How the publishing industry botched New Adult

new adult

About five years ago a new trend took over the publishing industry. It was called NEW ADULT. For those of you unfamiliar with this trend, “New Adult” was a new age category for readers approximately 18-25 years of age. The characters of said books were usually within this age range as well.

The category was initially intended as a stepping stool between the Young Adult category for readers age 12-18 and the adult category for readers age 18+. The reasoning behind New Adult was that many readers (myself included at the time) appreciated the distinction between between the “adulthood” of your late teens / early twenties and the other type of adulthood, the one that sets in after you hit 25 and have a more stable life and bigger responsibilities (for most of us at least).

Because let’s face it, the “adulthood” of your college years is not the same “adulthood” of your post-college working years. And literature should be able to reflect that. Or at least, that was the hope.

When New Adult took off, I was very excited. To be honest I envisioned a ton of new fantasy books with characters between this age range. I thought it would be very interesting to mix the elements of fantasy with the mindset and viewpoint of characters in their early twenties… which are adults but have not wholly figured things out yet and may still be grappling with issues like dealing with new responsibilities and the like. This translated into a fantastical setting might yield something interesting.

I envisioned New Adult science fiction. New Adult dystopia. New Adult historical. New Adult contemporary. I envisioned a whole new world of possibilities… because that’s what an age category is, right? It’s a category to fit in a whole bunch of genres. Just like there is YA fantasy, YA sci-fi, YA dystopia, and adult fantasy, sci-fi, etc… There should have been New Adult everything.

Sadly, that was not how our poor fledgling New Adult was treated.

What sparked off the New Adult trend was a couple of bestselling self-published romance books. So naturally, literary agents and publishers of the industry decided to buy and publish ONLY (or mostly) New Adult romance, because they wanted to capitalize on the trend. Their vision didn’t extend to beyond this or to what the category could become. So from its begginings New Adult was not treated as an age category, but as a genre. Or rather, as a sub-genre… of Romance.

Obviously in a couple of years the market became saturated with New Adult, which became equivalent to “Romance between people in their early twenties”, and the trend died off completely. The Age Category, which was never treated as such, was effectively killed.

My urban fantasy book The Sun Child features a 22 year old protagonist grappling with the morality behind having the power to heal and kill others at will. In my mind this is a perfect example of one of the many ways New Adult could have expanded as a category, but didn’t, because of a short-mindedness that spread within the industry. So I label my book Adult for commercial purposes, though I would have liked to label it New Adult.

And that’s the sad story of how the publishing industry botched New Adult.

new adult 2

My new publishing enterprise…

Stack Of Books

So for a couple of years now I’ve had the idea of starting my own publishing house. Mainly because if I chose to self-publish my own books, I thought that I might as well open my own publishing company and launch my books from that platform. Well, I already self-published my first book, and it did relatively okay for the amount of marketing and promotion and pre-launch planning & execution I put into it. I didn’t do it under my own publishing house, though. Then I sort of let it slide because the demands of life took me in another direction, and that was that.

But I’m back at it again. Now, I have not only one more fiction book that’s ready to be published, but six other non-fiction books that I want to publish as well. And I’m thinking: Life is too short not to make this work for me. Not to get it out in the world. So I’m going for it.

I launched Yggdrasil Publishing House yesterday. To make the house grow, I’m going to focus on publishing my own books and getting them out in the world under that label. Then I’m going to focus on expanding the brand and looking for new authors to work with.

I know it’s a-lot between managing a law firm and taking care of a household and the new baby that is due november, but I want to make this work. I want to publish my books, of which there are many that haven’t yet seen the light of day, and I want to give it a go, or else I know I will regret it.

So check it out! And if you have an enterprise that you’re dreaming to start, I encourage you to go for it, as well. We’re alive and in this world in order to contribute our talents to it… which is what I’m hoping to do with Yggdrasil Publishing and my own written works, as well.

 

Hey everyone. These are a few book reviews of THE SUN-CHILD, my adult urban fantasy. Check it out 🙂

REVIEW ONE

Very interesting novel!

I’m impressed that the author was able to create a new monster. A feat really, considering that nowadays we are rarely surprised. The monster (the sun child/ren) is one that is difficult to define. They are a type of anti-hero, being good and bad, who are recruited into their group to heal and kill on order. They are also capable of love and lust, as well as hatred and guilt.

The story is dark, the characters combative, and the language, in general, is aggressive. my type of reading 🙂

I’d definitively recommend this story for adults who like dark fantasy fiction.

