You may have met Toni Margarita Plummer at the National Latino Writers Conference in New Mexico and wondered what happened to that nice New York editor? Her last name may be different and she may have a different title, but she is still ready to assist you with your books. Since moving on from a position as an acquisitions editor at St. Martin's Press, Toni Kirkpatrick is still focused on helping writers with their book projects, but in a slightly different form. She has gone into business for herself as a freelance editor. Toni took time out of her busy schedule to answer five questions for La Bloga.
1. How is your new editing role different from what you were doing at St. Martin's Press?
I worked at Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press for over ten years, considering submissions, acquiring fiction and nonfiction, and editing my authors' manuscripts line by line to prepare them for publication. My job involved much more than just editing though. Now I am working for the writer and am focused solely on helping him or her to make their manuscript as strong as it can be. I am not an editor checking for commas and the like. My background is in reading for characters, plot, style, and setting. I still read and edit with the mind of an acquiring editor; I ask if this is something an editor would want to acquire, and something a reader would want to read. And if I see any issues there, I think about how those can be resolved.
2. Who are your clients?
They are writers of many different genres. Some are looking for agents and publishers, some plan to self-publish. Some are referred to me by agents who are interested in their work but don't have the time to help them revise. All my clients have written something they feel strongly about and want to put their best work out into the world by having a professional editor critique and edit it.
3. Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is a talented writer who has worked very hard on a manuscript and is committed to making it better. They are open to my comments and expertise, and I in turn enjoy what they've written and am engaged by it. Hopefully something I say or question sparks their imagination and gives them a new way of looking at a character or a scene. I would love to get more Latino clients--I've a special interest in these stories and I want to see more Latino authors publish their work and find large audiences for it.
4. In addition to being an editor you are also an author. How does one role affect the other?
As an author I understand a writers' attachment to their work and their hopes and dreams for it. On the other hand being an editor has definitely helped me to see my own writing more objectively and I am very grateful for that.
5. What is your take on the current publishing landscape for Latino writers?
Getting published (and staying published) is a challenge for anyone. But what’s being discussed a lot now is the lack of Latinos working in publishing and how this affects the number of books by Latinos that are being bought and effectively promoted. I'm part of a fairly new group called Latinos in Publishing, which meets in Manhattan every month and whose goal, among others, is to increase the number of Latinos working in the industry. It's a group of extremely talented and passionate folks--keep an eye out for more from them soon. Sisters in Crime also just put out their Publishing Report about diversity in crime fiction which you can read here: http://www.sistersincrime.org/
So there is increasing awareness about this and lots of authors and publishing professionals working to get more books by Latinos published. Keep writing. Do your homework. There are so many venues and opportunities to publish, even now, and I am very excited to be working with writers at this earlier stage in the process.
More about Toni: Toni Kirkpatrick was an Editor at Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press for over ten years. She acquired mostly crime, historical, multicultural, and women's fiction. Some of her authors included Michael Jaime-Becerra, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, M. Padilla, Irete Lazo, A.E. Roman, and Caridad Ferrer. A native Californian, she published The Bolero of Andi Rowe, a story collection set in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, under her maiden name Toni Margarita Plummer. She graduated from the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC and is a member of Macondo, the group of socially-engaged writers founded by Sandra Cisneros. Toni lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and son. Check out her website www.ToniKirkpatrick.com for more information on her background and editorial services.