A Book Apart

Meet the Team: Sally Kerrigan

Sep 10, 2020

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Next up in our Meet the Team series is Sally Kerrigan, one of our amazing editors. Sally tells us how excited she is about green tech, shows her love for San Francisco, and shares how she deals with self-doubt.

Portrait of ABA editor Sally Kerrigan.

ABA: What do you do at A Book Apart? What did you do before joining the team?

Sally Kerrigan: I’m a freelance editor and copywriter, so I do a broad mix of word-centric things. I like to describe it as helping people figure out what it is that they’re trying to say.

ABA: Where do you live and what do you love about your home?

SK: I live in San Francisco, and feel incredibly lucky for that. It’s hands-down the most beautiful city I’ve ever lived in.

ABA: When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

SK: Being outside, in general. I love hiking around the Bay Area. Also cooking, especially baking; a recent weekend highlight was making a buttery galette with ricotta and zucchini. Or, let’s be honest, the actual highlight was eating it.

Overhead view of a ricotta and zucchini galette.

ABA: What book have you read and loved lately?

SK: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer. And based on something she quoted in there, I followed that with World As Lover, World As Self by Joanna Macy. I’d recommend both; they each gave me a sense of hope that I really needed.

ABA: What traits of yours are you most proud of?

SK: I somehow have good geometric reasoning, and it really comes in handy when assembling furniture or otherwise trying to figure out how things fit together.

ABA: What’s your favorite thing about your workspace?

SK: That would simply be my whole apartment, since I don’t have a designated work space. I work at the same table I eat at. Right now it’s a coworking space, with my husband working at the same table, which has actually been nice. I’m a total introvert but at the same time I like having people in the vicinity so I don’t forget how to be human.

I’ve learned how to make sourdough and have become a total convert. Lots of this is usually happening in my apartment these days.

Close-up view of homemade bread.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

SK: Self-doubt is something I’ve struggled with a lot. I’ve been learning to sit with the discomfort and look it in the face. I tend to work with a lot of what I’d call emotional data points, feelings that conflict with one another and yet are equally valid, that sort of thing. I used to feel overwhelmed by all that, but had the breakthrough at some point that this was all data I could use if I just stepped out from under it for a moment. So I guess the answer is that I let the feelings be heard and acknowledge them without acting on them, and then use that “Yes, and…” formula they teach you in improv classes to move on in a more productive way—because it is possible to feel shitty and yet continue working. The feelings don’t have to derail you every time.

ABA: What industry trend or technology are you excited about?

SK: Anything related to green tech. I’d honestly be happy if I never got on an airplane again, if we can just get off fossil fuels as a society. And I think it has to happen in my lifetime anyway so I’m really hoping it’s a change I live to see.

ABA: Is there a piece of professional or life advice you’ve gotten that has always stuck with you? What is it?

SK: A few years ago when I was feeling really stuck career-wise, someone advised me to stop listening to men. I laughed it off at first because it seemed far too simplistic, but I couldn’t shake it. Almost immediately, I got back to what was then my day job and realized literally every decision was made by a man; I worked with plenty of other women but nearly everything I did was ultimately in the service of trying to influence the decision that a man would make. I couldn’t unsee it and it ended up changing my whole attitude around my career, because I realized I wasn’t trusting my own instincts or prioritizing what was important to me personally. It’s not quite as simple as “don’t listen to men,” of course; but if it hadn’t been phrased so starkly I don’t think it would have pushed me forward in the same way.


Get to know more of the people who make A Book Apart go—browse the rest of our Meet the Team series!