I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kate Dresser, an editor at Simon and Schuster, and interview her for this blog. Not only did I get the inside scoop about their new e-first line Pocket Star., but discovered her not-so-secret love of lipstick and what she loves most about living in New York. Katee's an awesome lady, as I'm sure you'll see from the interview below. Feel free to ask questions or say hi to her in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!
Q) Tell us about Simon and Schuster’s imprint, Pocket Star. What makes it different from the other imprints at Simon and Schuster? What does it have to offer authors?
A) Pocket Star is a digital first imprint within the Gallery/Pocket group. It can be differentiated from other imprints because of the primacy of digital publicity and marketing in the publishing plan, the quick turn-around time on edits and publication, and the focus on trying new things. It offers authors the benefits of working with a traditional publishing house while still affording them the ability to pivot that authors love about digital publishing.
Q) Tell us about your job. How long have you been an editor? What do you love the most about your job?
I’ve been an editor for almost 7 wonderful years. The first few years were spent assisting several fantastic editors, and as an apprentice, I couldn’t have received better lessons from a lot of great people in the industry. Having only been independently editing for a few years, I’m still very much savoring being able to focus on my own projects, but my favorite part of the job is the actual editing—getting down into the page, brainstorming solutions, nerding out about grammar and word choice, and overall reveling in language, writing, and storytelling. Having a front seat to the creation of stories is such a joy to me every day. Secondly, two colleagues and I just started recording a twice-monthly podcast through CBS radio called the XOXOAfterDarkCast, and that experience has been really invigorating so far.
(Note: Readers and writers can join the Simon and Schuster Romance Community at www.xoxoafterdark.com.)
Q) What type of books excite you as a reader? What are your favorite types of books?
The type of books that excite me are the ones in which the writer’s heart is evident on the page. I love immersing myself in worlds I couldn’t have possibly created, and learning about the human experience through books. I have a particular fondness for historical fiction and romance, as I always learn something about the past and what life was like in a particular era.
Q) What are some of the biggest mistakes you see on submissions?
One common mistake I see in submissions is a lack of balance between what the market dictates and what the author wants to write. I feel sometimes that there’s the perception that a book of your heart doesn’t have to follow rules of structure and pacing, or that a book that’ll be a viable submission must check all the boxes at the detriment to emotional connection between author and subject. I’d encourage authors to always think from both sides of the coin—help your editor sell your book, but don’t focus so much on making it commercially viable that your passion gets overshadowed.
Q) What are your views on self-publishing? Is Simon and Schuster willing to work with authors who have self-published in the past and plan to continue self-publishing in the future?
I’m a big fan of the world we’re in now: self-publishing is a wonderful world and I think we’re in a space now where traditional and self-publishing coexist in ways that inform and ultimately better each other. Simon & Schuster is more than open to “hybrid” authors, and we try to work with authors who want to continue to self-publish to ensure that the authors’ needs as well as our own are served in terms of timing and promotion.
Q) If an author wanted to submit something to Pocket Star, what should they do?
They should ask their agent to submit to us! We’ve got a large list of editors acquiring for Pocket Star right now, and if your agent doesn’t know who to send it to on the team, we’re total capable of steering toward the right colleague.
Q) You were raised on the west coast of the United States, but now live on the East coast. What is the greatest “culture shock” with moving out east? What is your favorite thing about living in New York?
The culture shock! Where should I start? I will say that I’ve adjusted such that I get worse culture shock when I go back to California. Thinking back, the first things that come to mind from the first year I was in NYC was the shock of being around so many people all the time—it felt like there wasn’t any quiet or personal space, really, and I used to go into the middle of Central Park to call my mom because I felt like I couldn’t hear her otherwise. My favorite thing about living here is the availability of all types of food at any time of day or night.
Q) Do you keep anything by your computer while you work? (food, drinks, mementos) If so, what are they?
I keep a glass of seltzer on my desk at all times, a mug that I got from a friend that says “Do not make me use my editor voice!”, some coral I got off the beach on my last vacation, and, of course, the never-ending pile of papers!
Q) Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun outside of work?
Reading’s my main hobby, but I also watch a lot of documentaries (especially depressing ones) and am a big hostessing enthusiast.
Q) One word answers. Think quick!
Favorite TV show: Call the Midwife
Favorite movie: Fiddler on the Roof
Favorite song: Pitch Perfect soundtrack
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Urban or country? Urban apartment, country music
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Half-full!
Favorite Sports team: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies
Name one thing in your purse: 7 lipsticks
Cat or dog lover? Both
Q) What upcoming books are you excited about? Any recent deals that you can’t wait to start editing?
Two upcoming books I’m excited about are Emma Hart’s DIRTY PAST, which is due out in May and is the second book in her Burke Brothers Series for Pocket Star. I had so much fun editing these books, and she’s a joy to work with, so I can’t wait to read reader response to Book 2! Another joy of an author on my list is Amy E. Reichert, whose debut novel comes out in July and is called THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE. My colleagues who’ve read it say it puts smiles on their faces, so I can’t wait to share that experience with readers.
Q) Tell us anything else you want us to know
All you writers out there, keep writing. Even if I can’t offer to publish your book, reading your submissions is such a privilege, and I hope that every book finds the right home to reach the world, whether that’s through traditional or self-publishing. Never underestimate the power of a good edit, and read what makes you happy.
Thank you so much Kate for taking the time to stop by and chat with us. It's been a pleasure talking with you!
At fourteen, Suzanne Rock/Ava Conway snuck her first romance novel into bed and read it by flashlight. There she met her first “book boyfriend” and has been hooked on reading ever since. She often prefers book-boyfriends to the real thing, and believes that a gooey, fudge brownie is a little piece of heaven on earth. When she’s not writing, she’s stumbling through her Zumba class (have to work off those brownies somehow), obsessing over the latest P!NK song, or feeding her addiction for reality television.