Hey, gang! Here in the United States, we're moving--albeit VERY slowly in some places--toward spring, but it feels like New Adult literature has already been there for quite some time. In fact, I'd argue the category is entering its first real summer.

In the last year we've gone from sprouting patches of delicate blooms across a budding landscape, to a thriving meadow packed with an abundance of life. And it seems there's no shortage of worker bees (writers and readers) eager to see New Adult spread its boundaries even further.

New Adult is thriving, and that growth has also gotten the attention of larger beasts, namely those who've orchestrated the book business for so many years: traditional publishers.

It's important to remember that while electronic publishing, independent authors, and ravenous readers have certainly played a major part in the development of the category, New Adult's roots come from traditional publication.

Way back in 2009, St. Martin's Press coined the term "New Adult". Via the St. Martin announcement: "We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”

Though having somewhat slipped from the radar of larger publishers in the years following that announcement, the overwhelming popularity of New Adult in the last two years (One... Two... THREE examples! Ha Ha Ha Any Sesame Street Count fans out there?)  has rekindled interest. 

So much so that major publishers like Bloomsbury have opened their doors to New Adult, and star literary agents like Sara Migbow and Jordy Albert are searching for the next NA hit. 

In fact, our most recent New Adult Lit Chat on Twitter (#NALitChat 9 PM E every Thursdays night ... stop by, say howdy, and give us a follow @NALitChat) was devoted to finding the perfect partner (agent) for your New Adult publishing goals. 



We picked the brains of author Cora Carmack (who happened to intern for an agent and publisher before she self-published her debut NA smash hit, Losing It) and author KK Hendin (who runs an awesome agent wish list Tumblr) about what agents are looking for and how to find the right one. 

Although NA is clearly gaining viability in traditional publishing circles, some are still a bit uncertain as to what to make of it. The Adventures In YA Publishing blog recently shared this collection of responses from various agents who were asked to define NA and compare it to YA.

The basic consensus seems to be that there isn't a consensus! Some are taking a 'wait and see' approach to New Adult in terms of its longterm appeal outside of self-publishing and romance, while others see it as the birth of a new category that will stay perched as THE natural stepping stone from Young Adult.

So in the face of all this uncertainty, we want to hear from you: What have you observed? Do you think New Adult is gaining traction in traditional publishing? If yes, do you think the attraction will last? What will it mean to the longterm success of New Adult if it is just a fling?


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  1. 1. Yes.
    2. There will always be a shiny new cash cow, but I think NA has put down enough roots to survive via its readership.
    3. Pfft... fling. :P

    P.S. I love The Count!

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    1. For this response you will earn one... two... THREE peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! ha ha ha :D

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  2. Great post! NA definitely seems to be catching on.

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    1. It's catching like the measles and I've got the itch, yo! :D

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  3. I love how Cora was an intern for an agent and publisher. Great tidbit, E.J.

    I think that we're even talking about New Adult, right here, right now in February 2014 shows it's longevity. It's not fading away any time soon.

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    1. Loved getting to know Cora some last week, Faith. She's often one of those authors who gets heralded as an overnight success (and to be fair, Losing it almost literally WAS an overnight success LOL), but she definitely knew what she was doing before she published.

      Long live NA! :)

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  4. In the indie world it's everywhere. I just wish it had hit 10 years ago so my books would've been in that category not YA.

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    1. I hear similar sentiments all the time, LD! Lots of YA folks from ten (and even just five) years ago wish NA had been a "thing' then, because various stories would've fit better in that category. One of my favorite things about NA existing is that it's not as important to force a story into the adult OR young adult world. The characters and content can kind of go where they want now, and that's probably how it should be.

      You're just going to have to write more stories! :)

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  5. Adventures in YA Publishing has a contest this month (which Carrie and I am involved in), and the agents are looking for NA there too. Times have definitely changed. I remember years ago the question about NA was common on the YA thread on Absolute Write. Writers were constantly told not to bother with it since agents and editors weren't looking for it. And that would have continued to be true if it weren't for self publishing!

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    1. So very true, Stina! Even in the last 1.5 years or so, there was a time that only small publishers were considering NA. The fact that so many agents are looking for it tells me the demand has grown.

