Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Fricassee

It's one of those crazy-busy mornings for me.  Let's see how coherent I can make today's post.  (All this and no caffeine!)

So, let's talk about the new "New Adult" genre a little bit, since it's included in this month's Secret Agent contest.  Two of the entries were removed because of a misunderstanding of the genre.  Both authors (understandably) thought it meant "new" adult fiction.  As in, adult fiction that hasn't been published yet.

For anyone else who might not have heard the term before:  "New Adult" is sort of the "college age protagonist" that happens between YA and what is, apparently, Old Adulthood.  Many agents (at least to my knowledge) do not (yet) accept this genre.  Reason?  It doesn't exactly have designated shelf space.

I'm not sure I understand the thinking behind it, so maybe those of you who write it or who support it can enlighten me.  I mean, does this make Pride and Prejudice a New Adult novel?  Because, yanno, Elizabeth is "not yet one-and-twenty".  I'm also not sure I see the need for this genre designation.  If you're in college or in your early- to mid-twenties, you're an "adult."  I have never, in the span of my life, heard someone refer to themselves as a "new adult."  (Though upper teenagers are certainly referred to as "young adults", which may or may not actually line up with their behavior.)

Anyway.  It's all academic.  What's your opinion?  If the main character in an adult thriller is 25 instead of 30, does the book need a separate designation?  Does the age of the protagonists in a romance novel make enough of a difference for them to be categorized by that age?

Am I missing something here?  Now's my chance to learn.

(Okay, so what about Hobbits?  They're, like, still teenagers when they're 30.  Do they get their own designation?)

(I know, I know.  The caffeine probably would have helped a little this morning.)

Hugs to all!  Have a glorious weekend.






44 comments:

  1. I wonder about this too. I'm writing a Nation Treasure kind of thing and the characters are 17-21. If I change it and make all of them younger it limits what they can do, if I make them all older, well, then it's no fun. And it ruins the tension for problems that arise when YAs are in this old enough to do some things but not others phase.

    But all the info seems to say there is no market for college age. :(

    (@HistorySleuth1 on twitter)

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  2. Aha! I can explain this.

    About 7 years ago, I wrote my first novel, and it was about a couple of college-age protagonists. It was rejected for many good reasons, and one not-so-good one, which was this:

    Its characters' concerns were too young and not edgy enough for the established grown-up literary publishers, and too old for YA. I was told that YA-aged teens can't fathom the notion of college-- it's too far off to relate to.

    And I thought "well how is this possible, that you just can't write about 19-year-olds at all, unless they're dealing with something Extremely Serious. *I* thought about college all the time as a high-schooler, and I look back on my youth now, so it was hard for me to understand.

    I wrote something else, published that. Am delighted to see that the years between 18 and 21 are now being considered formally, even if it does seem a bit odd. I love the New Adult age, and am encouraged to persist in trying to publish SOMETHING set within that frame.

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  3. ...and now I want to write Hobbit YA, so thanks for that.

    I think this is sort of odd, too. Why are college-age protagonists a no-no? I mean, I've heard the arguments (too old for YA readers to connect with, too young for adult readers) but...that sort of supposes that A) we only connect with characters exactly like us and B) college-age people don't read.

    Now A is false, or SFF fiction wouldn't exist. Or Historical fiction, for that matter. I'm not a spacefarer, alien, barbarian, Edwardian gentlewoman, or hobbit, but I enjoy reading about them all the same. And I enjoy reading characters of a variety of ages and both genders. As long as they're in context so that I can understand their world, it's all good.

    As far as B goes...really? Do I even have to address that?

    I understand that "New Adult" is trying to creat a space for the stories that are currently falling between the cracks, but I don't know why those stories aren't accepted in the existing categories.

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  4. I haven't quite bought into the New Adult idea. It's either a YA novel with a slightly older protagonist, or an Adult novel with a protagonist that happens to be college age.

    There are a lot of novels out there with characters of that age already, and they are already designated as either YA or Adult accordingly.

    I don't have anything against people using it to describe their genres, but I probably wouldn't use it myself.

