Tuesday’s USA Today had an article in its LIFE section about a new category of novels: NA (New-Adult) (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/04/15/new-adult-genre-is-the-hottest-category-in-book-publishing/2022707/)
These books feature protagonists in the 18-to-early-20s age range. The stories have the emotional intensity of YA (young adult) novels, but include more mature themes—the freedom of living away from home, discovering who they are, and finding their way in the world. Of course they also include sex, but that’s not the main focus of these stories.
Though I remember those years of angst and emotional turmoil (as I discovered who I was away from the constraints of my parents, what I truly wanted to do, and what sort of man I wanted to live with), I have no desire to write these books. On the other hand, I’m delighted to see others are writing them. Not only are they writing NA novels, those novels are doing great. And even better…it was writers who saw the need for this category and created it, not publishing houses.
Writers often know what the public wants way before the publishing industry catches on. In the past it’s been frustrating for writers who want to offer something new. All too often they would have their stories turned down. We used to joke that editors said they wanted something new and different, but in reality they didn’t want anything too new or too different. In fact, for years writers have complained about editors writing back that they loved the submitted story, but they were going to have to reject it because “marketing,” or a senior editor, or some unknown but powerful entity said there was no market for “that kind” of story.
Those attitudes, in the past, sometimes led frustrated writers to become publishers themselves. Many of the small, niche publishing companies that exist today were formed simply so “those kinds” of books could be published. It certainly happened with vampire and erotic novels.
Nowadays, however, frustrated writers have another outlet. Rather than having to start a publishing company, they’re able to e-publish. Those books the publishing houses turned down don’t have to be put in a drawer or rewritten so they “fit” the market. And if the writer is right, if there is a demand for a certain type of book, it’s the readers who make the determination.
Only a small percentage of self-published books (either in print or e-book format) will become gigantic successes, but when the writing is good and the time is right, they now have a chance to make decent sales or, in a few cases, make best sellers lists. And, lo and behold, when a book or a category of books sells a hundred thousand to a million copies, traditional publishing houses take note…and offer contracts. That’s certainly what happened with the books mentioned in the USA Today article.
For me it’s exciting to see some of the control of who and what becomes a success taken out of the hands of big business and put into the hands of writers and readers.