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New Adult Fiction

define it –was such a massive self-publishing phenomenon in the US that it became impossible for UK publishers to ignore it. In September 2013, Ebury will publish The Lost Boys by Brazilian writer, Liliane Carmine, a book about a teenage girl who falls in love with a ghost. In its self-published incarnation, it clocked up over 32 million reads on writers’ website, Wattpad. Cora Carmack’s Losing It, now out in print and eBook in the UK, sold over 32K copies in a single week when she originally self-published it in the US. Not surprisingly, mainstream publishers soon decided that they wanted a share of this substantial pie; a self-published author with a proven track record, and a ready-made fanbase is likely to be magnetically attractive to most publishers.

Simon and Schuster has one of the most extensive programmes of New Adult publishing of any UK publisher this year. Ten titles by four US authors are due out in paperback between April and June 2013, with the eBooks available in advance. As recently as the end of last summer, the publisher’s sales team was still unsure as to whether New Adult had legs. No such doubts now. On 7th March, Simon and Schuster published the eBook of Abi Glines’ Fallen Too Far, her first UK title never previously to have been self-published. It sold 10,000 eBooks in 3 days, half of which were pre-orders: the highest weekly sale for any Simon and Schuster eBook to date. Jane Griffiths feels that it is an eye-opening example of how big an impact the fans can have. ‘If you can make the most of a fan base like Abi’s then you can build a real presence on the list’.

Despite the fact that many New Adult novels are now appearing in print editions for the first time, digital sales will almost certainly continue to dominate the field. Publishers typically predict a split of 70/30 in favour of eBooks over print, which is just as well given that retailers are still debating where physical editions of New Adult titles will sit in the bookshops. According to Lucy Icke, fans of New Adult are ‘really fast, voracious readers who rip through their reading on their digital devices. That is one reason we are seeing substantial digital sales in this area’. ‘(New Adult) is still clearly not considered serious enough to put on a shelf in the living room’, says Emily Thomas.

The numbers are promising so far. But for most publishers the jury remains out as to whether New Adult is here to stay. ‘I don’t know that we’ll be using the term New Adult in a major way’, says Annie Eaton. ‘We’ll have to see how it gets picked up by the UK trade. If the words New Adult speak to the audience, we’ll use them. Otherwise, it’s the books and packaging that will do the talking. ‘It’s probably too soon to say, but I see New Adult as part of a broader movement in commercial fiction. So my sense is yes it’s here to stay, but it will continue to evolve’, says Gillian Green.

The New Adult buzz has begun to spread to other territories beyond the US and UK. Gillian Green reports a raft of European proposals in the run-up to the London Book Fair. So is the time ripe for a crop of home-grown

New Adult writers to emerge in the UK? Again, publishers are hedging. For some, New Adult remains a phenomenon with a distinctly American flavour. ‘There’s still a glamour about the US: the writing does something different for UK readers’, says Sarah Lambert at Quercus. ‘When it comes to romance, there’s no hunk quite like an American hunk’.

‘ The

difference is around the fact about it being taken for granted in New Adult books that the characters are ready to have sex.

Piccadilly is so far one of the few UK publishers to offer a British title with Irresistible by Liz Bankes. Whether you recognise it as New Adult or ‘steamy’; it’s a well-crafted story with more humour in it than some of its more earnest US cousins, and perhaps this is an indication of where the British take on New Adult might go. Meanwhile a little bit of traffic has started to go the other way across the Atlantic, with both Irresistible and Undeniable, Liz Bankes’ second novel, sold to Bloomsbury US.

So much about the New Adult trend remains unclear, from whether it is primarily a US trend and how much sex you are allowed, to whether it crosses over with YA or is firmly in the adult domain. Even the age demographic of its readers is complex, given last year’s Bowker research which suggested that 55% of buyers of YA books are aged 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44. I like Lucy Icke’s theory here. ‘I think New Adult is also attracting an older readership who are reading these books nostalgically, because they are about first love. People are really latching on to that, because everyone remembers their first love’. Despite the impending launch of some stand-out titles, it appears that the definition of New Adult is likely to remain in soft-focus for some time to come. n

The Books

Fall Guy Liz Reinhardt Definitions 978-1782951230 £6.99

The Vincent Boys Abbi Glines Hot Key Books 978-1471401213 £7.99

The Vincent Brothers Abbi Glines Hot Key Books 978-1471401237 £6.99

The Secret of Ella and Micha Jessica Sorensen Sphere 978-0751552287 £6.99

Irresistible Liz Bankes Piccadilly 978-1848123380 £6.99

Losing It Cora Carmack Ebury Press 978-0091953386 £6.99

Fallen Too Far Abbi Glines Simon and Schuster 978-1471118616 £6.99

Caroline Sanderson is a writer and editor.

Books for Keeps No.199 March 2013 15

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