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A path not followed does a disservice to the very universe that is trying to guide you to your destiny. This is how I discovered my book is New Adult.

When I went to order my manuscript assessment it was difficult to choose - children or adult. I ended up choosing the children edit because technically my main character is 17. But she is in the verge of finishing school. To get just a GIST of my book: it's a fantasy fiction novel that deals with very dark themes like domestic abuse with the all to familiar driving force of growing up in order to survive. 

While working away rewriting my novel, after getting the oh so helpful, can't live without manuscript assessment, I discovered my main character Liela was screaming at me. She wanted me to see her. To see the story for what it is and it is dark. Liela must make decisions that lead her to making immoral choices. And the genre I had choose to represent that (YA) was no longer working. 

So I'm trying to embrace the genre of New Adult but I myself am putting a negative stigma on it. I'm sure I've developed it over the years by hearing people in the industry say that there isnt a market for New Adult.

But there is! There has to be! 

People between 18 and 30 don't just not exist!

Okay let's just organize the population now and start changing ages. To the 17-year-old: Instead of turning 17 your now 31 congratulations. I don't think so!!!

So I'm looking for help and fresh perspectives touching every aspect on the spectrum of New Adult. Please comment and contribute your knowledge and opinion.

  • Are there any other writers out there who deal with this problem? 
  • Are you trying to fit your story into either Adult or YA, but the genre doesn't do it justice? 
  • What have people been doing because I know people have been writing for 18 to 30-year-olds?
  •  Is it just the marketing that's failing us?
  •  Is New Adult still so new that it's considered bad, even though, the term has been around for a decade and possibly even longer?
  • Can a book have more the one genre?
  • More books are being traditionally published as New Adult and is finding success like Sara J Mass. Does this change your mind and give you hope for the future.
  • As an author how do you market your New Adult novel? (This question is for Traditional and Self-[Indi]-publishers alike.)
  • Any other topic I missed?

I will be staying very active in this thread it is pivotal to how I'm going to market my book one day. Thank you for taking the time to read this long post. I hope your can chow down on some bacon or tofu and start commenting away. 

Most of all thank you for showing up. 


    • I've got exactly the same problem. My character's 18/19, which an agent said was a problem age for YA. So is it NA? The story line certainly gets dark, so if it is YA it's at the upper end. Perhaps I need to market as YA crossover. Not something I've tried so far.

      I've read that children like their characters to be a couple of years older than them, which makes sense, so what do the 16 & 17 year olds read if 18 is too old for YA? Is it just an agent barrier. And I agree about the 18 - 30 year market. They don't stop reading, so what's going on.

      All very frustrating.

      I'm taking the MS on a specific YA course next month, so it will be interesting to see what is said on that.

      I'll follow this thread with interest.

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      • Responding to Kate's first message. For some reason it's not letting my comment post directly under your comment I hope you can see this.... t's a very difficult for sure. Which perspective is your book written in? I love how you brought up crossover books. 

        My understanding of marketing a crossover book is taking a book that it 100% marketed for a younger audience but appeals to a older one without having to leave the category of your marketed genre. If your book has amazing crossover potential then adults would want to read it as well. But I if you lock it into YA you better hope your book becomes very popular. I think how well the book is doing determines if adults see it and flock to it. Or maybe I'm wrong maybe there are 18 to 30-year-olds who follow the market quite closely. I think you start out YA and see if your older readers find you and that's when you officially become a cross over.  It's like it's own little terrible mind game. 

        If your character is 18/19 is it a series? Does she get progressively older?

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        • I love reading edgier YA books, as do a lot of adults, so I think there's often a big crossover market. The book I'm talking about here, I wrote as something I'd like to read and only later discovered it was considered YA. I had to cut the MC's age to make it fit the genre, but that wasn't a big issue. I just say 18/19 because I think of him as 19, though I always put 18 in covering letters and synopsis! I have a trilogy all planned in my head, but there doesn't seem much point writing the next two if I can't sell the first.

          This was my learning book, where I started to find out how to write, and all about markets and genres and pitching. It's took a good 5 years to get to the endish product (which will no doubt change again on this new course!). Now I have a clearer idea of how it all works I can pitch my work more carefully rather than make it up as I go along. I've just finished first draft of a MG and have an idea for another YA next where the MC will be a more 'acceptable' age for agents. 

          YA urban fantasy is definitely where my heart is, and I know I'm writing that.  Yours and Bella's do sound a little as if they're being judged because of the character's age rather than themes, which is crazy when you look at something like Amanda Berriman's Home. 

