Latoya Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to the New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing, one of the nation's largest independent publishers. It was there that she discovered her passion for book publishing.
Latoya worked at TWP seasonally while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then got a full-time position at Kensington Publishing where she was an editorial assistant for Senior Editor Karen Thomas in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya moved over to Grand Central Publishing, formerly known as Warner Books, an imprint at Hachette Book Group, where she continued working under Karen Thomas, who is now an executive editor.
Latoya is currently acquiring romance (mainly paranormal and romantic suspense), general fiction, erotica, and women's fiction.
Tell us about your publishing house.
Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, is known for its commercial fiction and non-fiction. We publish authors like Nicholas Sparks, Sherri Shepherd, David Baldacci, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stuart, Serena Williams, Pam Grier, Queen Latifah, Chris Rock, Ted Turner, Rich Dad Poor Dad Series, just to name a few. We maintain a smaller list than some of our competitors, but that allows us to put forth the best and most effective efforts for each of our titles.
What made you decide to edit fiction?
I’ve always been a fan of fiction, so it was right up my alley.
What kinds of manuscripts do you acquire? Who are some of the writers with whom you work?
As mentioned above, I acquire romance of all kinds as well as fiction with high romantic elements. Currently I am working with Kate Perry and Lisa Renee Jones just to name a few. I also work with an array of fiction and non-fiction writers through the two editors I assist. Some of these authors include Congresswomen Linda and Loretta Sanchez, Josefina Lopez, Teri Woods, Sherri Shepherd, and Pam Grier.
What about a manuscript grabs your attention and makes you consider making an offer?
I look for creativity (hook), a captivating voice, and well-developed characters.
What do you look for in a synopsis?
I want to get a clear idea of what the story is from beginning to end; who the major players are and how the characters feed into the plot scheme.
What makes for a great editorial relationship with an author?
The author being willing to take direction and make the necessary changes to make the story better. At the end of the day, we want to make the story as strong as possible for the marketplace. Of course, an author should fight for certain things, but revisions are always necessary and it’s not realistic to think one’s story is perfect and without need for revision.
How do you handle it with an author if there's been a slump in sales?
Instead of dwelling on the negative, I get with my team (sales/marketing) and try to figure out ways to boost sales. Author involvement helps. If the author is active and constantly marketing him/herself, that creates buzz which can move the back list and heighten sales.
How do feel about authors working with other publishers or in other genres?
I think an author has a right to want to explore all avenues. At the end of the day this is a business and people are out to make money. At the same time, it can become troublesome and harmful for the author. I have found authors being pulled in so many directions, their writing begins to suffer because they don’t have the time to really make their stories strong. It also can cause the author to compete with his/her own self when it comes to sales because now the consumer can choose to pick one book/genre over the other so sales may be high for one book and low for the other.
What do you wish that authors understood about your job?
That we are out to make the author successful, despite what they might think when it comes to revisions, covers, and marketing.
What current trends do you find the most interesting/disturbing?
That romance is doing well despite the recession and big celebrity books are on the decline.
What advice do you have for seasoned authors in the current publishing climate?
Keep doing what you love and don’t try to change to fit a genre you aren’t comfortable writing in.
Do you buy series from proposals? If so, what are you looking for?
Yes but only from seasoned authors with a track record and past titles to prove they have the capabilities to write a good story from beginning to end.
How do you decide if a ms. (either from a current or from a newauthor) calls for mass market, trade paperback or hard cover?
The quality of the writing and how many copies we think we can get out.
Thanks to Angelique Armae for inviting Latoya to blog with us.