The publishing industry has kept very strict lines of young adult (YA) and adult books. The self-publishing industry has started to blur those lines by creating a new category called new adult (NA). Is this new category for ages 18-30 just an excuse for steamy romance novels in college or is it a real category that all publishers should pay attention to?
New adult is an up and coming genre in fiction that features protagonists ages 18-30 years old. These books tend to focus on the issues of leaving home, making career choices, developing long-term relationships, etc. The target audience of this category is young twenty-somethings and mostly female.
THE BAD REPUTATION
As this genre has grown, many of the books have focused on sex and romance as the main plot. This genre has been accused of basically being YA, but with more sex scenes. Another argument against this being a real genre is that it doesn't make sense. If readers want clean, young books that feature adventure and fantasy, then they can read YA. If they want edgier books that deal with adult issues, they can read adult books. In traditional publisher's eyes, it's not different enough to constitute a new category and all those twenty-something readers can suck it up and stay at the short shelves in the library and just read YA.
THE UNIQUE OFFER
The only problem with the above assumption is that it doesn't consider what it is like to be a twenty-something reader who doesn't want to read about teenagers anymore, but could do without the midlife crisis and explicit sex scenes in adult books. There is a gap in the market right now. New adult offers a way to fill the gap and give readers what they want.
As the genre has been expanding, it has started to include more than just romance. Really. Go look it up. There are plenty of new adult fantasy books that have a romantic SUB plot and that's all. Growing pains are being felt in the genre for sure, but isn't that how everything starts out.
Self-publishers are filling the gap that was so conveniently left open by the traditional publishers, and it's going fairly well. New adult has become a hot topic in the publishing industry and while traditional publishers are too scared to take a risk on it, self-publishers aren't. It may still take years for traditional publishers to recognize it, but self-publishing has the advantage of not needing to wait for the "higher ups" to make a decision.
New adult is definitely a new genre in fiction, but it is a genre nonetheless. Traditional publishers may be turning a blind eye now, but time will tell how this genre's future unfolds.
What do you think? Is new adult a real genre or just a wannabe that will flame and fade?
Thanks for reading!
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