I couldn't quite believe it when I got the call that HarperCollins was interested in the book I was developing with my friend, Robyn Moreno--before we'd even written a proposal. We had been working on a collection of essays on the modern Latina experience for about seven months. We had hoped for essays told from a brutally honest and sometimes humorous perspective, but we were having trouble getting the sample essays together. We hadn't even attempted a marketing plan when Rene Alegria, the editor of HarperCollins's Hispanic imprint Rayo, called Robyn to ask about our progress. They had met at a conference the previous summer, where Robyn described our embryonic idea to him over drinks. He called to tell her he had two other anthology proposals on his desk but wanted to see ours before he made a decision. We had two weeks to get something together.
After about a month of wrangling and stalling, we presented him with our 90-page proposal. He swept it off the table, buying our baby before we even had a chance to worry if anyone would want it.
If HarperCollins had not in 2001 launched Rayo, the country's first English/Spanish-language Latino imprint, or division, at a major publishing house, I'm not sure it would have been so easy. Anthologies are notoriously hard to sell, both to publishers and readers. In the post-Sept. 11 recession, no one wanted to buy books that were difficult, and I knew that having a Latino editor …