“New Adult” Books

AAAChris and Ryno“New Adult” seems to be the new ‘It” genre in Romance. Recently this came up in discussions on my post We Call Them Young Adult Romances, But Are They Really?

Many of the comments on my article focused on where to draw to line in terms of explicit sex in YA books. I recommended in my post that explicit sex (not graphic sex i.e porn) should be included tastefully in books with protagonists 16 and above. My recommendation was consistent with the designation of young adults 16 and above as “adults” in many US states and other countries, including a few provinces in Canada. Some commenters were horrified that I would be recommending explicit sex in these books even though I pointed out that the whole Young Adult genre was a misnomer and marketing nightmare. It seems now that YA isn’t really for young adults, but for ages 12 – 15, although it has been indicated that the intended targeted age group could be as high as 18. YA books obviously cannot cater to the needs of such a large age group, as the reading needs of a 12 year old and those of a 16 – 18 year old differ widely. This brings us to the “New Adult” genre, which many readers suggested as a compromise.

The emerging genre of New Adult books was born because a few enterprising het authors, fed up with the restrictions placed on them by the Young Adult genre, decided to come up with their own genre which would allow them to include explicit sex in their romances with teenage protagonists 18 and over, without incurring the wrath of parents, school libraries, the Goodreads YA Group etc. who cry foul at any “under age” sex in YA books. I guess all of the romances written decades ago with underage protags having sex, which no one has protested nor have authors and publishers been sued, was because those books are considered to be “literature.” Here are a few links to articles about the New Adult genre from the UK Guardian as well as ABC News and the New York Times..

There are many other articles on the Internet on this topic.

Basically, this genre covers romances between protagonists who are “college age,” 18 and above up to possibly 25 but could go to the higher 20s. But this is where the problem arises. As you know, a large percentage of M/M romances feature twenty something protagonists who are in the same age group – 18 to 25 – so what’s the difference between M/M books which feature younger protagonists and “New Adult” books? I should point out that most of these authors who have published New Adult books are self published, but Carina sent out a call for New Adult books last October and here’s what it said:

Carina Press is now accepting submissions in the new adult genre. We are looking for submissions with a strong story and fully developed, very definable protagonists, 18 and above (or at an age eligible to enter college), in their early to mid-20s. While at least one protagonist should fall in this age range, it is possible the other protagonist may fall in their upper 20s.

Story elements should be targeted to an adult, not teen audience, and should contain adult contemporary themes, frank, modern language, high relationship drama and intense conflict. Characters actions, dress and dialogue should all be age-appropriate. Think of the relationship drama of the college years and run with that!

Other elements that work in this genre (but are not required to be considered for publication) include increased sensuality, love triangles, protagonists with traumatic events in their background, and protagonists who have celebrity status–actors, musicians, athletes, etc. (Please do not use real celebrities).

To date I can’t find any GBLT authors who are using this designation but they probably won’t be far behind the het authors, especially in view of the call from Carina for New Adult manuscripts, because these books are selling like hot cakes. One self published book was recently reviewed on this site and the reviewer took the bold step of designating it as New Adult, however if the other GBLT epublishers do not adopt this designation, as a review site we have a problem because we tag books according to the publishers’ classifications, and the epublishers who focus on GBLT books have not come to the party as far as I know.

So why should I care?  My reason for this post is that we tag all books reviewed by genre in order to facilitate searching for them. If GBLT epublishers don’t embrace this new genre we will have to double tag all of the books which is a pain, as our system is overloaded. Also there are many M/M books and series already published with protagonists between 18 – 25, which poses the problem of how do we differentiate between New Adult and M/M books with twenty something protags. No one has a clue and we seem to be making things up as we go along. No one has a clear definition so this is still up in the air. Everyone seems to have his or her definition of YA, New Adult and M/M and I’m looking for some consistency, at least for labelling purposes, so the readers won’t be confused when they’re searching the database.

As indicated above, at least one epublisher [Carina], which releases mostly het romances with a few gay romances, is jumping on the New Adult bandwagon so it looks like the other epublishers will have no option but to adopt this new genre or clarify their policies. However, my question today is, what differentiates New Adult from M/M and YA? There’s a lot of overlap in the three genres. I’m hoping that a few publishers will comment on this post and provide some clarification. Many of them already have or are setting up Young Adult imprints so surely they have a vested interest in clarifying the age groups and sexual content of the YA, NA and M/M imprints.

