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Thread: New Adult: Needless Marketing-Speak Or Valued Subgenre?

  1. #1
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    New Adult: Needless Marketing-Speak Or Valued Subgenre?

    I just finished my YA novel in the Shapechanger Tales universe. It ends with my heroine taking a gap year and having several adventures. Then in the last scene she begins her first day at college.

    I immediately started on its sequel, skipping to her second year when an emergency requires her to use her sort-of superpowers again. The sequel also has her taking a lover or two, juggling her private life with her even more private life as a superhero.

    So the question of how to market the sequel comes up. Some googling brought up the term New Adult. Especially interesting was this article at Publishers Weekly.

    New Adult: Needless Marketing-Speak Or Valued Subgenre?

    What's your take on this market slice? Can you come up with a better term? (Please Goddess, NM is such a clumsy term.)

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
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    This feels like an advert but I'll answer your question. It's evolving slowly but it looks like Erotica New Adult is making waves.

  3. #3
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    The fact that you protagonist is in college excludes you from the YA genre. If you want to market your story as YA, you'd have to age down your protagonist.

    If you want to keep her college-age, then New Adult is a very new term and it's still unfamiliar to readers and retailers. A better known term for fiction with college-age protagonists is simply just 'fiction'. Fantasy fiction in your case, I think, unless it has sci-fi elements?

    There's a lot of debate about genres and age ranges going on at the moment (Mature YA/M-YA, New Adult/NA, erotica YA and mature YA spin-offs) and I find it all a bit exhausting to be honest.

    I just want to read a good story. I don't care that much about age range brackets, I just read the blurb and decide if I want to buy it.
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  4. #4
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Neither YA nor NA or even MG are genres period. They're targeted marketing categories based on age. Inside each of those categories, you get your genres: romance, adventure, horror, mystery, sci-fi, etc.
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    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    The article seems to have a rather bad understanding of reading habits. "Avid YA readers" aren't going to stop reading YA just because they got a year older, and older readers who "read down" are not going to stop either. Although the bookseller quoted has a good point: "New Adult" is a dumb name, and I wonder if it has enough appeal to catch on among readers, which is where it really matters.

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    For I am a Rain Dog too LJ Hall's Avatar
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    Seriously. How do you go from being a Young Adult to being a New Adult, anyway? They might as well call them Slightly Older Adults, or Less-Young Adults. Level Two Adults. We Still Don't Know What We're Doing Adults.

    Such a horrible term.

    It bugs me because I realized weeks ago that in my supposedly YA novel, the MC really needs a few more years seasoning in order for him to have done everything he has to have done prior to the start. Which means that I'd be right in the New Adult age range. So either I query the few agents who say they handle New Adult, or I query a general agent and get lost in the crowd of urban fantasy fiction.

  7. #7
    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    I think that if "New Adult" continues to be bandied about to describe books that are popular (EASY, SLAMMED, LOSING IT, etc.), readers will start to use it if they encounter it in order to explain what kind of book they enjoyed.

    Then they will come into the bookstores looking for more books like that one, and will use that term to ask for it.

    Then the bookstores will need a section for it.

    Then the publishers will need to fill it.

    With Random House starting new imprints and specifically using the term "New Adult," to describe what they're looking for, I think New Adult has become a Thing. And I think it will continue to be a Thing; not because YA readers are aging out (I thought that part of the PW article was silly), but simply because people want a descriptor for those books.

    Though I like "We Still Don't Know What We're Doing Adults." I think that captures what I'm reading in these books very well.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW eparadysz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSSchley View Post
    Though I like "We Still Don't Know What We're Doing Adults." I think that captures what I'm reading in these books very well.
    I like that, but it's way too general. I still fit that description at 48. (Don't tell my kids, though. I think I have them fooled.)

    Most of the New Adult titles I've heard about seem to be successful self-published books getting picked up. Now that they're hitting bookstores/libraries, are they getting shelved with YA? Or mixed in with general or genre fiction? I wonder if that will make a difference as to whether they ultimately get their own section.

