New Adult Lit - Haters, Champions, & Being Heard

Howdy gang! Can you smell the slowly darkening, roasted meat of a bird lovingly rubbed with herbs and butter? Can you hear the chirp of an oven timer, prompting the removal of yet another pie or golden loaf of bread? Can you taste the toasted cinnamon and oozing marshmallows from your second helping of sweet potato pie?

Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you couldn't already tell, it's my favorite holiday. From the fellowship to the food, there's nothing like it. I also love that it doesn't get all tied up with the social and/or religious stuff that spoils so many other holidays. Thanksgiving is for all who are grateful.

And if I'm upright and breathing, I figure that's more than some folks have going for them, so I'm basically always grateful! One thing I'm especially grateful this year is New Adult (NA) literature. 

Photo Cred - Lisa L. Wiedmeier, WANA Commons
I rarely take time to blog about causes. Not because I don't have them. Ask my family and friends, I get fired up about plenty of things. It's just I've learned (the hard way, trust me) that the things I'm passionate about are usually things lots of other people are passionate about, too.

The louder I squawk, the louder they squawk--and it all just ends up being noise. Noise that usually drowns out the things that the needed the attention in the first place (i.e. not me).

Today, I make an exception.

As many of you know, I'm a champion for the rise of New Adult literature. Now, I'm not the most prominent or eloquent--or tallest--of the banner waivers. (Maybe that's why I feel the need to stand on a soapbox for this issue.) But I definitely believe in it, and here's why.

New Adult is more than marketing. NA is more than a niche being carved out by fringe authors and readers. NA is big, small, smart, and slow. NA goes beyond what YA can (and arguably should) do, and fills the gaps left by the leap from YA to Adult. 

More importantly than all of that, New Adult gives a voice to a specific set of readers and authors. There's a group of people who are 18-26 years of age, and everyone has--or will--fall into that category if they've lived long enough. And those folks shouldn't have to apologize for wanting their own shelf in a bookstore.

They read and write, and therefore have earned a say in what they want to see in a store. Well, at least in my eyes. As I pointed out above, there are definitely people who don't agree. A couple of recent articles I read reminded me of that (here and here). 

Haters Gonna Hate, Yo

I think the kids call them haters, but whatever they go by, it's clear NA has its detractors. People who are cheering just as hard for NA to go away as I am for it to exist. The ironic thing for me, is that these folks seem to be losing their rational minds when they argue against NA.

They discount the Internet like it's a couple of goth kids crashing prom. Hello! The Internet practically IS society at this point. If it isn't on the Web, it might as well not exist in the minds of 80% of the US population.

They say NA is being foisted upon the world by self-published authors. Which, other than being insanely offensive, is dead wrong. It's actually the opposite: the world (or readers) is foisting New Adult on literature. (A great article on NA sensation Tammara Webber and her BIG NA book deal, and why NA has happened.)

So is the sky falling? Will a few 'knowledgeable' or 'important' people chime in, call NA a 'non-thing', and pee on the parade for the rest of us? Short answer: NOPE.

The NA THING is happening. It has already happened to an extent, and as long as authors and readers continue to demand it, NA will grow. And it needs to. 

The Spice of Life

I sometimes think there are people who would prefer that we all read the same 6 books, from 2 categories, and that's it. (If it's coming from an author or agent, probably THEIR 6 books, incidentally.) Which isn't only misguided, it's dangerous.

That kind of thinking crushes the spirit of creativity. It stymies growth in both society and individuals. A great story can help someone take the next step in their life. A good book can shift the path beneath our feet, forever altering where, and how far, we can go. 

For that to happen, there has to be as many stories as there are readers, because each person is going to be moved by something different. If they don't have it, an opportunity is lost.

I'll leave you with this: Be you reader or writer, beware anyone who suggests a niche or group shouldn't exist, and support those who struggle to be heard. Fight for the books and stories you like to read and write to be recognized--at every level. And the louder people are who oppose the idea, the more important it becomes for you to speak up.

~EJW~  

44 comments:

  1. Hear, hear! As an unpublished author, however, sometimes I worry about putting myself into a box that agents don't want to deal with: "Oh, you think your book's NA. Yeah, well, there's no market for that. Pass." As much as I want to champion it, I fear missing out on opportunities because of it.

    For right now, I'm pitching my book as adult unless I've specifically seen the agent speak/tweet/write positively about NA.

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    1. I think that's not unwise, Rhen. You can support NA, but if you're seriously trying to get your work published traditionally, I believe it's best to see what an agent/editor feels about the category first. I'd hate for your legs to get cut out from under you before you get started, you know? However, there are several agents actively looking for NA (click that NA Alley badge at the top of my blog ... they've got loads of info over there).