Comments?

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23 comments

  • Basically, this genre covers romances between protagonists who are “college age,” 18 and above up to possibly 25 but could go to the higher 20s. But this is where the problem arises. As you know, a large percentage of M/M romances feature twenty something protagonists who are in the same age group – 18 to 25 – so what’s the difference between M/M books which feature younger protagonists and “New Adult” books?

    I’ve heard and read a lot about the “New Adult” genre. FWIW, I totally loathe the term (it’s SUCH a marketing tag, really) and have been totally unimpressed by reviews on a few of the New Adult books.

    The general theme of the books seems to be ‘young woman has a boyfriend but falls for another guy. There’s angst due to the love triangle and then some kind of HFN resolution.’ About the only major difference between (het) YA and New Adult books is that the sex is onscreen. Also, that, so far, the New Adults have been about love triangles. Seriously. I’ve read a few het!YA books (though not nearly as much as LGTB ones) and have often considered them far superior to the New Adult ones. The het!YAs have had plot and fully developed characters. Not OOC protags who act like they’re in a nighttime soap.

    To date, I’ve yet to see any LGTB New Adult books (though, if the trend grows stronger, I’m sure there will be some books labeled as such.

    It seems to me that LGTB books (in the case of this site, M/M ones) have had 18 through 25 y.o. protags having sex onscreen, offscreen and even faded to black. So I can’t find a main signifier that would differentiate an M/M book with 18 through 25 y.o. characters from an M/M one that’s labeled “New Adult.”

    In truth, I don’t think M/M books here should be tagged as “New Adult”–even if they ‘fit’ the label. YMMV.

    Reply
  • Interesting. Lately I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to new developments, but this might just be a good thing.

    Personally, I hate the new development – in life at large – that everything should be defined and everything should have rules and OMGWTFBBQ sex is bad! O_O We can’t have our precious little ones who never do anything wrong exposed to this bad bad bad thing. *rolls eyes* get over it people. Sex is a part of life and unbeknownst to you some kids have sex at the age of 12.

    Anyways, back to the books. It’s a good thing to add a new genre, though at the same time I think we should be careful that we don’t over-define.

    Some bookstores don’t classify their books as young adult, but ‘teen’. That covers a much larger base.

    But New adult sounds good as well. However, it shouldn’t be defined 18 and over as you’ll again loose that group of say 16 and over, that can read for example about sex or heavier themes.

    Personally I would make the distinction of:
    Children’s book ages 0-12
    Teens ages 12-16
    Young Adult 16-18
    New Adult 18-21

    Because lets face it are the books you read at 20 really that much different with regards to content than at 30?

    Starting college age, kids aren’t really kids anymore.

    Reply
    • Larissa

      I agree that occasionally we need an infusion of new ideas into an area that has become moribund, but the reason for this new “genre” is what bothers me. No one believes that younger teens won’t buy these books, so what would all of those censors do? As I said before, I read books that had lots of sex starting at age 12, and as far as I can tell, I didn’t suffer any harm.

      Obviously the authors who started this “genre” are on to a good thing, but the difficulty will be to maintain quality standards re characterizations, plot, dialogue, prose etc., as to date these books are being self pubbed. However given the editing situation with the regular digital publishers I don’t think they can do much worse. Maybe this move will put the censors out of business, which would be a good thing.

      I have no idea what this genre will do to M/M since a lot of M/M books feature twenty somethings. However, that’s the digital publishers’ worry not mine. They will have to step up their game.

      Reply
      • heheh the topic did get away from me a bit.

        This genre is getting harder to maintain and keep up with and it’s hard to tell what this will do with the genre indeed.

        Self publishing is a blessing and a curse. I’m always hesitant getting self published books, though admittedly, there are some really really good ones.

        Reply
        • A lot of the self published books are better edited than those released by the digital publishers. I don’t know why that is. Maybe the authors hire content editors.

          You’re right about this new genre – just one more thing to remember. 🙂

          Reply
          • Some of self published authors did start to hire conter editors – I had seen that mentioned once or twice. If it is going to be a trend I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I know it is expensive but IMO it is a very smart investment. Sorry for going a bit off topic.

