Today, we are interviewing Katherine DeGilio, a writer, editor, and an avid optimist. She currently works as a Query Editor and Sensitivity Reader for Salt & Sage Books and a literary intern for Creative Media Agency Inc.
Please tell us something about yourself.
When I was a child, my goal in life was to be Kissing Kate Barlow from Holes. Since the Wild West has diminished, I decided to be a writer instead. I assume those professions share equal kill counts.
How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey?
I have been writing forever. When I was little, I would make “books” out of copy paper and magazine cutouts. However, I didn't get serious about writing until a few years ago. I had just completed my first ever novel (a horrible train wreck), and I wanted to get it published. I applied to be a writing intern for Psych2Go Magazine to learn a little bit about the business, then the next year, a literary intern for the same reason. Through my experience with these internships, I fell in love with the other side of publishing. While I am still working on getting representation for my novels, I've gained so much respect for people in the publishing industry and found I love editing others' work just as much as I like writing my own.
Who are your role models?
Ally Carter has been a huge inspiration to me. Her work rejuvenated my love for storytelling. Then Stephen King opened my eyes to what a writer could do. I aim to be able to produce books as fast as he can.
What inspires you?
The things I don't know. I know the standard writing advice is “write what you know,” but I always find myself writing the questions.
Please tell us about what you do.
I work at Salt & Sage Books, but I also provide freelance services such as query, synopsis, and first chapter edits. I feel my experience working in a literary agency has given me some great insight into what works in a submission, and there's nothing like helping authors achieve their dreams.
What's your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience was my first publication. I submitted an introspective essay to Litro Literary Magazine in 2017. When I got my first acceptance letter, I jumped around my room. Finally, I was a published writer.
Which social media channels work best for promoting your work? What exactly do you do on the social media channel that makes it work for you?
I use Twitter and Instagram but for different things. Both are full of wonderfully supportive people, but Twitter is full of authors, and all the poets are on Instagram. On Twitter, I will post query tips and other writing advice, like how to avoid writing scams. Instagram is all poetry and aesthetics.
The best advice I can give to someone trying to gain traction on social media would be to interact. People like following people, not nameless accounts.
What's your greatest fear?
That the people I love will not achieve their dreams. I've learned to love rejection. Rejection letters can be a powerful editing tool, but I want the people I care about to win faster than me.
Looking back, what's one thing you wish you understood better before you ever got started?
I wish I understood how to love rejection sooner. Being a writer, rejection is something I face daily, but I've learned to not only accept rejection but use it. Rejections can tell me what is working, what's not working, and sometimes they'll even tell you specifics. Those letters are sometimes hard to read, but they are invaluable.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
The biggest strategy for a writer and editor is to take your time. Everyone wants the instant gratification of a publishing deal and a perfect manuscript from the start, but those things don't come overnight. Successful novels and submissions are made by careful people who took the time to know what they were doing and didn't jump in blind as I did at first.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
The next project. Whenever I am submitting something, I always start a new project. This keeps me optimistic. If it's not this novel, it's the next one. If it's not this poem, it's the next one. As long as there is a next one, I have hope.
Any message for our readers.
Don't settle. I have seen a lot of writers give up and self publish or sign with a small publisher they weren't ecstatic about. No matter what you're doing, never settle. I was offered a book deal last year with a very nice small publisher. It was tempting. I wanted my book on the shelf, but in the end, I decided I wanted my debut to be with someone with a bigger distribution.
If I signed with them, my book would be out this November, but I know I wouldn't have been fully happy. No matter the art, know it is better to keep trying than to settle for something that won't make you happy. No one wants a half baked dream.