V.E.D.August 2

Motivation for Writing, for NaNo and all year long

I promise my top-of-the-head videos get less awkward a few days into doing them; it just takes a few days’ worth of video to get back into the groove.

Tonight, 9pm EST is #nalitchat

Tonight’s topic is “Why not YA or Adult?” and we are continuing our discussion of category boundaries. EJ Wesley will still be hosting through @NALitChat and Victoria Smith will be moderating via @NAAlleyBlog. As always, the most pertinent information about the weekly #nalitchat is the NA Lit Chat blog, and if you can’t make tonight’s chat or if you missed last week’s chat, transcripts are posted there the day after.

Last week I posted some links I thought would be helpful to read before the chat event, links that I think ground the week’s chosen topic in previous discussions. I want to do the same thing this week, so following are links I think help us define what NA is by asking what it is not.

  • “In Support of New Adult Fiction” by J. Lea Lopez, posted on From The Write Angle —  New Adult is not condescending or prescriptive. I really think that’s at the heart of the discussions and misunderstandings surrounding the NA category. Lopez’s blog post answers several more important questions, but the first several focusing on prescriptive intent are, to me, so incredibly valuable.
  • Where are all the young ‘adults?’” posted on Young Adult Review Network and “Putting the A in YA” by Sarah LaPolla, posted on Glass Cases  — The second post by LaPolla is a response, and not really a positive one for NA, to the first post, which mostly asks questions instead of giving answers.  You should recognize these two posts from the Lopez article. Together as a pair, these posts begin to seek out the category boundaries between YA, NA, and adult.
  • “Young Adult vs New Adult vs Adult” by S.M. Boyce — this is one author’s attempt to outline the differences between each category (though she calls them genres, they are, in fact, categories; genres are “fantasy” or “romance” or “crime”). The comments here are really worth the read and expound on her very simple & basic outline (her outline mostly defines age, sexual content, and swearing levels). I don’t think this is a comprehensive attempt to understand boundary lines, but it is a place to start — and age (and what’s appropriate for certain age groups) seems to be where everyone begins with categories.

My two-cents on this topic:

What I always remind myself, and try to discuss with others, is that category boundaries are rooted in understanding categories as a marketing tool. Publishers don’t really believe only teenagers read young adult fiction; publishers are neither stupid nor naive. What publishers know is that young adult fiction is marketed to teenagers (~ 13 to 18), and that when a YA book is marketed well to its “target audience,” the book can gain its broadest appeal. With good marketing, with focused marketing, a YA book will appeal immediately to teenagers, to a nostalgic adult, and to a forward-glancing middle-schooler. This sort of categorically-grounded marketing is how we understand the layouts of bookstores and online booksellers, and it only seeks to connect readers with books they’ll enjoy in the massive library that is published books.

Which is why discussions about how NA books are not YA or adult books is so critical to pushing the category further, and making it more broadly appealing to anyone who loves to read.

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