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  5. I spoke to an agent at a conference in May, who told me she doesn't buy "new adult" because it's too hard to place. Only one traditional publisher has an imprint to take this category right now; the rest of the Big Six don't even recognize it. So from the agent's perspective, while it's not horrible to use a college-age character, the reality is that you're going to have a hard time selling it to a publisher.

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  6. Personally, I really enjoy the New Adult genre because I can really relate to it. I believe the college years and the years following are a crucial time in development just as high school years are. You're on your own for the first time in 18 years and afterwards you have to try to brave the world and become an actual grown up adult with a job and car payments and rent etc.

    New Adult has protagonists that address these the issues that only someone in this age range has to go through. I just graduated and am going through all this stuff. I read YA and I love it but sometimes the protagonists are hard for me to connect with because I'm not going through that high school drama anymore. But I'm not going through the married with kids or anything situations I've seen in the adult market.

    So, personally, I love New Adult.

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  7. I know this sounds awful but...I really believe college age people aren't reading as much as other age groups. There's no time! In between taking classes from 8AM to 9 PM and then staying up til 3 reading textbooks and doing homework, I think I read maybe 4 books in my entire Undergrad career. Some days I barely had a moment to grab lunch, never mind read for pleasure.

    Anyway, I do believe people are starting to recognize that, though people college aged are technically "adults" we're certainly not treated that way. We're still seen as too young to be experienced but too old to be a carefree teen.

    I think the distinction between "New Adults" and "Adults" is a good step forward. There is definitely a lifestyle change between age groups.

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  8. I can see New Adult becoming a Thing (yes, that's a technical term). I think a lot of the identity and self-actualization character arcs we see being played out in YA happen in both our teen years and, lately, in our early adulthood years. I think it's a symptom of society and especially the economy; I feel like today's college students and 20somethings get a couple "extra" years to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives, and that often includes a second period of living under your parents' authority (to an extent) and then figuring out how to break free again. I definitely felt more wrapped up in identity issues when I was in college -- particularly junior and senior year -- than I ever did in high school, and if YA had been in its boom years then, I'm sure I would have read and related to that genre. And even now, in my 30s, I'd be interested in reading college-centered fiction.

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  9. I love this topic, since my WIP is a New Adult novel, with a 21 year old protag and I struggle with how to market it. I agree with Amanda, that there is a definite gap between adult and YA. I don't care to read YA because I find their "problems" to be juvenile and as an adult I can see that they are easily resolved with common sense, which makes them annoying and filled with teenaged angst. But I'm not married and have no kids, and no mortgage and don't care to read about heavy, serious, adult problems either. So the space in between called New Adult is highly appealing. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to find books in that genre, (now I know why). Hopefully that changes.

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  10. Reading some of these comments has actually surprised me. While I maintain that 'New Adult' as a genre is a little confusing to me, I had no idea that stories with uni-aged protags were so uncommon, or so hard to get published.

    When I think about it, I've read maybe 1 book actually set at uni, and many books with protags that age -- mostly high fantasy or sci-fi.

    Speaking as a student myself, I read A LOT, whether that's common or not. That said, I'm at a different life stage to most students I know, and I don't really live the student life.

    But I would certainly read books with college-aged protags in my favoured genres. While I might disagree with the label, I certainly don't think there is no audience for it!

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  11. NA has come about as a response to agents/publishers.
    What I mean by that is this:
    The characters are "too old" (often starting around 19) for YA and "too young" or "the voice is too young/ya-ish" or "there needs to be more sex" for it to be adult.
    NA has come about because writers don't want to have to change those things. And, obviously, those things can't be changed without having a drastic impact on the story and changing it. Aging characters up or down and adding more "adult content" is going to make the story change.
    I personally was told that I needed to age characters down to make it fit YA or age them up, change much of the premise to make it fit adult.
    It is at that awkward and hard stage because publishers don't want it because of shelving it and agent's don't want it because they can't sell it but it was pretty much forced into creation because of those very agents and publishers.
    I think a lot of NA could fall into "upper YA", but there still seems to be that cut off on character ages and some content (maybe it's a little too edgy for YA but not quite enough for adult).

