Spotlight: Katie DeGilio

  • Nov 6, 2019
  • 6 minute read

Welcome to the Salt and Sage Books Spotlight series! We believe that by honoring each other’s voices, we’re able to turn creativity into community, and change the world through story.

In this spotlight series, we welcome you into our creative community by inviting you to meet our editors and expert readers, and to hear a little of their own story, in their own words.

What do you do with Salt and Sage?

I help with query/blurb edits, as well as provide sensitivity & expert reading for a number of topics, from LGBTQ+ culture to living in the South.

What do you love about editing and sensitivity reading?

I love that moment when I get to send “You got it!” to a writer when we’ve gone back and forth, and the final project isn’t just something that’s good, but something I’m proud to be a part of.

What drew you to Salt and Sage?

I love the overall mission and aesthetic of the company. Accurate representation is so important, and I love that I get to work with people who value it as much as I do.

Where are you from, and where do you wish you could live?

I was born in North Carolina and moved to Virginia when I was in middle school.

I’m a wanderer. I am not too fond of the idea of staying in one place for too long, but if I had to pick, I would settle down somewhere in Northern California. It’s such a beautiful state, and it gives me the warm weather of the South without the humidity.

Tell me what you love about one of your favorite books.

One of my favorite books is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I love the tone and pacing of the novel. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down.

What’s your writing process like?

I am equal parts pantser and plotter. But no matter what, I never really get into a project until I find THE LINE. There’s always a quote, maybe a sentence or a paragraph that gets stuck in my head, and I have to write until I get to that line. I find that even if the plot intrigues me, I don’t fully put myself into it until I find that single moment that makes me want to write the book.

How do writing and editing fit into your daily life?

Writing and editing basically is my life. I’m an author myself, a literary agent intern, and now I work here! So, I spend most of my time behind a computer fleshing out manuscripts. I also have a day job selling phone, but overall most of my time is spent with the written word.

What was the first moment you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid, I used to take clippings from magazines and copy paper and construct my own books. I don’t remember a moment when I didn’t want to tell stories, but I know when I thought it was something I could do. I was in third grade, and I wrote a short story for class. My teacher was so proud of me; she asked if she could show all the other teachers. It was one of those moments that made me feel like a “real” writer, and I became obsessed.

What scares you about writing?

My greatest fear is that I’m not a “real” writer. Imposter syndrome is something that never really goes away. I’m published in magazines and anthologies. I’ve finished two novels and a collection of poetry. I’ve taught creative writing to kids, and work in a literary agency, yet to this day, I wonder if I’m qualified.

What do you love about writing?

I can’t tell you. It’s like loving a pet or a friend. I feel such a deep connection to the process itself. There’s not one thing that I love more than the other. It’s frustrating and hard, but like family is.

What do you do when you’ve got a writing or editing deadline?

I’m a cliche, but caffeine, caffeine, caffeine. I prefer tea, but when the going gets tough, the writer goes to Starbucks.

What’s your favorite resource for editing?

I keep a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White by my bed. Though I think my favorite time I used a reference was when I was editing for a girl in England, and I wasn’t sure if they used ‘ for dialogue or “ over there. So, I broke out my only British book (a special edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and figured it out.

What’s something about editing or sensitivity reading that you don’t want to have to say to someone, but that you feel people need to know?

DO YOUR RESEARCH. Whether I’m editing a query or reading one for my literary agency internship, I can always tell which writers have done their research and which haven’t.

If a person comes to me for a query edit or a sensitivity read and they haven’t done the most basic research, it’s a lot longer of a process for both of us.

There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. That’s why we have editors, but it’s essential that you take pride enough in your work that you do your best.

What do you hope is the next big change or awesome trend in publishing?

I want to see more representation and diversity in writing. I already see it happening, but we have a long way to go.

What change or trend are you enjoying or disliking?

I was so into dystopian fiction when it was huge, and I’m sad it’s dwindling. Right now, I’m starting to see some books about cults becoming popular, and I think that’s interesting. I’d love to see more.

What would you love to do to make that awesome change happen?

I would represent so many diverse dystopian books! I’ve always been an activist, and seeing literature aimed at fighting oppression warms my little rebel heart.

What are you passionate about, that you wish more people knew about?

I wish more people would stop and look around at the world. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own life; you don’t look around at the suffering of others.

Who knows what’s really happening in Hong Kong? Who knows what’s happening in their next-door neighbor’s house?

I’m passionate about preaching kindness but also action. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but donating, listening, offering your time is what makes real change. It’s so easy to say someone else will help, but if everyone thinks that no one will.

What’s your favorite quote?

That’s like asking me to pick between my children. At the moment, “An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” - Charles Horton Cooley.