      I DO have a feeling there'll be a lot of 'retroactive labeling' of NA material on the part of bookstores, agents, and publishers once it gets big enough. With some of the large deals being brokered for NA stuff right now, I believe we're already seeing some of the 'NA is hot, so let's call it NA' mentality.

      To that end, I'd encourage you to pursue what you want to write. Once you have a good story, there'll be a place for it. The commenters on this post are proof of that: You'll see some indies, some trads, some small published, some large. More than one way to get to the readers these days, and unlike in the past, they're all viable.

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  2. I know a lot of writers who write in that genre. Who's to say there isn't a need? The haters can hate, but it's the readers who make the final decision.
    Keep up the good fight, EJ.

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    1. You know I'll keep fighting Alex. Probably long after the fight has been won or lost, in fact. :-D I'm argumentative that way.

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  3. There are so many who just plain don't like change, and you are right. There are those who are so limited in their readings and think that we should be too.

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    1. Different def = bad for lots of people, Donna. I call it progress. :-)

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  4. I honestly don't understand why there is so much hate on authors who go a different route than the Big Five. It's almost like there's this backlash from those agented/Big Five authors who say, "You are taking away our sales! You are watering down the readership! If it wasn't for you, any of the few of us that make it to the Big Five would be guaranteed fame and millions! We hate you all. Just go away!!!"

    Did I use enough exclamations? Lulz and whiny authors of the Big Five.

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    1. No such thing as too many exclamations, Michael! Unless you're my editor. :-( #FunPolice lol

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  5. Well said, my friend. Well said. There is seriously pure HATRED being spewed by non-NA supporters, and I can never understand it. It really boils down to change. When someone wants something different people become fearful of it. The readers push on though and THAT is why NA is happening :D

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    1. I agree, V. Absolutely why I've taken such a shine (too much Texas in me?!) to NA. Very reader driven at this point. :-)

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  6. Very creative and I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving full of all the above delicious things you mentioned in your post. Some folks will always be haters and some will look for something to complain about even if everything is wonderful.

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  7. The labeling system be it, YA, MG, NA can be a bit confusing for me. As soon as the word adult is used in a label then I've always assumed it would be for adults. But like in YA, it's not. Until recently I thought my wip was in the YA category, but apparently, it would be more NA since my mc is in her mid 20s. Nevertheless, I didn't realize there was so much "hate" for NA. The labels just need to be clearly defined.

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    1. The labels drive me nuts more as an author, Elise. REALLY stinks having to write for a box, you know? In the end, I know it helps readers find you, so probably a necessary evil.

      And I'm all for the clarification. I think NA authors are really working to do that. Once the bookstores and pubs fully jump on board, the bigger NA picture will get a little clearer I think.

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  8. "They say NA is being foisted upon the world by self-published authors."

    Which is funny, because NA was coined by a (then) Big 6 imprint. Silly haters! ;)

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    1. Exactly! Hate the game, people. Not the players. :-D

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  9. "If it isn't on the Web, it might as well not exist in the minds of 80% of the US population." << That's really kind of true. It does seem like a lot of stuff is being driven from the ground up because of the completely democratic nature of the internet. I don't think those at the top are always appreciative of those kinds of efforts, but they'll just have to get used to it. NA is probably here to stay.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  10. Hey! I think there should be a Jerry Springer genre. My next project is a series for sure. White Trash and Pill Heads. First book, Meet the Grandparents, second book, The Birth, and third book, Help the Baby. But I can see other stories building around other minute characters.

    Anyway, screw the know-it-alls.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  11. Amen, brother! I totally agree. Readers will decide what they do and don't want, and thankfully (on Thanksgiving!) we live in an age where writers can put different stuff out there. NA definitely fills a need, so what's wrong with filling it?

    By the way, I agree with you about the "upright and breathing" thing. Gotta love that.

    My friend, I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  12. As long as there are two people left in this world, there will come a dissenting opinion sooner or later. To each their own, I say, and let the haters hate. Who knows? Maybe some of those haters will turn around and actually look into the thing that they're hating. Sure, that might be a little too optimistic, but you never know!

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    1. I think people change their minds all the time, JB. Lots of folks hate a concept until they put it into practice, then BAM! All of a sudden they see it a new light.

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  13. I believe I wrote a NA two years ago, which I reluctantly tossed in a file and left it to rot. The character is 17, which can easily be booted to 18, but her story, her experiences are beyond YA, but not quite adult, mind wise. I don't know, maybe it's time to retrieve it from its dusty corner of my computer.

