|Tessa Woodward sitting in a garden of books.|
She gave us the seven essentials of writing New Adult fiction, a category that's so new there really aren't experts yet. In the past year, though, the category has gained steam, especially at HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.
"We've taken New Adult and decided it's going to be a thing," she said. "And I'm glad, because I really like it."
Here's a sampling of the seven essentials she's learned along the way.
The first rule of New Adult: There are no rules.
The first NA book she encountered (TAKING CHANCES by Molly McAdams) had a love triangle, which is common in YA, but not at all in romance, which tends to be one guy, one girl, and a happily ever after ending.
Another rule that was broken: You can't set a book in college. This turned out not to be true.
Also, throw out the idea of what a writer is. Many success stories just wanted to tell a story, not be a writer with an MFA. Books can also come from anywhere, not just agents. The Internet and sites like wattpad have been huge.
Rule 2: NA is not YA with more sex
Most of them do have a lot of sex in them, but you can't just age up a YA and "add some dirty scenes." They are not the 50 Shades of YA.
At their core, NA novels are romances. YA is much more about coming of age and finding your place in the world, where NA is coming of age and finding your place in a relationship.
Rule 3: The audience isn't 18- to 24-year-olds
It's women who are older than that, primarily. And the titles tend to sell best in e-book (and it doesn't matter whether they are trade paperback, e-book original, or mass market titles).
"As long as you're going to have a great e-book publication," she said, "you're set."
The books need to be high drama and high emotion, and after that, anything can work.
"Emotion is key. Oh, the drama in these books. I kid you not," she said. These arguably unrealistic fantasies take you out of your humdrum college experience with libraries and watered-down beer. "As crazy as some of them are, they're enjoyable."