Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Fiction Categories: New Adult vs. Young Adult
By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
New Adult (NA) is a category of fiction recognized since 2009, when St. Martins held a special call for young-adult-type fiction that could be marketed to adults. While young adult (YA) fiction targets the eleven to eighteen age group, NA focuses on readers from eighteen to thirty. YA fiction features protagonists surviving their teenage years inside varying themes including romance, sexuality, identity, drug use, dystopia, and familial issues. NA fiction is concerned with matters facing those “adulting”. Here, storylines commonly touch on experiences such as first job, starting college, friendships post-high school, wedding engagements and military enlistment.
The success of several self-published authors writing New Adult books has drawn much attention to this relatively new category. Colleen Hoover (Slammed), Cora Carmack (Losing It series), Jennifer L. Armentrout (Titan series) Anna Todd (After series) have all self-published books that went on to become best sellers. Some of these authors have even had their work picked up by traditional publishers or adapted to film. Other well-known books in the NA category include Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, The Score by Elle Kennedy and Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley.
When YA Started Attracting More Readers
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been given different levels of credit for “saving” young adult literature. With so many great books in the category before and after Harry Potter, I believe the word “saving” is way overstated. What the phenomenally successful series should be acknowledged for is reaching so many new readers who then sought out other YA works. Many kids previously not big readers fell in love with the child wizard’s exploits and reading in general. Even more interesting is how many grown-ups were drawn to the Harry Potter series. One survey showed that 55 percent of those reading the books were eighteen or older. This new audience looked for more written-for-adolescents works, and the publishing world provided hugely successful books like The Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergent.
Some have criticized the term new adult as just a gimmick phrase to piggyback on the victories accomplished by young adult authors and publishers. This may be an unfair assessment. What is wrong with readers liking a tale about a young person’s first steps into adulthood? Let us applaud the traditionally published and self-published authors who bring these NA books to market, and wish them continued success.