Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Thursday: More NA nonsense; Mass markets up huge in November; Tablets...

“The book is in a relatively new genre called “new adult contemporary” (read: it’s basically a mashup of romance and erotica — think Fifty Shades of Grey). Publishers are wary to take risks on things that are new and relatively unproven. And they’re right to: It’s hard to get bookstores to stock new adult contemporary books (unless they’re huge hits already) because they don’t really have a section for them yet. Are they erotica? Romance? Big-time successes like Easy by Tammara Webber and Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series are the exception and not the rule.”

Easy is not a mashup of romance and erotica.  It is not 50 Shades.  For god’s sake neither is the huge mass of New Adult books. And neither is NA the exception rather than the rule.  If you look at the past bestseller lists both at the Times, USA Today and Amazon, the NA books have dominated the list. DOMINATED.  Is the NA genre short lived? I don’t know but big time successes in that genre is not an exception.

Guess what book was number one last week? Reckless by S.C. Stephens. I’ve met Jeremy Greenfield who runs DBW and is the author of this piece but it just seems like another sign of gender bias. Women books are successful. Must be sexy times.  Forbes

” Growth of adult e-books slowed to 20.7% in November with sales from publishers that report to AAP’s StatShot program hitting $94.8 million. Still, overall sales for the adult trade segment rose 2.3% in the month as the much-troubled mass market paperback segment saw a 75.5% leap in sales, to $38.2 million. “Publishers Weekly

It makes sense. Tablets that have larger screens kind of beg you to do something with them other than simply consumption but tablet on screen keyboards aren’t well designed for input. Many cases offer a keyboard option.CRN

Britain’s literature has grown less emotional since the 1960s, but American literature has become more so. Overall, English-language literature has used far fewer emotionally-charged words over time, but American writers have bucked the trend: They’ve ramped up their use of “mood words” in the past few decades as Brits have grown more stoic.

There are other fun factoids in the paper.The Atlantic

To end with, I give you this ad from Durex. I probably should have saved this for Father’s Day. Maybe I’ll pull it out again. (hur hur)

Durex Condom Ad

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Liz H.
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 04:43:10

    Now I’m confused. New adult is more like YA, but a bit more mature, right? Is NA only contemporary, or for example, do some of the dystopian novels that have been coming out count?
    As for the article, sounds like he’s more confused than I am. How would you classify the books he named?

  2. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:04:30

    NA books are trade paperbacks, not mass market? Big successes are always the exception. Otherwise we could all write an NA book and be a bestseller.

  3. Brie
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:28:34

    @Liz H.: The way I see it, NA should only be contemporary, because it is about very specific issues relating to the transition into adulthood; like dealing with independence, newfound responsibilities, going to college etc. So it is quite a narrow definition. But I’ve seen a couple of books defined as Paranormal NA, so I’m probably wrong.

    Easy is a great example of NA, while Silvia Day’s series is Erotic Romance. The sex in Easy (and in most NA I’ve read) is mostly mild or fade-to-black. And even those books that have graphic sex, like in Wait For You, the book referenced on that Forbes article, the scenes are like those you would find in a straight Contemporary Romance or in the Harlequin’s Superromance line.

  4. Jane
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:35:00

    @Liz H.: I definitely view it as a coming of age book featuring protagonists who are facing new responsibilities with life on their own. Parents and other authority figures are largely invisible. It is a character’s agency in NA that sets them apart from YA. While there are many books in the NA category that have sex in them, there are just as many that do not.

    It is not the sexual explicitness that defines NA but rather the tone of the book and the characters’ arc.

    @Jill Sorenson: Yes, NA is primarily trade because these have almost all exclusively started out as self published and even when acquired by traditional publishers have been sold in trade paperback. There are two NA books that are coming out from traditional publishers: Rush Me by Alison Parr and True by Erin McCarthy. I don’t know what the print versions will be for either.

    As for successes being the exception rather than the rule, big successes may be the exception but success within the NA is not an exception. I would argue that there are more new NA authors achieving success these days (however you define it) than romance authors. NA is not an exception genre right now. It is a flourishing one and to marginalize it does a disservice to the authors who writing it and readers who are clamoring for more.

