new adult fiction

new adult fiction, fangirl by rainbow rowell

Young adult books are all the rage from bestseller lists across online marketplaces and in little hole-in-the-wall bookstores in local towns. I enjoy a good young adult book as much as the next twenty-something-year-old, but sometimes I just can’t get past the age gap. Sometimes I want to read about a life situation that is similar to mine, and at these times I don’t really want to read a love story about two sixteen-year-olds. Am I the only one that feels this way? Well, apparently not.

When I first discovered the new adult genre, I was ecstatic. It’s like young adult books but for people in their twenties! After that initial thought passed, I began thinking of other readers’ thoughts on the genre. Why aren’t new adult books more popular? How come I rarely hear anyone talking about new adult books, despite mostly associating with people my own age or older?

There Are a Few Good Reasons for This:

    1. Young adult books are still so universally versatile and relatable, and teenagers are the ones blasting these books into the popular realm of fiction.
    2. The amount of new adult books pales in comparison to the amount of young adult books available at our fingertips.

So, I got to wondering, who exactly will be reading this adult genre? Is there a transitional period between young adult books and new adults books, and do readers sometimes transition between the two as they “come of age,” so to speak?

Here’s what I learned through my research of the two genres crossing over and the popular markets for each one:
Apparently, the new adult books that sell the most are pretty much books exactly like young adult books but with sex. According to Publishing Perspectives, the most prominent subgenre in new adult books is romance. The main difference between young adult books and new adult books is the amount of explicit content that is allowed inside. For people looking for a clean escape into romance, new adult books are definitely not for them- not at the time being at least.

No Shelf Space for ‘New Adult’ Fiction

Bookstores don’t find the genre too promising. Publishers embracing the new genre have tried explaining why bookstores aren’t saving shelf space for new adult books. “I think they find the term a little confusing or not specific enough to capture a large readership,” Margo Lipshultz, senior editor of Harlequin Enterprises LTD, explains to Publishing Perspectives. Another publisher tried to explain the challenge of working with bookstores on the genre: “…Convincing booksellers that it’s not just a fad, it really does exist…They haven’t really seen people coming into the bookstores and asking for the books perhaps. Whenever it’s a new area, they ask, ‘If I really am going to dedicate shelf space to a new area, what am I going to take it from?”

While the genre doesn’t have a big fan base yet, maybe it’s a promising beginning for writers that want to get their foot in the door in the industry. According to Writers Digest, former young adult editor Karen Grove passed many manuscripts by in her 20 years of editing at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt because they didn’t fit the parameters of young adult fiction: “It drove me crazy that there was no place for these books,” she said. “They wouldn’t be successful in YA and they wouldn’t find an audience in adult. They were in between. It seems the 18-24-year-old had been forgotten in literature.”

Can NA Fiction Replace YA Fiction in Popularity?

For readers who aren’t into romantic novels or novels that include sex, young adult books will still be your go-to. Especially considering the amount of teenagers that are involved in the young adult scene, I don’t think that new adult books will ever replace young adult books in popularity. However, if new adult books start broadening their horizons and embrace fantasy, speculative fiction, and the likes, maybe new adult books could find themselves in the lead after all.

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