New Adult and Marketing
Meredeth Houston (author of Colors Like Memories)
You’ve probably heard about the relatively new genre that has entered the scene: New Adult. It’s been around on the web for a while (since 2009 according to Wikipedia), and lately it has started to really take off. TheNew York Times article in December really got a lot of people talking.
Basically, New Adult is targeted toward 18-25 year olds who are leaving home, entering college, experiencing changes in relationships, and learning what it means to be an adult. While there have been plenty of cries of “marketing-ploy” around the web, I think New Adult fits a needed gap in books I wish I’d had when I was younger. The only books I can remember reading that were set in college were the Sweet Valley University books (I am totally dating myself by admitting to reading those!). Books were always my way of pre-experiencing life changes, and I would have loved some books that talked about what it was like to share three sinks with twenty other college freshman in the dorms.
Some of the marketing concerns about New Adult come from bookstores, who are scratching their heads over what to do with these books—place them with YA, or with adult? Maybe find a way to squeeze in a new shelf somewhere? As the popularity of the genre grows, and I think it will as it draws from the older fans of YA and huge adult-loving-YA base, it will sort out.
There is also the question of whether college kids really read. I’ve heard this so many times—that people this age don’t have time to read. Considering I work with college kids every day, I can definitely say this isn’t the case. Yeah, sure they are busy and may not read at the same rate as they did in high school, but I always get an enthusiastic response when I ask what a student is reading for fun.
One of the really cool aspects of marketing New Adult is the fact that this age group often has their own source of income that they are free to use on any book they want. They no longer have to ask, or get approval from parents to purchase what they want to read. There’s been a lot said about how this allows for the steamier scenes that won’t be censored by an adult who wouldn’t want their child reading any explicit. In terms of selling books, it allows more room for targeting the audience directly, and not the parents (though they may want to read your book too!).
(Goodreads graph on New Adult growth)
Another bonus is the fact that many people this age already have ereaders, read on their phones, or computers. A lot of the early success in this genre was with self-published books, and this is testament to the fact that the New Adult age range is much more willing to pick up and ebook and read it on the bus or between classes.
My second novel, The Chemistry of Fate, will release in April and it falls firmly into the New Adult genre. In pulling together some marketing plans, there are a few things that I’m thinking about that capitalize on this market:
College creative writing classes. I live in a university town, and there’s also a junior college nearby. Both offer writing classes, and it doesn’t hurt to send an email to the professor asking if they’d be interested in a little presentation to their students about writing/publishing/something unique you can offer. (It’s probably better to do this early in a semester—just a recommendation from this professor!)
Book clubs. Maybe it was just me, but this was an area that I had a hard time with when my first book came out, as Colors Like Memories is YA. A lot of book groups (even ones I’m an active participant in!) weren’t willing to read it as it was meant for “kids.” Well, New Adult definitely allows for a broader base in that area. Also, I think more and more adults are getting comfortable with reading books with younger characters—50%+ of YA books are purchased for adult readers according to Bowker.
Word of mouth. Okay, this is a part of any marketing plan, but the thing with YA is that while there are some awesome teens that run book blogs and other means of spreading the book-love, there are a lot more college students who do so. Plugging into the college social media scene has its perks (even more than wasting time during lecture!).
Have you read any New Adult? Do you have any additional ideas for how to market to this age group?
Here are a few resources I’ve found useful:
-The Goodreads New Adult genre, to add to your TBR pile
-The twitter #NewAdult hashtag always has great links and books listed.
-There are a lot of blogs, but I’m partial to NA Alley (do see their Resources tab—lots of great links!)
Find Meredeth online:
Reference: Graph image from: http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/398-young-adult-gets-old