Kelly Walsh

 

REVIEW TWO

The Sun Child tells the story of 22 year old Daniel Maze who belongs to a tribe of superhumans (for lack of a better word) known as the Sun Children with the ability to kill or heal (almost) at will. The Sun Children act as sentinels deciding if a human live needs to be saved or deserves death. While they mainly focus on healing, there is a catch: after every healing, a Sun Child must feed (a.k.a. kill) in order to restore his or her energy. The Sun Children have very strict rules that forbid them from killing innocents, and thus, there is no guilt accompanied by these killings. For the most part.
To make things complicated for the tribe, Sun Children are always on the lookout for Immortals, their enemy tribe. The Immortals are a tribe of super-humans immune to the Sun Children’s power gifted with unnatural super-strength who believe no one should have the power to decide who lives and who dies.
These two tribes exist all throughout the world, living in secret from humans. The story begins in modern-day Seattle where Daniel lives with his soulmate, Kismet, and the rest of his tribe in an underground city hidden from human view. Daniel soon begins to question his own kind and their motives when something unexpected happens and he soon finds himself on the run when Rafael, the narcissistic, power-hungry leader of his tribe learns that Daniel has the potential to become more powerful than he is. As Daniel is forced to leave behind the love of his life and everything he’s known, he’ll soon find himself discovering things about him and what he’s capable of (as well as forming an unlikely alliance with his enemies) that he would have never imagined were possible.

I loved this book because the plot was very unique, full of twists, and constant action. While I kept thinking I could predict the story there were little things that kept surprising me, and I am sure the author will continue the series with as much creativity and surprises. The story is short, concise and there is always something happening. While you don’t really get to know a lot of the characters very well, you do get to know Daniel quiet well and he’s a very interesting character. He´s more of an anti-hero – rebellious, volatile, angry, impulsive. Personally, I didn’t find him a very likeable character (which makes him that much more interesting), but he definitely is capable of growth. The idea of the two tribes (and everything in between) really add to the story, making you want to learn more about this secret world happening right underneath our noses.

It being a first book of course there are some things that can be improved – such as minor grammar errors, more character development for some of the secondary characters, and more detailed scenes (somethings things happen way too quickly), but I believe that this is something the author will develop more as the series continues.

Overall, a great read – quick, fun, and action-packed, I extremely recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy/fiction books!

Ana Cecilia Ulloa

 

 

REVIEW THREE

The Sun Child book is one of those books that is both enthralling and adequately paced. There is rich character developments, and a progressive and symbolic narrative. Daniel’s plight facing the dichotomy between good and evil, which at first hand can be seen as too similar of a motif in literature, is written in a riveting and compelling way. The author holds nothing back, and chapter after chapter my imagination was lost in her descriptions of the warring tribes that play as refreshing and original antagonists. Morality is both ambiguous and clear, evident yet hidden, and relative yet absolute.

A fully recommend read.

Niko Sanchíz

Characters – The Elements of Story

This is the second post in a series titled The Elements of Story. In the first post I described WorldBuilding, which is what fleshes out the setting of a story and makes it feel real. In this second post I will be talking about the importance of having legitimately real, complex characters, and how to build a character arc.

Character_PeekingPlaye

Characters are what really grab an audience. A story might be good because the plot is fast-paced and engaging, because it has deep meaning, or because we can relate to it. But what really captivates are the characters that we learn to love, admire, or hate. More than anything, characters are what will keep readers coming back to the same book over and over again, or what will impel readers to read the second installment of the saga, or what makes us remember a story long after we have put the book down.

In order for the story to be good, the characters must feel real. They can’t be wooden copies of a stereotype. They must be fleshed out, have motivations and feelings and agendas. For this to be so, a writer must be a constant studier of humanity. He or she must observe the people that surround him on a day to day life and try to understand them, or think about what it must be like to walk in their shoes. The more familiar we are to the human condition, the better writers we will be.

People sometimes say that the main character must be likable. It’s important not to confuse this with having the MC be a hero, or a goody-goody. You can have a MC that is an antagonist or an anti-hero, but he must have something that appeals to the audience and makes them like them. Humor, a dark and troubled past, pure intentions but complicated situations, etc. If the reader cannot relate to the MC, it’s more than likely he will not end up relating to the rest of the story. Hence, likeability is important, but not to be confused with morality. We can have an entirely amoral and likeable MC, if it’s done well.

It’s also good if characters are complex. If they do or say unexpected things, if there’s more under the surface than what the reader initially expects. They can even be contradictory, and say one thing and do another. Human beings are like this in real life, so why not in story?

Now, for the character arc.

Characters must begin at one place in their life at the beginning of the story and end up at another one by the ending. They must grow and change (either for better or for worse) due to the choices they have made that have led to the circumstances that affect their life. A character can’t be flat, or one-lined. This is boring. The MC of my debut Dark Fantasy novel, Daniel, starts off as being a regular 22 year old with an attitude and ends up hardened by the end of the novel, after having suffered.

We aren’t immune to things that happen to us in our life. Characters, also, aren’t immune to things that happen to them in the story. They, too, must act, react, and change. Just as we do.

There are the basic fundamentals of character building in the story. The third post in The Elements of Story series will be Pacing. How do we write a story in a way that keeps the readers engaged and entertained from the beginning of the page up to the very end?

Until then!

Dark Fantasy

I am a huge fan of traditional fantasy. I love Tolkien, I love George McDonald, I am in love with Andrew Lang’s Fairy Tale books. I enjoy the archetypes of traditional fantasy: The quest, the hero, the sword, the wizard, the dragon, etc. etc. All of these archetypes strike me as highly spiritual, and even symbolic of deeper inner truths.

gandalf

My first book was an epic fantasy. I started writing it when I was 12 and finished when I was 16. It was totally my practice book, but when I reread that first draft I can’t help but smile when I see how much of it was inspired by these archetypes, and how much of it is valid, even though technically it may not be the best writing. It was, after all, my first book, and I was basically a child.

