Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Adult: A new genre climbing the indie charts

Here at TYAC, we're all about reviewing indie YA books. But we've been noticing a trend. A lot of books we've been seeing feel a bit too old to be called YA, but they also don't seem like adult books (and by adult, I mean books for grown ups, not BDSM fan fiction). You might call this new breed of books New Adult.

For those who are wondering, here are some clues that the book you're reading is New Adult and not YA:

- The protagonist is college-aged.
- The themes are too heavy for YA. (That isn't quite right because I've seen just about everything in YA - it's more that the heavy issues are presented or tackled in a way that feels distinctly adult.)
- There is a lot more sex in a lot more detail.

And here are some common ways YA books blur the lines:

- Setting the story at boarding school. (It's like college! Only not! *sighs* I love a good boarding school book.)
- Having a college-aged love interest.
- Having the protagonist go to college events like frat parties while still in high school.
- Having both of the protagonist's parents be some combination of the following: dead, inept, traveling, busy (Can you tell I'm not so much a fan of this one?)

It makes sense that these books would exist because if 9-year-olds like to read about 11-year-olds and middle schoolers like to read about high schoolers, then it follows that high schoolers would want to read about college kids. Plus you can do so much fun stuff if your characters are in college. It's a total win-win.

But here's the thing. New Adult books are like the Sasquatch of the publishing world. You hear about them. Sometimes. And everyone would love to see one, but they're seldom ever spotted in the wild, and no one really takes them seriously. (Did I take that metaphor too far?)

Publishers aren't signing them. Which means agents aren't representing them. All because readers aren't buying them. But how can you buy something that isn't there to begin with? I think it's going to take one (or a few) New Adult smash hits to change everyone's minds. And I think it would be really cool if that change began in the indie realm.

Here are some New Adult indies we've reviewed (or will soon review) at TYAC. Please let me know if you've read any other good ones!

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Easy by Tammara Webber
Hushed by Kelley York


  1. I agree with you-- soon as some break out in a big way we'll see more published traditionally. Crossing fingers!

  2. Slammed, by Colleen Hoover (18 yo MC, college boy), Grounding Quinn by Stephanie Campbell. Both great books, you'll be hearing more from these authors, for sure. Non-indie, but Love Story by Jennifer Echols and Two-way Street by Lauren Barnholdt might qualify, too. Great post, thanks!

  3. Great article. It will take a few breakout novels to really get the publishing worlds attention. A few of my writer friends and I put a group blog together about all things new adult we all write it and we interview authors who do as well. We've been "open" about a month so far, but people really seem to be reacting to it.

  4. What's interesting is that while publishers haven't been noticing these books in the sense that they haven't bought them up for their houses, they have been noticing them in other ways. Plenty of big pub houses are now going after these books; the author proved how good it was, and now the publishing house wants to cash in. Those big houses are making bad offers and would quite likely tank sales with high prices. Not to mention how they'd send the author into the poor house.

  5. I know a lot of indie authors that are writing New Adult. It's a great age and something that both adults and young adults would like. So many teens I know read adult anyway. All people want is a great story! I don't think it matters the exact age of the protagonist.

  6. Still thinking . . . Love Unscripted by Tina Reber, another good example, sweet read. And Kristina's Espressologist, too!

  7. Very interesting. It's interesting that now they're creating this genre. I'm curious to see how the trend carries out.

  8. I'm releasing a new adult novelette series later this summer. It's great to see people embracing those ages!!!!

  9. Kristina & Estevan - Yes, very interesting! And I'm crossing my fingers too :)

    Fred - You are my book rec hero!!! Thank you so much!!

    Twentysomething - Thanks for the comment! *runs over to check out blog*

  10. OMG, Jessica Park stopped by! Thank you so much for sharing your insider's point of view!

    Laura - Agreed. A great story is what's important.

    Isobel - Ooo. Congrats on your release!

  11. I'm proud that HUSHED is one of the rare NA novels floating around! And, obviously, people DO want to read them. Entangled Publishing and St Martin's Press both like/want new adult books. Entangled is my publisher, and I'll be publishing another NA book with them.

  12. Kelley!! So excited about all the NA authors coming by! Thanks for the tip on who's wanting NA. I've been seeing a great bunch of books from Entangled - will definitely keep an eye out for your next one!

  13. Yes, I've read ETammara Webber's Easy and Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster. Two awesome books! I think the NYT bestselling performances of these two authors will open the gate to more new adult books. We shall see... Great post and also great comments!

  14. Thanks, Marion! Definitely agree with you about those two authors!

  15. While It Lasts by Abbi Glines is definitely in this category and a great book. Also, Because of Low by Glines as well. Easy & Beautiful Disaster were some of the best books I've read this Summer. I'm 28 and find I love reading NA...hope it takes off!

  16. Yes my novel The Impostor is New Adult. It will be wonderful if the genre takes off! It is like the black hole in fiction but it is such an awesome age!

  17. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta is an absolutely beautiful New Adult book. Definitely worth checking that one out!