Monday, February 25, 2013

New Adult: We aren't YA with a sex drive

(Photo source)

So there was recently a special on Dateline on the New Adult genre. I didn't see the special and I'm glad I didn't because I heard that the term was used over and over again that New Adult is "Sexed up YA" or "YA with erotic tendencies."


This is what New Adult authors have to deal with as a stigma, that they write New Adult just so their books can have sex in them.

No. That's not the case.

New Adult is not just "sexed up YA." Actually the best definition of New Adult I've seen is from author Kristan Hoffman on Writer's Digest

I'm not as eloquent as Kristan, but here is my short answer to what I believe New Adult is:

That period of life known as "the college years" and "post grad" in which we are trying to find ourselves and navigate from being under our parent's thumb to being on our own.

Now the long of it and why I write New Adult (hint: not just for the smex)

In 2009, I was graduating college and after finding young adult books I was wondering where the books were for my age group? Answer? There wasn't really any. So I had this idea to use my own experience of almost failing out of college (Libby fails out, I got my grades up and had a professor that believed in me and wrote me a letter to help me stay in school) and applying it to a manuscript.

I wrote what it was like to be that nineteen year old girl. How relationships are never about first kisses anymore. How it's hard to keep up with classes and a social life and to deal with not having your parents or someone to keep you in check when you go too far. This was My Paper Heart and I loved it. Agents loved it when I queried but I was told over and over that a college aged protag would be hard to sell.

And then it's the same familiar story that I shelved the manuscript after my agent shelved me and waited. Fast forward to 2012 and out came books like Beautiful Disaster, Easy, and The Wild Ones. These books exploded onto the book scene, made the NY Times Best Seller list, and were getting six figure print and movie deals. This was when New Adult was shoved into the public's eye like Lindsay Lohan after a weekend bender. And when something is new and gets in the hands of some hungry people, it can get turned into something ugly.

In short, New Adult is not this sexed up genre that Dateline made it out to be. It's about a period of life that yeah is going to be more sexually charged than a fifteen year old's, but it's no sexed up Nancy Drew. If Nancy Drew was twenty in her books, what else would those pearls be used for? Food for thought.


  1. You'll gouge your own eyes and ears if you watch it. Grrrrrrr

    I'm still trying to figure out how I want to articulate my rebuttal, but haven't quite figured out how to do it without having to bleep out my entire post. Citing Kristan's piece is a good start.

    I'm just cringing over how many parents are going to let their 16 year olds read NA now because they think it's a 'little bit more sexy' version of Twilight. And how much hate mail NA authors are going to receive from cheesed off parents. "Dateline says you're targeting our kids with this porno-smut!"

    In the end, it'll probably make NA just that much more popular. I'm just afraid of it being for the wrong reasons.

    1. Here's the thing, they say any publicity is good publicity. But I don't want people buying my books because they think think they are just smut. I mean obvs that is why people buy some books, but NA titles are way more than that.

  2. I didn't know Dateline did a feature on New Adult! Based on previous viewings of Dateline, I can guarantee I WOULD gouge my eyes out. I just saw an article linked by Publisher's Weekly today (which I thought you were going to reference here) which was about YA and New Adult and the photo was 50 Shades of Grey. Yeah, lots of people in the media just don't get it. Super stupid.

    1. I didn't even see that in Publisher's Weekly! I know some people think Fifty Shades is New Adult, which the character is the right age, but that book is almost the definition of erotica. If you take out the sex, there is no story, like any erotica novel. I even saw that "The Wild Ones" was placed in the erotica category on Amazon. Um...I don't know if it was just me, but that book seemed pretty tame.


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