New Adult became an official category in 2013 when it received its own Book Industry Standards and Communications Code. The genre is generally considered to be stories that feature primarily college-aged heroines learning to deal with life in their early twenties…with a special emphasis on romance and sex.
While I agree that this category targets primarily female readers between 18 and 25, the YA + Sex idea is too restrictive. Putting aside the idea that sex is usually tied to some emotional response (whether the characters admit it or not), NA is much more than YA + Sex.
Just as YA broke boundaries by working with content that reflected the real coming-of-age struggles of teenagers approaching adulthood, NA can have the same impact. Publishers like Atria went from producing zero NA titles in 2012 to its current goal of releasing 15-20 each year. As the category finds its readers and more publishers move into the arena, NA stories will expand to encompass much more than teen angst plus sex.
Anytime there is a new movement like this in publishing, it’s important to be part of the first wave. Yes, your entry into publishing will be more difficult because publishers (and booksellers) right now are not sure where the category might go. So show them! Send out your unique NA manuscript. Be the first, and reap the rewards by launching your career by leading the way.