Question about New Adult

In traditional new adult, generally it’s about college age people dealing with adult issues for the first time. But they might still be living with their parents.

But would it still be called New Adult, if they’re middle grade character living without parents, and dealing with adult issues the first time?

I seem to encounter a lot of these issues in my work.

The later used to be a huge theme when I did LitRPGs. For example, being to young to deal with adult issues generally leading to gaming addiction.

Google tells me that middle grade is ages 8 to 12?

Even if they are dealing with adult things, I feel like labeling it “New Adult” would seriously mislead readers.


Think more like Tween, 13-15. They’re the age middle grade people generally read up to. But if you gave the characters book, they’d read YA.

So the character in the story are Tween? Then, I’d still call it young adult.

But this is just me being “how I feel”. There are heaps of YA novels in dystopian settings where the 14yo is having to make serious adult-like decisions. But I still wouldn’t call it “New Adult”.

I have absolutely no source material to back this up, other than the fact that I’m an adult, and if I start reading a New Adult novel and discover that the MC is 15, I’d feel it is very much mislabeled.

I’d want to be reading about characters that are 18 or 19 at least. Characters that can drive, operate a bank account, legally drink and vote, hopefully hold down a job, or are at university, (completed their HS education), are essentially already accepted into the adult world and are just finding their place in it.

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I think one of the reasons I had trouble, as it’s split into two parts: the tween stage, and the college age stage. Though the same story, one is about the issues of growing up in a future that doesn’t care about childhood like we do: similar to before the Victorian age. The second part is the adult gaming addiction that often comes as a side effect, later in life.

But it’s kind of both YA and NA, which sounds weird I know.

Thanks for the help!

IMO age should be a filter on top of the genre.
I really can’t see how young adult is a genre, when it contains everything from sci-fi to mystery.

New adult isn’t really an age thing for me. dealing with adult decisions for the first time can come at 12yo in some cultures, 21yo in other cultures.
I had a friend who had a kid at 14, moved out and got a job. I don’t think I had to make any great decision until after university at 21.


I am not an “insider” in the industry, but my understanding from observation of, yanno, bookstores, libraries, etc. is that the categories Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult are mainly intended to describe the demographic the work is marketed to.

Usually and coincidentally (but not 100% as a rule) these also happen to correspond to the ages of the characters.

So, the author has to consider (in describing or pitching the work) which audience they believe will be most likely to buy/read that story about those characters. Then, a publisher would have to consider whether they agree.

I do know from articles about works that sometimes an author initially imagines marketing to one category, and a publisher suggests aging characters up or down to market the work differently. I don’t know how common that is, though.

“New Adult” is usually for and about people adulting for the first time, could be college in some cases, but more likely first jobs, first serious relationships, first time living alone, etc. But, it’s most often going to be about characters who do this at the typical age within a society.

So even if a 14-year-old character is “adulting” the work wouldn’t necessarily be found acceptable in publishing as a New Adult work, because that’s not the typical experience for the demographic. That’d more likely be YA (I’m guessing), for example, because there’s the balance of the younger teen but the more adult situation.

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I guess my issue with marketing the work differently, is also having to cut whole content out of a story. Although thankfully it seems like those dark days of TV censorship are long gone.

I’m a people pleaser, and to me when an editor suggests something I have a hard time saying no. Especally if the suggestion doesn’t make sense in context: add singy songy musical numbers and more joy–in a fricking dystopian novel about cannibalism, and dog fighting. Or societally challenging topics. Because gosh darn, those youth’s learning about the great depression. But lets add that happy ending.O_o

For a particularly extreme example, although Elfen Lied was gory, it be like snipping out the childhood segments, making those their own manga, writing a TV scrpt from this kid segment, and then further cutting it to ribbons by cutting off screen the gore and other dark subject matter–just to please Disney incorporated. --It’s just knd of silly, and kind of scary.

But yea New Adult is generally for college age people.

I wouldn’t call it New Adult, but there are definitely works with young characters that are ADULT – To Kill a Mockingbird and The Secret Life of Bees off the top of my head.

Karen was right – ultimately, it’s about the age of the target audience.