What You Need To Know About New Adult

The New Adult workshops at RT’s convention were standing room only, as everyone wanted to learn what was going on with this hot new genre. With heavy hitters like Abbi Glines, Cora Carmack, Jennifer L. Armentrout (who writes New Adult as J. Lynn), Molly McAdams and more, we had the genre’s superstars on hand to impart their wisdom. Here are five take away points: 

(L to R) Authors Sophie Jordan, Cora Carmack, Molly McAdams, Abbi Glines and RT Editor Elissa Petruzzi

1. New Adult: Not Just Contemporary. The panelists all expressed hopes that subgenres within New Adult will start popping up soon. They encouraged the audience to start writing (and reading) suspense, paranormal, dystopian and any other angle that might interest them. Panelists explained that the only way New Adult will survive is by growing and expanding. There’s proof of that happening already, as J. Lynn’s upcoming Frigid has a fun suspense subplot, and Stephanie Tyler’s amazing Defiance is a (deep breath) post-apocalyptic, motorcycle club, New Adult.

2. Age is Just a Number. The panelists stressed that while New Adult protagonists are generally ages 18 to 25, what really matters is what they’re going through in their lives. ‘New Adults’ are dealing with big issues as they grow up and find their places in the world. They’re having big, important, first relationships, thinking about their careers, often living on their own for the first time and relating to their parents in a whole new way. 

3. Heat Level May Vary. While some New Adult titles are scorching, like Abbi Glines’, who stressed that her books are not for young teens, the sexy content varies from book to book and author to author. J. Lynn’s books are often steamy, while Cora Carmack’s books are a bit milder on the heat scale. So long as the sexytimes are pertinent to the story, have at it — or not!

4. Shelf This. As things now stand with New Adult titles, they’re shelved at different places throughout physical bookstores. From romance to fiction to Young Adult (which, some authors stressed, is not the place for hotter New Adult titles), NA is still looking for a permanent home. In the digital realm, a few relevant keywords will do the trick, but for brick-and-mortar stores, you might have to hunt a bit. Long term, authors are hoping for a “New Adult” section, which means that expansion we mentioned in point one really needs to take off. 

5. The Time is Now. Throughout the RT convention, many agents and editors were looking for New Adult manuscripts. So if you’ve got a coming-of-age tale languishing on your laptop, polish that sucker and get it out there. Check out our list from Pitch-A-Palooza to see some potential interested markets.

Looking for some great New Adult reads? Check out RT's Everything Young Adult Page