In Kirkus’ Word on the Street series, we talk with editors, agents, booksellers, and librarians—who collectively represent publishing from manuscript to finished product—about their takes on the industry. Here’s a sample.
What are some upcoming trends?
Tara Parsons, editor-in-chief of Touchstone: I’m…happy to see more speculative fiction crossing into the commercial arena. We’re publishing an incredible work of fiction next summer: The History of Bees by debut author Maja Lunde. She imagines a world where bees have become extinct….The enthusiasm from large and small booksellers has been gratifying, and I think it signals that publishers and retailers are warming to the idea that nearly any kind of book, regardless of genre, subject matter, or even the characters’ likability, can become a commercial success if the writing is fresh and accessible and taps into universal emotions.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Ellen Geiger, agent at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency: Narrative nonfiction involving the author’s investigation of a topic that he or she is passionate about, arts and cultural criticism, socially progressive topics and history with a progressive politics slant, cutting-edge science and wellness, and unusual memoirs that make larger points are always welcome. Authors need to have good bona fides, though, if they expect to get a respectable deal.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Dennis Loy Johnson, co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House: Adult coloring books. They make me despair for humanity. I equate their purveyors right up there with climate change deniers. And by the way, on that last topic, there may actually be more books by deniers than believers, shockingly….Which is why we were happy that our biggest seller last year turned out to be our edition of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality.
Karen Schechner is the Vice President of Kirkus Indie.