Writing Info

“New Adult” Genre

Many writers and readers have heard the terms “children’s book” or fiction for “young adults”.  But there’s a new term in town.  NEW ADULT.  This is a new genre that publishers are exploring.  The genre is in its early stages, but that means that publishers are willing to buy material in this area as they build this section of their houses.

So what is the New Adult genre in kids’ books?  And why does the New York Times call it “an emerging area of the market that publishers think is under exploited?”

New Adult has some, or all, of the following characteristics:

  1. Protagonist, probably written in the first person because that style is more inducive to soul-searching, who is between the ages of 18 and 25
  2. Parents are around for a little while or play some role, but the main character is also on their own for the first time
  3. Main character is going through a major life change
  4. Deals with more adult issues than even YA, such as jobs, pregnancy, survival, etc
  5. And…has sex in it!

Elizabeth Chandler, a found of Goodreads.com, told the Times that, since 2011, new-adult fiction has been gaining in popularity on her site, going from a negligible number of titles to some 14,000.

New York Times’ writer, Leslie Kaufman, says:

The goal [with the “new adult” label] is to retain young readers who have loyally worked their way through series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight, all of which tread lightly, or not at all, when it comes to sexual encounters. In the “Twilight” books, for instance, readers are kept out of the bedroom when Bella and Edward, the endlessly yearning lead characters, finally consummate their relationship.

Providing more mature material, publishers reason, is a good way to maintain devotion to books among the teenagers who are scooping up young-adult fiction and making it the most popular category in literature, with a crossover readership that is also attracting millions of adults. All while creating a new source of revenue.

The author, Cora Carmack, also has some answers and describes the New Adult genre as:

There could not be a better way to describe the turbulent years between adolescence and adulthood, that terrifying in-between. Whether you’re at college or moving out on your own or working your first full time job-your life seems to change radically overnight. And yet for most people in that age group (18-25ish), you’re still not completely on your own. Your parents are still a large part of your life. You’re not a child anymore, but you’re also not quite an adult. You may call yourself an adult (as will others), but deep down in side you are petrified because you don’t feel like one.

Young Adult books are about surviving adolescence and coming of age. New Adult is about how to live your life after that. New Adult is the “I’m officially an adult, now what?” phase.

1 Comment on “New Adult” Genre

  • Jason says:
    December 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm



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