About Mel Parker
Mel Parker has worked in senior executive positions in every aspect of book publishing, from hardcover and paperback publishing to direct marketing and book clubs.
Mel began his career in the mass-market paperback publishing business. At the Berkley Publishing Group, now a division of Penguin USA, Mel started as a senior editor and executive editor and was promoted to Editor-in-Chief, playing a key role in helping build the company into a major paperback publisher featuring many continuing New York Times bestselling authors, including Robin Cook, W.E.B Griffin, and Dean Koontz. He also personally acquired several major bestsellers, most notably The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy, which set the stage for the author’s mega-bestselling career at Berkley and G.P Putnam’s Sons.
Mel joined Warner Books, now the Hachette Book Group, as Senior Vice President and Publisher of its paperback division. During his nearly twelve years as an executive at Warner, Mel ran a hundred-million-dollar division of the company while acquiring and editing his hardcover list of bestselling fiction by authors such as Dean Koontz, David Morrell, and Larry Bond, as well as hardcover bestsellers in a variety of nonfiction categories, from narrative nonfiction and biography to business books, health, inspiration, and pop culture. Some notable nonfiction titles Mel acquired and edited were Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith, First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life and Living by Richard Bode, Sunday Nights at Seven: The Jack Benny Story by Jack Benny and Joan Benny, The Grateful Dead Family Album by Jerilyn Brandelius, and Waylon: An Autobiography by Waylon Jennings and Lenny Kaye.
Mel was responsible for Warner’s mass-market paperback publishing program, which featured blockbuster bestselling authors such as James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Scott Turow, Sidney Sheldon, Brad Meltzer, Nicholas Sparks, and Sandra Brown. In addition, Mel oversaw Warner’s trade paperback program, publishing critically acclaimed and bestselling books and authors such as The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Ice Storm by Rick Moody, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman, L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore, Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, The Culture of Complaint by Robert Hughes, Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell, and Naturalist by E.O. Wilson.
At Time Warner, Mel later moved to the direct marketing business, becoming Senior Vice President and Editorial Director of Bookspan, the ten-million-member book club partnership between Time Warner and Bertelsmann AG, where, as a member of their senior executive management team, he directed the editorial acquisitions programs for all of Bookspan’s 50 general interest, lifestyle and specialty book clubs, including Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild, Quality Paperback Book Club, History Book Club, Black Expressions and One Spirit. At Bookspan, Mel also played a key role in consolidating the book club businesses of Book-of-the-Month Club and Doubleday Direct into Bookspan, launching several successful new book clubs, and leading Bookspan’s successful proprietary publishing program for book club members.
After a long career in corporate life, Mel decided to go off on his own and launched Mel Parker Books, LLC, a full-service literary agency and book packaging firm.
As a literary agency, Mel Parker Books focuses primarily on high-profile narrative nonfiction, current affairs, science, psychology, lifestyle, biography, and fiction. Some agented titles include the New York Times bestselling The New Digital Age by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen (Knopf); The New American City by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (Putnam); The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century by Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press); Now I Know Who My Comrades Are by journalist and former U.S. State Department advisor Emily Parker (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Oddkins by bestselling novelist Dean Koontz; Off the Grid by criminal defense attorney Robert McCaw; To Be Loved by Motown founder Berry Gordy; and The Loyalist Team by leadership and management consultants Linda Adams, Abby Curnow-Chavez, Audrey Epstein, and Rebecca Teasdale (Public Affairs/Hachette). Some packaged books include The Structure House Weight Loss Plan for Simon & Schuster, One Minute Manners for Doubleday/Broadway, and The American Medical Association Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness for John Wiley & Sons.
Mel was chairman of the Executive Trade Committee of the Association of American Publishers, where he launched the book publishing industry group’s national Get Caught Reading Campaign, which secured millions of dollars of free print advertising to promote books and reading.
Mel has also lectured on publishing at the Stanford Publishing Course and the University of Denver Publishing Institute. He is also the past President of the Publishers Lunch Club, a member of Book Table, and is on the Executive Committee of the UJA Publishing Division. His essay on paperback publishing appears in Editors on Editing (Grove Atlantic), and he contributed an article to Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing & Bookselling in the 20th Century (Two Trees Press).