The Monthly Q&A: Kate Goldsworthy

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Kate has worked on trade books since 2010. She started in-house at Black Inc. with some freelancing work on the side, then worked as a full-time freelancer, and is now full-time as an editor at Affirm Press.

How has your month been?

Well, to be honest ... I'm enjoying some annual leave right now. I've been at Affirm Press for a bit over six months and am taking a holiday in sunny California - hey, it's my first use of annual leave since 2012!

Before taking leave, I was busy, I swear. Books coming out of my ears. I'm usually juggling several projects at various stages of development, so at any given moment there might be one on the verge of heading to print, one that I'm proofreading for another editor, one that I'm copyediting, one that's part-way through a structural edit, one that's just been signed up or is being negotiated, and so on. And these books are in a few different genres, from gift to literary fiction to commercial nonfiction (and others), so I need to be able to switch streams pretty quickly.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

I'm still coming to terms with sending books to print. After months of work, sometimes years for the author, there it goes. A book lives longer than its author, and maybe longer than humanity - in 3000 years, an alien civilisation might decipher it. That means a typo lives forever. That means insomnia.

All of that said, I've always been able to release books into the wild, and I'm working on my perfectionism through a 12-step program involving massage therapy, red wine and standing on a cliff, screaming into the void.

What do you love most about your work?

Being in the thick of an edit when I've built up a really strong, close relationship with an author, and I know we're both working towards the goal of making the book the best it can be.

How did you get here?

I finished my undergrad study in 2009, along with an internship at Australian Book Review (ABR). The ABR deputy editor, Rebecca Starford, moved to Affirm Press and started giving me some proofreading work in 2010. I was taking RMIT's Professional Writing and Editing course, where I met Jo Case. She hired me as her deputy editor at the Readings Monthly newsletter, and later that year recommended me to Black Inc.

I started at Black Inc. as a casual, then part-time editorial assistant, and then was suddenly promoted to editor when a senior ed went on maternity leave. I'm incredibly grateful to Black Inc. for giving me that opportunity. I was finally working on trade books directly with authors, and I found that I really did love it! What a relief.

I was still doing some freelance work for Affirm and also for Allen & Unwin (I'd connected with them through the course). This came in handy when I was made redundant in 2013 and needed to rely on freelance work. Affirm and Allen & Unwin came through for me, Black Inc. kept giving me jobs, and I was the regular proofreader for The Monthly and Readings Monthly. I also found work through connections at Penguin Random House (aka Random Penguin), Text and HarperCollins. The Arena imprint at Allen & Unwin was particularly good to me; their publisher, Louise Thurtell, gave me some great structural and copyediting jobs.

Then one bright morning I heard someone singing in dulcet tones beneath my balcony. I opened my French doors and stepped outside to see Martin Hughes, Affirm Press publisher, serenading me while tossing red roses up at my feet. The rest is history.*

*This may or may not have happened.

What is your average weekly workload? Does it vary throughout the year?

Things get quiet in trade book publishing around the summer holiday period. Otherwise it's pretty much full steam ahead.

If you didn't have the job you are in now, what would you like to be doing?

Freelancing. Or trying my hand at Kindle erotica; always a solid backup plan.

Thanks so much, Kate!

You can visit Affirm Press at or on Twitter @AffirmPress.
Kate is on the Editors Victoria Communication committee where she oversees the newsletter.