Rakia Clark is an executive editor at Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. She acquires fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction tends to be serious, literary or narrative – sometimes all three – and covers contemporary culture, politics, the arts, sports, music, fashion, feminism, media, tech, race, gender, and class. That includes journalists and thought leaders writing about current events, public intellectuals and culture critics telling the world about itself, biographies of legendary figures, and some history, especially when there are obvious ties to the present day. Rakia's fiction tastes lean toward gorgeously written, plot-driven page-turners that straddle the commercial-literary line. Big emotions and topical subjects are a plus. She's most drawn to writers who have something to say.
Rakia joined Mariner Books (then known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, or HMH) in 2019 as a senior editor. Her first acquisition for the house, Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome, won the Kirkus Prize and was named to the New York Times' list of 100 Notable Books of 2021. It was also a New York Times Editors’ pick and a Best Book of the Year at Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Apple Books. Other recent and forthcoming titles include The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice by Bobby and Cheryl Love, who were the subjects of an 11-part Humans of New York blog post about marriage and forgiveness; White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America’s Heartland by Pulitzer Prize finalist Dick Lehr; A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis by internationally renowned activist Vanessa Nakate; and Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD by former Army captain and Missouri state legislator Jason Kander. (More of Rakia's upcoming titles are here.)
Prior to Mariner Books, Rakia worked remotely from New York City as a senior editor at Boston-based Beacon Press, where she published The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism by Howard Bryant (named a Best Book of 2018 by Library Journal); Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field by Howard Bryant (named a Best Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews); Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Jonathan Rapping; and The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by journalist Mona Eltahawy.
At Beacon Press, Rakia's strong entrepreneurial instincts and personable working style led her to develop book ideas from scratch alongside promising writers, and to cultivate a distinctive, "tradier" list for the publishing house. For her innovative and daring work, she was honored by Publishers Weekly as a Star Watch honoree in 2018.
Before Beacon Press, Rakia held editorial positions at HarperCollins, Viking Penguin, and Kensington. She freelanced for six years, as well.
Outside of acquisitions and editing, Rakia has served as an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York. Her weekly spring-semester course was “Introduction to Publishing.” For three years Rakia tutored writing, English and SAT prep at Upward Bound, an after-school program for disadvantaged teens. Additionally, she volunteered for two years as a writing mentor with the nonprofit organization Girls Write Now.
Rakia is a proud graduate of Haverford College and the Columbia Publishing Course, where she was an AOL Time Warner Scholar. Follow her musings on Twitter @rakiathegreat.
2021 - present
2019 - 2021
2015 - 2019
Freelance Editor & Writer
2009 - 2015
City College of NY
2007 - 2009
2005 - 2007
2003 - 2005
2002 - 2003