    NA is important and I think it can be great. The NA stage has more self-discovery and transition than any other stage in our lives, even more than the teen years for a lot of people. It's about finding yourself, being out on your own, the first love that goes beyond a first crush, figuring out what you want to do/where you want to go, becoming independent and struggling and succeeding. We read about teens in highschool and adults in the working world, so why wouldn't we want to read about those years that are so important and crucial? (And I'm not just talking about college- I'm just talking about those "NA years").
    I hope that agents and publishers start to recognize this and even if they can't accept NA because of shelving space, than I hope NA can be allowed in YA/adult without the authors having to make huge changes that aren't really needed. I do think, though, that NA will continue to grow and hope to see it on the shelves.
    LG.

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  12. An editor took a look at my query and suggested I change the protag's age. I had my MC at 21. This editor said New Adult is 19-24. She suggested I make the MC younger to fit YA or older to fit adult. Because NA as a market was nowheresville, man.

    But my story includes a love interest, and so I don't want to make my protag 17. And though she's finishing college, she's really sheltered and still very innocent, and so I don't consider her fully adult (read: jaded, cynical).

    So for now, I decided to keep her at 21. If an agent picks me up and wants me to change the age, then I'll consider it. But the MC's age really is integral to the storyline and involves so much more than just a swapping out of dates, as you all know.

    To me, the thinking that New Adult won't work because 19 through 24-year-olds aren't reading is HOOEY! If adults would read YA (and they certainly do), then they'd also read NA. Same for teenagers who want to know what to expect when they get a bit older. At YA age, they have the capacity to "read up" -- unlike MG who may not have the vocabulary or stamina to get through a full-length novel.

    I've seen some agents specifically looking for NA, and although I didn't get into this month's SA contest, I'll be sure to query this agent as soon as he/she is revealed!

    So, thanks again Authoress!

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  13. My (limited) understanding of it is it's not just about characters of a particular age, it's also about those characters going through the things that characters of that age deal with. By tagging it as 'New Adult', those young twenty-somethings will, I guess, know it's about THEM, and will make it easier for them to find stories of interest rather than have to read a book blurb or review.

    I'm with you, Authoress. I don't really see the need for it, and when I was in that age bracket, I didn't sit around and moan the fact there were no books 'for me.' I found plenty of great books that entertained me or moved me without them being about 'my generation.'

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  14. It's all silly marketing, but that is the world right now. Years and years ago, it would have just been a novel. Now it has to be categorized and labeled. How many books have we read in the YA genre today that were so good, it transcended this crap? Quite a few for me personally. If it's a good story, its a good story, but to get it out there, its got to land in one of the concentric rings of the skeeball machine that publishing has become...

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  15. I see a point to categorizing chldren's books because of reading and maturity levels, but for older readers, doing so reminds me of the way radio stations are "segregated" i.e. typed. As a former book seller, I accept separate sections for mystery, SF, etc., but personally think it's more fun to browse the great diversity of subjects in general fiction. If Pride & Prejudice were categorized as NA or even YA (Lydia & Georgianna, after all), I'd know the end of civilzation had arrived!

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  16. I think categories (e.g. “new adult”) are around to give us expectations, not dictate what we read. It’s like the movie rating system. When you hear about a G-rated film, you understand it’s intended for general audiences. You expect to be able to watch it with your kids, because it won’t include strong language, nudity, sex, etc.

    The same thing should be happening with book categories.

    When you see a “new adult” novel, you can bank on a two universal expectations:
    1. It’s going to be a story featuring the transition into adulthood.
    2. The main character is probably going to be somewhere between eighteen and thirty years old. (This range could change depending on culture and how fast the character is forced to “grow up”.)

    The great thing about the e-book revolution is that we have virtual shelf space. If readers want to find books featuring this stage of life, they should be able to. It’s not going to impede the YA or adult markets. :)

    Great topic, Authoress!

