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