Did you know there were trends in fiction? We understand trends in clothing, hairstyles, and makeup. But there are trends in books as well. For example, a few years back everything in Young Adult fiction was paranormal and dystopian. Now the market is flooded with those books, and publishers are looking for the next hot trend.
Publishing is a business, and it’s a publisher’s job to find out who is reading books and what they want to read. Unfortunately for me, my first few books missed the market and ended up with smaller publishers. One of the main problems was that I was writing with an audience of 18-30 year old women in mind, and I found out that was not a target audience for most publishers at that time.
Instead, I was encouraged to write romance novels with an intended audience of middle-aged women. Great! I had little to say to these ladies. I wanted to share important life lessons with younger women. And I’m willing to bet that most of you teen writers have no intention of writing for middle-aged people either.
I finally settled on YA fiction. Last year I wrote a Young Adult medieval novel and landed my first big contract for the Valiant Hearts Series, which will release with Bethany House Publishers starting in 2015. And guess what? When I asked my publisher what ages he wanted me to gear the books towards he said, “Young Adult crossing over to New Adult. Teens to mid-twenties.”
Hold up!!! I just mentioned that a few years ago there was no market for late teens and early twenties in fiction. What is this “New Adult fiction”? I first started hearing about New Adult fiction around the same time I started working on this series in 2013. Suddenly at conferences the latest buzz words were “New Adult.” Agents and editors were looking for this new, hot category, and everyone was trying to figure out what it was.
As you’ve probably guessed, since the term “Young Adult” had already been taken, meaning teenagers, this new term was coined to explain books aimed at 18-30 year olds. Actual young adults. The women I wanted to write books for. Why the sudden interest? For years people claimed this age group didn’t read. That they were too busy going to college and starting their careers and their families. But books like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent proved this theory wrong.
Beyond those “cross-over” type Young Adult books, a number of novels aimed specifically at the 18-30 crowd hit it big in 2012, which explains why in 2013, everyone suddenly started looking for these books. Because there was not previously a market for them, many New Adult books were originally self or indie published. Here is how Wikipedia defines this new category. “New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choice.” The setting is often college in these books that look at what it means to be new to adulthood. They focus on a time that falls between adolescence and bona fide adulthood.
According to a website called New Adult Alley, “New adult works like any other category of fiction. You can have New Adult horror stories in which zombies take over a college campus during finals week, or even New Adult science fiction or fantasy set off in faraway lands. The category can be combined with all genres and sub-genres for every type of reader to enjoy!” While contemporary titles currently dominate this developing category, it seems that any book with a protagonist in the 18-26 (some say as old as 29) range that deals with self-discovery and what it means to become an adult could qualify.
Let me clarify, I am not encouraging the Go Teen Writers crowd to read just any New Adult fiction. One of the big differences between these books and Young Adult is that they don’t hold to the same conservative standards that most Young Adult books do concerning issues such as language, drugs, and sexuality. Quite the opposite.
On the other hand, I am excited that this category is opening new opportunities for both authors and readers. In my chosen inspirational market, New Adult has to do with finding your true self, your true beliefs, and your true calling, probably while discovering love along the way. It often involves a transition from mirroring your parents’ religion to true faith. And it is typically grittier than fiction geared toward middle-aged housewives. This category gives me the opportunity to write to that audience I dreamed of. It gives actual young adults more books aimed toward their age and interests.
|Learn more about this book by clicking here|
If you’d like to check out some clean New Adult fiction, I think my novel Dance from Deep Within is a good example, and my Dance of the Dandelion, although set in the medieval period, was written with this age group in mind. Other authors to look for would include Ann Lee Miller, Staci Stallings, and Suzanne D. Williams. Also check out The Good Girl by Christy Barritt, It’s Not About Me by Michelle Sutton, There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, and the 86 Bloomberg Place Series by Melody Carlson.
Is the New Adult fiction craze here to stay or just a flash in the pan? That’s hard to answer at this point. But at least publishers now know that people from this age group read. I’m looking forward to what develops next in this exciting new category.