Dear Editor – What is New Adult? How is it different from Young Adult?
—J.T., Los Angeles
New Adult (NA) is a relatively recently added category in the marketplace, picking up after Young Adult (YA). While YA generally targets ages 12-17, NA’s audience are ages 18-25—though, of course, adult readers express interest in both categories.
YA and NA are categories rather than genres. Examples of genre include romance, science fiction, and fantasy.
In most books, the main characters are usually the age of the category and the target audience, meaning that if you’re writing NA, your protagonist would be aged 18-25.
YA can include coming-of-age themes, high school conflict, rebellion, and first love. NA takes a more independent stand on issues such as college and a first romantic relationship. Main characters in NA are making their way in the world, moving beyond their first jobs. They are trying to find a career path and, with it, learning about financial responsibilities. Sexual content can be more explicit than in YA; Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James was a hugely popular NA book.
While some publishers link NA with their children’s division, others categorize it with their adult books. SCBWI includes NA authors among our members.
Identifying your category is important as you will need to list that in your query letters and use it when you pitch. Stating that your book is “YA/NA” may send your query to the slush pile. Instead, take the time to read and research both YA and NA, then correctly categorize your manuscript.
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Answers by Christine Van Zandt, professional freelance editor and owner of Write for Success Editing Services, www.Write-for-Success.com