Thursday, February 3, 2011

Will New Adult ever make it to the shelves?

I'd written a rough draft of this post last week and shelved it, but Lisa at Read. Write. Repeat and Shelli at Market my Words asked me some great questions yesterday that set the light bulb a'glowin'. :)

When your protagonist is a twenty year old girl-woman questioning her ingrained values, it's tough to choose between Young Adult and Adult. Do I think a high school freshman will enjoy (or care about) reading Kat's issues in college? Maybe. Will a thirty five year old? Again, I say maybe. I'm twenty eight and tend to think I have a lot of my freshman self in me. It battles with the forty year old I sometimes think I need to be to deal with 'big girl' responsibilities. I'm a middle-of-the-roader, and that's kind of what your twenties are like. All my opinion, of course, and based strictly on my own experiences.

So, I starting googling a genre that perches above YA, but below Adult. There's isn't one, but there is. New Adult. It exists thanks to St Martins' Press, but you won't find it labeled at your local Barnes and Noble.

Check out this article and then this one. I know, lots of links, sorry! The long-and-short of them if you don't have time is that New Adult embraces that cranky transition period between teenager and adult. It's basically graduation day. When I gave my valedictorian speech in high school (we already established that I'm a big nerd, right? Right), it was all about Changes. How no matter where we go next, college or the workforce or the military or anywhere else, we all have big LIFE decisions that no one else can make for us. Blahblahblah, not a dry eye in the house, but should the world of reading specifically recognize this period as its own genre?

From a marketing perspective, I say absolutely not. You're telling customers that readers between 16 and 25 will enjoy this book, and now you've seriously limited your potential readers. I do realize that isn't a hard-and-fast rule. I myself love a little Ralph S. Mouse on occasion, but it might take a colossal marketing revolution to create a New Adult shelf.

Now, from the writer's perspective, YES PLEASE. :) Shelli (link above) made an excellent point yesterday that YA usually maxes out at 18 years old. High school. Middle grade is self explanatory, and Adult is, well, everything else, right?

I've gone long, and I apologize, but here's the million dollar question...

How do you pitch/query a New Adult novel when the genre isn't recognized? Comment, comment, comment.

Be safe if you'll be in winter wonderland weather today, and check out my FLY TO 500 Contest if you love prizes!



Alleged Author said...

I think you should pitch it as a novel college-age people will enjoy. Not everything has to be so black and white because that basically says, "I limit my readers because they cannot handle it." When I was in college, I CRAVED a novel that spoke to that time frame. And valedictorian doesn't mean you're a nerd, it means you prize intelligence. A very good trait to have!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

You know, I've battled with what is going to happen with New ADult for a while now. Funny, for a classification that hasn't taken off, there really are a lot of people who's work seems to fit into it. Good luck and your novel sounds like something college-aged kids would be into IMO:)

Lisa said...

Well, we already discussed and I've had my own struggles with this. I do think there's a place for it and that people would read it, but how will they find it? I personally think it should just be lumped in with young adult, but a new adult shelf would be the next best thing. I think high school kids would read up to college, but the problem is that agents and editors tend to see it differently. Sigh...

Great post by the way... checking out your links now!

Christa said...

New Adult is recognized by agents, if it is any help. Or at least by the Query Shark Janet Reid. I think it is a legitimate genre but tricky to sell to publishers. But for all the adults reading YA these days, surely they would turn to NA also.

Marie Rearden said...

You're too nice, Alleged Author. I wear my nerd panache like an oversized New Kids on the Block button. :)

Marie Rearden said...

As I told Lisa outside of the Cheetah, I'm going to send Lisa Desrochers an email on this topic. In Personal Demons (I know, I talk about that book all the time!), Frannie's a high school senior. She'll be in college in Original Sin. New adult? YA? A good, old fasion mix?

We'll see. For now, I'm going to take Kat's age out of my query. I want my potential agents to focus on the story. :)

Great posts!

Nicki Elson said...

Hi Marie,

Sorry to be so late in getting back to you! I've been out of town, but was thrilled to get your note regarding New Adult---I had no idea it was a category. It sure does solve some problems for my book, because as a college student, my "new" adult main character faces adult issues...and my writing gets into some adult detail that in my mind prevents Three Daves from being considered as a YA novel.

As you say, the demographic that is technically NA is very small, BUT I think categorizing a book there actually opens it up more widely---because now you're letting people know that it's appropriate for TWO big markets - adult and YA. With my book now being marketed as strictly Adult, it likely won't attract the attention of someone looking for YA. But put it in NA, and now a YA reader knows it might appeal to them - but they'll also be prepared for some more adult content, know what I mean?

Marie Rearden said...

Nicki, great to hear from you.

I don't know if NA is a category or not. Let me rephrase, a 'recognized' category. I've been putting YA on my queries since some agents will accept the early twenties as YA, but my book really sits on the fence.

I think mid-teens can handle college topics. I mean, if they're watching Family Guy or South Park, they can surely get through a book about an undecided college girl who makes a deal with the gatekeeper of the Afterlife, then falls in love with a woman who has the soul of a man before almost dying trying to keep her memories of the whole ordeal.

That's simple, right? Right?! :)