What is New Adult Romance Fiction? - #writetip

There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult Romance Genre" in fiction that is targeted at college-aged readers.  

Part of the appeal of NA is that the novels are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents, and the storylines generally have a heavy romantic element. The majority of NA books are  romance-focused and feature the "bad-boy" trope that a lot of readers love. (I'm one of them!)


According to "The Honest Bookclub," the main story tropes in New Adult are (to read the full list, click here):

[Girl] is running away. Running from her dark past, her demons, the terrors that arise at night and threaten to consume her. She has come where she hopes no demons have followed. She is looking to start fresh. New beginnings. New friends. New life.

[Guy] is trouble personified. His every move seems to hint at something dark and dangerous that [girl] can't put a finger on. (* Extra points for tattoos.) He isn't one for commitment, and anyway commitment is the very last thing she needs. She has turned a new leaf and danger is no longer part of her life. Ultimately, what she really needs is to stay away from him.

New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, and in most cases, with innocent eyes. Most NA characters experience their first real, grown-up romance and all the obstacles, heartache, and tension that come along with it. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something characters living their own lives, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend to writers that they start reading NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before they write one. There are certain tropes that NA readers expect and usually a HEA. You can read this post for more insight into the tropes of New Adult romance by reading: The New Adult Genre Demystified.

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.


Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not. Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
Here are some more great New Adult reading recommendations: NA goodreads

Do you read New Adult books? 

Does the genre appeal to you?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

1 comment

  1. I just want to comment regarding New Adult category (not genre). Unlike Young Adult fiction, which is a genre specifically targeted to 13-18 year olds (though it's well known that adults also frequently dip into this genre), New Adult fiction does not have a target audience that matches the ages of the characters.
    New Adult fiction is not 'for' but rather 'about' young adults - the characters are aged between 18-25, however the average age of readers of this genre are in their 30s-40s, with a range from 25 to 50 (so the 18-25s are obviously NOT reading this category).
    I feel we need to make that very clear.
    The misunderstanding that New Adult fiction is aimed at new adults has been one of the reasons this category has been so wildly attacked, with people arguing that it's offensive to young adults, who are after all, adult. It is the readers who are well past this age who enjoy reading about characters in this rather special life phase.


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