            Reply
  • Wave,
    If the new rule is going to be that all m/m stories with characters 18-25 be categorized as New Adult, does this mean you’ll have to make this distinction retroactive? What a nightmare that is going to be, having to go back through thousands of books, re-tagging them.

    I agree with Kate’s comment about readers choosing to read “up”. I know at 13 I was reading very adult-themed books. I can’t speak with any degree of authority concerning girls, but I know for a fact that once a boy is old enough to get an erection, he’s thinking about sex.

    As an author, the bottom line for me is I honestly don’t care if you label my books YA, NA, or m/m. My concern is in writing books that readers want to read.

    I know that things have changed quite a bit in the past few years in the m/m genre. My first published book featured characters who were 15 and 17, and I had several review sites who flat out refused to review it for that reason (and there was no on-screen sex in the book).

    Basically I try to just follow the guidelines of the publisher, review site or group I’m dealing with. Whatever the policy is, I respect it. But I don’t fear getting sued because my stories have young characters.

    And I am fine with a New Adult distinction. This new label might be an attempt to lesson the stigma that sometimes accompanies a YA categorization. I know a lot of m/m readers have zero interest in any book with that label because they think it’s written for kids.

    Thanks Wave. Another great post.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff

      I have no idea what the rules for New Adult are, only that the books will feature protagonists who at at least 18 and going up to 25, maybe the upper 20s. (College age is what is being used to define the ages of the protags). This hits directly at the twenty somethings featured heavily in M/M romances.

      Does this mean that every digital publisher will now have to start renaming the genre from M/M to New Adult? I have no idea, but if this new “genre” takes flight they might be forced to do so to get people to purchase their books. I think Carina was smart to get a jump on it and they have the balls to lead the way.

      I agree with you that many M/M readers are not interested in YA books but at the same time I’m told that the major readership of these books are adults. Go figure. 😀 Maybe some of those readers are religious and don’t want to read about sex. 😆

      As I said earlier on the thread, I definitely read up when I was 12 and it didn’t harm me (but maybe the jury is still out) :), but I recognize that everyone is different. However, teens who don’t want to read about sex can choose other books. I didn’t choose to read Romance until I was an adult although I read “romantic” books occasionally. I always loved science fiction, fantasy and mysteries, which is why I’m so upset that fantasy books are now full of gore and decapitation.

      No, I won’t be relabelling the old M/M tags on the site with 18 – 25 year old protagonists, mainly because I have no idea which books would fall into that category. However, going forward I need to be consistent and that’s going to be a chore because every reviewer will probably have different ideas re tagging.

      Reply
  • Ok Wave…I am putting on my moderator of Goodreads YA thread hat” for this one! (insert evil laugh!!! :evilgrin: )

    I know–I do–that the restrictions on YA
    “off the page”, “fade to black” or “no below the waist” versus realistic or “what the hell teenagers are really up to” sex drives many authors and reviewers crazy.

    Trust me it drives us Moderators crazy as well.

    However…we do have 13 year olds on the thread. And to be the folks who moderate and make the decision to promote YA books with 16+ realistic sex scenes in them to 13 year olds…well, let’s just say it gives us pause…a great deal of pause.

    For you see–goodreads is at its heart, just that–a giant book club–a marketing and discussion tool for readers, publishers, reviewers and authors alike.

    So, as moderators, where do we draw the line? How much sex is too much? It honestly is a question we grapple with every week on our thread. We have had healthy discussions with Jay Bell, John Goode, Jeff Erno and more about this issue. Each and every one has a differing opinion.

    For instance (and I sincerely hope I am not misinforming here) but I recall that John Goode wanted to get the first trilogy of his Foster High Series into school libraries and opted to remove the very limited and (I feel) tasteful sex scene that was in the first book so that there would be no refusal based on censorship.

    Did I think it was a shame that had to be done? Yes. Did I read the revised book and feel that it in any way diminished the book overall? No.

    It is amusing to me that Carina Press opted to create a new genre. I think that it might be okay that there is a YA category that doesn’t have explicit sex–I think that it is ok to have YA books marketed for 16+ that does have explicit sex. What I am sad about is that there needs to be moderators–in reality, perfect strangers watching out for 12 and 13 year olds because their parent’s have abandoned their duty to protect their child from reading material that is quite simply too old for them to handle.