  5. LJD
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:24:29

    I didn’t realize that the Crossfire series was New Adult. How old are the characters? Is it generally considered NA?

  6. Jane
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:41:40

    @LJD: I don’t view the Crossfire series as New Adult and I am surprised anyone (including the author) classifies those books as such. Eva and Gideon are in their twenties but post college and the stories don’t really have any “coming of age” feel to them at all.

  7. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:43:01

    @Jane: I agree that NA is doing exceptionally well. I’m not arguing that NA authors aren’t seeing better sales than other types of romance authors, just that big successes aren’t typical. Are the majority of NA books/authors are going straight to the top? Maybe they are, and I’m wrong. My point wasn’t to diminish NA (which seems to attract a lot of haters, especially in the YA crowd) but to suggest that success isn’t so easy. If it is, sign me up.

  8. Jane
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:44:46

    @Jill Sorenson: In the context of the above quote, the use of “exception” points to the NA genre not being worthy of shelf space in a store. As if NA books don’t have broad appeal and can’t sell.

  9. cleo
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:54:30

    One thing that still puzzles me about NA – is it targeted at readers who are transitioning into adulthood /college aged / early 20s or is it just about them? YA is written specifically to be read by middle school or high school aged readers – even though it’s also read by adults. It’s not clear to me who the intended NA audience is.

    On another note, an English friend of mine once pointed out the key difference between American and English soap operas – in American soaps, problems are solved with a hug, and in the English ones, problems are solved with a cup of tea.

  10. Sam
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:27:58

    I noticed lately when pre-ordering books; the paperback, whether it’s MM or Trade is a lot lower in price, than the kindle version. I’m sure people are picking up the bargain over the electronic version. I pre-ordered Larissa Ione’s new series with Pocket for example, MM is $5.54, and the Kindle version is $7.99. That’s just a sample. I bought the Kindle version because that’s what I rather read on, just means less book buys per year for me. I can’t wait for the day when e-book readers stop being penalized for how we choose to read.

  11. DB Cooper
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:03:50

    @Liz H.: I think my take on NA basically jives with Jane’s. Go figure, I credit DA with introducing me to the term and the concept. :)

    As a gut reaction, I view NA a bit like YA, except that the protags are “actually there at the adult stage, if only just,…and learning to deal with it.”

    The difference between the two is kind of like calling a sixteen year old a “young lady” versus a 22 year old a “young lady” :

    1. Calling the sixteen year old a young lady is cute, diminutive, and a polite way of trying to say “You’re not a child anymore (but we’re not going to give you full credit as an adult just yet).”

    2. Calling the 22 year old a “young lady” is more of a matter of fact description. “You’re young. You’ve achieved ‘adult status’ Go make job connections. go make adult friends. Of course life is still going to teach you a lesson, but I also expect you will handle it.

    P.S. Call us if you need anything. Oh yeah, and your mom and I will be out on a cruise all next week.” :D

  12. DB Cooper
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:30:31

    So here’s where I open a can of worms (don’t look here if you’re not sure you’ve defined NA for yourself yet):

    1. I like the concept of YA and NA that I’ve taken away from DA. :)
    2. I’m not convinced it has to be contemporary only. I think if we looked at Twilight, we can easily call it a YA (almost NA?) with vampires.
    3. By extension, NA Paranormal, NA fantasy, NA steampunk etc all make sense in my headspace.

    4. And yet, does that mean we can go and “back categorize” existing works as YA or NA? Should we? Even if the intention of the work doesn’t “feel like it meant to belong?”

    This is where it starts to fall apart for me. For example:

    4a. Anime and manga seems absolutely obsessed with young people, especially “older teenagers” saving the world and coming of age while doing so. Everything from fantasy, to space opera, to dystopia has an example of the sixteen year old who is unwittingly the “chosen one” or stumbles upon the “special armor” or is the “son/daughter of a high level official who is later killed” etc. Maybe this is NA in a way, but do we think of it that way?

