While many readers probably associate Kensington with bestselling popular fiction, the press has always had a strong commitment to publishing eclectic but carefully targeted nonfiction as well. Tucker Max’s 2006 blockbuster, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, is a Kensington book. So are Gary Kurz’s Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates, a classic for grieving pet lovers, and Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed, a deep dive into the mind of a poker genius. Now, after a period of refocusing and paring down, Kensington is revitalizing its nonfiction program and ramping up its Citadel Press imprint from just seven titles in 2016 to 20 this year, with even more slated for 2019. “Nonfiction is thriving at Kensington,” Citadel editor-in-chief Michaela Hamilton says.
Kensington publishes nonfiction in its flagship Kensington imprint, in its Dafina imprint, in its predominantly nonfiction Citadel imprint, and in its mass-market Kensington and Pinnacle imprints. Kensington has sold rights to its nonfiction titles throughout the world and to audio and large-print publishers. “Our list is quite diverse,” executive editor Denise Silvestro says, “covering topics that are very commercial and mainstream, as well as more niche, highly targeted areas.”
“No subject is off-limits as long as the author has the right combination of expertise and visibility,” Hamilton says. This diversity accounts for the breadth of topics and kinds of books on Kensington’s current nonfiction list, from up-to-the-minute health and wellness titles such as Living with a Green Heart: Healing Yourself and the Planet by Gay Browne, to Finding Zsa Zsa, Sam Stagg’s biography of the legendary Gabor family.
There are also true crime, business, history, and self-help titles slated for release. Among the standouts are What Does It Feel Like to Die? by Jennie Dear, a compassionate, honest examination of the dying experience, and Dare to Matter, a blueprint for making a difference while still making a living by Jordan Kassalow, the founder of VisionSpring, and Jennifer Krause. There’s also The Vagina Bible, a comprehensive yet accessible antidote to the maelstrom of misinformation surrounding vaginas, by Dr. Jennifer Gunter, hailed as “Twitter’s resident gynecologist.” These are authors who come to Kensington with strong platforms and to whom the publisher is making a lasting commitment.
“Our goal,” Hamilton says, “is to stay in front of trends. We want to be in the forefront, not chasing the latest meme. We want to address areas of current interest with books that will not become outdated quickly.” For its nonfiction, as for all of its imprints in various genres, Kensington seeks to identify passionate communities of readers and connect them with books they’ll love and benefit from. “Creativity is the driving force” behind that effort, Hamilton says.
“We’re looking for authors who are experts in their field, have a unique voice, and can—with the help of our amazing marketing and publicity team, along with their own already-established platform—reach the market they are writing for,” Silvestro says. In the last year, Hamilton says, the press has brought on new editorial and marketing staff dedicated to the revitalized nonfiction program.
Kensington has been undergoing a dramatic process of refocusing and expanding its publishing in recent years, continuing to commit to blockbuster authors like Lisa Jackson and Fern Michaels while expanding its literary fiction and suspense programs, embracing new hybrid publishing models, and delving deep into areas of interest with their own passionate audiences and communities. Within the past year, Kensington has dramatically grown its cozy mystery program and launched its digital-first sci-fi/fantasy imprint, Rebel Base. Nonfiction readers—and the booksellers who help them find their next great book—can look forward to the same dynamic approach in 2018 and the years to come.
Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit
Citadel, $26 (256p)
Living with a Green Heart: Healing Yourself and the Planet
Citadel, $15.95 (288p)
Dare to Matter: How to Make a Living and Make a Difference Now
Jordan Kassalow and Jennifer Krause
Citadel, $26 (288p)
Lightning Sky: A U.S. Fighter Pilot Captured During WWII and His Father’s Quest to Find Him
Citadel, $26 (336p)
What Does It Feel Like to Die?
Citadel, $16.95 (272p)
The Vagina Bible
Citadel, $18.95 (320p)