I actually think about re-writing that first book sometimes.

Then I turned 17, and things got pretty dark. I started reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and really that was it for me. I loved it. I loved the ambiguous morality of the vampire, I loved that some of them relished in their darkness, and others hated themselves for what they were. I loved the term the anti-hero, Lestat, of the chronicles used to describe the world: The Savage Garden, where things like right and wrong are only human conceptions and all that matters is what’s beautiful. That is, aesthetic values above all.

It opened up a whole new world for me, and for some odd reason I identified with it all. I identified with the suffering, I identified with the darkness, and the doubt, and even the evil. Not because I, myself, am evil, but because I recognize we all have darkness within us, whether we would like to admit it or not.

This type of fantasy is called Dark Fantasy. It is the type of fiction that embraces the truth about our own flaws. The unredeemable qualities of the human being are superimposed upon the creatures exposed in these fantastical books, and a medium is therefore opened to psychologically explore these symbols, through fiction.

I loved this type of fantasy so much that my adult urban fantasy book, The Sun Child, was totally inspired by it.

Dark Fantasy is certainly lighter than horror, in the sense that there still usually exists a battle between good and evil forces, when in horror it can just be plain evil. I invite you to explore this type of Fantasy, see whether or not it’s something you might like. It does deal with the shadow aspect of our being, but I believe it’s good to know ourselves, to explore our different facets, and what better way to exercise the imagination than through fiction.

Cheers!

How I got the idea for The Sun Child

The inspiration for my Dark/Urban Fantasy novel The Sun Child came from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I was fascinated with her vampires, with how open and accepting of their darkness some of them were and how others were completely obsessed with feeling guilty over what they had become.

I was also intrigued by the notion of morality in a creature that could take other people’s lives so easily, but I didn’t want to write about vampires. It was 2007 and Twilight was in full bloom, and I wasn’t interested in writing in the vein (pun intended) of this popular vampire trend, even though I love vampires.

So I decided to create an altogether different creature, and since vampires were the children of the night, I thought why not reverse this and make my creature a Child of the Sun. And why not instead of using fangs to kill they use a mysterious power that pours out of their eyes through a golden sun-like glow.

And what if–and here is where the morality part comes in–my creature could not only kill humans at will, but also heal them? And what if these two things were closely interconnected?..

So that was how the idea for The Sun Child came about. Of course the romance and the heartbreak and the power struggles and the friendship, all that came later on, making the story stand out on its own. But the inspiration? It’s all Rice.

How I get inspired to write

A famous writer (I can’t think of his name right now) once said that he was always prepared for inspiration to strike, and that it always strikes at 9:00am in the morning.

When it comes to writing, I believe in rhythm. It’s important to write everyday, and equally important is to write at the same time, and preferably early in the morning, when our minds are fresh. This way it becomes a habit. I also like to write for at least one hour.

It’s also good to think about your story, let your mind wander, go over possibilities and dialogues and plot in your head. And then do something else, let your mind rest. Our subconscious minds are very powerful, and usually when we think about something and then give it a rest, the subconscious mind goes on working on it and coming up with amazing plot twists and the like.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I have some advice for aspiring writers and any one who will take it:
1. Don’t be arrogant. It’s easy to believe your book or manuscript or idea is the best thing in the world, but most likely, it’s not. Extremely few first drafts are even remotely ready to be published. It’s okay. Give yourself time to write and make mistakes, but also give yourself time to edit and review and get opinions from readers and correct those mistakes. In order to get a good product, you have to work on it. Pride just gets in the way.
2. Believe in yourself. There is only one person who can tell the story you have in your head, and that is you.
3. Set deadlines. It’s good to have some sort of structure.
4. Hire a copyeditor. It is not so expensive, and a thorough copyedit will make your book much more credible.
5. Write for at least an hour a day, every day. Be consistent.
6. Before publishing/querying, research as much as you can on how to market and promote your book.
7. Have fun! Writing is an art form, and writers are artists, but it doesn’t mean we should be all serious about it. This is about story, something that delights our hearts and that we all love. It’s fun!

 

The best thing about being a Writer

That feeling that you get when everything in your story just clicks together like pieces on a puzzle, or the characters fleshing out and feeling as real as people in your day to day life, or crying when you’re writing because you’re touched at your own words, or laughing, too, and thinking this must have come from some place else, this must have been given to one by the muses, and the writer is just the channel. Transforming thoughts into words and words into story, and story into personal meaning for every reader… That’s the best thing about being a writer.

 

How I deal with Writer’s Block

One falls out of rhythm sometimes, but I try to regain it by sitting down and honestly, sometimes even physically and mentally battling the resistance inside me, and just typing the words out.

One. By. One.

Once you get into the habit of writing every day at the same time for at least an hour, though, writer’s block feels like much less of a threat. It’s when we fall off the wagon that the danger appears.