A second chance. A final act. A rebirth. One could arguably use any of these phrases to describe what Celadon Books is to its founders, Jamie Raab and Deb Futter. Though those terms are a bit hyperbolic, the two see their new imprint as an opportunity to close out their careers on their own terms. Set to publish its first book, The Silent Patient, next month, the new Macmillan imprint is both a departure and a return for the duo, who spent large chunks of their respective careers at other publishing houses, managing bigger lists.
During a recent interview at the imprint’s office in the Flatiron Building, Futter explained that Celadon grew out of a conversation she and Raab had been having about what to do with “the rest of our lives.” As it turns out, they didn’t want to be corporate publishing executives—at least not in the traditional sense.
Raab had been at Grand Central Publishing (and its previous incarnations) for roughly three decades, most recently as president and publisher. Futter was there for about 10 years, as v-p and editor-in-chief of hardcovers at GCP and as publisher of Twelve Books. When they announced in December 2016 that they were leaving the Hachette Book Group division, it was not out of unhappiness, per se. It was, as Futter elaborated, out of a desire to focus less on the executive duties of overseeing a major imprint. “After working on lists that had over 250 books, we wanted to work on a small, highly curated list where we could really focus on each book quite specifically and with great muscle,” she said.
Celadon’s first four titles are dropping over the course of the next two months. After The Silent Patient, a buzzed-about thriller by screenwriter Alex Michaelides, there’s a nonfiction title about ageism titled This Chair Rocks by Ashton Applewhite (Mar. 5), a humor book by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast titled Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? (Apr. 2), and Cape May (Apr. 30), an upmarket women’s fiction debut by Chip Cheek.
In describing the imprint, Futter and Raab emphasized that this string of books embodies variety grounded in commercial appeal. Or, as Raab put it, books that are “classic.”
So what does that look like, exactly? The pair foresee the imprint publishing up to 24 titles annually. Sweet spots include everything from narrative nonfiction to “big think books” to fiction. Put another way, they likely will not be publishing any practical nonfiction, cookbooks, or illustrated titles. (When it’s pointed out that Chast and Marx’s book is, technically, an illustrated title, they note that they will never “be doing a list of illustrated books.”)
Celadon aims to publish “smart entertainment in all areas,” according to Futter.
Raab adds that, within this framework, some of their titles will “skew more literary, while others will skew more commercial.”
There is certainly an emphasis, too, on remaining small. In addition to Futter and Raab, the only other full-time member of the editorial team is Ryan Doherty, Celadon’s executive editor, who acquired The Silent Patient. (Before joining Celadon, Doherty was at Sony, overseeing the studio’s literary development division.) Other staffers include Rachel Chou (associate publisher) and Christine Mykityshyn (director of publicity).
The tiny staff reinforces Futter’s characterization of Celadon as “small and fun.” The imprint, so named because it’s “a classic color... with enormous range,” is meant, Futter said, to be hers and Raab’s “last best job.”
It turns out that is what Macmillan’s top execs, Don Weisberg and John Sargent, offered them, Futter recalled: “Don and John just said, ‘Come here, sit on the top floor, do what you do, and, you know, if you have any problems, get in touch with us.’ ”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the last names of author Chip Cheek and Celadon director of publicity Christine Mykityshyn.