Tuesday’s USA Today had an article in its LIFE section about a new category of novels: NA (New-Adult) (

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.

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9 Responses to New-Adult

  1. And where would we all be had JK Rowling listened to the people who told her no one wanted to read about a boy wizard? I believe NA is definitely on the way higher!

    • Maris Soule says:

      You are so right, Lori. Makes you wonder how many other wonderful books haven’t been published because the author gave up after several rejections.

  2. Joe Novara says:

    Nice blog. I’m with you both on the concept of open publishing and on not wanting to write about that angst filled period. I have another short story based on a Costa Rica commune. Want to read it?

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    I love the idea of this new category. Too many younger children are reading the YA books, where publishers have to curl the reality of sex at that age. NA books offer the best of both worlds. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Diane Burton says:

    Good post, Maris. I wish these books had been available when I was a teen.

  5. Lucy Kubash says:

    Agree with Diane. As a teen and young adult, I would love to have had such a selection of books to read. I remember searching through my local library to try and find the kind of books I liked. I ended up rereading many books because there just weren’t a lot of choices then. I think there is a huge market for the NA stories, and yay for writers leading the way!

  6. Bonnie Alkema says:

    I had not heard of NA. What a great idea. I, too, missed having more books when I was approaching NA. Does anyone remember Seventeenth Summer or I Capture the Castle? Never too late–I may read some of those NA.