      We need to mention the Adventures in YA thing during NA Lit Chat. :)

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  6. Great post! I love NA and am thrilled it's getting the recognition. I think more publishers will represent it once NA really takes off in other categories besides Romance. Either way, indie authors and readers will keep NA going strong! :)

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    1. I think that's a great point. In fact, I believe publishers are already looking to expand NA. Agents (like Sara Megibow mentioned in this post) are beginning to ask for NA across multiple genres, and Bloomsbury Spark (also mentioned) indicates that they'd consider non-romance (or non-contemporary at the very least) NA.

      Seems like publishers might've missed on the initial NA boom, and are looking for ways to broaden their offerings beyond what's already out. As with most things, time will tell. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

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  7. NA is definitely gaining traction with bigger houses, and not just contemporary romance. But here's the thing... they have a business to run. This year is probably the first year where we're going to see as many acquired debut novels released as names that already made themselves big via self-publishing. But the deals most of these authors have are small, print releases are being delayed to see how well the book does electronically first, etc. What publishers are doing RIGHT NOW is meeting readers halfway, waiting to see if they're going to actually be able to make a profit off of these debuters. I think they really want to see NA explode, but they're not willing to lose money off of it if it may potentially just be this college contemporary romance trend. In order for publishers to want to continue to take risks, they have to be making money off of these titles.

    So to me, the issue isn't NA finally being realized by traditional publishing. They're fully aware of what this trend could turn into. The issue is readers pre-ordering and purchasing the debut books published by these houses. So my advice is, if you want to see NA gain further traction by big publishers, for the love of God, buy copies!

    I'm hoping that readers and the industry push NA into a category that is for YA readers who grew up with the big books, Ex: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games--where books ending up published are ones that cater to a twenty-something audience who want something fast-paced and stylistically like YA--ALL genres of YA--but with characters and content geared toward them.

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    1. Awesome comment, Sarah! Agree wholeheartedly with "readers need to support it if they want it". Been saying that for a while just in general terms when I get the, "Why don't we have more speculative NA?" questions. A) Writers need to write it. B) Readers need to read it. The rest really works itself out at every level of publishing.

      The publishers needing to see it blow up first is a bit of a chicken/egg debate in my mind, however. If they don't put their full resources into it, will it ever truly blow up? Not sure. That being said, I absolutely respect their position on this. Financially, the industry is in a hard spot (as most industries are these days), so they have to take calculated risks for sure.

      Ultimately, I believe readers (and our society here in the West in general) are ready for New Adult. And I think eventually a large publisher will gamble big on a non-contemporary romance NA, call it exactly that, and it'll take off. As you said, it's only going to take the one NA Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc. to get it started.

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    2. Totally see the chicken/egg debacle. Fortunately, we've seen books like Beautiful Disaster take off with no marketing component helping it along, so hopefully that will continue to happen to both self-pubbed and traditionally published NA!

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  8. It does seem that NA is being snapped up by some trad pubbers. And I think it'll have a long run because it feeds a real need.

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    1. I agree! I think we've definitely acquired a taste for NA now, and we (readers and writers) would miss it dearly if it were to go away.

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  9. It makes me so happy to see NA being more accepted by traditional publishers, especially knowing how hard blogs like this one, and other NA supporters, have worked to get NA the recognition it deserves.

    Here's hoping this is the start of NA becoming part of the mainstream. :)

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  10. I have a NA book I am querying right now and I'm having trouble finding agents who rep it. I saw the list on this blog and compared it to the list I found on Querytracker (yes, they list it as one of the genres you can find agents with). I tried to query another book a few years ago and got the "this is too old for YA and too young for adult" comments. I hope I find a home for this new one. As a matter of fact I am in the Adventures in YA Publishing contest (entry #41 here:http://adventuresinyacontests.blogspot.com/2014/02/entry-41-music-of-night_23.html) and if I make it to the agent's round, I'll be able to get it in front of a few agents. I'm glad to see it's gaining momentum finally!

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  11. Trad def took notice. I mean, how could they not?? I'm eager to see what the future holds for NA as not just chick lit contemp romance. That still rules, and it's still what people think of when you say NA. But so many of us are working to see that changed and once it does, I think we'll see NA as an actual category of its own right next to YA.

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  12. My paranormal mystery is NA in the sense that the heroine is in her early twenties and in her first job, first possible relationships, first independent home, etc. But it's not strictly romance. I enjoy (even as a 41 yr old) this age group. It has elements I enjoy about YA without being too young in regards to content or subject choices. I think it'll be a slow process (Traditional publishing doesn't like change), but it will have to adopt it eventually as more and more Indies promote their books as this genre. :)

    shahwharton.com

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