Behind-the-Scenes of Red Hen: A Conversation with Kate Gale

Red Hen Press
4 min readFeb 9, 2023

By Lizzy Young

In our next installment of the Behind-the-Scenes of Red Hen Press series, we are featuring our extraordinary Managing Editor and Executive Director, Kate Gale!

Dr. Kate Gale is co-founder and Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review, and she teaches in the Low Residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction. She is author of eight books of poetry, most recently, The Loneliest Girl from the University of New Mexico Press in 2022, The Goldilocks Zone in 2014, Echo Light from Red Mountain in 2014 and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis, which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

As Executive Director, Kate oversees the Editorial, Development, and Marketing departments and collaborates with the Board of Directors. She is responsible for curating Red Hen’s prose and poetry titles, representing the Press at foreign rights book fairs, and fundraising.

Keep reading to find out more about Kate Gale and her role at Red Hen!

A photograph of Kate Gale standing in front of a bookstore window, with shelves of books under the window. Above her head is a banner that says, “Green Apple Books & Music: New & Used Books Music & More.”
Kate outside of Green Apple Books & Music in San Francisco, CA

Lizzy Young: What are your primary responsibilities at Red Hen Press?

Kate Gale: I am the Managing Editor, so there is the editing to do, but when I am not editing, or coming up with ideas for comps for marketing, or going to foreign rights fairs, I am raising funds for publishing diverse titles.

LY: Based on your job description, you shoulder a lot of responsibilities at Red Hen Press. How do you balance your work life?

KG: It is a balancing act that I don’t do particularly well. I mostly work early mornings, and all day, I work usually until eleven in the evening. On weekends I grade student papers. Ideally, I would be writing on weekends, and once in a while I do, but it’s tricky.

LY: What does a day look like in the life of Kate Gale?

KG: I go for a swim at 6 am, then I walk the dog while making phone calls. After, I start making calls, answering emails, getting through my work, comps, and curating reading series. Usually, I have a lunch with a writer or friend of the press. Then I go back to work. I like to do the editing in the afternoon. In the evening, I catch up on email.

LY: What do you look for in a manuscript?

KG: I am looking for books that sing. I want a story that has layers of meaning, a bug story, a story under the bug story. I want a thicket of meaning, but readers are hard-wired for story. There has to be a good story. Now You Owe Me by Aliah Wright was such a story. It’s about a serial killer and the African American woman who plans to find him or her. There is an underlying story; African American people understand danger differently. I love the underneath.

A photograph of Kate Gale standing in front of a display of Red Hen books. Above her head is a sign that reads, “Red Hen Press: United States of America.”
Kate at the Frankfurt Book Fair

LY: You also represent Red Hen at foreign rights book fairs. What goes into getting a book published in another language? What has been one of your proudest moments in getting Red Hen in the international market?

KG: I go to fifty plus meetings at Frankfurt and it is exhausting! London, Guadalajara, and Sharjah are a little easier. Getting a book to sell takes a lot of meetings, and when I return, a lot of follow-up on Monica’s part.

Okay, I loved selling Coffee, Shopping, Murder, Love to the Greeks, and Eat Less Water to the Italians, and Pigs to the Turks, but selling The Meaning of Names to the Chinese was special. I was at the Beijing Book Fair and I met with these four young women. The oldest was twenty-two, and they said they were interested in this book we had on the 1918 pandemic. The oldest one said she thought for sure there would be another pandemic, so she wanted to buy our book Meaning of Names set in Nebraska. Our
author, who lives in Lincoln, celebrated with Chinese food.

A photograph of a dirt road with a fenced grassy field on either side. The sky above is filled with storm clouds. Centered is the title, “the Meaning of Names.” In the top right corner is a seal that says, “One book One Nebraska Selection.” Below the title is the author’s name, “Karen Gettert Shoemaker.”

LY: Another aspect of your work is Editor of the LA Review. How is the LA Review connected to Red Hen?

KG: The LA Review is part of the literary family of Red Hen. We think of it as a way for us to find writers, ideas, and live on the cutting edge of what new stories are becoming.

LY: What are you currently reading?

KG: I’m reading Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts
Mary Ruefle’s Dunce because Mary Ruefle is always magical.
Next, I am going to read Percival Everett’s new novel, Dr. No.

We hope you learned something about Kate and get a peek into all the things she does at Red Hen. Let us know if you have more questions for Kate in the comments below!

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Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools. www.redhen.org