One of my favorite things to do here on Side Hustle Mom is to introduce you to people who have created thriving businesses from home and today is no exception!
Have you ever dreamed of being a writer?
Do you have an English background and want to use it while raising your babies?
Maybe you just enjoy creative writing and would like to make a living out of it?
No matter your answer, today's interview with Linda Kasten is for YOU.
Linda is a wife, mom, and grandma, who owns a successful editing business AND is a published author. If you have ever wanted to learn more about the world of freelance writing, editing, copywriting, etc., take notes, as Linda has tons of tips and tricks to get you started.
Linda, can you please tell our audience a little about yourself and your background?
As a wife, mother, and now a grandmother, I have worked in two careers outside the home during my working years. However, I’ve always dabbled in fiction writing, either in short stories, poetry, or novels. Every semester in college I took a creative writing class and was recruited as a staff writer for my college newspaper, even assuming the role of assistant editor and later editor. I always entertained the idea of publishing a novel someday, but things like “life” have a way of interfering with fanciful ambitions. Along the way, I did carve out a few hours here and there for writing. And, as in most fields, if you want to improve your skills or gain better knowledge, you continue learning. I studied everything about writing novels, the publishing industry, the trend in genres, etc. I went to workshops, seminars, conferences, immersed myself in the writing world at every opportunity. My home library is stocked with just as many books about novel writing as best-selling novels. Eventually, I did work my way into an apprenticeship as a literary agent, but found myself enjoying the editing and critiquing aspects of the business more than the selling. Thus, with my college degree and years of experience, I opened my own editing/ghostwriting service called Fix-It-Write. Now, with WiFi in just about every home and business, I can work anywhere.
Have you always had an interest in writing or did that come at a later time?
In the sixth grade, our teacher gave a class assignment which required us to write a short story for a contest. When I won the contest, I found myself hooked on creating more drama, in stories, that is. Back in my childhood, we did not have video games or watch much television, so classmates would ask me if I had written a story they could read. I even wrote my first novel in the eighth grade and a school play (a courtroom scene) we put on for the school. I continued writing short stories during high school, forcing my teachers to read them for feedback. And all hand-written!
What kind of writing do you do? Linda, can you please tell our audience a little about yourself and your background?
I was never without a book to read. The books I loved the most seemed to involve suspense, murder, gothic moods, romance, ticking bombs, etc. Thus, I gravitated toward writing romance suspense and thrillers. I have completed four novels, always sharpening my plot lines and developing the story’s characters, trying to shape them into the best read as possible. I have yet to traditionally publish, having obtained an agent at one point, but after she revamped her business, I severed the contract. Self-publishing is an alternative which I may find more appealing with a more timely production (traditional publishing takes eighteen months), but self-publishing does take a considerable amount of marketing and advertising for exposure in an industry that sees over a million books published each year. I have not ruled it out.
Have you always had an interest in writing or did that come at a later time?
As I stated above, I have had a long history of creative writing in one form or another. I could never stand the idea of a blank page, nor a blank word processing file.
Can you tell us a little bit more about ghostwriting? Just what is it and how does someone who may be interested get into it?
In my editing business, I offer many services which I feel can support and enrich a writer’s experience and success. I will evaluate a manuscript for storyline and characterization first, making sure every chapter has a purpose, each character engages the reader emotionally, the setting and backgrounds are consistent, that every fiction element works in tandem for the story. Then, I offer suggestions to improve the story, tighten it, or whatever I see needs to be addressed. The final stage is line editing and word economy. However, when an individual has a story or an experience conducive to a novel, business-related book, or an interesting topic for nonfiction but has no writing ability, that person often hires a writer to transform his idea into a book with his name as the author. This type of project requires in-depth interviews, research, and consistent communication. The cost of doing so depends on the type of book - fiction or nonfiction - and the expected timeline to complete the project. I charge by the project not by the hour. Charging by the hour is too vague and unfair to the client, but most ghostwriting contracts start at $12k. For a novel, it can take anywhere from six months to a year from interviews to final draft. Thus, you can see that it can keep me extremely busy when also working on my own books! But I love every minute of it.
How do you find your writing jobs?
When I worked as an agent for a short time, I connected with many writing organizations and individuals, and these connections led to clients. There are some Facebook communities which allow promotion, but not many, for obvious reasons. There are interesting dynamics when it comes to editing jobs because many people who write also try to earn income as editors, but just as in any profession, a person has to be careful in finding a qualified and knowledgeable editor because not everyone who writes can edit. I have had many writers complain their editor did not even catch simple mistakes. The industry has no regulating system in place to protect writers from individuals who really have no qualifications to hang a shingle. Word of mouth is always the most beneficial way to obtain jobs, as is common in any industry.
What advice can you give to aspiring writers who have tried everything but can't seem to catch a break?
Things that can be most helpful: take advantage of local writing groups, check into Writers Digest literary magazine for the latest industry news, attend writers’ conferences, take workshops and seminars, read about novel writing, join a critique group, participate in on-line forums with other writers. Get beta readers for honest feedback if the cost of an editor isn’t in the budget. One resource which I find beneficial is C.S. Lakin’s on-line courses. She also has writing tips on her website. Her archives contain abundant advice and guidance. You can also subscribe to her emails that provide insight for any writer. Another great instructor is Donald Maass, who has published many books on writing such as Writing the Breakout Novel. He owns one of New York’s most successful literary agencies with over 150 novels sold a year. He is a reliable authority on publishing and also offers intense workshops.
What does a day in your life look like? How many hours a day would you say you are working?
Each day is unpredictable, but I usually split my time between my editing business and my own novel writing. Some days, I might only work two to four hours, others twelve, but I always write seven days a week. The advantage of being your own boss is you are also in charge of your own schedule, but discipline is key. With that said, I never write at home. I find free office space in libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, fast food chains…anywhere with free WiFi and a table.
And now for my favorite question: Do you have a certain writing-related memory that stands out as being your favorite?
That’s a tough question because I have many, but to add a little humor, a good friend of mine and I were in a Barnes and Noble one afternoon discussing ways to kill off a character. Using the victim's name and other characters involved in the crime, as if they were real people, we soon noticed people staring at us, gasping at the idea we were plotting a murder. We had to politely explain we were fictionalizing a scene in a story, afraid police might show up, but we continued setting up the modus operandi with much quieter voices. Never a dull moment in a writer’s imaginary world...