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  17. New Adult is the missing genre, the genre between genres, so to speak. While Young Adult always covers 13 through 18, Adult usually covers 30s and onward. 'New Adult' is the space of time right after high school, during college, and before marriage. It's a time of growth and experimentation that's often skipped over in books. For example, the characters are still young, maybe slightly immature and cautious about entering the outside world (like a YA character), but they have the freedom of an adult because they are living on their own, possibly living with their boyfriends and learning to pay their own bills and all that jazz. It works because it's a very real stage of everyone's life, and "New Adults" in real life can identify with it.

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  18. I agree that categories like this are just the death knell of reading and writing. How myopic to think that the age of the MC is determinative of the audience. And how sad that readers are so self-absorbed that they can only read something about someone who is their own age. So, since Tom Sawyer is a kid, that classic of American literature (along with Huck Finn) would be relegated to YA? Carrie by STephen King is a high school tale and I am sure he would really feel offended if this was YA. It is not. New Adult is just another sign post on the way to oblivion. We have beome a culture of perpetual adolescence where people are now allowed to be kids until they are 35. Preposterous.

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  19. Interesting topic. Back when I was in college myself (2000-2004), my creative writing prof advised those of us in the fiction writing workshop to avoid writing about college-age kids/adults/people, because "they generally don't have much to do besides go to college."

    And to go along with Jess's comment, I probably did less leisure reading in college than I do now. Despite being an English major and loving books, sometimes the last thing I wanted to do with my free time was stick my nose in yet another book. So I do see the point about the market of college-age readers being much smaller (unless we're talking textbooks, of course).

    Myself, I think I'd prefer not to see the New Adult designation. There wasn't much of an actual YA genre when I was 12 or 13, so by that age I was already starting to browse the adult SFF shelves. And maybe only somewhat coincidentally, a lot of the ages in epic fantasy, particular, tend to be what would be the New Adult age. But I don't think A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time is suddenly going to be recategorized.

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  20. There's a big difference between a mc who is in college or just starting out in life and one who's married with 2.4 kids. Personally, I like the idea behind the NA genre. I hope it succeeds.

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  21. I can't wait for the one-eyed 25 year old category. Because there is a big difference between a two-eyed person and a one-eyed person. And of course, only the one-eyed people would be a market for my work. Here's keeping my fingers crossed!

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  22. I honestly don't understand some of the angry/dismissive/snarky responses I've seen in response to NA. This isn't a corporate gimmick to make more money (obviously, as anyone who's ever been told their characters need to be older/younger to be marketable) so I don't understand why some people seem to take offense to this idea. The push for NA is really about writers responding to the business of writing. We aren't the ones who decided books have to fit neatly into a slot or else agents/editors/publishers "can't" sell them. This is a marketing failure, in my opinion.

    So what's a writer like me, or Igkelso above, or so many others out there supposed to do when the themes, the tone or voice, the tension in our stories is uniquely affected by the life stage of our protagonist, but it's a particular life stage the industry says isn't marketable? I have an entry in this month's secret agent contest that I entered as NA, but when querying, I've had to stick the "women's fiction" label on it because very few, if any, agents accept NA queries. I can't age my protag up OR down because it drastically affects other major components of the story.

    NA isn't just "I'm in college so my story deserves its own shelf!" NA characters may not be in college at all. It isn't simply an age bracket. There's a different scope and focus in NA compared to adult or YA. And it isn't about "perpetual adolescence" or the immaturity of "today's young people" either, which I find rather offensive. I wrote a blog post defending NA, and I quoted an editorial assistant from St. Martin's press who said:

    "What makes YA compelling as a read is its immediacy; a young person cannot write of him/herself from any perspective aside from “now” and “later”. With a YA voice, the past is less present, the present looms like a storm, and the future ever just out of reach. With an adult voice, there is a sense that the future has come to pass, the past is present, and the present encompasses all that has been and all that will be."

    That difference is what makes me shy away from some adult literature at times. I'm not so self-absorbed that I can't identify with anyone who isn't my age (another unnecessarily derogatory argument against NA that is logically flawed because it ignores the huge number of adults who love to read YA) but there are times when I wish there WERE more books with protagonists I can personally identify with a bit more.