          If heart and head are telling you yours is NA, you're probably right. I guess it's important to write the story you want to write or you'll find yourself stilted. Pitching it is a whole other headache. It's a long game finding an agent (if ever), so who knows what the market will want by the time you get there. Maybe you'll be the one to break the mold! :)

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          • Responding to Kates second post. I completely agree. I'm excited and hopeful for you. It sounds like you have already thought out a lot of the marketing potentials for your book and have made adjustments based on what will help sell the book faster. That's an extremely important aspect if you're going to try to publish traditionally. I hate pitching, so much. Doing it when you're having a hard time pinning down your ideal reader is a lot of work. I really am excited for you and wish you the best of luck it sounds like your taking all the necessary steps to succeed. Plus you have other books you'd like to write as well. Your strategic and I love it. 

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          • I have this problem, too. I have a 17 year-old MC who has to be under 18 for some of her father's reactions to work properly. She turns 18 fairly early on in the novel but I was told the novel was probably YA. I know they read all sorts these days but this has domestic abuse, drug use and suicide in it, and it is not at all aimed at that age group. That is a completed WIP which no agent has picked up. My current WIP also has an under 18 MC but again it is absolutely not a book for under 18s - though as it is set in the 1950s maybe I can get away with calling it historical fiction!

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            • Responding to BellaM's first message in case it doent post under your comment. See in this circumstance I think you have to go with your gut. If you know you didn't write the book for a younger audience then you don't want someone missing the mark on how to market your book. 

              If your traditionally publishing then you'll have an experienced marketing team who hopefully know what they are doing in terms of getting your readers. I think If you self publish then you definitely need to stick to your vision. 

              Haha maybe you could get away with calling it an historical fiction. Haha

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            • The "correlation" between MC age and book-audience age is an overly-touted rule, which have a psychological basis only in one direction.

              The important question: what are you aiming to write?

              Are you approaching this from the perspective of telling a story about certain subjects, themes and events? If so, write that. The story has a particular audience, (which - by the sounds of the darkness and troubling topics broached in all cases mentioned above - is more mature than YA.) In this case, the story dictates the ages of the entire cast. The style of writing and the themes-and-subject should pitch to the appropriate audience. You MC could be 100 years old. Or 30. Or 10. Or 3. They are whatever age they need to be to tell the story.

              If, instead, you are writing from the perspective of a target audience - if you are aiming for something suitable for a less-mature audience (YA or younger) - then there is a valid argument to adjust the MC's age to the target audience's age plus change. It's not an inflexible rule, but there is a reasonable basis for the guidance.

              In effect, your MC's age does not, in any way, imply or dictate the audience your work should be pitched to sell to. However, if you start from the premise of writing for a non-adult audience, then you should consider your MC's age in relation to the market. It's a unidirectional association, not a correlation.

              I should probably add, on reflection, that I suspect it's inherently easier to write a story - any story - involving a protagonist who will learn and change when said character is "younger". It makes the transition easier to conceptualise and believe, because - for many people - learning is something they do when young.

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              • Responding to Ricks first comment. You bring up a lot of good and valuable points that I hope everyone reads in this post. It is important to factor which type of market you are writing for to better write an MC that will be appealing to them when you are writing towards that perspective audience.  

                I think you had it right it is easier to write a younger character that has to grow and learn because they have an obvious character arc. But I think that statement does a disservice to older characters I feel like change and learning is not something exclusive to youth. Yes harder to depict but shouldn't be an impossible task for a character that is older. 

                I can't imagine changing my story to fulfill a need in a market just because it was lacking or that market dictates that change for maximum success. That's why I think those who are writing the book they want without those mainstream themes need to realize that book may not be accepted by the oh so gatekeepers of Agents. You keep playing the game but if no one wants to play with you then you have to change the rules. I think new adult books suffer from this pitfall more than any other. I think writers with unusual books have to work twice as hard and have twice as much passion to see their goals to fruition.

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              • S.J. Lott (just doing this FYI - if you type @ and then the username you should alert the person you want to respond to that you have responded, and you may find it quicker than referencing their posts as you have been doing)  I agree with you that change and learning is not exclusive to youth. My only MS (so far) with an adult protagonist is all about a very sheltered 30 year old man learning to throw off the shackles of his mother and grow up properly.

                Kate I totally agree about "Home"! It's hardly a book for a four-year-old. But that's so obvious even an agent can see it! Oh dear - I should probably not be too scathing about agents. I think one problem I may be having with my WIP is that it is written in first person. That is (I gather) quite typical of YA, but also means that the voice has to be appropriate to the age of the MC. So maybe it is giving out the wrong impression. I am not keen on changing it to third person, though because there is another major character (adult) who narrates his part of the story also in first person and I feel I need that voice to stay. Argh.

