You see, we were all told back then that nobody wanted to read about college-aged characters. They wanted our characters' ages changed to fit YA or Adult, and then we could resubmit. I reevaluated my own story, but I couldn't meet their demands. My characters come to me with their stories, not the other way around, and changing her age either up or down would have made no sense for her story. Although I couldn’t make the change, I know many other authors did with theirs (thus, the number of YA books that take place at boarding school—can’t have parents in the picture, but can’t put the MCs in college either).
Like many writers of this age category, I took the self-publishing route to get my story out there. This was back in 2010, when self-pubbing wasn’t much of a “thing,” either. In fact, it was pretty much looked down on and called a career-killer. I didn’t have a career as a novelist at the time, so I didn’t really have anything to lose. I went forward, and over the next couple of years, other writers did, too, including many of those who'd written stories with NA aged characters. We all know what happened after that.
In NA stories, characters are forging their ways down new paths. In the book world, we have done the same. During the past five years between hitting that publish button on my debut and getting ready to hit it on the conclusion to that story, we have witnessed and helped along needed change. We have been a part of the indie community breaking through the barriers, and with it, the NA market. We had to fight our way to publication and readers, but one of the most inspiring aspects to adversity is change. And wow, how everything has changed.
I hope over the next five years, the industry and the market continue to evolve. Although most of us here see NA as an age category that includes all the genres, much of the book world remains focused on contemporary romance. There are amazing paranormal, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, mystery, and other spec fiction NA books that are waiting to be discovered. They exist! And they need to exist. They need to be read and enjoyed, because this life stage—the time of breaking out on one’s own and discovering one’s self—brings a whole new dimension to the spec fiction genres. Ignoring this age group in any genre would mean the world loses out on discovering truths for this time of life that can sometimes only be found in the midst of a murder mystery or on a spaceship headed for a fantasy world.
We just have to keep forging our way, spreading the word, and continuing to do what we lovers - and the characters - of all things NA do best: facilitate change.