Interview: Should You Start Writing, Hire An Editor and Self-Publish? Kasia Radzka Answers All That And More

I’ve always wanted to be an author. I realised a couple of years ago that no one was going to make that dream a reality but me.

Picture of author and interviewee Kasia Radzka

Kasia Radzka

Kasia Radzka is an independent author based on Australia’s Gold Coast. She’s already written and published three crime-thriller books, which follow one another in a series. The first of in the series is called “Lethal Instincts.”

Kasia says she has many more books in the works, including plans to dip into both the fantasy fiction and non-fiction markets, all while she continues to blog on her own website, freelance, and do a whole lot more besides. Phew. I don’t know how she does it all! She’s taken some time out from it all to answer some questions for me (for which I am incredibly grateful!) in this in-depth interview.

So read on to find out more about her life goals in detail, get her advice on writing and publishing, read if and why you should work with an editor, and learn what her favourite wines are …

 

Q: Hi Kasia, I’m so excited to have you on my blog! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your current writing projects?

 

Kasia: Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog, Becca. I’m excited to be here!

I’m working on a couple of things at the moment. My brain doesn’t want to slow down and it’s impossible for me to focus on one thing – although I’m trying! I’m going through the editing stages of book four in my Lexi Ryder Crime Thriller series, which will be titled ‘Lethal Attraction’.

There’s also a non-fiction book in the works for writers, which I’m hoping to finish in the next couple of months.
 

Q: What in particular is it about writing for those projects that gets you up and raring to go in the mornings?

 

Kasia: I’ve always wanted to be an author. I realised a couple of years ago that no one was going to make that dream a reality but me. I love making up stories (on paper, not verbally – I’m a terrible verbal story teller, my words get jumbled up and my palms start sweating!). I tried not writing once and the ideas for stories still brewed in my mind until they finally had to boil over onto the page.
 

Q: Of course, I’m being a bit presumptive about whether you’re a morning person there. What does a typical writing day look like for you, and how do they fit into your week?

 

Kasia: I’m definitely a morning person Becca. I love to get up before the world awakes, when it’s still dusk, the world (and family) are sleeping, and get started on my work. I’ve found that I can achieve more between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. than between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. but unfortunately I don’t have that luxury everyday.

I’ve got big goals for next year.

Kasia
I still have a day job which I enjoy, and it involves two hour a day commute on the train. So from Monday to Thursday, this is my writing time – one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. Sometimes I work on my fiction, sometimes on my non-fiction.

Though I have to admit I get lazy in the afternoons. After a whole day in the office using my brain with numbers, I get tired so sometimes I have to force myself to do the afternoon work. If I’m really not into it I might read a book or listen to a podcast. I used to dislike the commute but now it’s one of my favourite parts of the day – I get to write, read and listen to inspirational people through the podcasts without interruption.

From Friday to Sunday my routine varies, but generally I’ll drop my husband off at work for his early start and I usually end up at a cafe by the beach from 5:30 a.m., or by 6 a.m. if I go for a run first, then I have an hour or two of writing time. After that I’m home to spend the day with my toddler (he’s with grandma during the writing time).

Runner on a beach at sunrise
 

Q: You’ve written multiple books. With your “author hat” on, you must’ve spent some time thinking about whether it’s a good idea to work with an editor or not. Can you share your thoughts on that, please?

 

Kasia: Working with an editor is paramount. It’s even more important for indie authors because readers are brutal. I remember receiving an email from a reader who said whilst the story was good, they could not give me a review because the book was ridden with errors even though I had spent quite a large sum of money on editing.

I was crushed.

It took me an hour or two to cool off before I responded with a ‘thank you’, grabbed my book in paperback and started going through it with an orange pen. When I was done and saw all the errors, I was horrified. Since then, I’ve had it proofread by another editor and then I went through it a third time. Even a good editor is capable of missing an error or two, so it’s important to go through again yourself before hitting publish.

