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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do You Write "New Adult" Fiction?

There’s a new fiction genre in the publishing world: “New Adult.” This means books for single people 18-30. According to author S. Jae-Jones’ recent blogpost http://tinyurl.com/yzwgq96 it includes most of the hipper literary works of the past couple of decades, plus the now defunct (just whisper it) chick lit. Her list of New Adult-erers includes David Eggers, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, Bret Easton Ellis, Junot Diaz, Stieg Larsson, Neil Gaiman, and yes, Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada.)

Ouch. I guess old codgerettes like me are supposed to stay home and re-read our dog-eared copies of James Michener.

But here’s the thing. The major, sad thing: there's not much money in publishing new adult fiction these days. Especially adult literary fiction.

According to agent Rachelle Gardner’s super-helpful blog http://cba-ramblings. blogspot.com/search/label/Trends literary fiction is one of the toughest genres to sell (along with chick lit, memoirs, and novels over 100K words.)

This is why there has been such a stampede by serious writers to the Young Adult category. YA is wide open, even to literary novels. But to be YA, your protagonist pretty much has to be in high school. A bit limiting for those of us who prefer not to revisit the horrors of adolescence, thank you very much.

Hence the invention of “New Adult” –a sort of YA Plus.

So what does all this mean for the vast un/underpublished out here? What if you can’t shoehorn your work into the young hip-and-single categories?

Well, for one thing, don’t shoot yourself in the font by calling yourself “literary” unless you absolutely have to. Can you fit your novel into a genre like Women’s Fiction, Sci Fi, Mystery, Suspense, or Fantasy? Go for it.

Probably that novel chronicling the relationship between Elizabeth and Essex in a series of Petrarchan sonnets will have to wear the dreaded label, but it will help if you can build up some literary cred with an MFA and/or publication in a bunch of high profile literary magazines before you approach anybody with it.

Otherwise, pick a popular genre that’s closest to your work and see if it gets any nibbles. Or make your protagonist under thirty.

More on categories of genre fiction later.



Blogger Emily Cross said...

I hope this catches on! YA is great to read and all but its limited if your 20plus! In my mind, there should be more books like Charlaine Harris's available for the 'new adult' and i don't necessarily mean supernatural/paranormal books, like you said books aimed at 18-30 age group! There is definitely a market there to be tapped. Great post, i may look into this more :)

November 16, 2009 at 4:03 AM  
Blogger CKHB said...

WHOA. Thanks for the link! Could my (ssshhh...) chick lit novel in fact be new adult? And in such great company?

November 16, 2009 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger annerallen said...

CKHB--let's hope so! And let's hope that breezy, fun novels about sassy single women will get new life under this new name!

November 16, 2009 at 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so I think, umm, what I'll do is take my "family" novel featuring three wives of the same man (sequential, alas) and make them, er, let's see, 14, 17, and 19 years old. But what do I do with each one's son?
---Steve the Fig

November 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Susan Tuttle, author Tangled Webs said...

Wow, that seems to mean that those of us in "codgerville" who not only write but read, now have to read only genre fiction, or about people our children's ages. Sorry, but I do enjoy reading about people my own age, thank you very much! I think the traditional industry is shooting itself in the foot, here - everyone knows the "Under 30" crowd is too busy texting to read anything with real words... For a reading audience, "Codgerville" is where it's at! Take heed, New York Publishers...

November 16, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

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