The following interview with Rob Kirkpatrick appeared in the the latest edition of the MEDIA CONNECT newsletter. To view our fall newsletter or to subscribe for future editions, click here.
Jason Katzman currently works for Skyhorse Publishing, mainly on their sports (Sports Publishing) and science fiction (Night Shade Book, Talos Press) imprints, and is located in New York City. He has edited several New York Times bestsellers.
MEDIA CONNECT: What inspired you to want to become an editor?
JASON KATZMAN: I really didn’t know what I wanted to do until I had already graduated college. That’s when I spent all my time reading and writing. I always enjoyed helping family and friends on various projects, so felt that being able to work on the written word, use my creative intuitiveness, and help bring special projects to the masses was a role I’d do well in. Once I got my foot in the door I knew that this was my career, and I haven’t looked back since.
MC: How has the editorial field changed during your career?
JK: While I’ve only been in the field for a handful of years, I’ve still seen a sizeable change. Borders is no longer in business, audio books are now more favored, and the electronic book is read almost as much as the printed one. While these changes have somewhat adjusted the book publishing approach, I still feel that the keys will always be there, and no matter how a project is published, it will still need an editor’s eye.
MC: As an acquiring editor do you look at the author’s work or platform first?
JK: Definitely the work first. While many titles have sold on stronger platforms with the help of publicity and marketing, the book will only go so far if the prose cannot back up all the talk.
MC: What are some of the favorite books you’ve edited over the years?
JK: While I’ve edited many titles that I am both proud and honored to have worked on, one that sticks out in my mind is Turning The Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy Of Charles A. Comiskey. This title worked to debunked much of the rumors of how Charles Comiskey, former owner of the Chicago White Sox, was at fault for his team throwing the 1919 World Series (known as the “Black Sox” scandal).
MC: What advice do you have for young writers today?
JK: Stay humble, be respectful to the system, ask questions, and be ready to accept that you do not know everything! By doing so, you’ll learn a lot — not only about writing, but about life — which will only improve the quality of your writing. I know it may seem silly, but I’ve always loved the quote from the movie Finding Forrester: “You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head.”
MC: How do you prefer literary agents approach you?
MC: What is your favorite place to meet an agent or new author?
JK: I always like a relaxed environment. I’d rather get to know the person before talking business, as then the mood is more comfortable and we can enjoy our time out, whether we come to a deal or not. Being able to get along will not only give us a chance to work together at that moment, but down the line as well.
MC: Is there a specific story line you’ve seen done too many times?
JK: I feel that the only issue is when the story and writing aren’t well-executed. I’ll read a thousand niche titles if they’re written well, but putting out a story because previous ones have sold well is not the way to approach writing.
MC: If you could write your own book, what would it be?
JK: I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I feel as though I’m decades away from achieving that.