Growing up doesn't really end at age 20, so why should young adult fiction stop there? The New Adult genre, a growing subset of young adult lit, aims to give voice to the post-high school experience and its implied transition to independent living: college, moving away from home, traveling, starting first jobs and even sex. The content may be darker and more mature than what is traditionally found in YA, and the protagonists range from late teens to early 20s, but the stories offer many of the same kind of identity challenges and coming of age narratives as their YA brethren.
New Adult is emerging as quickly as publishers and authors can define it. St. Martins Press is credited with introducing the term "New Adult" as early as 2009, when it launched a contest for manuscripts featuring twentysomething characters. With older readers clamoring for YA books and driving their sales beyond publishers' expectations, the hope is that New Adult will fill what St. Martin's editorial assistant [Sarah] Jae-Jones (a.k.a JJ) has called a gap in the current adult market. Jae-Jones' ran the publisher's November 2009 contest that's credited as the opening bell for this market.
So far, it seems that the industry is hedging its bets on NA's growth. Penguin imprint Razorbill has jumped into the game with a number of titles, including the originally self-published novel Easy by Tammara Webber, which has sold more than 150,000 copies. Self-published 20-something author Cora Carmack landed a high six-figure deal with HarperCollins for her book Losing It and two other titles. Meanwhile, Random House has devoted a digital-first imprint to New Adult books, called Flirt. Smaller-scale publishers such as Carina Press and Entangled have announced their own NA lines. Entangled will be releasing 30 NA books between May and December 2013.