Recently a new genre has been promoted by some publishers: New Adult, NA. The other name for it, which doesn’t seem to have stuck is Mature Young Adult. It is fiction aimed at 14 to 35 year olds and started out as primarily ebooks, but can now be found in bookshops, although I have yet to see an NA section, but I think it’s coming.
Would I read NA? Yes, I probably would. I’m not a genre-bound reader. I read a lot. I like teen/YA fiction and adult fiction and read everything from thrillers to fantasy epics, contemporary to classics. What counts is the story and how it’s written.
The question is whether a subdivision is necessary, or whether it is purely a marketing ploy. Lots of YA readers are very happy with the introduction of NA – the characters are slightly older, 18-22, so similar to YA, but the language and subject matter can be more edgy, the main character point of view is as often male as it is female. YA POVs have become very female dominated. NA fiction explores the college years, newly-found independence with all the angst and responsibility that comes with it. When you think about it, it’s very different to teen fiction and most gate-keepers would balk at placing some of the NA titles I’ve seen anywhere near the teen section, but it’s not leaps and bounds away from YA. There is more of line that can be drawn between teen and YA than YA and NA.
Tammara Webber, who was self-publishing her NA books, has just been taken on by a major publishing house who have introduced her work as NA. Her book, Easy, was a New York Times ebook best seller. Looking at the book, and others in this genre, in terms of themes and language, it’s aimed at age 17 and upwards rather than age 14s and up, which are often read by much younger teens, and with the higher sexual content, (there are lots of sizzling romances), I’m doubtful it would pass the gatekeepers here and make it to the teen section. If you want to find out more there’s a Twitter hashtag: #NALitChat. Lots of very active NA blogs have cropped up too, with lists of recommended NA books.
Personally, I’m not for age-banding books and believe that kids and teens, and young adults, usually navigate their way quite well through the books available to them, putting down books that don’t appeal and reading the ones that do, all by themselves. It was the way I did it when I was growing up.
But if you have a manuscript filed away with characters, theme, and language just a little too old for teen/YA then there might be a place for it now.