A recent Publishers Weekly article began: “The category that drew sneers five years ago has become a full-on phenomenon.”
I signed my first New Adult manuscript in early 2009 mostly as a passion project, but I could also see that undergrads and recent college graduates were under-served by major publishers. I myself wasn’t that far removed from the 18-25 demographic at the time. There were stories of that age being written and plenty of market room for them, but we were still feeling the initial big YA boom (among other distractions), so not a lot of folks in publishing and bookselling had reason to care, let alone invest the precious resources necessary to make NA a thing.
Looking back, PW’s statement proved accurate. It took me almost 3 %#*$& years before that book sold in hardcover to a NY publisher. By then, in late 2011, times had changed. NA hadn’t blown up yet, but there were rumblings.
While publishers balked, writers of New Adult had taken to self-publishing, filling that market need with cheap (and sometimes free) e-books and finding some good success. In 2012, some of them hit bestseller lists and sold in big deals to big publishers. I naturally found it much easier to sell my own NA projects, as did many other agents.
Though it sold well, NA initially caught a lot of flack, including a 2013 ABC News article that began: “Emerging ‘New Adult’ Book Genre Puts Smut Fiction on Bestseller Lists.” About half of that headline is misleading (if not straight-up inaccurate), but such is the case when something is new and yet not fully understood. At least folks were talking about it.
Amazon and BISG then began allowing books to officially be listed as New Adult. Both listed it as a subcategory of romance, since that was the most popular NA genre. Not perfect, but still, it was progress. It was validation that New Adult was “for real.”
Now, bestselling NA author J Lynn voices what we’ve seen creeping up thus far in 2014: “Already, we are seeing romantic suspense, thrillers, and there are several upcoming paranormals and science fiction new adult novels.” Yes, not only is NA a thing, but it is beginning to come into its own with a bit of the diversity necessary for it to live on as a strong, sustainable category, much like YA, MG, or even Adult.
Today, PW is having a chat with 6 prominent NA authors. I highly recommend checking that out.
Tomorrow, I’ll be teaching HOW TO WRITE AND SELL NEW ADULT online with Writer’s Digest. It’s going to be fun and intense. There’s a lot to cover, and I’m looking forward to getting into all those manuscript critiques, too.
I love love love it when folks write what they love, take risks, and put in the hard work to make things happen. New Adult is, in the end, a tremendous success for authors.