Genres are usually fairly self-explanatory: Mysteries have mystery, romances contain love stories, nonfiction is, well, nonfiction. But “Young Adult” and “New Adult” aren’t as easily categorized. There are similarities and differences between these genres. So let’s start by looking at each separately and, then we’ll look at how the two blend together.
To begin, the Young Adult genre is a category that is aimed at readers between the ages of twelve and eighteen. But the interesting fact is that the demographics indicate that mostly adults read the books. As an author who writes in this genre, I can say firsthand that my demographics show it is women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-five who are buying my books.
The question becomes why are adults devouring books in the YA genre? I can only speak for myself, but as a young adult author and a reader, I love how this genre takes me back to my high school days. I love how the stories are more character driven, and it’s interesting to see how teenagers handle tough situations like bullying, death, and other serious topics. Moreover, young adults are at a time in their lives where they experience their first kiss, first love, first heartbreak, and figure out how to stand up to their parents, deal with an embarrassing moment, or a first fight. These experiences are emotionally intense, and that’s the draw for me with young adult books.
Statistics show that the YA market has grown significantly over the years. According to a blog post published by The Balance Careers, the Young Adult titles published doubled between 2002-2012 with 4700 YA titles published in 2002 and over 10,000 published in 2012. Furthermore, a quick search on Amazon for Young Adult fiction books show that they’re over 70,000 titles to choose from as of this writing.
As a reader, I devour books in this genre. A few of my favorite authors are Tijan, Jennifer Armentrout, Richelle Mead, Erin Watt, and Judy Blume.
On the other end of the spectrum is the New Adult Market, which has become quite popular in recent years. The term New Adult is credited to Dan Weiss of St. Martin’s Press, who coined the term back in 2009. This genre is a little older as in college-age versus high school, and while both genres target different ages of readers, the NA genre also deals with transition, delving into how life changes from high school to college life.
Due to their focus on monumental life changes, both genres are quite similar. Instead of a character experiencing a first kiss in a YA story, the protagonist in a NA story could be experiencing her first frat party. In essence, the protagonist is on her own and away from her parents, and therefore, her self-discovery takes on a whole new meaning.
Furthermore, a recent search on Amazon shows that there are 90,000 books in the New Adult category. As an author, I crossover and write NA books, and enjoy writing in this genre as much as I do in the YA genre. In addition, the demographics are the same as my YA statistics. My readers love both genres. In fact, several have said the main reason is that both genres are character driven and both yield high emotional stakes. For my readers, a book is all about the feels.
There are so many great New Adult authors – many of whom are crossover authors – but my favorites are Tijan, Jennifer Armentrout, Elle Kennedy, and Rachel Van Dyken.
What’s your favorite genre?
S.B. Alexander is the author of the best-selling New Adult “Maxwell” series and released a romantic suspense novel, “Hart of Darkness,” this summer. When she isn’t writing or reading, she loves to watch the Red Sox, play golf and spend time with friends and family. And as an early pioneer in literary digital marketing, she now helps other authors as the Digital Marketing Coordinator at JKS Communications.