EPISODE 3, Season 2 – Talking new adult books with literary agent, Kelly Peterson
In episode 3, Melissa welcomes literary agent, Kelly Peterson to the show to talk about the New Adult category in books. Listen in...Episode 3, Talking new adult books with literary agent, Kelly Peterson
Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! I’m your host, Melissa Koberlein. I’m an author and professor of publishing. If you’re just tuning in for the first time, let me tell you about the show. Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice. Each week, I invite a guest host to join me for a hot topic in publishing or a book review. I end each episode with a tip of the week.
This week I was joined by Kelly Peterson. Kelly is an Associate Agent with Corvisiero Literary. She received her B.S.Ed. in English and Literature from West Chester University, and has since come to understand that her dream of being a teacher has diminished. Setting out to find another path related to books, she confidently strode towards the publishing industry and blogging, but her knack for marketing and public relations landed her an internship with Corvisiero. She's never looked back.
She understands the importance of family, community, and kindness in an industry that sometimes seems robotic and distant, so she strives to surround herself with other publishing professionals who aren't afraid to be themselves. The family atmosphere extends to her clients, where she's carefully selected the talent on her client list with the understanding of kindness, patience, drive, and support. Because of this, The Fellowship was born into existence and continues to thrive.
First, Kelly and I dished about her clients. She calls them The Fellowship. She talked about how her authors/clients are more like a family. They serve as critique partners and beta readers for one another and chat on a regular basis. They have also deemed Kelly, their Gandalf! WOW! "You shall not pass!"
Kelly and I also chatted about her week as a literary agent. I wanted to get some inside info about what a literary agent's everyday life is like! She mentioned that her clients are currently on submission with editors at publishing houses and working on her query box. I thought it was interesting that she must research editors and publishing houses for the right fit just like writers must do for literary agents.
We then moved on to the topic of the week--New Adult books.
We started with a definition of the new adult genre and its roots. -According to an article by Naughton in Publishers Weekly, St. Martin's Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a contest soliciting new adult fiction. New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.
Kelly said that she is a strong advocate for new adult, but also acknowledges that it is considered a taboo term in publishing because it was tried and failed. She also said that there is a large gap in the market where new adult should be selling but hasn't been. What has been selling in the new adult range, are strong romances. However, Kelly mentioned that 'crossover' is a new term that is being tested out in publishing. These are books that are younger (18-20 years old) but still considered new adult. So, writers, think 'crossover'!
We then moved on to talk about why new adult books emerged. Kelly believes that the publishing industry saw a gap and an opportunity in the market between the age range of 18-25. I thought about it from the author perspective in that there are loads of authors who want to write in this space. I mentioned to Kelly that people are experiencing life events that used to happen at 17-18 at 20-21 now. I thought that perhaps that was a reason for authors' interest in new adult stories. Kelly agreed, but the stigma associated with the term, new adult, is still prevalent. Of course, we had a lively discussion about Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most popular new adult novel. Ahem...
I asked Kelly if she had ever come across any YA books that she thought should really be in the NA category? I sure have! She said that because YA still sells well in hardcover and paperback, this is common. So, if there are some marketable NA fantasy or sci-fi novels, publishing houses will categorize them as YA. Kelly's example is Sarah J. Maas. She said that the themes in her novels are very mature, but sell in YA. My example is Jennifer Armentrout's Lux series. We moved on to a lively discussion about teens today. I mentioned that teens, GenZ, are much more open and honest about their feelings. Also, their attention span is the lowest of any generation in our history.
I asked Kelly what writers who are querying a new adult novel can do to increase their chances of getting a literary agent. Her advice? In the current market, change your age range to 23-25 to categorize your novel as adult. Or- change the age range to 18-20 to categorize it at crossover.
My last question for Kelly was about a space for genre fiction in NA? Like sci-fi/fantasy? Thrillers? Mystery? Dystopian? Etc. Kelly believes that there is room for it. She hopes that the publishing industry catches up. However, writers need to be aware that it is a niche market. But, the more support people have for current new adult books, the better. So, go out and BUY NEW ADULT BOOKS!
Next, I moved on to the tip of the week: If you’re searching for a literary agent, make sure you would be a good fit. There’s tons of information on social media about literary agents. For example, make sure that the agent you are querying reps the genre you write. Also, read some of their client’s work. Do your research. This is also a major component of the course I teach in publishing.
I thanked Kelly for coming on the show. This is where you can find Kelly:
On my next podcast, I will have Laurel Wenson, NaNoWriMo enthusiast, as my guest host. The topic? NaNo, of course! I will also have another Tip of the Week.
And don’t forget where to find me! Find my podcast at indiechicks.net or follow me on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on iTunes. Please rate me! You can follow me on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or Facebook.com/TheIndieChicks or @TheIndieChicks
So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books! Thanks for listening!
Indie Chicks out.