Latoya C. Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing. 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 attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya moved over to Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. Since then, Latoya has acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and non-fiction, to digital romance and erotica titles. She was also featured in Publishers Weekly, USA Today as well as various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year. And most recently, appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. Latoya acquires for the Forever, Forever Yours, and Grand Central Publishing imprint. She is looking for short and long form mainstream romance and erotica as well as African American fiction and non-fiction.
Latoya Smith has a successful publishing career but takes a moment to chat with Young Urban Voices to tell us why she chose a career in book publishing and has the TRUE low down on how authors can get noticed by a traditional publisher.
Young Urban Voices: How did you get started working with Author/Publisher Teri Woods?
Latoya Smith: She did a radio interview with Wendy Williams and mentioned she needed an assistant. Lucky for me my cousin heard the interview and encouraged me to contact her. I did and she was actually tickled that I called in response to the mention. I sent her my resume and the rest was history!
Young Urban Voices: What got you started in the book publishing industry?
Latoya Smith: I always loved reading books and so, when I landed the job with Teri it was like a dream come true. Once introduced to the industry, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
Young Urban Voices: Have you written any books since you started in the industry?
Latoya Smith: I ghost wrote a book back in 2007. I also have some poetry published.
Young Urban Voices: How did you get your job at Kensington and Grand Central Publishing?
Latoya Smith: When I left Teri Woods Publishing, I landed a position as editorial assistant to the director of Dafina books, then Karen Thomas. It seems one of the many resumes I had emailed and faxed landed on the right person’s desk! Shortly after my arrival, Karen received an offer with Grand Central. I came to GCP about one month after she started back in October 2006.
Young Urban Voices: Can you explain your feature in Publishers Weekly and USA Today?
Latoya Smith: Sure. I was a contributor to an article about the state of Black publishing, written by Diane Patrick. I was featured blog on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog discussing how excited I was to be working with veteran romance author, Rochelle Alers.
Young Urban Voices: What has been the highlight of your career?
Latoya Smith: Winning the 2012 RWA Golden Apple Award for Editor of the Year.
Young Urban Voices: What have been the most interesting books you have published? (If you remember)
Latoya Smith: I would have to say all my titles are pretty interesting. I work on a variety of titles from erotica to Christian fiction, general fiction and paranormal romance to LGBT stories. I love that I have the ability to work on both fiction and non-fiction in a multitude of subgenres.
Young Urban Voices: What advice do you have for those wanting to go into book publishing?
Latoya Smith: Network, network, network! The publishing industry is a tough field to break into so making as many contacts as possible is a great start.
Young Urban Voices: What is your favorite genre of books you have been involved with?
Latoya Smith: I love African American fiction. It’s what I grew up reading and what I am most passionate about.
Young Urban Voices: What are the most important things editors look for when seeking to publish an authors work?
Latoya Smith: Knowing the marketplace is hugely important. Editors not only look for great stories but have to be sure that book has an audience. At the end of the day, as much as we love to read, publishing is a business so making sure your books sell is key. In addition to that, the author’s platform or willingness to work hard are important as well. Being successful is as much about branding as it is about writing a good story.
Young Urban Voices: How easy/difficult is it for an author to get published by a traditional publisher?
Latoya Smith: I think the digital platform has opened the door for a lot more authors to get published because there is less risk up front as digital costs are lower than print costs. So for that reason, I’d say it’s easier now than it’s ever been.
Young Urban Voices: Is there anything you want to add to the interview?
Latoya Smith: For students/persons looking to get exposure or an education in editorial and publishing, NYU has a great program as does City College. Copyediting and manuscript editing courses are very helpful as well.