August 16, 2010


Toni Plummer has been at Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press, for six years. As Associate Editor, she acquires and edits books in various genres and for all imprints.

Toni has many authors in her stable (an industry term), including several Latino authors. Though Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin's Press do not have a Latino line per sé, Toni is looking for new Latino authors that will fit in any of their genres. (She acquires more mysteries than anything else, but also literary and commercial women’s fiction, and nonfiction.)

"My mother is from Mexico, and I like reading about the Latino experience in the U.S." she explains. "I want to find new Latino voices." And so Toni spreads the word to agents and attends conferences and book festivals like the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival, the largest in the country.

Toni is delighted to see Latinos writing not just literary fiction, but also mysteries, romance, fantasy, et al. She encourages writers to join the different writing organizations, like Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Private Eye Writers of America, etc.

"Authors should network with other authors, to learn about the industry and opportunities," stresses Toni. "The success of a book has a lot to do with the author's efforts. It’s their work. In the end, they can sell it better than anyone else can."

Today's authors promote themselves through their own websites, blogs, and social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. Blog tours are also catching on.

Toni accepts only agented submissions. She advises writers to find a good agent. "Authors need an agent, Latino or not, that loves their work. A good agent has experience placing works with publishers and knows which editors to contact at the various houses. What’s more, they can lead you through the publishing process and help you develop your career, over many books.”

When asked, Who is the Latino Audience?, Toni replied that there is no set profile for a Latino Reader. Latinos read Latino authors and they read non-Latino authors. They read across all genres. When Toni acquires a book by a Latino author, she is hoping to reach a Latino audience. But she also hopes to reach any crossover audiences. For example, if the book is a mystery, that book is marketed to mystery readers.

Toni's Latino authors include M. Padilla (Mike), author of THE GIRLS FROM THE REVOLUTIONARY CANTINA, a novel about a circle of friends in Los Angeles; A.E. Roman, author of THE SUPERMAN PROJECT, the second in the Chico Santana series about a Puerto Rican P.I. in New York City; RITA Award winner Caridad Ferrer (no relation to myself), a young adult author whose upcoming November book WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE is a re-interpretation of the opera Carmen; Irete Lazo, author of THE ACCIDENTAL SANTERA, a funny and moving tale about a woman’s entrance into the world of Santeria; California Book Award winner Michael Jaime-Becerra, whose first novel THIS TIME TOMORROW examines the conflicts between love and responsibility among working-class Mexican-Americans; and Bronx Council on the Arts Award winner Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, author of DAUGHTERS OF THE STONE, an inspirational family saga about five generations of women, beginning in colonial Puerto Rico.

Toni shared some of the interesting ways she met a few of her authors. She met Dahlma at a small book making class in East Harlem. They got to talking and Toni invited Dahlma to submit her work. Dahlma did, and got an agent at about the same time. Toni had picked up Michael Jaime-Becerra’s short story collection EVERY NIGHT IS LADIES’ NIGHT (Rayo) because the stories were set in El Monte, California. Her hometown is South El Monte! She knew some of her friends knew Michael, though she’d never met him. Her friend contacted Michael’s mother, who in turn left him a note saying an editor in New York was interested in his work. Michael had just finished his novel. The rest was history.

And guess what? It turns out that Yours Truly and Toni met a few years ago at Alisa Valdes- Rodriguez's (THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB) Chica Lit Club Fiesta in Miami. Is this a small world or what?

Read Latino. ---mcf

Do leave a comment and let us know how many of Toni’s authors have you read.