    One more thing, or else this comment will be longer than the original post lol... I could honestly care less if NA is given a "shelf" or space in the bookstore, as long as agents, and then editors and publishers, will actually consider NA manuscripts. They can be shelved with adult if necessary. As someone else already mentioned, with a lot of book-buying going digital, the lines are less rigid when it comes to categories and genres (NA is a category, not a genre). I wouldn't be surprised to see indie and self-published authors really push the NA category into legitimacy since they are already so entrenched in digital publishing and have no one to tell them "we can't sell that."

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  23. I wish people would realize that it isn't as though NA was decided upon because some random group of people decided to complicate things...


    It has been forced into existence because of the "rules" of YA and adult that are often followed strictly and will not allow things that fall outside the norm to exist.

    Readers should get to read what they want. It shouldn't matter what age the characters are etc. The problem is that by not allowing certain life stages into the publishing world, readers aren't going to get to read what they want because the books that are being published are limited to "category/genre" rules.

    Awesome books should be published. It shouldn't matter about where it is shelved. The problem is, though, that publishing is a business and it doesn't work that way.

    If people don't like the idea of NA, then they need to realize that NA is at the hands of agents, publishers, writers and readers, and that if we don't want "to complicate" things by adding a category, then the world of publishing needs to open up on what it will accept as YA and adult. Which I don't foresee happening. Right now the way it is limits writers and READERS.

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  24. I think this is a function of the increasing fragmentization (if that's not a word I apologize) of the audience. It began a couple decades ago with MTV and then channels devoted to a program - History TV, Court TV, SyFY, etc....all catering to a small niche market instead of what used to be the case when we had 3 networks and everything had to sink or swim based on that prism. Publishing has now followed suit and is so worried about an incresingly (and daily) shrinking audience that it is trying to market to people in ways they understand. Unfortunately, by doing so, they are killing all of us. Here is a radical thought - instead of trying to appeal to thoise readers who do not read, will never read and don't enjoy reading, why don't we write for the few remaining people who actually like to read? Whether the genre is children's, YA, or this canard "NA" - just tell a good story. But publishers are running scared and the truth is one need not be traditionally published anymore to reach everyone in the world. Of course, you still have to get them to find a way to your work and to be paid for it. Not easy to do. The days of the big bookstores are over and a book shelf is now becoming a Kindle or other reading device. Storieds will always need to be told but the way they are being consumed is changing. Most young people I know have not even had the inkling to read a book other than what they were told to do in school. The times are changing. I think a youjng writer would be well advised to day to concentrate on scripts because the idea of a novel in page form...whether it be rendered on a computer screen or not...is becoming as quaint as a cave painting.

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  25. Seventh Heaven GirlJuly 27, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I read recently an article from a publisher who said that a novel that 10 years ago would have sold 6,000 copies now sells 600. Just as newspapers are becoming a thing of the past, so too are novels. Kids today live in front of the computer screen and the phone. They want things to talk to them, show them and dazzle them. They would as much rather sit down with a book as have their eyes gouged out. Of course, there will always be exceptions..but traditional publishing and writing is like the fish flopping around on the dock..it is not dead yet but the writing is on the wall. As writers, we need to respond to the demand and produce sotries in forms that people want to consume.

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  26. In New Adult, the parents are not around to give wisdom or to rebel against.

    The character lives in a dorm or an apartment or a military barracks. There is no sneaking out at night for a first kiss -- any sneaking out of a military installation is going to be for something more important.

    There is no first kiss, first love, first rebellion. Instead, a character may be choosing a major, choosing a career, or choosing to change a career.

    These are the first experiences of no one going to pay the rent for you, no one going to nag you if you stay up late before a crucial exam, no one to bail you out if you cross the authorities.

    If you make the wrong decision, not only may you get kicked out of college, you may get someone else kicked out of college. If you've landed your dream career, you may get kicked out of the office, or you may get someone else kicked out of the office.

    Military and office politics make the worries about who will get invited to the cool high school party look like kid stuff -- because it is.

