Monday, December 07, 2009

Why New Adult Interests Me

The who did what with the what now?

The "New Adult".

Yeah, Adrienne, seriously don't know what you're talking about.

Fair enough. Let me explain.

So several weeks ago St. Martin's Press ran a contest looking for what they termed "New Adult". This is what they said they were looking for:

"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.”"

Basically the genre has been invented by St. Martin's because of the obvious crossover appeal we've been seeing with such books as Twilight, and heck, even Harry Potter.

And I found this very interesting, and is something I've been keeping my eye on. Agent Kristin Nelson over at Pub Rants blogged about it today, and as such inspired me to add my thoughts to the chorus.

As some of you may know, and others may not, selling work that isn't quite adult and isn't really YA has been very tricky for a while now. You'd think the idea of college age stories, or stories with individuals just out of highschool would be highly coveted by just that age group, but for some reason, and probably a pretty pragmatic one, it's always been a very tough sell to publishers.

What is the pragmatic reason you may ask? I'll tell you. Shelving.

Weird, I know, right? But think about it. Where would such books go? It's just one small category after all, in a book store full of tons of categories. We separate adult from kids, sometimes even putting one on a totally different floor. New Adult would be a smallish category (unless the next Twilight wound up being from that genre), not requiring that big a section. But where would you put it? Upstairs with the kid's stuff? Downstairs with the adult (after all New Adult is still Adult, 18+). Maybe on the stairs? So it's tricky to deal with a genre like this because it's hard to sell a genre like this. To make buyers aware of its existence.

I've also heard arguments against creating this new category because we are dividing books up so much already as it is. YA already gets marginalised for not being "real" writing, for not being serious enough to be considered Adult literature. What would happen now to New Adult? Would that therefore be considered a category for adults not quite ready for the good stuff?

See, gets complicated doesn't it?

Here's my thinking. I don't like the idea of categories in general. I don't like the snobbery associated with division. And I don't like the judgment, and that good books can be totally overlooked because they aren't on the correct shelf.


I also happen to know that books that would fall into this New Adult category are not being accepted and published by publishers because they currently have no place on the market. So if we have to have categories, I highly approve of creating one so that these books can find their place out there as well.

Therefore, this is my plan. I am going to spread the good word. I am going to keep bringing up the idea of New Adult when chatting online, or with my fellow author buddies. And I'll blog about it. Wait, I just did. Because the more we talk about New Adult, the more people will hear about it, and the more people hear about it, the more people may realise they want it. And maybe when a lot of people know such a category exists, the bookstores will feel better creating a section for it because buyers will know to look for it. And then . . . oh then . . . then the publishers will want to publish it.

All hail New Adult! Let the spreading begin!

S. Jae-Jones from St. Martin's Press answered some questions on the new category over at Jodi Meadows's blog Words and Wardances here.


Paul W. West, Author said...

I like it. Maybe my novel will qualify. It features high school aged characters, but is set in the 1960s so it could appeal to baby boomers as well as YAs.

Sean Ferrell said...

I love the idea of the industry trying to figure out how to market books that fall between categories. It's clearly important that book marketers/promoters find ways of letting audiences, especially those hungry for new writing, know about ignored books. And while I don't target my writing toward a "new adult" audience (I don't target my writing toward any particular audience while writing) I do want my publisher to think about those things. Cheers to St. Martin's for helping its authors reach their readers.

sanjeet said...

It features high school aged characters, but is set in the 1960s

Work from home India

sanjeet said...

I do want my publisher to think about those things. Cheers to St. Martin's for helping its authors reach their readers.

Work from home India

Anonymous said...

I write New Adult Fiction and I give a hearty cheer for your idea to spread the New Adult love! Why can't we have our own category? I don't want to read about High School anymore or starting a family yet.