B. A. Binns here, back with the Genreistas again, with a little fable I hope you'll enjoy.
Once upon a time there were two kinds of fiction books, children and adults. Marketers loved this, because the primary audience for both were the same – adults. Children were stuck with the books purchased for them by parents and grandparents.
One day, an entrepreneur noticed how much disposable income young teens had, and began marketing directly to kids who hated the idea of looking for books in the same shelves as Peter Rabbit or The Bobbsey Twins. The Young Adult category was born. (That whole seeking independence from parents thing ) Now, older adolescents and teens have books, both edgy and sweet, that appeal to directly to them. Many adults also read YA, usually after some book like Harry Potter or Hunger Games takes the teen world by storm and the winds whip all the way to adulthood.
Technically, Young Adult remains part of the Children’s category, but voracious young readers in the 12-16 age bracket have made it a class by itself. (Yes, I know, kids as young as 10 and old as 18 will read YA, but the core market, the kids who buy and tell all their friends, remains in that middle.)
There is a gap. There are few books about life after high school and before the thirties, when young adults are turning into newly minted adults. New Adults books belong on the Adult shelves, but chronicle the story arcs of protagonists in their late teens or early twenties. They tell stories that belong in college, or during the first years in the workplace, the period some call the Quarterlife Crisis.
These books often have trouble finding readers. Many teens are not yet that interested in life after high school. Readers are split, with many twenty-somethings so busy with college and/or getting started in the workplace that one of the last things they want to do with their leisure time is pick up a book. I've heard a number of reader comments about a New Adult category, such as:
- I can't imagine anyone wanting to read books about 20 somethings learning how not to be mooches and leeching off family and society or wondering what to do next while they work to get out of debt. I wouldn't even consider reading such depressing topics for entertainment.
- I'm 21 and fresh out of college, and I'm stuck living at home and working in retail. In some ways I'm grown up and in other ways I might as well be 16 all over again. I can definitely see a market for books dealing with characters in this situation.
Last year I discussed the New Adult category with authors writing for that audience. Heather Burch, author of a new paranormal series about beings called Halflings, Clover Autry with her books in the Annointed series, and Ophelia Julien author of Saving Jake. Here are their thoughts:
What do you think?
How do you feel about New Adult books? Is there really a need for these novels? Would you be interested in characters meeting the challenges of this time of life? Comment below with your thoughts. If you have a favorite New Adult book, tell the world. Besides the works of these authors, some of my favorites can be found in a New Adult post.
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