    This is all setting. Now the story has to be written. Despite my tone, I don't think NA is better than YA. It just appeals to me.

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  27. Personally, it sounds like micro-management to me. But I sort of understand the reasons for the new genre.

    For the record, when I was in college, I read ALL the time. Sometimes I even read my college textbooks! And I lived on my own and worked full and part-time to survive, so for me there was WAY more to life than my classes.

    I guess I never really think about age when reading- it's the story that counts, not the age of the characters. I think I was in 5th grade when I started reading the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, Mrs. P. being retired and widowed, not something I could even fathom at that age. And now that I'm creeping up to Mrs.P.'s age bracket, I'm hooked on Sammy Keyes and Molly Moon from the kid's department! So maybe we need a new category for readers like me: Confused.

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  28. I'm having a hard time going back to YA after NA. I am caught up in the characters living actual dramas and not just exploding with temperamental teenage hormones. I like the sexuality of NA and find YA is getting boring missing that. I like the freedom of the characters. Not checking with their parents every ten seconds. I am a parent. I don't need that pulling me from a story lol. I feel the reactions are more realistic and relatable. Mostly though, like any pervy housewife my love for NA is the sex. I need something in there. Building tension and angst is great but leaving me at kisses and eyelash batting drives me insane. I like that the sex scenes in NA are generally more tasteful too. Not romance soft porn but done with very few throbbing manhoods. It's exactly where I want to read. Not teenagers and not dishes and laundry like my actual life. I love midlife crisis books but sometimes I don't want to be reminded I'm having one. A great spot to find NA references is NA Alley. I'm an NA author so I'm biased but even before I wrote anything I loved this genre and upper YA.

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  29. I agree with Jasmine. I think the industry is doing readers a disservice when we categorize books by the age of the protagonist. Who says people will only read about people their own age. How many of us read Ender's Game as an adult? Or The Book Thief? Books should be categorized by their theme. That's what suggests the appropriateness for different age groups. And if we market for theme, instead of age group, we'll have more adults reading books with younger protagonists, like The Fault in Our Stars, because of the amazing story.

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  30. I hope not all NA novels have to have sex for the sake of the bored housewives. My MC's fiancé is from a culture that doesn't allow that sort of activity before marriage.

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  31. Hahahahaha they don't but angst ridden teenage novels will be the death of me.

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  34. I don't think this is just about age bracket, and it def. is not just about being in college. Some characters may be, some not.

    Why is putting books out there a disservice to readers? If NA doesn't happen, than think of all of those books that could have been fantastic that will never be seen by readers. Think of those books that readers will be denied because they don't fall into the standard "YA" or "adult" norms. Now THAT is a disservice to readers.

    If these books were allowed in the Ya or adult category without huge changes being forced upon the novels that change the novel itself, then it wouldn't be an issue. But they aren't, and so those books--that could be wonderful--are kept out of readers hands and writers aren't able to write what they want.

    NA isn't to complicate things for readers or writers. Instead, it is to give readers MORE OPTIONS and to give writers the option to write the story they want/need to write.

    And the idea that we can only publish things that are related to ages when "more readers read" is ignorant. I, for one, read a ton in college, way more than I did as a teenager in highschool. And I know many other college students who did the same. And why should we decide what to write and what to read based on our own age. "College kids don't read so why should we write about them" is a statement that is doing a huge disservice to readers and writers.

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  35. Come to think of it, the reboot of Star Trek, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, was New Adult. I know that was a movie, not a novel, but see the point: Captain Kirk was not a seasoned captain looking around thirty-five years old. He was fresh out of the Academy, making his first bold moves and first colossal mistakes, including rubbing a young Spock the wrong way.

    This is the essence of New Adult. The new Star Trek felt different from the old, as these rookies take their first big risks.

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  36. I also think all the ridiculous 'categorization' of novels is silly. But, as the author of a novel starring a 28-year-old woman, which is on the upper edge of NA, I know what it's like to be rejected because the characters are too 'shallow' and full of 'white whine' because all they worry about is love and having fun.