    Before anyone yells at me–I know there are 13 year olds having sex BUT I also know there a lot who aren’t. SO who looks out for them? If we paint the YA genre with a big old “bring the sex on ” brush, who watches out for the innocent who want to stay that way–for kids who just want to be kids for a while longer.

    Ok…enough of my soapbox…

    I do agree Wave–it is a tough, tough topic.

    And please know…we moderators take it very seriously and try our very best to be as fair as possible–and yes, we sometimes fail.

    Reply
    • Hi Sammy

      It is amusing to me that Carina Press opted to create a new genre.

      First, I should correct the impression that Carina created the NA category or genre. They didn’t – they are just the first digital publisher to actively promote it and request manuscripts.

      I don’t envy you the job of moderator at Goodreads Sammy because that sets you (not you, personally but GR) up as censor of what other peoples’ kids read. I think that should be the parents’ jobs and not that of an outsider or stranger to determine, and gives the parents yet another opportunity to have someone else bring up their children.

      I wonder why the same standards are not applied by the GR YA group regarding violence in YA books. I have read some horrific books including The Hunger Games which is classified as Young Adult. The blood and gore were horrific yet no one censored it. Many of the fantasy books recommended by GR are full of decapitation and gore. Is there a different standard for extreme violence than there is for tasteful sex between teens? For my money I would much prefer to have teens read about sex, which is natural, than violence, which is unnatural and harmful.

      Of course there are 13 year olds who are still innocent and don’t want to read books that contain explicit sex, but a simple caution “this book contains explicit sex” would work for those teens who want to wait to read about sex. Why ban the books containing explicit sex? In my view this is like the old days of book burning.

      IMO the Young Adult genre is a marketing device for authors and publishers, not really a genre because every genre is included – from science fiction, fantasy to contemporary, just like the New Adult genre. YA books are intended for 12 – 18 year olds. How can one genre cater to the needs of such a wide group? A 12 year old’s reading needs are so different from that of a 15/16 year old as to put them in a different zone altogether, yet Goodreads uses the same yardstick to determine what they can and cannot read.

      And please know…we moderators take it very seriously and try our very best to be as fair as possible–and yes, we sometimes fail.

      How can GR be fair when its moderators are dealing with such a large age gap and the different moderators have such varied personal values? I know that the moderators take their jobs seriously but they are setting standards for someone else’s children. Is this what society has come to? Parents leaving their offspring’s moral education in the care of strangers?

      However…we do have 13 year olds on the thread. And to be the folks who moderate and make the decision to promote YA books with 16+ realistic sex scenes in them to 13 year olds…well, let’s just say it gives us pause…a great deal of pause.

      What I am sad about is that there needs to be moderators–in reality, perfect strangers watching out for 12 and 13 year olds because their parent’s have abandoned their duty to protect their child from reading material that is quite simply too old for them to handle.

      Those same 13 year olds are probably accessing porn sites as we speak, because they have been told they can’t read a book with tastefully written explicit sex scenes. Have the moderators considered they are driving them to the porn merchants? Those sites are free and personally I feel that they shouldn’t be accessible to 13 year olds, but they are, and there’s nothing either GR or the school libraries or the parents can do about it if the teens have a smart phone or tablet.

      At 12 I was reading the classics, books with sex between “underage” teens, and I don’t think they damaged me, rather they gave me a different perspective on life and taught me when to say “no.”

      If a parent abdicates his or her role in the life of his or her child that’s not something an outsider or organization should assume. This only encourages the parents to continue abdicating their role and have someone else bring up their child and set his moral values. *getting off my soap box now* 🙂

      This new New Adult “genre” was only invented to get around the schools and parents and organizations like Goodreads. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t – the pity is that there’s the need for such a device.

      I have no doubt that the moderators at the YA group on Goodreads take their responsibility seriously, but have you considered what would happen if this group weren’t around? Maybe parents would really parent their kids.

      Reply
    • I assume you are talking about the GR YA LGBT group. So – you have 13y old members. But…doesn’t the fact that they are actually participating in this group – which centers around books concerning LGBT – shows that at that very moment they are interested in sexuality? Probably in their sexuality?
      A 13y old kid who has no interest in sexuality surely does not search for LGBT books.
      If I’d try to give my 13y old son a LGBT book to read….duh…he wouldn’t do that, not his kind of story…no dragons, no magic, no fun. Yeah, he is a bookworm but still a kid.

