Really. Really really. Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 40 years, you’ve heard the phrase, “Sex sells.” That may be true, but many writers take it one step further and add the converse: “Lack of sex doesn’t sell.” This is simply not true.
No one would argue that Dr. Seuss books should have had explicit scenes to be a commercial success, because they’re kids’ books. However, just because a book’s target audience includes adults doesn’t mean it has to include what is politely called “adult content.” There are a great number of books out there with zero sex, and they sell just fine and are enjoyed by many.
The New Adult classification is suffering from the “sex sells” philosophy. According to the official word on the street (or the Internet), New Adult fiction is defined by having protagonists in the 18-25 age range. Nothing is added to this definition that requires sexual situations, and yet those who write NA fiction are becoming frustrated by the assumption that these books should always include sex, or a certain amount of foul language. Writers who don’t include sex in their NA books complain that all New Adult books are automatically categorized as a sub-genre of Romance, whether the books have romance or not.
And let’s face it. For every twenty authors who write sex scenes into their books, only one of them might—might—write something that doesn’t sound stupid, awkward, unattainable, or just plain uncomfortable. Between the stilted dialogue and odd descriptions of body parts, there’s nothing that’s un-sexier.