Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Distinguishing NA from YA

There seems to be some overlap between the NA and YA genres, some of it is organic as there is bound to be some overlap in books about college kids and books about high school kids. And honestly some of the confusion comes from writers manipulating the categories for marketing purposes. My friend Faith Sullivan, author of Heartbeat is here today, to tell us what makes something NA. So here's Faith!


The New Adult genre is relatively new, hitting the scene less than two years ago. It's in its infancy stages, so there's bound to be some confusion surrounding it, until it becomes more mainstream.

Unlike Young Adult stories, the characters are not in high school. They are somewhere between 18 and 25. They're either in college or at a point where they're just starting out in their adult lives. For the most part, they don't live with their parents, they're on their own for the first time.

What is the main difference between New Adult and Young Adult? New Adult doesn't have to be as censored or as monitored as Young Adult. Boundaries can be crossed, rules can be broken. Most authors feel there is still some sort of morality element attached to Young Adult where an author would not want to promote certain types of behavior or address certain issues that are deemed as too adult for a reading audience between the ages of 13 and 17.

Many New Adult stories, not all, feature graphic sexual passages that can be labeled erotic. Passages you would never find in a Young Adult novel. But a New Adult can have a clean story, too. It doesn't have to revolve around sex. In fact, New Adult isn't only about contemporary romance. It segments into as many sub-categories as Young Adult - paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, etc.

There's a hefty decision making process behind why authors designate their books either New Adult or Young Adult. It's up to their individual preference and the audience they feel their story is best suited for in terms of promotion. Also, a lot of bookstores currently don't have a New Adult shelf, so an author may label a book Young Adult, even though it's a more natural fit for the New Adult market. But thanks to a growing awareness of the trend, hopefully the momentum will carry over from the ebook craze into the brick and mortar retail world.

For more information, I heartily recommend two great reference sites that are the online authorities of the New Adult genre.

NA Alley - http://naalley.blogspot.com/
New Adult Book Club - http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/85934-new-adult-book-club

27 comments:

  1. Great post. I've only read a few NA books since they seem to be romance focused(contemporary romance isn't my favorite). I can't wait until the age group branches out into more genres.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't read much NA either. I love romance, but most NA is really graphic and that's not my thing. (Faith's book is not graphic). But my agent and I talked about NA a couple of weeks ago, and she thinks NA will start to branch out in a couple of years.

      Delete
  2. I agree with Sarah, so far the new NA books I've read have been romances. I'm looking forward to reading more when it branches out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd be more than happy to offer some suggestions for NA books outside the contemporary romance field. Please let me know what you all are into :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you recommend some NA books out of contemp? Or even contemp but cleaner like yours?

      Delete
    2. That's really kind of kind of you Faith, where you say

      "Many New Adult stories, not all, feature graphic sexual passages that can be labeled erotic. Passages you would never find in a Young Adult novel. But a New Adult can have a clean story, too. It doesn't have to revolve around sex. In fact, New Adult isn't only about contemporary romance. It segments into as many sub-categories as Young Adult - paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, etc."

      This has been my experience of NA so far, I'd be happy with any non-romance suggestions just to give them a whirl. I've come across a sci-fi NA book, although I don't think the author knows of the NA genre, or at least hasn't thought to market it that way.

      Btw, I just read the blurb for Heartbeat on Goodreads, I'm not much into romance and still found my interest piqued!

      Delete
    3. This has been my experience too, but I can tell you Faith's book is not graphic at all. Also there are a couple of "YA" books Slammed and Point of Retreat that I think are actually NA mislabeled and they are not graphic. It feels like in some instances authors are using the presence or absence of graphic material to label the category.

      Delete
    4. oops, and by the way I meant peaked not piqued. My typos are getting interesting these days :).

      Delete
    5. yes, I prefer romance to erotica and the blurb reflects it's a more thoughtful than graphic book.

      Delete
    6. For clean romances, I recommend any book by Ann Lee Miller - KICKING ETERNITY, THE ART OF MY LIFE, TATTERED INNOCENCE.

      Cindi Madsen's FALLING FOR HER FIANCEE has its hot moments, but nothing over the top, and it's a really sweet story.

      Delete
  4. I'm not heavy into romance or anything graphic, but I will check out Heartbeat. Love the book description of your two main characters that they are afraid of love. :)

    Are there any NA Fantasy out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks EW :-)

      If you scroll down this link, you'll find some fantasy options:
      http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/recommended-na-reads.html

      Delete
  5. Great post, Faith! I've been hearing a lot of bloggers complain that some NA sounds like YA that's being marketed as NA. I think it's good to clarify that there's a difference between the two.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great clarification. I just read two books that are labeled Upper YA/ NA. Both pretty clean and tame but with college students. I would let my 16 year old read either without question and was curious as to why they were labeled the way they were. Now I understand it much more. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting post. I've been experimenting with NA in my own writing, so further clarification of the genre is always helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine, what kind of NA are you working on?

      Delete
  8. I haven't read any NA books yet, but thanks for the information. Right now I'm happy with the YA novels still waiting for me to read. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a great post! Because it's so new, there are many people confused over what NA is.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here are some fabulous lists of NA titles:

    http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/recommended-na-reads.html

    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/28834.2013_New_Adult_Releases

    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7944.New_Adult_Post_HS_books

    http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9525.New_Adult_Literature?page=4#17208265

    ReplyDelete
  11. And I wanted to say thank you to everyone who left a comment *HUGS*

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've made the jump from YA to NA. It has nothing to do with erotica though - my books are very clean - I'm just tired of writing naive characters and figuring out where to stash the parents. I mean really, how many ways can you kill off the parents? It gets old. I love the maturity level of my new NA WIP. Long live New Adult! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My very first manuscript was NA (and I didn't know what that was at the time). I eventually went YA because back then(early 2010) there was no NA. I like both, but right now it's really hard to traditionally publish clean NA. I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing--riding the line ;)

      Delete
  13. I like your analysis! For me, the line is actually blurrier between NA and adult. I fall into that NA age range, but I'm pretty sure if I wrote about my own life it would be an adult novel just because of my circumstances (out of college, in a career, married, own a house, etc.) It seems like NA still has characters trying to find themselves, going through some rite of passage into adulthood.

    ReplyDelete