      I go so far to say it: A kid who registers in a LGBT book group does want to know about sex. Oh, it might want to know more…but sex is defintely in the picture.

      And I have to agree 100% with Wave – I started reading my mom’s books at the age of 12, I didn’t suffer from any shock, I didn’t do anything stupid because I read about sex. What I did was to develop the knowledge what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I think – if anything, reading about sex in grown-up books did help me.

      Additionaly I have to stand up for all the young ones: Those who read are generally also those who think. They can process and benefit more from the books than we often give them credit.
      And what a chance to adress the topic of safe sex….just saying.

      Did even anyone think about that? Aren’t the forbidden fruits the best ones?

      Those who are not in the mental frame to read about sex at the young age of 13…they either don’t read or don’t look for LGBT-themed books. Seriously..they still read the Whimpy Kids Diary….or the Magic Treehouse *cough*

      And just to make that clear – I’m not voting for 20 pages kinky sex in YA-books but I’m saying that if it fits in the book, I don’t see why we should be afraid of the most natural thing in the world?

      In my opinion it is absolutely unnecessary to create a new genre (I’m still not thinking that it is a genre, it’s an age restriction) where young adults can have sex….duh, the kids at that age read grown up books anyway.

      Oh, I also agree that a simple “this book contains sexual activity” or whatever should really be enough to let a teenager decide whether to read the book or not.
      I mean…if I buy a m/m book there are always these nice tags like: Contains male/male sexual practices…etc.

      Reply
      • I go so far to say it: A kid who registers in a LGBT book group does want to know about sex. Oh, it might want to know more…but sex is definitely in the picture.

        I couldn’t agree more Sunne. I wish adults could put themselves in the shoes of teens especially where sexuality is concerned. These teens are seeking knowledge and censorship groups are denying it to them. As I said in my earlier post, explicit sex is not graphic sex or porn, I leave that to writers of adult erotica. However some people can’t differentiate between the two.

        When my kids were in their early teens I told them they could read what they wanted and they did. They both turned out to be very stable members of society, not sociopaths. Allowing them to make decisions concerning the type of books they wanted to read helped us develop a wonderful relationship which continues today.

        Additionally I have to stand up for all the young ones: Those who read are generally also those who think. They can process and benefit more from the books than we often give them credit.
        And what a chance to address the topic of safe sex….just saying.

        Another excellent point Sunne. I wonder what happened before the advent of Goodreads. M/M romance has been around for 10 years, since 2003 and Goodreads was established in December 2006 as a “social cataloguing” website. When did it become a censor and arbiter of teen values? It’s a business with over 30 employees according to Wikipedia (could be more now), so if it’s a business should it be determining the moral conduct of teens? I’m no expert but I would think that there is a conflict between its business objectives and being parent in situ.

        As for the new “genre”, it was created simply to get away from GR and school libraries. Those same 13 year old teens will now be able to buy these books and it will be up to their parents to decide what they should read, which is where the responsibility should lie.

        Reply
  • Excellent post Wave! I’m all over the place on this. I know it’s necessary to have an minimum age/actual number, but coming of age is different for everyone. Let’s say someone figures out they’re gay at age 12 and maybe fools around with someone at that age or even at 14. So they are going to play around before they read YA/coming of age/new adult novels with sex in them? Doesn’t make sense to me. They’re not limited to school library books anymore either.

    Reply
    • Hi Mary

      Let’s say someone figures out they’re gay at age 12 and maybe fools around with someone at that age or even at 14. So they are going to play around before they read YA/coming of age/new adult novels with sex in them? Doesn’t make sense to me.

      I started reading books with explicit sex at age 12 and to the best of my knowledge my psyche was not damaged. I was armed with knowledge so I knew when to say “no”. This helped me enormously and today I’m well adjusted and when my two kids were at that age they were allowed to read whatever they wanted. Lady Chatterly’s Lovers was the first fiction book I ever read followed by the Tropic of Cancer and as far as I know I didn’t suffer any ill effects.