    There is a large subsection of the population - other than college students, even - who are adults, but aren't occupied with children, serious jobs (especially now), money problems, marital strife, and elderly parents. And some of these people want to read about people like them.

    I think there is a market for it. Do I hate the term 'new adult'? Yes. But I'd love to find a home for my novel, too.

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  37. A lot of comments above have vividly described my feelings about this. The idea that such a critical part of our lives is excluded by the publishing industry because of strict categories of what constitutes an "adult" book versus a "YA" book is appalling. As both a writer, and reader, of books that falls squarely into this no-man's land, I'm delighted to see that new-adult seems to be gaining momentum as a category.

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  38. I completely agree that we need more books with twentysomethings, though I agree with other commentators that it's doing everyone a disservice to keep breaking books up into age designations. I had hyperlexia at age three and always read several grade levels above me, and pretty much went right from preteen and teen books to adult novels at 14. Never in my life did I feel swayed towards or against picking up a book because the characters were a lot younger or older than I was.

    I write historical, and have always predominantly read historical, literary, and classic world literature. Even though many of my own books have characters who age into their twenties, I'm not so sure they'd be considered New Adult, since till about 30 years ago, someone who was 18-25 was considered an adult, period. There was no concept of extended adolescence or transitioning from high school to adulthood. (Honestly, no matter how many old films and pictures I see, it's always a shock to see how so many women in their teens and twenties looked and dressed like they were at least 30 years old till the 1960s!) Getting married, having kids, and starting one's own household were the events defining entry into adulthood in the earlier 20th century eras I write about, yet to the average modern New Adult, that might be hard to relate to since many people nowadays don't do those things till much later.

    I agree that theme is what should establish a general age bracket recommendation, not the ages of the characters. There are plenty of books I've read with teen protagonists that don't have a YA feel, just as there are books with younger protagonists that feel more YA and can even be enjoyed by adults on a different level.

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  39. Very interesting discussion! I'm not against someone else labeling work as New Adult, but I don't think it's a necessary label. A few comments here mentioned that adult market fiction leans toward married people and families or that the market is geared toward 30 and above. I don't think this is true. Back when chick-lit was all over the place I read lots of books about 20-somethings in the city (my friend calls them Chick in the Big City books). Think The Devil Wears Prada or even The Nanny Diaries. I read these when I was "New Adult" aged and didn't have trouble finding them.

    However, are readers now saying there's a lack of new material for this age group? In the romance and paranormal fiction that I read, almost all the protagonists are in their 20s. Although, maybe people are looking for contemporary books that specifically address the transition from high school to adulthood, which is quite a niche, but I do think there's value to writing these types of books. Even so, if that's the case, then I think labels like New Adult + (Historical/Sci-fi etc) seems like overkill. I don't think the New Adult label tacked onto genre fiction does it any favors.

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  40. Stephsco -- I feel like the age thing is a little more lax in certain genres like high fantasy and, to some extent, historical. I think perhaps it has something to do with the different age roles and expectations of the story world versus contemporary ideas of adolescence/adulthood.

    There was a run of super popular titles about fabulous twentysomethings when chick lit hit big. But even then, they were formulaic and even more niche (I would think) than the NA most of us want. They were basically all about girls navigating love, life, and shiny high-powered careers, all set in the big city. Okay, great... But I want something with more depth and range than that.

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  41. Oddly enough, my agent is looking right now at a secondary-world fantasy novel of mine with an 18-year-old MC. I wouldn't dream of marketing it as anything but 'Adult' fiction, because of some plot elements.

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  42. As an author of paranormal fantasy with characters in the college age to early twenties, I fell into the "NA" category by accident. But my characters are going through a period of explosive growth and self realization, including the exploration of adult relationships. This doesn't work in the YA category since our culture frowns on teenagers having sex, and it wouldn't make sense if the characters were older.

    As to any assertions that this age group doesn't read, I have found a lot of book review sites run by people in university, including graduate students. They have been very enthusiastic about my books.

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  43. Looks great, Nathan! I'm sure my nephew will gobble that one up when it comes out, too.

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