Episode 41: How to be an editor with Plume’s Kate Napolitano

Prosers, forgive me for I have sinned.

It’s been five months since my last episode and I need to make up for it, so let’s catch up.

Shout out to the March 2017 issue of The Writer. It features my essay “The hiccups of self-publishing Or, why one writer has 5000 book flyers in her closet.”  Big thanks to the mag’s great senior editor Nicki Porter for taking the piece that began as my “humiliation essay” in one of Sue Shapiro’s writing classes in 2010. (Sue was my MFA mentor at The New School and she also appeared on Behind the Prose!)

I subscribe to The Writer and I was happy to see the familiar name of Susan Ito in the February issue for her story “Introducing the DIY Writing Retreat.” I met Susan at the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation 2012 Workshop. If you’re a writer of color, check out their application process.

I also subscribe to Creative Nonfiction. The latest issue, Winter 2017,  opens with a feature by former Behind the Prose guest Jennifer Niesslein, the writer entrepreneur I want to be when I grow up. Jennifer’s article “It’s Complicated: The Joy of Writing” explores the “positive psychology” behind why we write, when for some of us, myself included, the act of writing is not pleasure inducing.

Finally, check out the new Terse Journal by Marlana Eck, founder of Lehigh Valley Vanguard. Terse Journal, Marlana’s latest project, is “a post-avant grindcore narrative assemblage for transhumanist cyberpunks.” And though I have to look up each of those words, I’m honored to be featured as a columnist on the site. My column “Something to Be Said” features two installments so far.

The site features a variety of voices, styles, and topics, yet somehow there’s a commonality among the writers and their work. But in the words of LeVar Burton, the first book reviewer I ever knew, “Don’t take my word for it.”

I’ve got a new intern on staff who is churning out transcripts faster than I can put them up! Penn State Berks Professional Writing student Walker Webb is an editorial intern and besides transcripts, he’s adding show notes to our episodes. Some additions to the transcript list and show notes include:

  • Episode 20: Writing intimacy, pain, and hope with memoirist Kate Walter, author of Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing
    • Having trouble with first drafts? Maybe Kate Walter’s perspective on them at [5:31] might help.
    • Have an opinion about editors? Kate does, and what she says at [10:47] might surprise you.
  • Episode 24: How to write a For Dummies book and romantic suspense (but not at the same time) with author Gwen Hernandez
    • Are you a plotter or pantser? Find out at [4:58].
    • Interested in Gwen Hernandez’s writing schedule? Skip to [9:19].
  • Episode 25: Bestselling author Susan Shapiro goes behind her genre-crossing prose in candid interview
    • Susan Shapiro has a favorite genre. Find out what type of writing she likes best at [3:39].
    • Sue relies on criticism to improve her writing. Learn how she decides who trust with her work by going to [16:01].

Plume Senior Editor Kate Napolitano recorded this in October 2016, right before my schedule went to hell in a Coach bag, but I’m happy to finally share it with you. A graduate of The College of New Jersey, Kate’s got a girl-next-door vibe and she gives us an honest look at working your way up the ranks in the world’s oldest apprenticeship style career. (Not sure if it’s actually the world’s oldest, but it has to be close.) Kate purchased Phoebe Robinson’s debut book “You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have To Explain.” Robinson is a comedian, actress, writer, and one half of 2 Dope Queens, the popular WNYC podcast.

Here are some highlights from the show:

  • Kate’s Publishing Journey 5:17
  • Middle-aged career change into publishing? 8:15
  • I can’t believe I have this job! 10:29
  • Phoebe “Cultural Tastemaker” Robinson 11:50
  • What can writers learn from Phoebe’s book? 16:03

Listen below or subscribe and listen on iTunes. 

Kate Napolitano started her publishing career at Plume in 2009. She has since acquired and edited a broad range of fiction and non-fiction for the imprint, specializing in humor, pop culture, memoir, and narrative non-fiction.

The Plume logo.

Plume is an imprint of Penguin Publishing. Kate Napolitano is a senior editor at Plume.

She is particularly interested in publishing books that examine emerging trends or share an unusual perspective on a well-trod topic, and finding new voices that explore hot-button cultural issues in accessible and entertaining ways. Her authors include New York Times bestselling humorist Mamrie Hart (You Deserve a Drink), webcomic artist Reza Farazmand (of the New York Times bestselling Poorly Drawn Lines), Tumblr blogger and leading millennial feminist voice Alida Nugent (You Don’t Have to Like Me), BuzzFeed columnist and celebrity gossip expert Anne Helen Petersen (Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman), comedian and celebrated WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson (of the New York Times bestselling You Can’t Touch My Hair) and musical artist and New York Times bestselling writer George Watsky (How to Ruin Everything).


You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson.

PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence, and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly; TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well recently landing a recurring role on the new Jill Soloway show for Amazon I Love Dick.

Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, NY Mag, and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV’s hit talking head show, Girl Code, as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City.

Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29’s web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the critically-acclaimed WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson is the author of the New York Times best selling book, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, a collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Michael Fassbender.