Thursday, February 21, 2013

Interview with Editor Latoya Smith: Final Judge in 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest


This year's 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence has a wonderful final judge for the Paranormal/Urban Fantasy category. Editor Latoya Smith with Grand Central Publishing has graciously taken the time to answer some questions about her editorial wants and desires. And there are a few surprises along the way. Please join me in giving Latoya a warm welcome.

Hi Latoya, let's start off with the usual question. So tell me a little about your background? 


Sure! I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  I attended Temple University and graduated Cum Laude in 2005 with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism, minor in African American studies. My very first publishing job was working as an administrative assistant for independent publisher and New York Times bestselling author Teri Woods.  Once I got a taste of book publishing, I knew I wanted to be an editor.  And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

A taste is usually all it takes. :-) Is there any type of story you're hoping to find, but not seeing in your submissions? 

Actually no.  For the first time, I am seeing a nice variety of stories from contemporary romance to erotica, some suspense and even paranormal and steam punk.

Fantastic news that your in-box is full of fabulous reads. So tell me, how often do you select manuscripts from the "slush pile?"  

This is the fun part!  With the expansion of Forever Yours, I have acquired quite a few authors from the slush pile.  We take our submissions very seriously and whether we acquire a title or not, we make sure to notify every author of their manuscript status.  One thing I’ve learned from all the great editors before me, is that treasures can often be found in the slush pile, so I’ve always been open to receiving unsolicited materials.

I think that is wonderful. When you do pull a manuscript from the slush pile, how long does it usually take before yo know whether or note you want to request the full? Why? 

Oh boy, I will probably get myself into trouble with this one, but my instincts have never failed me.  I can actually tell, for the most part, by the very first chapter whether or not I’ll like a story.  I am a firm believer that every author must pull a reader in from page 1.  Oftentimes there are writers who need a little help as to where to start their stories but even then, you know from the very beginning if that author has what it takes to fix what needs to be fixed or where the story is headed. 

The hook is so important. Understanding the craft is vital for writers. Now what do you consider the most important qualities of an author? 

Being a self-promoter and open to suggestions is most important.  Working with authors is like a partnership or a team effort.  At the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing--for the author and his/her book to become a big success.  As long as the author is willing to take direction in terms of editorial content and promotion as well as continuing to promote themselves and their brand, that makes for a happy publisher and usually, a happy author. 

Self-promotion is certainly important with the influx of books on the market! If you were to give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?  

Promote, promote, promote and remember to stay humble.

Stay humble. Love that! Now what questions do you wish someone would ask? And what's your answer?  

Hmm, I think I’ve been asked just about everything.

Good to know! Here are a couple of fun questions:

What book or books do you like to reread every year?  

Latoya Smith with JR Ward.
Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines and Lover Awakened by JR Ward. My absolute favorites for very different reasons.

Have you ever become star-struck when meeting an author? If so, who?  

Yes, two authors in particular.  Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the Romantic Times conference for the first time in Chicago.  I saw Charlaine Harris, the brilliant mind behind True Blood, standing alone by the concierge desk so I had to walk over and say hello.  Not only did she say hello back, but I told her how jealous my cousin would be at the fact that I was meeting her.  She was so tickled by this that she said, “Well I’m going to make her even more jealous,” then she reaches over and gives me a big bear hug.  My second star-struck moment, was also at RT when I met JR Ward at the author book signing.  She was so intrigued by my job and the fact that I was a HUGE fan that we spoke for almost 10 minutes.  Of course, I bought a second copy of LOVER AWAKENED which she signed and we took a photo together.

Everyone, here's your chance to ask an editor from GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING what you've always wanted to know.  Don't forget to check out the website, Grand Central Publishing Forever Yours.  








4 comments:

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Latoya!
I was reading and enjoying your interview...and then BAM! I saw that picture and had a SQUEE moment and I'm not even in it! LOL! How exciting! J.R. Ward is one of my absolute favorite authors and I'm so jealous the screen is green right now! Hee-hee! Lover Awakened is one of the best in the series. Z was so feral but wounded...such a fabulous hero...sigh. Now I have to go pick up the book off my shelf and reread. Sooo not a hardship!

Thank you so much for sharing with us today! The interview is so encouraging!

Nancy S. Goodman said...

Thanks, Ms. Smith What a great post! For an aspiring writer like myself, it is encouraging to know that the slush pile is seriously looked at. I totally agree about the first chapter hooking you as a barometer of the story to come.
Authors should never stop the self promotion. I'm not even though with the editing process and I'm already putting myself out there.

Nancy S. Goodman said...

Thanks, Ms. Smith What a great post! For an aspiring writer like myself, it is encouraging to know that the slush pile is seriously looked at. I totally agree about the first chapter hooking you as a barometer of the story to come.
Authors should never stop the self promotion. I'm not even though with the editing process and I'm already putting myself out there.

Chris Bailey said...

Thanks for answering questions for the blog, and for judging the contest. You've been so encouraging.