA sounds awesome! I think people will want he variety more and more! Having a group of us to support the speculative fiction is a great thing for na. Thanks for reading!

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  7. 1. I always get excited when a blog post starts with a disclaimer. LOL

    2. "No category has, nor should it have, one genre." Yes! I want this on a t-shirt.

    3. I agree. Plus, trend writers often contribute to category misconceptions. :/

    4. Thanks for including Courage in your collage. <3

    5. *high five!*

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  8. As much as I love NA contemporary romance, I'm glad other NA genres are getting noticed. We need variety!!!!! And soon the contemp romance trend will slow down while the others grow and grow. And then explode.

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    1. I totally agree, Stina! I think the trend will fizzle some, as every trend does, and the other genres will explode. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Great post, thanks for this. Though I love Contemporary, I grew up reading sepc fic and that's what I write. As a younf 20-something I've been really wanting to hop on the "NA train" so hopefully these links will help!

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    1. Definitely check he links out! And I think there will be more and more variety soon. Thanks for reading!

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  10. I'm an author in the contemporary New Adult realm, but I applaud all of you who take the category in another direction.

    P.S. I think the saturation of paranormal in the Young Adult market talked about above is a great analysis, by the way.

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    1. Thanks, Faith! We love he contemporary, of course!

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  11. This was a great post! Though I'm open to contemporary, I'll always be a paranormal fan. So I'm hoping to see more of that in the future.

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    1. I think there will be. After all, there will always be fantasy and para lovers and so there will always be the demand for it. Thanks for reading!

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  12. Thank you so much for saying this! I've been trying to convince people of the same thing but it feels like an uphill battle. My favorite NA title? The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

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    1. I'm going to have to read that! It is an uphill battle, but so was NA when we first started and look at where it is now! We have a strong army to help that uphill battle :)

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  13. Last week's Tuesday Top Ten topic at The Broke and the Bookish was words/topics that will make you not pick up a book, and a number of the lists in the bloghop I visited named NA. These people felt it was all about contemporary romance, or YA with erotica. People like that really need to see that there's variety and that NA is only a category. I've never been too interested in contemporary, whatever the age-based category, so I'd love to see a bigger representation in historical, literary, mystery, sci-fi, and other genres that aren't currently trendy.

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    1. That makes me so sad, Carrie Ann! I hate the idea that NA is sexed up YA. I hope that as the category expands and more genres get attention, that misconception will stop.

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  14. Totally agree! NA will only continue to diversify as more writers and readers come to check it out. Just like we (writers & readers) defined New Adult as a "thing" we have the ability to define what kind of thing it is. :)

    Great post, lady!

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  15. I love the idea that NA is more than just contemporary or even contemporary romance. When I first heard about the category, I was excited to learn about fiction being written for the college-age/just out of college group. It really is a unique time in life, just like adolescence. While I enjoy contemporary books and contemporary romances, NA has the potential to be so much more! I'm glad to hear others are open to the idea as well.

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  16. Yay! Thanks for this post! I'm plummeting head first into the genre with a speculative thriller so hearing that people want this genre expanded as much as I do is really encouraging!

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  17. This is a great post! I totally agree.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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