    4b. This concept of “The great protagonist is young” has long been a staple of our cultures. Let’s go way back to Irish Myth. Cu Chulainn was only seventeen when he takes part in the Tain Bo Cuailnge. Granted, this is arguably far removed from the “romance (novel) category” (though ironically, I would say it belongs to the “Romance [literature] genre”) with less of a strict focus on interpersonal relationships. It does, however, have the hero’s coming of age, marriage (and struggle to achieve marriage), infidelity and violence presented in the pre-matter.

    4c. Fast forward several centuries, and stick us into a space romance readers are more familiar with. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focus on a woman “not yet two and twenty” years of age, who struggles to: find a permanent happiness for herself, define her worth, strike out for her own sense of self while continuing to deal with her familial duties and ties, oh and deal with the fact that the big bad world out there is not quite as she expected to find it. Is it NA? I can certainly agree it fits the pattern in many ways, but I’m not ready to call it that yet.

    OK, ramble over. But I’m awful curious to hear if anyone else has thoughts about this.

  13. Ros
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:56:44

    @DB Cooper: For me it only makes sense to call contemporaries (which in my headspace might include contemporary paranormal, like Twilight) YA or NA, because those kinds of categorisations only really exist within relatively contemporary society. Jane Austen wouldn’t have thought of Elizabeth Bennett as a ‘New Adult’. She was just an adult. If you’re in a society where people start work at 14 or 16 or earlier, and teenagers regularly marry and start having children, you don’t get the luxury of that lengthy transition period people expect today.

  14. LG
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 11:38:42

    @Ros: “For me it only makes sense to call contemporaries (which in my headspace might include contemporary paranormal, like Twilight) YA or NA, because those kinds of categorisations only really exist within relatively contemporary society.”

    A bit off-topic, since I’m commenting more on the YA part than the NA part. I was wondering how many other people see YAs as contemporary only. I’ve never thought about them that way at all, and, if I did define them like that, then I only read YA once in a blue moon. I think of YA more as a category, which has genres within that category (contemporary romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy, etc.). I suppose I apply this to NA too, except NA seems like a category that so far only has one genre, or at least primarily only one genre. I’d been wondering if NA was ever going to branch out and start having other genres (all I ever seem to hear about are NA contemporaries), or it was going to continue to remain so narrowly focused.

  15. MrsJoseph
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:50:46

    Like LG, I’ve always considered YA a category – like Romance. I’ve read a ton of different YA in different genres. NA…doesn’t seem to go that route. It does seem to be more contemporary – and it all seems to fall in the same basic plot/theme/trope than other categories I’ve read in the past.

  16. Ros
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 14:28:30

    I suppose I’m mostly excluding historical NA and YA. I just think that the things which categorise those genres are modern situations and sensibilities, not historical ones. I don’t really read suspense/PNR/fantasy etc, but I can imagine how they could work within YA or NA settings.

  17. depo
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 18:16:48

    I can’t help but wonder if his definition of “new adult contemporary” is born of confusion as well as ignorance. Does anyone suspect he’s reading the word “adult” as it’s used in “adult entertainment”?

  18. Deb Kinnard
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 18:34:48

    Firm genre label: Yanada – Young Adult/New Adult/as defined by Dear Author. Can it find its feet? You bet!

  19. Ros
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 07:58:06

    @depo: Yes, I wondered that too.

  20. Jane
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:47:57

    As you might have guessed, I have more thoughts on the NA genre and labeling in general but to kind of bullet point it.

    a) I think NA can definitely be PNR or Fantasy but much harder to do in historicals
    b) No one genre definition is going to be the same to everyone. Think how many disagreements we have on romance
    c) Backdating to include books that are in a genre is often done. Think Pride & Prejudice and whether it is or is not a romance
    d) I think the general age range is 18-24 but it can vary but I definitely think it is an older tone than YA and a younger tone than adult. In YA, I don’t see a lot of characters having agency of their own but an extension of their parents. An emancipated pre 18 year old who has a lot of responsibilities fall within the NA for me. It might not for others.

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