      It’s too bad that outsiders feel they have to be the “parents” and restrict what teenagers can read. This drives the teens to porn sites.

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  • First I have to clarify this: I live in Switzerland. When I go to the bookshelves in bookstores we have “reading age groups”. It depends on each shop, how they handle this. Some have just seperated Kids and Youth, some have made more groups, like 12-14, 14-16, 16+.
    Generally they sort the books in those groups according to the publishers suggestion.
    Well, now comes the thing….sex in books is not such a big thing here. For example I think some of you might know Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series, which I have seen next to the P.C. Cast “House of Night” series in the Youth section. Actually…most PNR is filed in Youth books. Or I remember seeing J.M Auel’s Earth’s Children books there, too (which I’ve read myself at the tender age of 14).

    So – I think it’s a bit strange to try to built a new genre with the “New Adult” books. Why? Because it isn’t a genre, it’s a kind of age reference. Genres are “contemporary, sci-fi, paranormal, etc.” Even m/m shouldn’t be a genre because it does not define the story but the characters. So, yes, for example “Hidden Wolves” is PNR in my opinion. But back to the “New Adult”. That would mean I’ve read a lot of “New Adult” – all those college boys, those sportlers, even those young weres…that all would be “New Adult”, too.

    In my opinion neither age nor gender not sexual orientation should define the genre of the books. It’s the story that defines that. If I want to know about the age or the gender of the MCs, the blurb should give me the information. And if people really are so afraid of sex – well maybe the book industrie should consider a warning sign on the cover 😉 But seriously, I hadn’t suffered from reading about it.

    In my opinion there should be more questions about violence – I still wonder why anybody thinks “Hunger Games” is a Teens book. My teens found it highly disturbing. Or her “Gregor”-books, age 9-12, dark, violent and disturbing. Or “Eragon” – full of violence – Teens book.

    People are seriously trying to avoid that teenagers are reading about sex by dividing books that are interesting for them in YA (no sex) and New Adult (sex)?
    It’s disturbing that violence can enter kids and teenager books without problems but physical love needs it’s own categorie to avoid that a 14y old would read about the physical aspects of love?
    Seriously?

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    • Hi Sunne

      I totally agree with you re the fact that violence is more acceptable in the US than sex. I wrote at length about the blood and gore in YA books in my post about Young Adult books which is linked. No one seems to care or have a problem with the extreme gore – the more violent the books the higher the sales.

      In Canada we are more accepting about sex but not violence and only law enforcement officers are legally allowed to carry weapons. Unfortunately most digital publishers are based in the US, which means that it doesn’t matter where an author lives, he or she has to comply with the publishers’ rules if he or she wants to sell books in the US which is the biggest market. Digital publishers based elsewhere also have to comply with the US laws about selling books to minors which contain explicit sex.

      People are seriously trying to avoid that teenagers are reading about sex by dividing books that are interesting for them in YA (no sex) and New Adult (sex)?
      It’s disturbing that violence can enter kids and teenager books without problems but physical love needs it’s own category to avoid that a 14y old would read about the physical aspects of love?
      Seriously?

      I agree that it’s stupid to invent a new genre to avoid having minors read about sex (although how parents will stop their kids from reading New Adult books I have no idea).

      Hunger Games which is extremely violent is an excellent example of a book full of gore, but parents don’t seem to care how much violence their kids read or see in the movies, as long as there is no sex. They have this fear of their teens being contaminated by sex, so everyone tries to navigate around it and this is the latest means, invent an entire genre of books called New Adult.

      Because we review so many books we have to classify them and no one seems to have any idea, other than a nebulous age range, of what exactly this new genre is.

      Reply
      • Great post Wave – I agree with you about New adult genre needing to have more parameters, and I also totally agree with you that it looks like it was created in order to make sure there is no sex in YA books. The thing is while I am also in agreement with Sunne about age of the protagonists being a bizarre classification for new genre or subgenre, I will take it if that means that omg teenagers now can find the books about older teenagers where they are having sex. I can also see that strange to me attitude about sex v violence. I want kids in my family to be sheltered more from violence than from beautiful description of two people having sex. I mean they are right now really young not even close to being teenagers but I think it is never too early to think about it. And do not get me started on Hunger games. I think that those are awesome books – but seeing parent of *eight year old* being ok with her reading the books just boggled my mind. No worries about giving her nightmares of kiddies killing each other for fun and glory? You want to bet what reaction the book with sex scenes may have caused?

