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Rene Alegria — The Godfather

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Rene Alegria began his career in publishing as an intern. What many do not realize, however, is that he was attending school and simultaneously working four jobs at the same time.

While a managing editor at HarperCollins, he pitched an idea to then CEO Jane Friedman, which would become the basis for Rayo, a groundbreaking Hispanic-themed imprint publishing books in both English and Spanish.

Alegria successfully launched Rayo, breaking out new award-winning authors into the industry and breaking down cultural barriers that have existed in publishing for years. It is at Rayo that Alegria earned the name “The Godfather,” for it was at Rayo that many of today’s most influential Hispanics in publishing first got their start. Whenever Alegria’s name is mentioned, it is often followed by a warm smile and an “I love Rene.”

Unfortunately, the honeymoon with HarperCollins came to a close earlier this year when Rayo’s doors were shut. Alegria, however, saw the untimely closure of the imprint as an opportunity and launched a boutique media firm, Boxing Badger Media. During his stint on the publishers’ side of the industry, Alegria was often frustrated at how the majority of the agent community would not dip into the Latino community’s talent pool. With the closing of Rayo, he deemed it the right moment for his entrepreneurial skills to kick in once more.

Through this new venture, Alegria seeks to help branch Hispanic talent into areas that go far beyond book publishing. Working with a small, exclusive stable of talent (Jorge Ramos, Nina Garcia, Ray Suarez, among them), Alegria is extending the reach of Hispanic authors into radio and mass-retailers such as Target, television, and on-line.

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Jeff Rivera is the author of “Forever My Lady” and the founder of GumboWriters.com.

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