    It's always darkest before the bottom drops out.



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    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    Neither YA nor NA or even MG are genres period. They're targeted marketing categories based on age. Inside each of those categories, you get your genres: romance, adventure, horror, mystery, sci-fi, etc.
    New Adult does have genre restrictions. Not in the sense of the genres we currently use on the shelf, but there are requirements on theme and setting, in ways that don't apply to age categories. If I wrote a science fiction where 20-year-olds have to learn to tame giant space squid or die, it'd be marketed as an adult book. It's totally a book about the early adult experience, but it's not about contemporary college experiences, so it doesn't fit in New Adult (as it currently stands).

    If I aged that down to 15-year-olds, I could market that as a young adult book. Young adult has age category expectations, rather than genre ones.

    This might change in the future, as people try to find ways to make their book fit the trend, but right now, you can't call every book aimed at that age category of readers a New Adult book. There are expectations of contemporary college life, regardless of what other genre elements it may have.
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  10. #10
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    New Adult does have genre restrictions. Not in the sense of the genres we currently use on the shelf, but there are requirements on theme and setting, in ways that don't apply to age categories. If I wrote a science fiction where 20-year-olds have to learn to tame giant space squid or die, it'd be marketed as an adult book. It's totally a book about the early adult experience, but it's not about contemporary college experiences, so it doesn't fit in New Adult (as it currently stands).

    (snip)
    There are expectations of contemporary college life, regardless of what other genre elements it may have.
    Which makes sense, especially if the first few popular books fit that description. The way that 'chick lit' was not just 'books about young women', but 'books about shopping and drinking and boyfriends'.

    Because if it's not about college, or first days on the job, how is it different from real Adult fiction?

    Loathing the age segregation thing, myself. I went from children's books, to adult books, without caring if I 'identified' with the MC. It's kind of insulting, as though the reader is incapable of dealing with characters that aren't Just Like Them.

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    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    New Adult does have genre restrictions. Not in the sense of the genres we currently use on the shelf, but there are requirements on theme and setting, in ways that don't apply to age categories. If I wrote a science fiction where 20-year-olds have to learn to tame giant space squid or die, it'd be marketed as an adult book. It's totally a book about the early adult experience, but it's not about contemporary college experiences, so it doesn't fit in New Adult (as it currently stands).

    If I aged that down to 15-year-olds, I could market that as a young adult book. Young adult has age category expectations, rather than genre ones.

    This might change in the future, as people try to find ways to make their book fit the trend, but right now, you can't call every book aimed at that age category of readers a New Adult book. There are expectations of contemporary college life, regardless of what other genre elements it may have.


    Maybe that's the books that have been identified as New Adult, but every time I see someone discussing it, they're identifying it by the age category, not the presence of the contemporary college experience. Have none of the books associated with this trend taken place outside of college?

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    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJ Hall View Post
    Seriously. How do you go from being a Young Adult to being a New Adult, anyway? They might as well call them Slightly Older Adults, or Less-Young Adults. Level Two Adults. We Still Don't Know What We're Doing Adults.

    Such a horrible term.
    Love that term.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW
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    Thinking about it now it should be called Arrested Development.

    Wikipedia threw up another word neoteny

    Though Arrested Development is better.
    Last edited by fireluxlou; 12-22-2012 at 01:34 PM.

  14. #14
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    I still prefer Transitional as a category. You're transitioning from adolescence into adulthood, whether college/university is involved or not.
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    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    I like the idea of 'Transitional', but I think it would get easily confused with 'Crossover YA'.
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  16. #16
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    You know... why can't we just call them books?

    Look - here are BOOKS about science fictiony things!
    Look - here are BOOKS about swoony romantical things!
    Look - here are BOOKS about horrifingly scare-ific things!

    Problem solved.
    <----Look! NEW BOOK!



