New Adult Fiction: A Guide

It’s been a little over a year since I posted about New Adult Fiction, but in that year the conversation has spread far more than I ever expected. A year ago, a google search yielded a few links with brief comments or explanations as to what New Adult Fiction was. Now, a search reveals pages upon pages of conversations about the category, blogs, agents, and even small publishers who now circle around New Adult Fiction. Most of the searches are discussions about whether it is a viable category or not. Many people make the mistake of calling it a genre, which inevitably leads to confusion.

There seems to be a split. I have noticed many people get angry over the introduction of the genre, even going so far as to call it a marketing ploy (thanks, Jezebel, for that “gem”). We have enough genres, and we have enough books about protagonists from all walks of life- why do we need more books about a specific age group? This is just an excuse to shove more content down our throats that we don’t want.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to clarify what New Adult is, and what it means for writers.

young readerNew Adult is a category, like Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction, Crossover Fiction. Young Adult is directed at pre-teens and teens, Adult deals with 18 and up, and crossover fiction refers to books that are shelved in both young adult and adult sections. I’m going to let you think about that for a moment, and decide for yourself if that could ever be problematic (hint: it is.) The argument I hear the most is, we already have crossover fiction, why do we need New Adult?

The problem is, crossover fiction still generally deals with teen protagonists and is simply shelved in the adult section because darker themes may help it appeal to an older audience. A lot of people reading those books love the stories and themes, but wish they were reading about protagonists their own age, rather than fifteen and sixteen year olds. They want the nitty gritty of themes pertaining to their own age group, and they aren’t getting it.

New Adult fiction has protagonists 18-25, and these protag0nists are dealing with life after high school, in whatever genre you wish. I’ve seen comments akin to “Oh yeah, because it’s so hard to be twenty two. Not! Reading about people dealing with life after teen paranormal romancehigh school is boring.” Well, first, being in your twenties is actually kind of hard. You are in between figuring out what you have to do for the rest of your life and high school, an institution that was safe and guided you, molded you. Mistaking New Adult fiction as a genre instead of a category causes people to assume that the New Adult category is limited to real life fiction about the day to day life of making these decisions. But we have paranormal romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and on and on in both the Young Adult and Adult categories – why do we seem to believe that the New Adult category won’t?

New Adult Fiction is not an excuse to write books about people we don’t care to get to know – writers are already writing about protagonists 18-25, and many of them are being published and shelved in the Adult section. But querying with a protagonist in that age range practically guarantees a rejection, unless the MC can be made younger. Is that fair? Just think: how many writers are writing stories you’d probably read, without any hope of being published simply because the protagonist doesn’t fit one of two limited categories?

I’m tired of hearing that this is a gimmick, it’s a marketing ploy, it won’t work. We have crossover fiction! We’re good. Because that’s just not the case. I want books about people my own age to be easier for me to find. I want to read about the issues I’m dealing with, in a fantasy setting or a science fiction setting, or any setting I decide on that day. I’m not sixteen anymore, and I don’t really want to relive that age in the protagonists I read about. Unfortunately, that seems to be one of only two options I have. I’m crossing my fingers that very soon, that will all change.

2 Responses to “New Adult Fiction: A Guide”
  1. awesome post….a lot of my stories have protagonists in that age range so I’m glad that this category is being accepted more!!

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