I’ve looked at writers, publishers and agents of New Adult (NA) fiction, but are readers buying NA fiction? I interviewed a wide range of readers and booksellers of Young Adult (YA), adult and NA fiction to see what they thought. Rachel Kennedy, a book publicity assistant, reader of NA and former bookseller said, “There is a real demand for YA that deals with more mature themes. What works for a 14 year old can be too juvenile for an 18 year old. I first heard the term NA back as a bookseller off the back of Fifty Shades of Grey. Young people wanted similar reads but not the mumsy romances. There’s definitely a market.”
Elizabeth Ashdown, a reader and writer on Wattpad said, “I think it is a gap in the market, the cross over between teen and adult fiction, except it’s not absolutely necessary to give it it’s own name. Some teen and some adult authors do write novels that would easily fit the NA category, yet are not published as that. So I guess naming it as something completely separate is the publishing ploy.”
As a twenty-something reader myself, I know I would have loved for NA books to have been published when I was moving away to university. But at the time there were no books about people my age; I was either reading about characters coming of age at school (been there and done that) or characters having babies or getting divorced (way too soon). It would have certainly filled a gap in my bookshelf.
My opinion from my research is that NA fiction does fill a gap in the market, because the readers who found the gap began writing the books to fill it. The availability of self-publishing platforms has enabled these books, once turned down by traditional publishers according to writers such as Cora Carmack and Samantha Young, to become available for readers who are looking for something they can relate to. It seems to me that the hype around the term has come from publishers jumping on the back of something which has already established itself as popular and therefore a viable market they can tap into without too much risk.
I spoke to Dahlia Adler Fisch, who started publishing YA around 2008 when she realized traditional publishers were not looking for books about college-age adults, and I think she sums it up perfectly. “I think it was an invention necessitated by a gap in the market. By which I mean, I don’t think that gap really should’ve been there in the first place. But the fact is, there was always a huge audience for books set in this category, and publishing decided there wasn’t, and New Adult proved them wrong. I think of other categories opened up to the kinds of books we’re seeing in NA, it would probably swallow NA whole, and truthfully, I think that’s probably what will happen in the next few years. But for now? It absolutely fills a gap, and I’m glad it does.” Her first NA book is due for release later this year.