Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More Questions for the Agent: New Adult

For those of you who don't know, New Adult is an (slowly) emerging genre. It's older than YA but younger than Adult. Say, college age, about 18-24 (varies of course). Themes differ from both YA and Adult novels. The subject matter probably isn't as serious or explicit as Adult, but neither is the character experiencing a bunch of firsts as in YA. But the character probably is experiencing a new avenue in life.

Now, I haven't read many New Adult books yet (though really, there aren't many out there), but Diana Peterfruend's Secret Society Girl series does stick in my head. Also, Sarah Dessen's Along For the Ride can be considered New Adult, but it's on the cusp of YA and NA (the main character has just graduated high school).

So the question a reader posed to me was, if you're pitching a New Adult novel and you can't find any agents who say they represent New Adult, who do you pitch?

Excellent question. And really, my answer goes for any genre that may be difficult to pitch. Firstly, go to your sub-genre; I mean, if it's contemporary, then hit the contemporary agents. YA agents are going to be your best bet, but don't rule out agents who look for contemporary adult novels (especially on the light side--again, look for sorta-comps for your book). Secondly, query the YA agents, unless they say they are not looking for New Adult.

Here's the thing: as agents, we do not like to rule out certain things because we never know when we might fall in love with something. I might say that I'm not looking for New Adult, it doesn't sell, it doesn't appeal to me, don't send it. Then I might pick up a manuscript that is New Adult and fall in love if it has: good writing, captivating voice, relatable character, unique plot. Because, regardless of genre (for the most part) good writing sells.

That said, yes I'll take a look at New Adult.

Also, anybody have any recommendations for great New Adult books to read?

Happy reading!


Karen Baldwin said...

New Adult was the term I heard a lot at the RWA National convention. I can't say I've read any though.

Juliana said...

Thanks for answering my question =)

Gina Ciocca said...

After finishing an entire ms on college-age girls, I was floored to learn it's not considered YA. College is just as much of an adventure as high school, and there's no instantaneous morph into adulthood in the summer between the two. If anything, a lot of the kids I knew in college were LESS mature than my hs friends, because they had too much freedom- a first. I think if New Adult were marketed as Young Adult, it wouldn't have such an iffy reputation. But I am so glad to know you're open to it!

Steph said...

I LOVE "New Adult" books and am so frustrated by the lack of them, and/or reading agents blogs about how you either need to age the characters and make them adult or make them younger to fit into YA. I've heard countless times that there just isn't a market for college age books. I think there would be, if people would start picking them up. Of course there's no market if no one will buy the books and make them available.. Just my humble opinion...

Anyway, I love in the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty how it takes her through high school to college and beyond. Killer writing, love those novels! Also, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is one of my top 10 fav. books. It takes place the first year of college. It's self published, but it is so worth a read.

Julie said...

Good. To. Know!!!

I had no clue there was a New Adult genre out there and I was SO frustrated because my book isn't really YA per say, but its definitely not Adult either. I was having the darndest time trying to figure out how to pitch it! I finally settled on YA, due to lack of better options. But its good to know there is a rising market for "tweener" books like mine.

THANK YOU for this post!

LupLun said...

Slowly emerging is right. I heard about it first back in November 2009, when St. Martin's held a submission contest. There was about a month's worth of hubbub about it on the blogosphere, and then the next time I heard the phrase "New Adult" was right now.

Here's a question: what, exactly, defines "New Adult"? Is it just setting and age of the characters, or is it related to themes? And if the latter, exactly what themes can a New Adult novel be expected to deal with?

Lupines and Lunatics

Anonymous said...

Great advice! I hadn't heard about New Adult until St.Martins announced it. Which is great for me cuz I have a New Adult ms that I wrote years ago. I was torn because it was not quite YA but also not adult.
I like the idea:)

Rebecca Christiansen said...

I guess I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak is kind of New Adult, since Ed Kennedy is 19 and has been out of high school for a while. If there were more books like that, I'd be all for New Adult!

I'm not so much interested in reading books with college settings because I'm Canadian and college books tend to be very American -- I just can't relate to them because that's not the style of university I'm familiar with. Doesn't ring true to me.

Kelley York said...

I LOVE New Adult books. I like the freedom the MCs tend to have wherein they're just venturing out into the world, but aren't bogged down by the daily duties a lot of adults are. They're in this transitional phase and makes it fun to read.

I have a NA book coming out in December. The MCs are all college students.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this blog, and even more glad to hear you will consider NA (and fantasy!). I've been trying to find a place for my novel in the YA world, but everyone keeps saying it's too old. So I tried the adult world, and everyone says it's too young. I've been trying to age it up (cause I definitely can't age it down) and hoping to find someone who might take it as an NA instead (knowing I'll still probably have to age it up for a publisher).

Thanks for this post!

Stella said...

Just reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman, definitely NA IMO. And Prep was N/A although I always thought if Looking for Alaska was YA, Prep should have been so as well. And the best book I've read so far this year was Skippy Dies, which is an adult book about a Irish prep school. I think it's a definite N/A. I'd even go there with Oscar Wao.

Diana Peterfreund said...

I'd probably pitch agents who handled mainstream adult fiction, which is what The Magicians, Jessica Darling, and Secret Society Girl all are.

When I pitched agents with SSG, I called it YA. But YA houses for the most part didn't want it, or if they did, they wanted me to rewrite to make the characters 18. That's why we published it as an adult book. A lot of people think they're YA but they aren't.

Of course, that was back in 2005. It's a whole new world now. But, with 4 YA novels under contract, three written, and two published, I'd never write a YA protagonist over 18, for market reasons.