Revolutionizing the New Adult Genre

New Adult (NA) is a genre that was reportedly coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. It was warmly received at first but since then has lost its trendiness. Though some publishers still publish NA literature, most do not. And to make matters worse, readers and writers alike do not agree on the definition of NA, whether it should be a genre in the 21st-Century, and if the genre still exists. In fact, college literature and publishing professors have taught their students that NA is no longer a genre and some writers have labeled their NA as YA for fear their work won’t be taken seriously by agents and traditional publishers. With the confusion surrounding NA, it was imperative to find some answers.

First, New Adult is a needed literary genre, according to the readers and writers closely associated with it. Though the Young Adult (YA) and Adult genres exist, they do not relate (or connect to) readers aged 18-30. YA is too immature with its high school and teenage problems, while adult is way too “adult” with its heavy issues and complexity of mid-life crises, divorce, emotional stagnation, and grown children. NA, then, is more mature than YA – in that it reflects on new adult issues (college, post-college, living alone, new career, mature relationships), but less dense (and thus more freeing) than mature adult issues. In this light, NA is the middle ground between teenage and adult lifestyles.

This middle ground makes sense. Genres have always been divided by age so that content better reflects the reader’s demographic, in this case age and what the readers goes through at that age. Thinking of other literary genres, Children’s and Middle Grade (MG) cater to the issues and problems of those readers, based on human development. Dating and first kisses, typically found in YA, would not be appropriate in a Children’s or MG book. Likewise, trying to learn how to make friends would not be something expected in a YA book. Books reflect the reader – and their personal coming of age issues. So, why not have a genre that would reflect the new adult reader who has new adult problems?

The answer is quite simple: There is no reason to negate the NA genre, especially when a whole community hungers for representation. Right now, members of the 18-30-year-old community feel left out, like they don’t fit in. They’ve outgrown YA but feel bogged down and emotionally drained by pure adult literature. In a way, these readers are like the middle child in a family of three siblings: seen but unseen, known but forgotten. And that’s exactly why BSC Publishing Group is stepping forward to lead the revitalization (no, revolution!) of the NA genre.

But what is New Adult as a genre? What are the characteristics? And, isn’t it all about smut, sex, porn? Let’s start with the definition that BSC has established through its conversations with readers and writers – the definition that will be used to assess manuscripts.

What is New Adult?
NA as a genre is “a grown-up YA with more adult issues without being too adult (or emotionally heavy/complex).” The MC is 18-30 years old and dealing with new adult issues that seasoned adults have already grown out of. NA, then, becomes the exploration of a coming-of-age for adults.

Themes that the NA genre includes, but is not limited to, are:

  • Housing (first apartment or house, roommates, bills, being independent)
  • Freedom
  • Identity
  • Sexuality
  • Family Struggles (parents, spouse’s, small children)
  • Mental Health
  • College
  • Relationships (platonic, familial, and romantic)
  • First job/beginning a career

Though the above themes can be found in both YA and Adult, it’s the character’s perspectives that truly qualify the manuscript as NA. To put it in perspective, think F.R.I.E.N.D.S. vs Seinfield. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Seinfeld both deal with similar problems but in two very different ways. While the character’s in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. seek self-identification, try to figure out life, and make mistakes through youthful mental processes, Seinfeld is truly “adult” in it’s presentation, situating its characters as more serious, more mature, and more set in their ways – middle-aged. This is the difference between NA and Adult issues and perspectives.

What do NA readers and writers want – and not want?
NA readers and writers, above all else, want to be represented in literature. This means they want to see themselves in the stories they read. Writers, specifically, want to write stories that reflect themselves. The bottom line is that the 18-30-year-old community wants freedom to venture into the middle ground of adulthood.

What NA readers and writers do not want is to be negated. By saying “NA isn’t a thing” or “NA doesn’t exist” or “NA isn’t needed,” society has accidentally negated the needs and wants of a whole generation and genre (like the middle child it is). Hence, the community does not want the same old-same old publishing model. Instead, they’re calling for change!

What’s the BSC change?
It’s common knowledge that writers have been rejected by agents/publishers solely because their manuscript did not fit well into the YA or Adult genres. Furthermore, writers have been known to change their NA manuscripts to fit within the YA mold in order to be taken seriously – though they themselves felt uncomfortable doing so. When a writer feels forced into a mold and powerless over their own creation, sadness, isolation, even depression can set it – making any reward from the effort bittersweet. BSC Publishing Group is not okay with this and wants to free the NA writer to live their truth.

Enter: BSC Nouvaeu, the new imprint that represents NA titles.

What is BSC Nouveau seeking?
BSC Nouveau is seeking story-focused works of fiction and non-fiction. It is hungry for manuscripts that use literary and genre conventions and storytelling devices to provide a ride that quenches readers’ thirst for action, adventure, and entertainment.

The one subgenre that BSC Nouveau does not want is romance. The market is saturated with heavy sexual content, which is why NA has become known as “smut fiction.” To change that stereotype, BSC Nouveau seeks heavy story over romance. That said, romantic relationships and even sex can be included (as it is in movies), but the sex and relationships must be secondary to the real story.

With this in mind, bring on the horror (body, psychological), fantasy (urban, magical realism), literary, and anything in between. BSC Nouveau wants it all – and queries are open now!

Join BSC Publishing Group in revolutionizing the NA market.
Don’t hold back – write and read your truth!
Are you ready?

What do you want in NA literature? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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