Finding Your Target Audience

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You want to write, but you aren’t sure exactly what you’re interested in writing for. What is YA, NA, and are either for you?

Do you remember the parental guidance ratings you’d see in huge bold letters on poster boards when it came to advertising movies? G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, etc?

  • G= General.
  • PG= Parental Guidance.
  • PG-13= Parental Guidance for Children Under 13.
  • R= Restricted (you need a parent with you to watch the film).
  • NC-17= Not for Children Under 17 (Adults only).

Try to think the same way regarding what you think you want to write.

Children’s (G rating)

Young Adult (PG – PG-13)

New Adult/Adult (R)

Erotica (NC-17)

Let’s go a little more in depth:

Children’s (Ages 1-12)

You’re going to find hardback picture books here. A simple tale/poem to entertain children, and/or lull them to sleep. Generally, for all ages to enjoy. Children’s books usually have a clear message. Mommy loves baby, Daddy loves baby, affectionate love letters from parents to their children. Other baby books will have enchanting stories about teddy bears going on adventures.

In later children’s books geared towards older children, there are appropriate teachable moments and messages. Learning to share, for example, or, making choices.

Some exist for the purest enjoyment of either a smile or a good scare.

Ex- Golden Books, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlotte’s Web, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, even Goosebumps would stand here for more advanced readers, border lining into Young Adult.

Young Adult/YA (12-18)

This is such a vast and popular writing/reading level. You’re breaking away from the simpler tale/poem and branching onto chapter books. This is where you’ll remember fond memories of summer reading before the new school year, or part of your reading list during middle and high school.

YA begins to dip into the variegation topic pool regarding all things relevant to today’s young adult. Harry Potter will always and forever be my greatest example. There were so many enjoyable, as well as teachable things: magic, adventure, touches upon bullying, murder, discrimination (no one is calling anyone a Mudblood here), classism (the Malfoys regarding The Weasleys), elitism (pure blood vs. everyone else), etc. But more importantly, this series circumferences around a coming-of-age story that navigated the reader through Harry Potter’s transition through puberty.

The main takeaway for a YA novel? You’re seeing things from an adolescent’s perspective. It’s a safe space for exploration. The character is learning what values and boundaries are.

Ex- Harry Potter, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Twilight Saga, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Outsiders, Catcher in the Rye…

New Adult (R) (18+)

Let’s say YA was the safe space to explore. New Adult is experiencing and finding where they belong in the world.

Geared to the 18–20-year-old reader. Adulthood comes with its trials, its tribulations, and its complexities. For some, it’s being on our own for the first time—whether that be in a college dorm or living in our own. It’s all about toeing into the threshold of adulthood, which come with a lot of firsts (apartment, cart, job, etc.).  

Many of us love the sweetheart high school story where the girl gets the guy come graduation. But what comes right after? An adult novel may lead their sequel after they’re married and expecting their first baby. New Adult tells the story of the in between.

So you can expect some adult situations here appropriate for the age group, along with testing the earlier discovered boundaries and values.

Ex- Beautiful Disasters, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Fangirl

Adult (20+)

What do we think when we think of adult fiction? Sometimes our minds will immediately link the term to sex. Because that’s what adults do. In the natural order of things, we commit the act for either pleasure or to procreate and a lot of writers think that that’s what a novel needs. That’s not always the case.

It’s the maturity in which an adult will handle their situations. It’s giving them that adult feel by dedicating the detail and attention in which it deserves.

Ex. In the second installment of Outlander, we are immersed in Claire’s conflict regarding her husband Jamie (in 1743), and her husband Frank (in 1943). This takes up a good chunk of the book. Claire still loves Frank, as much as she loves Jamie. However, she could not allow Jamie to kill Frank’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall, even after he forced himself upon their adoptive son, as well as Jamie. Because killing Black Jack Randall would mean that Frank would never have been born.

Despite Claire’s decision to stay with Jamie in 1743, she still loves her husband in the future.

Adult problems.

Ex- Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Fortune Hunter

Erotica (NC-17) (20+)

Adult level with spice. Lots of spice…ask yourself if you can handle the heat kind of spice.

Erotica is unleashing your wild, kinky side, so to speak. The plot can very well revolve around someone and their sex life, perhaps having a sexual awakening. Literature in this category is enticing and alluring for the reader to hold their interest. Definitely more showing than telling here!

On TikTok this genre has become more popular than ever. Whether softcore or hardcore, erotica is on fire…literally. Fantasies come to life on paper and take shape however they may.

You’ll normally find kink here, Fifty Shades of Grey is a popular novel that caters to BDSM, for example. Christian Grey follows the billionaire trope, a man hungry for sex who is also a Dominant. Anastasia Steele, on the other hand, has a sexual awakening with Christian.

It is plot and character driven with sex.

Ex- Fifty Shades of Grey, The Crossfire series, The Never King, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

Nowadays, especially, adult novels are coming with trigger warnings for those more sensitive to particular topics. Explicit content, graphic content, abuse, violent/violence, dark, trauma, etc., are some that can be found.

1 comments on “Finding Your Target Audience”

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