Friday, September 10, 2010
So I totally should have blogged about this a lot sooner, but I have a million other things I have to do, and blogging non-profit is not at the top of that list.
In any case, last Wednesday's YALITCHAT was also its anniversary, so Happy Late Anniversary, YALITCHAT! Although we were supposed to be primarily talking about YALITCHAT itself, somehow a lot of us got wrangled up in the topic of New Adult, a term used strictly by St. Martin's Press, but not really an official genre or anything.
New Adult, as I've gathered, is about college-age students, kids, people, adults, what have you. It revolves around college lives, with other plot elements, like maybe fighting off an evil dragon while trying to earn a law degree at Harvard.
Our biggest argument revolved around whether or not teens would buy "New Adult" fiction. There were several assumptions they wouldn't because they can't really relate to the college crowd. There were also several assumptions they would because of their curiosity about college. Then, there was the final verdict from someone in the publishing business that it would neither appeal nor sell to them.
Truth is, this is all a bunch of assumption, including the final verdict. We don't really know what teens want. We can only guess and throw caution to the wind. The YA genre itself was probably a chance publishers took back when it was still new. I think New Adult (or whatever) will be the same.
All in all, what do I think? I think New Adult would sell to a teenage crowd. And maybe it's because of my own high school experiences, but I was genuinely afraid to start college. I know I wasn't the only one either. It's scary stuff when your teachers are constantly drilling into your head how much harder college is going to be, how strict the professors are going to be, and how SO VERY important it is to get a college education. Some high school students just feel like they can't live up to these expectations, and so this fear of college is genuine.
In fact, the high school I graduated from has dropped tech prep altogether and is forcing everyone on a college prep track. This can't possibly be the only high school that has had this insane idea. I'm sure there are thousands of high school students all across America with this ridiculous pressure to get into college.
And this pressure, I'm going to assume, is new. I'm assuming this based on what my parents have told me. My parents have told me that standardized tests didn't exist at the schools they went to, that the pressure of getting into college was almost non-existent, and no students were ever pressured into taking high-level classes like AP or dual enrollment or gifted. Dual enrollment, from what my parents have told me, didn't even exist in their day!
So because of all this, wouldn't a high school student want to read a book that shows college isn't as crazy as everyone makes it seem? Sure, the experience differs for every individual, but that's the same with a high school experience. My high school experience wasn't bad at all, and was quite bland compared to the high school experiences I've read about in YA novels. My different experience didn't make the novel any less likable or relatable: it just gave me a different perspective.
Okay, so maybe back then so-called New Adult would have been a hard sell. But it's unbelievable how, even in one's freshman year, college is being stressed to such an extent that I believe it's increasing drop-out rates (perhaps I'm exaggerating and going insane, but I seriously think this pressure increases them). Freshman are no longer told to enjoy their high school experiences and make the best of them. They're told to start thinking about their careers now, what college they want to go into, and so on and so forth.
Because of all this pressure, I sincerely believe teens would be interested in reading about a freshman's experience in college. Maybe not sophomore, but definitely freshman, because college is so new and that teen mindset is still present.