There seems to be quite a misconception out there as to what the New Adult genre really is, and therefore, it’s developed a bit of a stigma. Many readers and reviewers have previously shown a knee jerk reaction to the genre by shaking their head and saying ‘Oh, I don’t read NA’. It’s led me to wonder why? So many of our industry’s favourite authors actually got their start in self publishing by writing New Adult Romance – what happened in the space of only a few years to change people’s minds?
Wikipedia describes the genre as –
New Adult (NA) fiction is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.” New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices. The genre has gained popularity rapidly over the last few years, particularly through books by self-published bestselling authors like Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Colleen Hoover, and Jamie McGuire.
The genre was originally met with some criticism, as some viewed it as a marketing scheme, while others claimed the readership was not there to publish the material. In contrast, others claimed that the term was necessary; a publicist for HarperCollins described it as “a convenient label because it allows parents and bookstores and interested readers to know what is inside”.
My thoughts are that the genre has been misunderstood. By many, it’s seen as the sexed up version of Young Adult, and when it gained popularity and became an actual category in 2013, it seemed that every author with a protagonist within the 18-25 (which is the industry gauge of a NA character) age range selected NA as a category to help with their visibility on Amazon. That has created a genre that is filled with so many sub-genres that it makes your head spin. And, like any popular category, it attracted a slew of ‘get rich quick’ authors who very quickly filled up the market. Eventually, it turned readers away when their expectations weren’t being met by poorly thought out story lines that were too dramatic or too ‘porny’ for their liking. As a result, the New Adult genre was given a bad wrap and became widely dismissed by those who had a bad experience with it at the height of its popularity.
However, in recent months, I’m seeing that things are changing. Reviewers are starting to say ‘I didn’t think I liked New Adult, but this book changed my mind…’. And that’s not just on my books, I’m seeing that comment on books by my peers as well. I’m seeing that comment in blog posts by people who had previously turned away from the genre. I’m seeing that comment within articles in magazines. I’m seeing that comment in Facebook posts.
Every time I see that comment, it makes me smile. Because finally, readers are starting to see that New Adult Romance isn’t just ‘sexed up YA’. At the base of its existence, the New Adult genre focuses on finding one’s path in life.
Do you remember that period in your life? Are you going through that period right now?
It’s that time of life when you are literally a ‘New Adult’. When you first get the chance to spread your wings and fly out into the big bad world, following your own path. For the first time, your decisions are your own, and if you want to eat pizza for breakfast, you can. If you want to have a sordid relationship with the bad boy down the hall, you can. If you want to drink until you’re sick, you can. But at the same time, you also have your first real taste of responsibility, and are in complete control of your successes and your failures. Sometimes, you have to make really hard decisions. Sometimes, you have to let something go that you wanted so much. Sometimes, you have to face something that has been stopping you from living your life. Sometimes, you simply have to pay for what you did, and learn to live with regret…
There are a million different scenarios, but essentially, New Adult focuses on finding one’s own identity within the freedom of living your own life. You’re away from your parents, and the great path of life is laid out in front of you. It’s such an exciting but difficult time in almost all of our lives, and I find that many of my readers are women (and sometimes, men) who have already lived that part of their life and enjoy looking back on it fondly. And for those readers who are at the age, reading in the genre helps them feel as though they aren’t alone in feeling a little lost.
New Adult romance has angst, comedy, passion, all laid out in a journey of discovery that, if done well, will give you ‘the feels’ and leave you feeling hopeful and happy. It isn’t a genre that is widely popular in Australia, and it has been difficult for me to find other New Adult authors who write within an Australian setting as I do. So far, I’ve only come across CJ Duggan (Summer Series, Paradise City, Paradise Road) and Lauren K McKellar (The Problem with Crazy, How to Save a Life), and really, I’d love to find more. I’d love to champion this wonderfully personal and nostalgic genre with them and make it something great within our sun kissed shores. So, if you know of any other Aussie stories that fit under the NA banner, I’d love to know about them. I’d also love to know what New Adult romance means to you – do you agree with the above, or do you see it as simply an age classification? Comment below to discuss.