What are some upcoming trends?
Adult coloring books! No, wait, that was yesterday. I meant books about the life-changing magic of tidying up. They’re going to be big, I can feel it!
Seriously, I have no idea. I only publish 25 books a year, so I don’t spend much time looking for spikes or dips in various categories. I just need to find 25 good, interesting books.
But here’s a story I heard from a woman at a large and well-respected agency. A few days after Fifty Shades of Grey exploded onto bestseller lists, the entire staff of this agency was summoned to the conference room for an emergency meeting. All of the agents were charged with finding “The Next Fifty Shades of Grey.” Because (presumably) there were dozens of editors clamoring to buy “The Next Fifty Shades of Grey.” And there were! Three months later, there were stacks of knockoffs piled high on tables at Barnes & Noble.
But I don’t want any part of that business. I’m not interested. The best thing about working for a small house is that I don’t have to fill slots or chase trends. That would drive me crazy.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I sometimes wonder if there’s an underserved audience for funny fiction. It used to be a lot more popular; I’m not sure why it went out of fashion. The novels that cross my desk are often so grim, so bleak—sadistic serial killers, post-apocalyptic wastelands, brooding teenagers who never smile. That’s entertainment?
One of my favorite novels of the last few years is Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. What an incredible book! Pure pleasure from start to finish. And laugh-out-loud funny. If something half as funny ever lands on my desk, I’ll be over the moon.
What topic do you never want to see again?
I published Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in 2009 and since then, I’ve continued to receive one or two zombie proposals every week. Now don’t get me wrong—I love The Walking Dead as much as anybody—but I think readers need a break.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
We’re based in Philadelphia, about 75 miles from the center of the publishing universe, and that distance helps us tremendously. We’re not swimming in the same waters as everybody else, if you know what I mean. And this is an extraordinary time to be in Philadelphia—a vibrant, thriving city with a reasonable cost of living. Many of our employees walk or bike to work. People are genuinely happy to live here. The city has an incredible creative scene, and it keeps getting better.
Any interactions with indie authors lately?
This is my favorite part of my job. I’ve met so many good writers (and artists and illustrators) who are struggling to find the right vehicle for their talents. I love helping people develop their ideas; I love connecting the right person with the right project. When something clicks, it’s like making magic.
Jason Rekulak is publisher of Quirk Books. He has acquired and edited nearly a dozen New York Times bestsellers, including the YA fantasy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and the Edgar Award–winning Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters.