The New Adults Debate

There’s been a lot of buzz on Twitter, and especially during the #yalitchat conversations about the new St. Martin’s “New Adult” contest.  See the link here with the summary of the contest, and definitely read the interview with JJ, editorial assistant over at St. Martin’s here.

They’re putting a name and a concept behind the space between YA books and Adult books.  They’re not creating a new genre necessarily – they’re just opening a call to a specific type of book.  It’s a kindof blend of “older YA meets adulthood.”  Characters who are older than those in high school, whether they’re in college or starting out their lives in other ways.    Older characters dealing with coming out into an adult world, or coming into themselves as adults.  Essentially the next level of the YA coming of age story.

I love this idea.  I love the concept of what they’re going for, the ideas that its sparking, and the enthusiasm its creating among the writing community.  When you do a lot of research into agents, and publishing and trying to learn the business, you see a lot of people telling you that college age characters can’t be in YA books.  Or there’s no market for it.  Or editors won’t want to look at “older” characters that aren’t your typical adult novel.  This is the first time I’ve ever really seen someone say “no wait, we really want to see what you’ve got.”

The possibility for stories to tell, and viewpoints to express are just as unlimited as YA or any other genre, but the fact is that you don’t ever see the examples of those books singled out anywhere.  Once upon a time, there wasn’t a distinction between children’s books and adults, and eventually the Young Adult market came to be recognized.

I do think that there’s the potential for a lot of hype with this “new” concept.  St. Martin’s is trying something different.  I think that’s fantastic.  But I think a lot of things will depend on how the experiment turns out.  It could become an overnight success, or it might not catch on.  Its really going to depend on those individual stories.  I don’t know that its anything to majorly get excited over – meaning I don’t know that we’ll see other editors putting out a similar call necessarily.  Nor do I think this necessarily will foster a division between YA and upper YA/new adult books.  But I think its definitely an interesting concept, and worth watching to see how it plays out.

Personally, I’d love to see this whole concept take off.  I love the idea of telling college-aged coming of age stories.  Pressures from family, starting your own family, and all the different urban fantasy possibilities get my brain buzzing.  And it makes me think about my trunked novel about a pair of college aged kids and the demonic spirit that comes between them.

What do you guys think?  Will the New Adult novels catch on?  Is this another “big” thing in publishing?  Or is this destined to failure?

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6 thoughts on “The New Adults Debate

  1. I think it’s a wonderful idea. as a former bookseller and now as a librarian, it will eradicate several issues. Personally, I’d love to see it catch on:)

  2. ur my heero =3

    I think it’s a great idea…in theory. To be honest, I’m not predicting a huge future for a New Adult market. The vast majority of college aged people do not read for the pleasure. Yes, there are a lot who do, but I don’t think more than 10% of them are avid readers.

    Most of the readers I know are boys who love the Dragonlance series and Gaiman, and the girls have all read Twilight because it’s the trendy thing to do–but that is the ONLY book they’ve read in the last several years. 90% of the people I know my age are far more interested in getting their hands on a cheap fifth rather than a good book.

    The girls I know who love to read admit to sticking to YA because they want to forget about having to become a grown-up soon. We also watch Disney Channel religiously on Sunday nights.

  3. Well, you already know what *I* think! 🙂

    I love the idea; I really like Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series because it has a college setting. She gets over the ‘age issue’ by making her protag a super-smart girl who is 16 when the books start, but is advanced enough in her education to go to university early. It’s clever, because she mixes with college-age kids.

  4. As someone with an eighteen year old MC, I was absolutely thrilled by the news. I think there may be a few stumbling points while the genre gains its feet but, really, that’s true of anything new.

    Most of my questions and curiosity surrounds how the titles will be marketed and shelved. I have no doubt readers will want to read them but marketing might prove an interesting challenge.

  5. While I’m sure I’ll be sticking with YA, I think the New Adult idea sounds great. When I was in university, I would have loved to read books that dealt with issues I was facing, instead of having to read books about thirty something women. Instead, I just stuck with my historic romances (which had 17-19 year olds falling in love with 30 + year old guys–ewww!)

  6. Hi, I just found you in a Google search, looking for just this topic 🙂

    Wow, this is wonderful news! Early 20s/late teen-aged characters have always been my favorite age group to write about, so I hope this market takes hold and grows. I think it holds a special place, because it is also able to draw readers from the more mature teenagers, as well as the whole 20/30-something post-college crowd who still feel attached to what it was like to be that age.

    I think there’s been plenty of fiction featuring protags in their early twenties/late teens, but it’s had to be marketed to the whole adult range until recently. Maybe it still will, but I’m glad to see people are thinking and talking about this.

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