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        • Hi Sirius

          It is kind of silly to create a new “genre’ to avoid the limitations around sex currently in YA. However, no one seems to have any idea how this will impact M/M since the age groupings are the same when the books feature twenty something protagonists.

          I’m not sure when Carina will come out with their first New Adult books (maybe they have already done so and they are all het, in which case I wouldn’t know about the books.) However if they have a few gay romances I can see the problems already in defining where these books fit in.

          It has long been acknowledged that exposing teens and children to violence in the US is not considered important to most parents who could care less. On the other hand they will do everything in their power to keep sex away from even their older teens.

          There are many “Hunger Games” in book form or movies. Sometimes when I read some of the fantasy romances I’m appalled that they are targeted at tweens, but no one blinks an eye. There’s no sex in these books so they are okay in terms of those policing the YA genre.

          It’s ridiculous to me that a whole new genre has to be created to avoid any sex in YA books. I guess this will make the parents of tweens, the school libraries, and others who police these things, happy. However they won’t be able to stop kids and teens from buying New Adult books.

          From my perspective I just need to know where one genre starts and the other stops so books can be tagged properly. I’ve given up on the violence and no sex in YA.

          Reply
  • This is going to be a little bit of publishing inside baseball, but the main reason New Adult got its start with self-publishers is that it’s an age range mainstream publishers weren’t interested in for a long time. My theory for this is that readers tend to read up, so like you said, Wave, 12-15 year olds are reading about 16+ characters, and by the time readers are 18, they’re reading adult books with older protagonists. That doesn’t leave a very big audience for books with college-aged characters.

    More to the point, I think New Adult is really a genre targeted at us old adults ( 🙄 ). A lot of YA novels are sold to adult readers, and if NA is just YA with slightly older characters and more sex, what that says to me is that it’s a genre craved more by adult audiences. Because, frankly, when I was a “new adult” I was reading Harlequins, you know? There’s plenty of racy material out there if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Now, m/m writers have been putting out books with “new adult” characters for a long time, and I think a lot of those could be saddled with the New Adult label, since there are thematic similarities—coming of age, first love, etc. Partly, I think the digital-first publishers that have been putting out m/m novels for years are also more willing to take risks than traditional publishers are, so the ages of the characters might matter less to an editor who thinks she’s found a good story.

    I’m interested to see if New Adult really catches on or if the genre is defined by these few bestselling outliers. A lot of the positive buzz about the genre that I’ve seen has been from writers who enjoy writing it and not from readers. I personally am not the audience for these books—I tend to like books with older protagonists—but I’m curious how other readers feel.

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    • Kate, I think you’re right about this being a genre for adult readers. I deal with college students in real life and love their energy, enthusiasm, and positive outlook on life. A well-written NA book has that same feeling and is the reason that I love that “genre.” In all cases, I hope that editors do make sure they are publishing good stories as you say.

      Reply
    • Kate

      When I first started reading and reviewing M/M I was very critical about the emphasis on twenty something protagonists and their lifestyle, although this apparently was what a lot of readers were demanding and still are. I kept hammering on about the fact that there were other readers who wanted older protags, and where the hell were they in these stories?

      Eventually I put together a list of Diverse books (which included those with older characters) as well as a whole host of under-represented groups. It was a lot of work to find books with older characters at the time, but slowly authors were converted.

      Like you I love books with older characters but we review books with a very wide range of characters and ages, and if this new genre takes flight someone will have to say where is the dividing line between New Adult, M/M and to some extent YA, because they cover the same age group. I’m sure that YA audiences (i.e. the target group of 12 – 15) will be reading NA books once they realize they are out there, if they haven’t already. I just need some clarification but maybe that’s too much to hope for.

      I think this New Adult genre will take off because there is still a huge demand for twenty something characters in gay romances which include older teens, but where is the upper limit? Although this new genre seems to be mainly for het romance I have no doubt that gay romance will follow, which begs the question: Are the other digital publishers going to follow Carina’s lead? Obviously the stories have to have the same characteristics that make gay romances popular – great characterization, a coherent plot and well edited.

      Reply

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