(Business) New Adult (NA): An Emerging Genre

new adultA recent issue of Writer’s Digest magazine (July/August 2013, pp. 28-30) features an article by Teri Brown entitled “New Adult”: The Next Big Thing?”  What is “New Adult” and why is it considered the next big trend in fiction?

Simply put, “New Adult” is an emerging genre of fiction that bridges the gap between Young Adult (YA) and Adult fiction.  In other words, “New Adult” is fiction written for those ranging in age from 18 to 26.  According to Brown, “the term encompasses novels with characters in their late teens or early 20s exploring what it means to be an adult” (WD, p. 28).  

The term “New Adult” first entered the world of fiction in 2009 when St. Martin’s Press held a contest for novels that would target “new adult” readers in their late teens and early 20s.  The term immediately caught on in the publishing world as the perfect name for a new genre.

Why “New Adult” and will it last?  One reason for the emergence of “new adult” fiction is that a recent study released by Bowker showed that 55 percent of readers of young adult novels are over the age of 18.  Putting aside reading comprehension levels, it seems that older readers are reading YA simply because they cannot find material specific to their age group.

So how does “New Adult” differ from YA?  One major difference is that, while YA novels focus on peer acceptance and popularity, New Adult novels focus on the themes of surviving on one’s own as an adult both personally and professionally.  

So far, a few major publishers have launched New Adult imprints. Whether this new genre becomes a literary adult in its own right remains to be seen. Meanwhile, if your writing fancy is drawn to this age group, why not try your hand at this emerging genre? Who knows? You may discover that “New Adult” is the writing niche you’ve been looking for.

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2 thoughts on “(Business) New Adult (NA): An Emerging Genre

  1. I am an over 18 Young Adult literature reader. One reason I love them so much is that in this genre, the bad things that happen usually have a purpose. By the end of the book, there is usually some form of redemption. As a Christian, I don’t want to fill my head with garbage, but I am not going to avoid the toughness of life altogether. I want the same for my students, reality without the purposeless shock-value stuff. I read what they read, discuss it with them and make recommendations all the time.

    I was also happy to read this because I have completed a novel that could be considered “New Adult”, though I’ll have to adjust my character’s age down a smidge.

    Thanks for doing a little bit of research for me Mary Anne!