When I first started writing my Gold Rush series, I knew the main characters were a little older than the typical YA (Young Adult) heroines and heroes. As I learned more about the NA (New Adult) category, I saw that my books could be New Adult, too.
Young Adult is usually defined as having main characters who are teens, and YA themes involve finding yourself or discovering who you are, and how you can develop relationships with people in your life. New Adult books follow the next part of our lives. According to the blog NA Alley (which later led to the blog NextLit: Coming-of-Age Fiction for the Modern Era), “Typically, a novel is considered NA if it encompasses the transition between adolescence (a life stage often depicted in Young Adult fiction) and true adulthood.” NA issues include finding your place in the world, identity, and living on your own for the first time.
Because my main characters were older teens but often on their own, they kind of fit in between. Four years ago, when I started doing promotion for my books, I often referred to them as YA/NA because they had elements of both, and I wanted to include both audiences. But as I looked at the market more closely, I saw a couple trends that worked against that.
One was the fact that Young Adult books are often bought by gatekeepers: librarians, teachers, and parents. Those gatekeepers are looking for YA and might be confused or put off by the NA label. Another was the fact that NA books at that time were usually steamy.
As many of you know, my books are squeaky clean. I tell people they’re G-rated and you can hand them to your grandmother or your granddaughter without fear. NA books, on the other hand, had a reputation for being R-rated. As one agent told me a couple years ago, New Adult makes her think of "beer pong and sex on the floor.” Of course, there are NA books that aren’t about that, but the perception is there.
So, after much thought, I started dropping the NA part of my descriptions unless I thought the audience was familiar with New Adult and/or wouldn’t assume my books were the steamy type. (For example, readers of this blog are either familiar with me or savvy enough to know there are different kinds of NA.) If you look at my internet presence today, you’ll see that most of the entries list YA and only a few indicate YA/NA.
Is that a fair representation? I guess it is, for now. But I’m hoping that the perception of NA will change as more people write New Adult books and the category becomes more varied. In the meantime, I’m calling my books YA. But I support New Adult books and authors, and hope to see more published.
Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.