February 13, 2012

"New Adult" Niche: Guest Post by Jessica Lawlor

To tie in with the "New Adult" challenge I'm running throughout the year, I'm asking some bloggers to guest post about issues relating to this category/reading demographic. Thanks very much to Jessica from Cover to Cover for being my first guest blogger!

JessThis post by Jessica Lawlor originally appeared on Cover to Cover on July 26, 2011. It has been edited for this blog post. The original post can be found here.

In the midst of all of the great YA and adult books I’ve been reading lately, for some reason, I’ve felt a nagging feeling that something was missing. Of course, I’m enjoying the books I’m reading, but I’ve been longing for a book that I can’t seem to find…a genre of books that I’m not even sure exists at the moment. And if it does, it’s certainly not getting the attention it deserves. Finally I figured it out. I want to read a book about someone who I can 100 percent relate to. I want to read a book about a girl in her 20′s trying to figure out where she fits in in the world. This got me thinking, where are all the books for twenty-somethings?

While I love YA books and adult books, I can’t help but feel like an entire demographic is missing. I’ve yet to come across a really great book about someone in their 20′s dealing with the issues twenty-somethings deal with; their first couple of years out of college, starting their first real jobs, finding an apartment, dealing with issues of drifting friendships, relationships starting to get serious…the list goes on and on.

Of course, I’m clearly sensitive to this issue since I am 23 years old. Smack in the middle of YA books and adult books. Not quite in high school anymore, but not quite ready to get married and have babies. In most of the books I’ve read lately, the characters are either in high school or are in their late 20′s, early 30′s or even 40′s. Where are the people in their 20′s? Hiding out until their 30′s?

I can name exactly ONE book that I’ve read where the main character was a college student (and I won’t even name the book because I couldn’t finish it). This is a problem. Many of us turn to books because we’re looking to relate to someone, anyone, who we can relate to. An entire group of people (a group notoriously in the news for never wanting to grow up) is being neglected. We could probably benefit from books about people like us.

Since originally writing about this topic in the summer of 2011, some things have changed. The term 'new adult' has been thrown around by publishing houses and book bloggers alike. More and more, readers are expressing the fact that they WANT to read books about people like them. I've read a few more books with characters in their twenty's and fellow readers posted awesome book recommendations in the comments section of my post of other books that twenty-something's can relate to. But, in my opinion, it's still not enough.

I still think there’s a huge opportunity for publishing companies and authors to reach a new target audience. A target audience who likely has time to read for pleasure and money to spend on books! When I was in college, I definitely read for pleasure, but I find myself reading way more now that I don’t have required reading for school or textbooks to sift through each night. I also find many of my friends asking me for more book recommendations now than when we were in college. It could be a great opportunity to invest in a different audience with unique interests, goals and personalities.

What do you think we can we do as book bloggers and passionate readers to keep moving this issue forward?


  1. I think the only way we are going to getmore more in the genre of "New Adult" is if readers and writers start demanding it. Look at YA..there are people out there ravenous for more so the demand for writers to write more YA and readers to read more YA is completing the circle. We NEED fearless writers who want to bring the New Adult genre to the masses and readers who want nothing more to read it.

    I am 23 and struggle with this, which is exactly why my current WIP is undeniably New Adult fiction. When its ready to go, thats how I will market it, label it and promote it, because the New Adult genre deserves to be heard and deserves a chance among all the other popular genres!

  2. I agree with Jade. It starts with us. We need books that are going to be the forefront and light a fire under readers to demand more and keep NA writer's from aging there characters down to fit the mold. It might be that self pub may be that answer and with books such as Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster and S.C. Stephens Thoughtless running the pack, more will be sure to come. There is this stigma that 20 somethings don't read well maybe most don't because they don't see the point with what's out there? Definitely something to think about great post!

  3. I agree whole heartedly and I think it's something that needs to be forced to be recognized. Hopefully, there will be agents willing to take a risk on stories that fit into this category. I'm thinking that it might have to go the way of a niche market first, through kindle or self pub or small press. If a few people can write some incredible stories and are told no by agents and publishers, I hope they work hard to either self publish or find a small press and do all they can to market it. It still might not gain a publishers eye the way Amanda Hocking's work did, but if they have the sales to prove that people want it, they might be able to attract an agent without having to sacrifice the characters by making them younger or older. The twenties are a unique time and I think that they should encompass everything. Not just the college thing, but the people who go into the military, or the people who take a year off and travel before going to college (or after they graduate), or the people who decide to get married young and have a family. I gather that raising children and maintaining a marriage is different for someone in their early twenties than someone in their thirties. There are so many things going on when people are 20's, regardless of what path they decide to take, that publishers can appeal to a wide range of books for a wide range of lifestyles.

    Great post. I'm really interested in what else you have to say in the matter, so I'll be checking out your blog. =)

  4. I do think it's a real challenge for writers. If traditional publishers won't touch a manuscript which features a college-age protagonist, such books won't be available for readers, and they can't prove they'd buy them. Hence publishers will continue to believe the market doesn't exist. It's a perfect feedback loop.



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