Kirby Gann

Kirby Gann – Editor

From crime and thrillers to memoirs and short stories—accomplished editor/author with over 20 years of experience in publishing and teaching


I have a particular realm of experience in that I have worked nearly twenty years as an editor of others’ books while also forging a career of my own as a novelist, short story writer, and teacher of writing, along with one foray into creating a hybrid work of memoir and criticism. Thus I have an informed perspective on the varieties of challenges the writer faces in the effort to complete a work, be it a full-length project or something shorter. My practice is to identify such challenges and to assist the writer in overcoming them (not avoiding them), the goal always being to help achieve the writer’s original vision and voice.

As an editor and copyeditor I’ve helped bring into the world literary fiction, thrillers and mysteries, memoirs, and works of popular history and self-help. I am open to any genre, however, and would be happy to discuss your project no matter its subject.
Biographies & Memoirs History Writing & Publishing
Literary Fiction Mystery & Crime Short Story Thriller & Suspense
English (US)
  • Finalist, Kentucky Book of the Year, 2012
  • Finalist, Kentucky Book of the Year, 2005
  • Best Book of Year, Publishers Weekly, 2012
  • Individual Artist Fellowship, Kentucky Arts Council

Work experience


Jan, 2002 — Present

My freelance services have exercised the breadth of my talents and experience. I have worked one-on-one with authors seeking creative assistance--at all levels of composition, from developmental editing to finalizing a manuscript and helping to prepare queries--and have worked directly with publishers at various stages of production: interior design and typesetting, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Presses with whom I've provided services most recently include Archipelago, Bloomsbury, Coffee House, Dalkey Archive, Prospect Park, Soho, and Central Recovery Press, among others.

MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University

Nov, 2002 — Present

Sarabande Books

Aug, 1998 — May, 2015 (over 16 years)

Guided over 150 books from acquisition to publication. Evaluated all fiction submissions and took editorial lead throughout production. Designed exterior and interior, including 4-Color layouts. Created annual 4-Color catalogs, newsletters, and ads (print and web). Monitored production budgets. Reviewed and proofed all text before release to public.

Main editor on all prose titles after acquisition. Recent award-winning authors include Kyle Minor, Elena Passarello, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Wendy S. Walters, John McManus, Lia Purpura.



Kirby G.

"A novelist of daring creativity and passion."—Edmund WhiteA dying drug kingpin enslaved to the memory of his dead wife; a young woman torn between a promising future and the hardscrabble world she grew up in; a mother willing to do anything to fuel her addict... read more
From New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard, a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss--"heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life." (Anne Lamott)In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journ... read more
From bestselling, award-winning author Daniel Handler, a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man.Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none o... read more
"Heartfelt, lyrical, and moving, these stories make you feel the texture of your life alter while you're immersed in them. This remarkable book announces the arrival of a brilliant young writer."—Robert BoswellStories set in rural Georgia investigate small mom... read more
From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices, making them hum with si... read more
In the manner of Calvino's Invisible Cities, Wendy S. Walters's essays deftly explore the psyches of cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portsmouth, and Washington, D.C. In "Cleveland," she interviews an African-American playwright who draws great revie... read more
Set in the author's homeland of West Virginia, this panoramic collection of stories traces the people and animals who live in precarious balance in the mountains of Appalachia over a span of two hundred years, in a disappearing rural world. With omniscient nar... read more

Kerry H.

In this darkly funny work of literary nonfiction, a bookish young woman insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fighters—one a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows these men for three years through the blo... read more
"So persuasive are Yoon's powers of invention that I went searching for his Solla Island somewhere off the mainland of South Korea—not realizing that it exists only in this breathtaking collection of eight interlinked stories...Yoon's writing results in a full... read more

David T.

"David Martinez is like an algebra problem invented by America—he's polynomial, and fractioned, full of identity variables and unsolved narrative coefficients. . . . Hustle is full of dashing nerve, linguistic flair, and unfakeable heart."—Tony HoaglandThe dar... read more
“Purpura is the real deal, and so is every successive sentence in this collection. A cornucopiac vocabulary is married to a strict economy of expression; an offbeat curiosity is married to the courage of difficult witnessing. . . .”—Albert Goldbarth“Purpura's ... read more
"I finished this book with my heart pounding and grateful, my coffee cold and my smile wide and crying like a baby."—Daniel HandlerThe characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture their classmates, fall in love, hunt for immortality, abandon their chi... read more
"A phenomenal talent blazing up suddenly on the horizon. . . . precise, brilliant language that evokes without ever having to explain. . . . His transcendent vision gives us devastating glimpses."—Elle"John McManus writes visceral prose that explodes within th... read more
Side Life

Steve T.

Smart, paranoid literary science fiction crossover for fans of Blake Crouch and Philip K. Dick, set in present-day Seattle Vin, a down-on-his-luck young tech entrepreneur forced out of the software company he started, takes a job house-sitting a beautiful Seat... read more
The story of the epic contest between shipping magnates Samuel Cunard and Edward Collins for mid-19th century control of the Atlantic. Between 1815 and the American Civil War, the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution delivered a sea change in oceani... read more
The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with... read more
A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks. "A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about... read more
A brilliantly observed prep school novel about fraught teacher-student relationships--and about coming into adulthood.Ben Jameson begins his teaching career in a small private school in Northern Virginia. He is idealistic, happy to have his first job after gra... read more
A collection of poetry, fiction, and essay where language isn’t strictly functional but comes at the world in its most intense states—in reverie, in revelry, in fine excess; writers who must have, as Paul West once termed it, the world written up. These are mi... read more
From a writer called “an important new voice in fiction” by Bret Lott and a “novelist of daring creativity and passion” by Edmund White, comes Our Napoleon in Rags. It’s the story of the regulars at the Don Quixote, a bar in a decaying Midwestern city, whose l... read more
The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked—a book that left its mark). Each entry in the series will be a no-holds-barred personal narrative detailing how a particular n... read more

Kirby has 5 reviews





Lisa W.

Lisa W.

May, 2020

Having read some of Kirby's own work, I knew that my novel was in safe and capable hands. He was very responsive and communicative prior to us agreeing to go ahead with the collaboration and was happy to answer questions which was reassuring. I was very impressed by how thorough Kirby was. He clearly took considerable time and trouble whilst editing, evidenced by the incredible attention to de...
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Katherine J.

Katherine J.

Nov, 2019

Kirby provided a comprehensive copy edit, sprinkled with useful ideas and suggestions. I will definitely use him again!
Christopher C.

Christopher C.

Apr, 2018

Every once in a while I make a good decision. I did just that when I selected Kirby Gann to provide his excellent editing skills for my novella, The Runners. Kirby provided incredible direction and insight on this project. His editing and suggestions will make my work far better than I had conceived after writing the first draft. I am especially grateful for his sincerity and honesty-something ...
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Gary A.

Gary A.

Feb, 2018

I do not think that I will ever be able to say enough good things about Kirby Gann. We collaborated on a lengthy project - he copy-edited my memoir - and Kirby's insight, enthusiasm, expertise and overarching goodness made every component of our collaboration invaluable. Kirby has the rare gifts of being both intuitive and objective. It was apparent at the outset that he understood me and w...
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V.P. E.

V.P. E.

Jan, 2018

Through the years I have collaborated with many acclaimed editors and I can ensure anyone that Kirby was among the best. First of all he is an accomplished writer, he loves what he is doing, and he knows exactly what a story and a writer needs. His work goes far beyond the expected—a real surprise. He didn’t limit his work to the line editing, but was willing to make the whole story and plot mu...
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