  17. #17
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    And this lovely description of New Adult from the NYT:


    Publishers and authors say they are seeing a spurt in sales of books that fit into the young-adult genre in their length and emotional intensity, but feature slightly older characters and significantly more sex, explicitly detailed.

    They’ve labeled this category “new adult” — which some winkingly describe as Harry Potter meets “50 Shades of Grey” — and say it is aimed at 18-to-25-year-olds, the age group right above young adult.

    The goal is to retain young readers who have loyally worked their way through series like Harry Potter, “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight,” all of which tread lightly, or not at all, when it comes to sexual encounters. In the “Twilight” books, for instance, readers are kept out of the bedroom when Bella and Edward, the endlessly yearning lead characters, finally consummate their relationship.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/bo...ales.html?_r=0

    Well. This is an interesting development.

  18. #18
    Fire Bad, Tree Pretty Guerrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    New Adult does have genre restrictions. Not in the sense of the genres we currently use on the shelf, but there are requirements on theme and setting, in ways that don't apply to age categories. If I wrote a science fiction where 20-year-olds have to learn to tame giant space squid or die, it'd be marketed as an adult book. It's totally a book about the early adult experience, but it's not about contemporary college experiences, so it doesn't fit in New Adult (as it currently stands).
    Uh...this, pretty much. I don't really 'get' New Adult, given how many urban fantasy novels I've read where the protagonist's been college-aged. To be fair, though classes are mentioned, the focus in those is usually more on how annoying werewolves can be. But still.
    "We all change, when you think about it; we're all different people, all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good, you've got to keep moving. So long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.

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  19. #19
    Have Harp Will Travel JSSchley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    Loathing the age segregation thing, myself. I went from children's books, to adult books, without caring if I 'identified' with the MC. It's kind of insulting, as though the reader is incapable of dealing with characters that aren't Just Like Them.
    I don't think it's necessarily a "Just like me" thing, though I think that's how the media is going to try to spin it. Most of the people I know pushing Tamara Webber and Colleen Hoover to the top of the charts are 30- and 40-somethings. These are people with established careers, children, etc. It's not that they're looking for characters who are like them; quite the opposite.

    In YA, there are particular expectations for what kinds of things the character will face and how it will change them; NA I believe is more about that aspect--"in this book, you will find characters with these kinds of problems."

  20. #20
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    The goal is to retain young readers who have loyally worked their way through series like Harry Potter, “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight,” all of which tread lightly, or not at all, when it comes to sexual encounters.
    (As quoted above by MissesDash from the NYT article)

    Did the NYT just imply everyone who grew up reading Harry Potter is either inexperienced or a virgin? Seriously?
    Last edited by EMaree; 12-22-2012 at 08:49 PM. Reason: typos galore oh dear
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  21. #21
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    (As quoted above by MissesDash from the NYT article)

    Did the NYT just imply everyone who grew up reading Harry Potter is either inexperienced or a virgin? Seriously?
    Hahaha, no the "all of which" refer to the books, not the readers.

  22. #22
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Oh thank god for that, haha. That makes a lot more sense.

    The sudden media surge in articles about New Adult makes me think this age bracket is definitely happening, whether there's a need for it or not.
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  23. #23
    I feel like New Adult is just become a replacement term for Chick-Lit.

  24. #24
    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    You know... why can't we just call them books?

    Look - here are BOOKS about science fictiony things!
    Look - here are BOOKS about swoony romantical things!
    Look - here are BOOKS about horrifingly scare-ific things!

    Problem solved.

    'Cause we can't just write and read them, we have to sell them, too?

  25. #25
    needs to change her sheets legendary bum's Avatar
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    Just came across this article. It does a really good job of explaining what New Adult is (and why it's not a frivolous category):
    http://jessnegron.blogspot.com/2012/...new-adult.html
    :]
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    The things they are doing and saying--sometimes they make no sense. Did their brains fall out of their heads? And why so much saying, so much talking all the time day and night, all those words spilling out of those mouths? Why so much? Why don't they be quiet?"

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