On Genre / Special

Special Feature On Genre: New Adult

If you had to name the hottest genre in fiction today, it would be New Adult. The New Adult genre has burst onto the scene like gangbusters. With such New Adult authors like Jamie McGuire, Tammara Webber, Cora Carmack, J. Lynn, Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines, and Jessica Sorensen to name just a few, these authors have found great success with this genre.

But what is New Adult? Wikipedia had a pretty accurate definition of what the genre entails: “New Adult is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket.  New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.”

The article also stated that St. Martin Press coined the phrase in 2009 when looking for submissions geared toward the older YA market.

The genre itself reaches a large target market. It’s thought that 18-30 year olds are the specific audience for these books but through some research I’ve found that anyone between the ages of 16 to 45 enjoy New Adult and can identify with the characters’ age groups.

What makes these books so enjoyable to such a large market? The answer is very much in one’s own perspective of the genre.  In my eyes, and since I’m on the older side of the market (cough, 35 almost 36 cough), the genre reminds me of my younger days before marriage and kids. I like to read the trial and tribulations in the New Adult genre to remind me of how far I’ve come in my own life. Not that every book I read mirrors my 20s. Far from it, but the mentality of the characters’ was much the same as mine way back when. In a way, reminiscing is heartwarming.

For someone on the younger side of the spectrum, like for instance an 18 or 20 year old, this genre mimic almost exactly the same emotions and situations these readers are going through in their real lives. This can provide readers a feeling of safety and comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in their stages of life.

New Adult also means more sex. And pretty graphic sex at that. With the label of New Adult on books in this genre, it grants the author more freedom to avoid the fade to blacks and add more in depth descriptions. Most of the books I’ve read in this genre aren’t shy when it comes to love scenes. Which raises the question: Are authors crossing the line with gratuitous sex scenes since their books are considered New Adult? How far are they away from other genres like spicy romance, Romantica, or even erotica?

The answers could be many. Authors in the genre found more success self-publishing their books which allowed them to freedom to keep more graphic sex in their books. Crossing the line is really in the eye of the beholder. The books are clearly marketed to a younger audience as well as the older. How do you cater to all the ages groups? Really, you don’t. If anything, authors can argue they are writing realistic fiction in a certain age group that has a broad audience. This gives them an incredible amount of freedom.

New Adult is a growing market that has largely been reserved for indie self-publishers. With the magnitude of sales these books are generating, bigger publishers are noting that New Adult is a hot seller with a large audience.

Anyone gearing up for NaNoWriMo today, can strike while the iron is hot with this fairly new genre.

Happy Writing!


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