Kathy Dawson

Kathy Dawson – Editor

Experienced editor of YA and MG, many bestsellers and award winners. Former children’s book publisher at Penguin Random House.


With decades of editorial experience working at the largest publishing house in the world, I understand the business and what makes a book sing and succeed. Throughout my career, I focused on discovering fresh new voices in all genres of MG and YA fiction--including fantasy, humor, mystery, contemporary, literary, and speculative fiction--and I especially loved editing first-time authors.

I take joy in helping authors of all levels of experience dig deeper into their characters and discover the hidden potential in their work. Whether it's through an extensive developmental edit, a big picture review, a word-by-word examination, or a quick read and a zoom call, I can help you develop your book and move you closer to publication. And if you're not sure what you need, I can help you figure that out too!

I’ve edited Newbery honor books, Printz honor books, NYT bestsellers, a National Book Award finalist, and more. I launched the writing careers of many beloved authors including Kristin Cashore, Gennifer Choldenko, Elle Cosimano, and Sheila Turnage.

I'm also a gardener with a certificate from the New York Botanic Garden and volunteer on the High Line, so if your book concerns the natural world, chances are good I'll be interested.

“A rare editorial talent.” —Don Weisberg, former President of Penguin Young Readers Group

“Her line edits are so sharp and smart!” –Kristin Cashore, author of NYT Bestsellers, WINTERKEEP, JANE, UNLIMITED and the GRACELING series

"I'd work with her again in a heartbeat." —Sheila Turnage, NYT bestselling and Newbery Honor winning author of the THREE TIMES LUCKY series

“Kathy ranks as the best of the best. ” —Susan Beth Pfeffer, NYT bestselling author of the LIFE AS WE KNEW IT series

“Kathy can look deeply into a novel and sense what’s missing.” —Gennifer Choldenko, Newbery honor winning & NYT bestselling author of AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS

“Kathy has a terrific eye for the potential in a book.” —Faye Bender, Partner and Agent, The Book Group

Horror LGBTQ Fiction Magical Realism Middle Grade Paranormal Romance Post-Apocalyptic Young Adult
English (CAN) English (UK) English (US)
  • Newbery Honor: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
  • National Book Award Finalist: Chime by Franny Billingsley
  • Newbery Honor: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  • Printz Honor: Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
  • Printz Honor: The Returning by Christine Hinwood
  • Andre Norton Nebula Award Nominee: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • William Morris Award finalist: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Gardening Certificate from NY Botanic Garden

Work experience


Jun, 2021 — Present

Providing extensive feedback for authors of all levels of experience on children's young adult and middle-grade novels, offering a range of services from big picture to word-by-word to quick reads and a phone call. I'll catch many typos, but I'm not a copyeditor. If you're looking for a deep-dive into characterization, or you're struggling to understand rejections from agents or editors, want a pair of fresh eyes to catch issues before going out on submission, or you just want to understand your material more fully, I can help.

Penguin Random House imprint

Oct, 2012 — May, 2020 (over 7 years)

Edited NYT BESTSELLER Winterkeep and NYT BESTSELLER Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, EDGAR AWARD Finalist Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano, and NYT Bestselling author Sheila Turnage's The Law of Finders Keepers. My mission was to publish stellar novels for children and teens that expand their vision of the world, sneakily explore the meaning of life, celebrate the written word, and last for generations--books with unforgettable voices that break the mold and grab the heart.

Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Jan, 2012 — Sep, 2012 (8 months)

Managed the fiction editors and their books; as well as edited a full list of my own, including NEWBERY Honor winner and EDGAR AWARD finalist Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, PRINTZ Honor winner The Returning by Christine Hinwood, NATIONAL Book Award finalist and BOSTON GLOBE/HORN BOOK HONOR BOOK for Fiction Chime by Franny Billingsley, NYT BESTSELLER, Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner Fire by Kristin Cashore



Kristin Cashore

Discover the Graceling Realm in this unforgettable, award-winning novel from bestselling author Kristin Cashore.A New York Times bestseller * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature Winner * Publishers Weekly, School... read more
* "Belongs alongside Holly Goldberg Sloan's Counting by 7s, Cindy Baldwin's Where the Watermelons Grow, and Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish. Highly recommended."--School Library Journal, starred reviewAn emotional and uplifting debut about a girl name... read more
***A New York Times Editors’ Choice***A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home--with all the excitement of Ranger's Apprentice and perfect for fans of heroines li... read more

Franny Billingsley

"Part mystery, part fantasy, this beautifully-written page turner explores guilt, mercy, and love."—New York Times bestselling author Holly BlackBriony has a secret. It is a secret that killed her stepmother, ruined her sister's mind, and will end her life, if... read more
Three Times Lucky

