Though several platforms have been created over the years to connect Latino authors and publishers with readers, Latinx in Publishing (LxP) is composed entirely of Hispanic professionals in the book business who seek to support and increase the number of Hispanics in the publishing industry.
“There are national organizations for Latinos in several communities in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Arizona, but there was really nothing about the nexus of New York City publishing, where a lot of the power is and where a lot of the networking is,” says Nadxieli Nieto, one of eight members of the LxP steering committee and program director of literary awards at PEN America.
The group, which launched in New York City in 2016, meets at least once per month and has developed a national online community that has more than 7,000 followers in its combined social network—which includes public Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts and newsletter subscribers—and an additional 270 members in its private Facebook group. In addition to encouraging networking among industry professionals, LxP has hosted events highlighting the work of Latin-American authors and illustrators.
“The group came together initially as an informal support network—a place where we could connect, uplift each other, troubleshoot, and find mentorship,” says Joanna Cárdenas, editor at Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. In 2017, the group was incorporated as a nonprofit organization.
“It was not only about helping each other, but also about building a sense of community,” Nieto says.
The term Latinx—used as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina—is not embraced by all of LxP’s members. “People within our group have very different opinions about it,” Nieto says, noting that, in particular, people who feel a stronger attachment to the Spanish language see it as a North American invention. “I’m a third-generation American; I’m not [going to] tell my mother to use Latinx if she doesn’t want to,” she adds, saying that the term seeks to embrace “a whole community of nonbinary, queer, Latinx individuals.”
To spread its mission, LxP has been present at industry conferences and festivals, such as the National Council of Teachers of English (where they’ll be hosting a roundtable discussion this year in Houston), the Brooklyn Book Festival, and AWP Conference Bookfair. At this year’s BookExpo, the group held its first annual BookExpo Latinx Fiesta along with collaborative pop-up bookstore Duende District, which attracted about 100 party-goers.
Among its members are professionals working at some of the country’s foremost publishing companies, including Macmillan, Penguin, and Scholastic. There are also pioneers of previous efforts to create Latin-American lit networks, such as Las Comadres Para Las Americas, which was created in 2000 in Texas.
“The Latinx in Publishing group is exactly what is needed,” says Nora de Hoyos Comstock, founder, president and CEO of Las Comadres and one of the founders of LxP. She explains that the prevalence of social media has created several new mechanisms to promote authors and to advocate for issues important to the Latin American community, compared to when she started Las Comadres 18 years ago. “Many of us did not know our U.S. Latina/o authors,” she says. “We had not been introduced to them in college or anywhere else.”
LxP also seeks to promote and advocate for non-Latin-American authors of color. “We have teamed up with other groups to build our brands together,” De Hoyos Comstock says. “We just need all our Latinos in publishing to join [Latinx in Publishing] and to serve as our guides and our voice. Together we are stronger.”
Carlos Rodríguez-Martorell is a New York journalist and book reviewer.