I’m a fairly experienced novelist (five novels published with major houses), but I’m nevertheless stumped on the rules for women’s fiction. I wrote a NA, with a 22 year old protagonist; after some wonderful, but critical, feedback, I’m now working on a major revision of the novel. I’m changing from 1st to 3rd person, adding several more POV characters, and expanding to almost a third more in the word count, given those new characters. I hope to explode the original, slim NA novel into the women’s fiction genre. Do you think it’s possible for a novel with a 22 year protagonist to be considered in that genre?
New Adult is the most slippery of categories but it's also VERY new. And it wasn't meant to replace any of the womens fiction category, it was created to expand YA. It's morphed into something else but it's not the only place you can find characters who are in their 20's.
Generally if you call something womens fiction in your query, I'm going to read the pages with that in mind.
I know a lot of people get the category wrong in their query but I don't actually read your pages thinking that.
Thus: call your book women's fiction and see what happens.