Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Adult? Upper YA? No Market?

This topic is very near and dear to my heart because I’m coming across this time and time again as I interact with literary agents and publishers. The 18 to 22 year old age room is not a target audience in fiction books. My main character for Second Sight is 21 and lacks the marketability of a young adult novel with a teen lead.

When I went to college, I definitely came across this problem with finding books that fit with my age group. We weren’t quite “adults” with full-time jobs and familial responsibilities, but we weren’t exactly ‘kids” either. My roommate used to tease me for reading a series called “Making Out.” (Look it up, the books were AWESOME lol). So, where exactly do books with college age main characters fit?

A couple of years ago, there was this big hoopla over St. Martin’s Press looking for “new adult” genre books. These novels were supposed to be targeted at the upper YA audience. Nothing lately have been released about this imprint, but hopefully crossover novels with a broad age range will begin to pop up at more traditional publishing houses.

So, what’s a writer to do? I’ve been told to either make my MC a teen or drop the YA label. But when you change a character’s age from 21 to a teen aren’t you compromising many of the main components in the novel? Leaving the paranormal stuff aside, teens and college age students have completely different lifestyles and problems.

The other possibility is dropping the young adult genre label altogether and marketing the book simply as a paranormal romance. This would probably make the most sense, but I think many of the feelings and issues would resonate with YA readers.

My feelings right now are either to go with a smaller publishing house with upper YA novels or self-publish. You’ll hear differing opinions on the effectiveness of small presses which I’ve discussed in a previous post. My hope is that one day this won’t be a problem and crossover new adult novels will be more commonplace.


  1. I write NA and I'm actually starting a group blog about it. I feel we just have to continue to do what our hearts tells us and one day the market will see that we didn't stop fighting and fought for our 20 something characters! We just have to stay true to ourselves and our work :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your blog! I just checked it out and I'm so glad you provide reviews for novels with 20-somethings as the MCs! I'll have to check out some of the books featured on your site.

  3. I hear ya sista!
    "I’ve been told to either make my MC a teen or drop the YA label." << That happened to me when I was querying my latest manuscript. Actually, many agents told me to drop the protag, who was 20, to 16/17 or go higher and make her around 25 and adopt an adult feel.
    "But when you change a character’s age from 21 to a teen aren’t you compromising many of the main components in the novel?" << and that's why I didn't hear them and left my 20yo protag alone.
    I want to write NA. I love to write NA. And I'll write NA!
    Good to know there are others like us around ;) Welcome aboard our emerging ship!

  4. Great post, and I'm so glad to see another author with a passion for New Adult. One of the reasons I went with a small press for my debut novel was my desire to keep my protag's age at nineteen. It was essential to the story that she not be younger or older, but I knew from comments I received that agents would likely want me to change the age. Be true to your heart and your story and find the situation that fits you best, whether it be a small press or self-publishing. I'm so glad I stuck by my characters!

  5. "I want to write NA. I love to write NA. And I'll write NA!" I love this! I think it's insulting to that so many people think that characters in their early 20s won't appeal to a mainstream audience.

  6. Good to hear! I just downloaded a sample of your book, it sounds really interesting! I haven't read an ice skating themed romance before. I'm in the mood too, the Cutting Edge was on TV the other day (lol).

  7. Thanks! I just watched The Cutting Edge when it was on TV (even though I have it on DVD lol). It's a classic!

  8. I certainly hope New Adult novels will become more commonplace! I think that not only would they appeal to college-aged 20-somethings who can really identify with the protagonists and issues they're facing, but also to older teens who are looking ahead to that time in their life. As a general rule, kids and teens read up, so it makes sense that they might welcome books about college/first jobs/moving out on their own/etc.! It's a shame that traditional publishers are still telling authors to either drop the age down to high school or bump it up to older adult.

    By the way, I'm actually hosting a "New Adult" Reading Challenge this year to help get more people reading New Adult books and increase awareness of them in the blogosphere. If you're interested and want to check it out, here's the link:

    And good luck with your New Adult novel! :)

  9. Challenge sounds great! I just tweeted it and I'll look at the Good Reads group you have set up! I'm hoping to actually have some free time to read on my vacation in a couple of weeks.