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                • BellaM Thank you so much for your tip. It was driving me crazy responding the way that I was and I'm sure it was having the same affect on everyone else. 

                  I don't think you should have to change your writing style to meet your agents perspective on the book and how it should be written. I don't think you've found the right agent. Keep it in first person if that's how you see the story. 

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                  • BellaM The whole finding an agent is one long and frustrating battle. Who knows what they're looking for.

                    I recently saw a dystopian adult book recommended - Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson. I thought it would be interesting to see what the difference was between an adult and YA dystopian, so read it. That was in first person, and I'm still struggling to see why it was considered adult. There was a bit of sex, but nothing gratuitous, and the plot was really simple. So what made it adult?

                    Then you've got Joe Abercrombie's Half a King - The author said he'd never written a YA fantasy and was asked to, and that was the result. I think that was in third person, but now I'm going to have to read his adult fantasy to find out what the difference is. It was no different from something like Robin Hobe's assassin's apprentice or Robert Jordan's wheel of Time. Maybe they're both YA? 

                    Really angsty teenage YA stuff is easy to identify, but some other books that are classified as YA I just don't get.

                    And what about the Hobbit/LOTR. Children's books? They go on and on and on... and didn't hold my kids attention.

                    I think how agents see age of character and what person it's written in changes constantly. So you just have to stick with what works for your book and hope your method coincides with an agents blue moon!

                    I could go on, but that's my little rant.

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                    • Kate "…coincides with an agents blue moon!" - beautifully put.

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                      • BellaM haha I enjoyed your little rant. But I started really thinking about it and your right. As a young adult I loved adult books as an adult I love some YA. I know we have all these genres in place but who is to say your book that may be more Adult is actually YA to a lot of audiences. 

                        I think you might have officially broke my mind. I know nothing. Never did. And never will. Haha

                        Best advise I ever got was just write your story and stay true to it. No mater what. 

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                      • All YA books have teen MC but not all books who have a teen MC are YA.

                        There are plenty of adult fiction that have child or teen protagonist. What separates them from YA is the voice and the issues dealt in the story. For example: Lullabies for Little Criminals, My Absolute Darling, or Home... Also you can have an adult book with an adult MC that can appeal to YA audience, however that wouldn't make it a YA book.

                        YA like any other genre has conventions which normally are: MC of high-school age, a distinctive YA voice, and dealing with teenage issues.

                        Also I might be wrong but as far as I know NA as a category is only ever use in Romance theses days.

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                        • @L. That's super interesting. I wonder if its just word of mouth then if a YA reader picks up an adult book if it has crossover marketing ability. But if you wanted to market to younger readers with your adult book would you then market the book as New adult. I feel like Adult might stop them in their tracks but New adult tells the 16, 17, and 18-year-old hey this book might be about adult themes your going to go through soon "read me." 

                          O! That's a good point about New Adult being only romance. I think that might be slightly incorrect. Even though I understand why you would think that. New Adult books tend to be more explicit in their relationships and have more detailed sex in their books than in the YA genre. Ultimately though they do have that more sexualized stamp on it. Some authors would have to market their books as New adult if they have a lot of sex because I would think parents would have a problem with sex being impressed upon their already impressionable youth. 

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                          • S.J. Lott  - I think it's the fact that readers like different genres and categories. People can read crime but also at the same time historical fiction, or YA fantasy but no matter how many different kind of readers pick your book you have to know you primary genre and category. 

                            As I say I don't believe NA is a category anymore in any fiction apart from Romance, nothing about being more explicit (YA is a spectrum that goes from clean stories to pretty dark ones). I think it got pretty popular around the Twilight era but then die pretty quickly after a few years. Setting MG aside, the only two categories I've come across in bookshops, literary agency websites, publisher websites are adult and YA (we actually had this debate recently on another forum I'm part of) but I might be wrong. 

                            And NA like YA is down to the age of the main MC or MCs for romance and not the age of the readers (even though it is like to appeal to readers around the same age)

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                            • @L. Hmm, this does give me a lot to think of. I still see a lot of books in the market for New Adult currently out now. A very popular New adult writer that is cross-genre is Sara J Mass. I think YA is more likely to be censored by agents though. They would have more of a say on what kind of material stays in the book. It's interesting but I think you're smart to boil it down to the characters' ages. 

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