It’s vital for indies to find a good editor. I’ve used a few at different price points and cost doesn’t always equal quality.

Just the other week my current editor gave me some useful feedback that I hadn’t considered before about showing vs. telling. I hadn’t realised I was doing so much telling …

I’m also lucky to have a best friend who’s a teacher and can spot my mistakes a mile away. So when she reads my books, she usually takes notes of any errors that come up and sends me an email so that I can go through the book and fix them up. That’s the great thing about ebooks is that you can go back and fix those errors so that the next reader will find none, or at least a lot less than the previous one!

I would advise every indie author to find an editor. I know budgets can be tight, especially when you’re starting out, but you want to put out the best book you possibly can (unless of course you don’t care about sales, you just want to tick off an item of the bucket list). If you can’t afford one for the entire book, see if they can edit a few chapters, then you’ll get an idea of what you’re doing wrong and you can go through the rest of the book yourself. Afterwards find two or three beta readers to go through it and see if they can point out any errors or story points that make no sense or drop off suddenly.

But if you want to be taken seriously as an author, and you want to make a career out of this writing gig, you need a good editor. There’s no guarantee you’ll find one on the first go, it’s all about trial and error, but don’t for one second think that your book is perfect the way it is. It isn’t, and a good editor can do wonders for it.
 

Q: Thinking back on your experiences with editors or proofreaders so far, what have you liked about working with them…?

 

Kasia: I like when an editor understands the story and isn’t just following grammar rules. Characters speak differently. Sometimes words are repeated several times, sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it isn’t. Just the other week my current editor gave me some useful feedback that I hadn’t considered before about showing vs. telling. I hadn’t realised I was doing so much telling, which is something you want to limit in your books.

Picture of an open book, with things standing up from the pages as though "showing" the plot. Those things include atree, a newly-married couple, an old stone house, a red phone box, and a windmill-type building.
 

Q: … and what have you wished those editors/proofreaders would do differently?

 

Kasia: When you’re editing the book, I get that you’re looking for grammar and spelling issues. But you’re also reading the book. I’m almost certain that there are editors who get books that make them think, ‘WTF’?

Tell the writer who’s commissioned your services if there is something not working, even if they hired you to just proofread. All it involves is putting an extra paragraph into an email. Use the sandwich approach not to offend the writer but tell them if something isn’t working, but tell them when something is too. Constructive feedback is very useful for writers, most will take it in stride and look to fix what’s not working.
 

Q: What are your experiences with routes to publishing so far, and which route do you tend to favour? Why?

 

Kasia: Are you talking about self-publishing versus traditional publishing? If so, then I think publishing a book has gotten almost too easy. Anyone can do it and that means the market is saturated.

I’m doing the work, I’m taking the risks, I’m making the initial investment, so I want to control the process and reap the profits.

Kasia

This is a good and bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Competition is healthy. The problem is that there are a lot of books out there that are not edited at all.

Having said that, it’s disappointing that even edited books can have errors in them and unfortunately reviewers are much more critical of indie than traditional, which means indie authors need to take it up a notch and aim to be not as good as the traditional published books, but better.

My aim is to ensure that I improve with each book, and that includes the story, the grammar, the spelling, the showing vs telling, etc. A good editor will assist in that, but it’s still difficult to guarantee an eagle-eyed reader isn’t going to find an error somewhere amongst the 80,000+ words you’ve written. You have to do everything you can so they don’t, and that usually includes using an editor.

The self-publishing route is definitely the one I prefer. About ten years ago I wrote a book, rewrote it several times, edited it myself, spent a few years working on it, and then as a youthful nineteen or twenty-year-old I started submitting it to various publishing houses with the self-addressed-stamped-envelope, a cover letter, synopsis and sample chapters.

It was such a discouraging experience. I never heard a peep from any of them. I’m pretty sure that those submissions never got opened and went straight to the bottom of the slush pile, and then got dumped in the bin by an intern who preferred to go out for drinks after work than look for the next potential bestseller, haha.