    And I LOVE the scent of roasting turkey, except, I don't eat meat. :/ I know, I'm crazy, right?

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    1. Dig it back out, sister! Now's the time for NA material--taking off my fan glasses, I honestly think it is about to become a huge market.

      Not crazy that you don't eat meat btw! I should probably abstain (for lots of reasons) myself. :-D We do try to eat LESS meat in our house these days (meatless days during the week, etc.). I'm not sure I could, or would want to, completely cut meat out, though. One of the small pleasures in my life.

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  14. I needed this post today. Thank you! It spoke to me in so many ways...

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  15. Such a great post! I think a lot of the haters just hate change. One more category to remember. But there is such a need for NA works out there. So NA writers should just keep writing and ignore the haters. They'll soon find something else to hate on.

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  16. I like Alex's take: "The haters can hate, but it's the readers who make the final decision." :)

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  17. I must be out of the loop. I didn't know NA had any kind of controversy. I just thought it was a cool new genre because so many writer's and readers requested it:)

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  18. I am surprised that there is so much controversy about NA. It makes sense that there is a category for it!

    Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. I love this holiday- it is just a great time to get together with family, be thankful, and eat some delicious food. No gifts! :)

    ~Jess

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  19. I don't get the hate on NA. It's just another age group. Oh well, haters love to hate.

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  20. I don't understand the NA hate either. Although honestly I don't understand the way people get themselves so worked up on the internet anyway. If you don't like something, don't pay attention to it, it's very simple.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, EJ! :)

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  21. I'm so glad that NA has arisen, 'cause for ages I had a story that didn't fit in any other age range...and now it has a home! :)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

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  22. Great post. I'd rather be on the side of the readers than the "power people" in publishing. Readers will decide what they want - without them/us, we wouldn't be in business!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  23. i'm sorry, i had a hard time getting past the first paragraph because i need a good turkey dinner...why you gotta do that??? :)

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  24. I agree great post! I do think readers need lots of choices and this is a great genre! It always takes time for new ideas in this field to take hold~
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! My home will smell of Pumpkin Bread soon. I have to bake four loaves...all going out of the home. Okay, five then... ;D

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  25. First, thanks for putting me in the mood for a Thanksgiving feast. Second, when did the labels MG and YA come about? When I first began writing a long time ago, I had never heard of MG or YA. Then all of sudden they were categories. I think NA will rise to the same level.

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  26. Well said! I had no idea there was an outcry against NA. It will catch on. I'm willing to bet YA and MG were fought against at some point (though I could be wrong).

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  27. Yep I do believe NA is here to stay and grow! Yay!

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  28. I think NA has already grown heaps since I was first introduced to the possibility of it a few years ago. Writers/readers HAVE managed to carve out the niche, altho there'll always be those who object. When I posted on this very subject a few days ago, one commentor said it was ridiculous to create yet another genre within a genre since there are so many anyway. But clearly he was not a reader of it.
    Just as the naysayers booed self=pubbing in the beginning, so will they do to NA, but as proven in the past, we don't care what they say. We are creating our own destiny.
    Great post, EJ!

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  29. Grown. That was the word that came to mine while I was thinking about how NA evolved the past two years alone, and I see PK stole my word! lol. I really had to dig hard to find anyone looking at NA.

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  30. I had no idea there were NA haters. There are always ones out there for everything, I suppose. I think NA is here to stay.

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  31. People think change is scary. The market has changed so much already. Some readers still think ebooks are "real" and NA was made up by one writer with a blog. I am not that person. I get on a little soapbox when someone talks about "real" books vs. ebooks. I also have an NA manuscript that I've been submitting to publishers and agents.

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  32. Thank you EJ!!! I agree! The haters are foolishly running from change. I want to support my local small bookstores, and I admit I like the big chain ones . . . but they are disappearing. I purchase most of my books via the net . . . because I can find the ones I want there. Small bookstores will order them for me with free shipping . . .at least the two in my town will . . .but then I actually have to make that stop in a busy day. Hmm. Or I could just find what I want and purchase it in a few clicks . . .so . . .it's just the way things work at this point. I go out of my way for a bookstore experience, but most of my purchases are here in the web-world. So, it makes sense to support writers that write in the web-world . ..right?

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  33. Great post! I'm not sure why there would be detractors, really, since what's wrong with a new category for books that are being published anyway?

    But, what do you guys think? I keep seeing NA labels now, but I haven't really seen them for historicals - can you *have* historical NA? I hope so, because that's what I think I'm writing!

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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