How to Distinguish Between MG, YA and NA Books

Tired of hearing about the differences between Middle Grade(MG), Young Adult(YA), and New Adult(NA) books- and still end up confused?

Below, I have created some easy bullets to catch you up on what the major differences are between these highly popular books and even examples of books in each category. It is very important to know these current key differences because,

…writers who study up on the many key differences between MG and YA will be able to craft the kind of well-targeted manuscript that will make both agents and editors take notice. Pay attention, because someday your manuscript will be tested.” [Source: Key Differences Between Middle Grade vs. Young Adult]

*The rest of this post may contain affiliate links.

Middle Grade

  • Age is generally between 8-12.
  • No swearing at all(debatable), no sex.
  • Having a romantic crush or just a kiss is allowed.
  • Conclusion: Middle school stuff, or better yet, books without foul language and sex.

Young Adult

  • Age 13-18
  • These are your  Ellen Hopkins’ verse books, Bluford series, and Divergent kind of books.
  • You are appealing to an audience starting high school or already in high school.
  • These books tend to be angsty a little bit and has more romance, sex and language.
  • Typically First Person POV(point of view).
  • Conclusion: High school stuff.

New Adult

  • Age is still under debate. Typically between 18-25.
  • The characters are either out of high school or in college or trying to go to college.
  • These books can steam up the pages. There is really no limit on sex, foul language- anything pretty much goes. Hey, they are new adults, exploring territories so to speak. Here is an example of what new adult fiction really is.
  • The point of view could be either male or female and sometimes the books feature both points of views per chapter.
  • Conclusion: Just out of high school stuff or college stuff.

As you may have noticed, I did not include a page number count, which agents may require. That is still highly important, so visit those links I have included within the post. The main thing is to know what content is needed.

If you have any questions or comments please post below and/or share across your social media networks to other  authors interested.



2 thoughts on “How to Distinguish Between MG, YA and NA Books

  1. Hey, I saw your post on Community Pool. I love the concept behind this post and how you used bullet points.

    Some things to consider:
    –I was thrown off because you listed Middle Grade last, High School first, and college age middle. I was expecting a different order: young to oldest, or something like that. Not sure why you chose that order.
    –I would like to see examples of all types of books, instead of just YA Harry Potter/Twilight
    –I don’t know what a page number count is, or why it’s important and it seemed a little abrupt. Perhaps transition more into it?

    Btw, we have the same theme! The Hemingway one

    • Yep, I pretty much thought the same thing as far as re-ordering the genres and take my time. Its weird but I have read so many YA books and can list the ones from my Pinterest. Good idea!

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