Amazon has opened a door that anyone can open … you can do it.

Kasia
With self-publishing, there are no gate keepers. Amazon has opened a door that anyone [can open – anyone] with the urge to pen the next literary genius or trashy romance or historical paranormal urban fantasy thriller; you can do it. Finish the book today and publish it tomorrow. Though I hope that writers don’t do that. Hire that editor first! I guarantee you’ll be glad that you did.

What I love about self-publishing is the control you have over everything. I’m a little bit of a control freak and I don’t want some random person who has no idea what my book is about to create the cover, or get rid of chunks because they aren’t commercially saleable, and then after I’ve put in all the hard work, they’ll only give me 10% of the profits. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’m doing the work, I’m taking the risks, I’m making the initial investment, so I want to control the process and reap the profits.

I’m not saying traditional publishing is bad though. It definitely has its place, but you need to figure out how it fits into your big picture.
 

Q: Is there any advice you’d give new writers, or those who are poised to take the plunge into writing but are perhaps holding back?

 

Kasia: Just go for it. Life’s too short to live with regrets. If you really want to write a book and get it published, now’s the time to be doing it. Stop making the excuses, we all have them, get over it and move on. You’re not going to please everybody. Who cares? Have you read some of the books that became bestsellers? They aren’t necessarily literary genius.

Write the type of book you enjoy reading. When you write, the story has to excite you first. If it doesn’t then it sure as hell isn’t going to tingle your reader.

Picture of a pen resting on a blank page with lines

Just write and don’t look back. Once you’re done and you’ve gone over it a couple of times, get a beta reader or two. They can give you an opinion on the story, but try to avoid using someone too close to you as their opinions may be biased. Then once you’re not sure what else to fix, hire an editor.

Do not miss this step.

Before you hit publish, ensure that an editor has been through your work at least once. Then proofread it yourself once more before putting it out into the world.
 

Q: So what does the next year look like for you and your writing? And what’s your next big “leap”?

 

Kasia: I’ve got big goals for next year. The financial year here in Australia is from July 1 to June 30, so my goal is to publish 6 books. Fortunately, I write fast but edit slow (editing is not one of my strengths, although I’m working on it).

I’m hoping to finish the Lexi Ryder Crime Thriller series on book 7 and then move on to another series which I have an idea for. I’ve also got a stand-alone book that I wrote a few years back and which has potential, so I want to rework it.

Writers, don’t throw anything out – you don’t know what you might be able to salvage or use for future books!

There’s also the non-fiction book for writers. And blogging, freelancing and trying to fit it all in between a vivacious toddler, a day job, trying to train for a triathlon, and still getting some sleep. I figure I function better when I’ve a million and one things to do!

Pinot Grigio wine grapes from Granton Vineyard in southern Tasmania.

Pinot Grigio wine grapes from Granton Vineyard in southern Tasmania.

Q: Lastly, I have to ask. I see your website says you’re a wine lover … one wine lover to another, what’s your favourite type of wine and grape?

 

Kasia: That’s a tough one Becca! It depends on the season. Our summers are quite hot so, on a hot summer’s day I love a crisp Sauvignon Blanc preferably from the Marlborough region in New Zealand. Though I’ve also recently grown a taste for the Pinot Grigio.

Winter time a fruity and semi-dry Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon is good. The Barossa Valley, South Australia, have a lovely Pepperjack Shiraz, a bottle I’m never disappointed with.


Thanks very, very much Kasia!

Don’t forget to grab the first book in Kasia’s crime-thriller series (alternative links: UK Amazon, Canadian Amazon) — you know you can never have enough books to read during the summer!

I hope you’ve found this a thought-provoking read. Please let Kasia and I know your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet us here and here!

And, finally, if you’re looking to hire an editor, I invite you to have a read of this page or get in contact with me.

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