Sheila Turnage

Newbery honor winner, New York Times bestseller, Edgar Award Finalist, and E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor book.A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetimeRising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupel... read more
The Accident Season

Moïra Fowley-Doyle

For fans of We Were Liars, How I Live Now, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane comes a haunting, sexy debut of magical realism. And look for Moïra Fowley-Doyle's newest book, Spellbook of the Lost and Found.Every October Cara and her family become inexplicabl... read more
Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Ferris Bueller's Day Off in this story of a wisecracking girl who meets a weird but brilliant boy and their roller-coaster of a semester that's one part awkward, three parts thrilling, and five parts awesome.When Philip Digby... read more
A Publishers Weekly Flying Start ** A Booklist Editors' Choice ** A Junior Library Guild selection ** Four starred reviews!Family + Loyalty = Keeping SecretsWhen it comes to American history or defending the underdog or getting to the bottom of things, no one ... read more
Al Capone Does My Shirts

Gennifer Choldenko

The Newbery Honor Book and New York Times Bestseller that is historical fiction with a hint of mystery about living at Alcatraz not as a prisoner, but as a kid meeting some of the most famous criminals in our history. Al Capone Does My Shirts has become an ins... read more
The Returning

Hinwood, Christine

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family's secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small to... read more
"Think of the heart-racing chase of The Hunger Games, but a giant mall is your arena."--Seventeen.comA suspenseful survival story and modern day Lord of the Flies set in a mall that looks just like yours. A biological bomb has just been discovered in the air d... read more
Nearly Gone

Elle Cosimano

Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very endNearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a tar... read more
All the Bad Apples

Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Unflinching and gorgeously written, this feminist novel is important, timely, and a compulsive read. From the highly acclaimed author of the beloved The Accident Season comes an epic breakout novel examining the very topical and controversial issue of women's ... read more
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: Top 10Contrary to popular opinion, vampires are not sexy, romantic, or powerful. In case you hadn’t noticed, vampires are dead. And the only ones who don’t get staked are the ones who avoid attacking people, admit they have a... read more
Life as We Knew It

Susan Beth Pfeffer

New York Times bestseller! A heart-stopping post-apocalyptic thriller that's "absorbing from first to last page."*When a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth, Miranda, a high school sophomore, takes shelter with her family.Told in a year’s worth of journal e... read more
A Michael L. Printz Honor BookTroy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout g... read more
Willa Joe is up on the roof at Aunt Patty's house. She went up to see the sunrise, and Little Sister followed her, like she always does. But by mid-morning, Willa Jo is still up on that roof, and she knows it wasn't just the sunrise that brought her there. Aud... read more

Kristin Cashore

The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.7 million copies.For the past five years, Bitterblue has reigned as Queen of Monsea, heroically rebuilding her nation after her father's ... read more

Kristin Cashore

Enter the Graceling Realm and let it work its magic in this unforgettable novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Cashore. When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kingdom for her. Now she is begin... read more

Kathy has 10 reviews





stacy W.

stacy W.

Sep, 2023

It is extraordinary that an experienced editor of Kathy's caliber is available for help. I had a wonderful experience with Kathy and would both recommend her editorial services and use them again myself.
Kathy D.
Thank you so much, Stacy! It was such a pleasure to work with you.
marysa V.

marysa V.

Oct, 2022

Kathy made great suggestions about characterization, plot and general editing. I highly recommend working with her.
Kathy D.
Thank you, Marysa! I enjoyed working with you!
Mikram M.

Mikram M.

Jul, 2022

The thoughtfulness, insight, and practical guidance that Kathy provided in her feedback was deeply helpful—just the useful provocation I needed to set off on my revision. I have a much better sense of which steps to take next because of the care she showed in her work. Her lengthy, top-level experience in the industry was plainly evident. I'm glad to join the many others quoted here in endorsin...
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Kathy D.
Such a pleasure to work with you!
Matt P.

Matt P.

Jun, 2022

Kathy provided me with an editorial review. Her notes were full of insight, with an eye for detail and always from the market perspective. The ideas that we generated in our subsequent talk were invaluable.
Kathy D.
Thanks so much, Matt! Working with you was such a pleasure. Looking forward to working with you again.
Judy K.

Judy K.

Jun, 2022

My experience of working with Kathy on my MG novel was excellent. After carefully reading my manuscript, she provided a multiple page letter detailing her questions and concerns about the work and offering suggestions for me to consider going forward. In addition, she included line edits and comments on the manuscript itself. After I had some time to read and consider her comments, we had a...
Read more
Kathy D.
It was wonderful to work with you, Judy! Thank you for your kind words. Have fun with your revision--you've got great characters!

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