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Feb 16, 2021

Editor Spotlight Series - Toni Kirkpatrick

A warm welcome to Senior Acquisitions Editor Toni Kirkpatrick! Toni began her publishing career at St. Martin’s Press, where she worked for more than a decade acquiring commercial fiction. She joined Crooked Lane Books and Alcove Press in 2019.

CritiqueMatch: Share a fun fact about you. 
Toni: I don’t know how fun this is, but I am an author as well. I published a short story collection under my maiden name Toni Margarita Plummer. So I know publishing from both sides and am able to relate to writers as a writer myself. 

CM: How did you become an editor? Can you describe the career path for those looking to enter the publishing industry?
Toni: When I started college, I didn’t have any clear idea of what career I would pursue. I just knew I liked to write. I majored in Philosophy and took some creative writing courses. In my senior year, some alumni came to speak to us, touting publishing as a great career for liberal arts majors. The summer after graduation, I got a scholarship to attend the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver, a 4-week crash course on publishing. (There are similar programs at NYU and Columbia.) I then returned to Los Angeles and lived at home while I attended the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC, concentrating in Fiction. I searched for a job in LA but wasn’t landing anything. And none of the jobs I was seeing were that interesting to me to begin with. I started working as a substitute high school teacher just to have some work. With publishing still on my mind and my mother’s support, I took the leap and moved to New York, stayed with a college friend, and applied for anything I could. After three months, I was fortunate to find a job as an Editorial Assistant at St. Martin’s Press. (The person who interviewed me had attended the same program in Denver.)
I am hopeful that the pandemic has demonstrated that people can effectively work from home. It would be wonderful if most of the publishing industry didn’t require people to live in New York City, which is costly and not for everyone.

CM: How do you acquire books? How has the process changed during the pandemic? 
Toni: While working for Crooked Lane Books, I have always worked from home. So the process hasn’t changed for me at all. When I find something I like, I tell the Publisher about it. At St. Martin’s, I would pitch a project I liked during the editorial meeting to a live audience. Now all of those editors are working from home too. I still see lots of books being bought and sold, so they must have figured out a way to do it! You can do a lot over email, phone, and video calls. It’s still all about communicating what the project is and why you love it, providing the necessary information about the author, and being able to compare it to what’s already out in the marketplace.

CM: What is a common myth about editors? 
Toni: That an in-house editor does nothing but read all day. The job involves a lot. You pretty much need to do all your reading and editing on your own time. It is not a 9-5 job.

CM: What is the demand for stories set in a COVID-19 world?
Toni: I haven’t heard of a demand, but with so many facets to this pandemic and with all the hardship it has caused, I can certainly see how it could inspire a number of engaging novels. I think there will still be a need and desire for escape, though, and for books that do not deal with it.

CM: How do agents pitch books to you in a world that requires social distancing? 
Toni: In the same way they did before. They email me! It’s very easy. Agents, please email me!

CM: Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about. 
Toni: I finally read Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I don’t have much time to read for pleasure these days, so it was a real treat for me. I love reading genre fiction from a Latinx perspective.  My hope is to discover more Latinx writers for our lists!

CM: Describe the path to publication for one of the books you acquired. 
Toni: I had worked with my author Tara Lush previously, as a freelance editor. She was an indie romance author. After I joined Crooked Lane Books, I heard she was writing a cozy mystery. I immediately wrote her and asked to see it. The rest is history! When you’ve worked in the industry for a while, it’s a very small world.


Wish List

Genres/sub-genres you’re acquiring:
  • Book club fiction that is provocative, humorous, and/or haunting. 
  • Stories that highlight contemporary women’s issues, common or odd family dynamics, female friendships, motherhood, and the immigrant or multicultural experience. 
  • Crime fiction, from traditional mysteries or cozies to thrillers and domestic suspense.
  • Select true crime.
  • Novels by writers of color, especially those writing from Latina/o/x, Afro-Latina/o/x, or indigenous perspectives.
  • Works that step into speculative territory are welcome
What you’re not interested in:
  • Poetry, YA or children’s books, category romance, hardcore sci-fi/fantasy, very literary works, nonfiction.


Do you accept un-agented submissions? Yes

Submission Link:
Please address your email to me.


Client Examples
(This list includes affiliate links)
January 2021
December 2020