Kat Dixon is the first face that many of our Ballast Books and Blue Balloon Books authors see. She’s a rock star acquisitions editor with a long history in the publishing world, from teaching abroad to now editing here at home in Mobile, Alabama. Kat lives with her partner, Lee, and two furry freeloaders, Booker and Bonnie.

Booker and Bonnie

She got her start studying English and American Studies at Kennesaw State University near her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Kat quickly became a world traveler post-graduation, spending time in South Korea and then reestablishing roots in the US before landing here at Ballast Books.

You’ve previously worked as a copy editor, proofreader, and developmental editor. As an acquisitions editor, you are more involved with authors and their books throughout the full publishing process. What aspects of publishing have you come to enjoy most since joining the Ballast team?

I see my work at Ballast as a natural extension of what came before. As an editor, I guided authors toward more perfect manuscripts. Now, I guide them to more perfect books. I love being able to advise authors on the best publishing paths for their unique projects—and then helping them more confidently navigate the dizzying complexities of the publishing process. While I still love finding or strengthening the structure of a text, it’s equally rewarding to be the support system that allows amazing books to reach their audiences.

You took a break from professional editing to teach abroad. What inspired you to follow that path? Can you tell us about that experience?

This isn’t the romantic story people often hope it will be. I worked for a Korean company before and during grad school, and when they offered me a job in Seoul afterward, it sounded more practical than my original plan to accumulate an infinite number of degrees. I was young enough then that I could still afford to live to write, and I firmly believed that the best writing came from a lot of living. I took the offer. Time is so slippery though because I arrived, and then eight years passed. I don’t know that those years resulted in much great writing, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

You’re now deeply involved in your community. What “extracurriculars” do you currently have on your calendar?

I am on the boards of my local library and city beautification project, and I am a member of the historical society. When I moved back stateside, I bought a hundred-year-old house in a nationally registered historic district, which got me interested in preservation. That ballooned into other community improvement projects. I really enjoy pitching in whenever I can, so you can regularly find me volunteering with litter cleanup, at the botanical gardens, or for the neighborhood TNR program.

With so many commitments and hobbies, what do you do to unwind and relax?

I love modern art, movie theater popcorn, and mimosa brunches. I’m fortunate to have access to a lot of live theater, and I try never to miss a show. In case I’m not already grandmotherly enough, I enjoy birdwatching and a good jigsaw puzzle, and I’m actively perfecting my blueberry pancake recipe. A lot of my free time goes to my dogs, and I love being outside with them on the beach or in the woods and meadows nearby. When the gulf warms up a few degrees, I’ll again be perpetually pruned from swimming. And then there are books! Audiobooks flavor my chore time, and I’m still curled up with a paperback most evenings. I hope that never changes.

You not only help authors achieve their publishing goals; you are a published author yourself! Can you tell us a little about the books you’ve published?

Oh, you caught me. To date, I’ve published two full-length poetry collections, a novella, and a hybrid collection of poems and essays. Rewind further, and there were four chapbooks and numerous individual publications that got me there. Writing is the best way I’ve found to excise the ideas that repeat in my otherwise quiet hours. I’m always occasionally working on book five—a novel, ugh—and noodling over books six and seven. I’m especially jazzed about six.

What advice would you give fellow poets on putting their work out into the world?

Read. Read everything and often. Let texts you love and texts you hate propel you in equal measure. There are ideas everywhere. Find an editor who will champion your work but also demand you lean into your craft. Draft one is never draft done. Of course, accept the inevitability of rejection, but never fear failure. Some of my worst poems—the ones I’d rather disappear inside my skin than admit to writing—have still connected with readers. Your work only belongs to you until someone else reads it. Let your poetry evolve alongside you.

What is one question you hear most frequently from first-time authors?

“Is this idea worthwhile?” The answer is yes. If you feel compelled to write, it’s because you’ve got something worth sharing. Share it!

Kat Dixon is one of the many team members who make Ballast Books an excellent publisher for authors at every step of their publishing journey. If she sounds like someone you’d want to work with, contact us about your book idea today.

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