Meet Pippa DaCosta
When I first started my self-publishing journey (several years ago), I really didn’t know who to try for editing services. I didn’t have any connections in the industry, so I had nobody to turn to for recommendations (How things change!). I found Red Adept by a simple Google search and sent a sample through. I sent samples to a number of other editors. Some didn’t reply, some were ridiculously expensive, but only one was helpful, professional, and reasonably priced.
You’ve worked with Karen. What did you enjoy most about working with her?
During the last few years, I’ve worked with half a dozen editors, both via my publisher and freelance. And there’s one thing that’s incredibly important between writer and editor: trust. After the first manuscript Karen edited, I knew I had a keeper. Karen’s feedback was astute, constructive, and encouraging. She understood exactly what I was trying to do (probably more than I did) and helped polish not only my debut novel, but the first book in what would turn out to be my bestselling Veil series. As a newbie author, I learned a great deal from her. She still slaps me on the wrist now and then, but we’ve worked on so many books together that we have some fantastic banter. If my editor’s comments makes the whole process so much easier!
Are your books standalones, or do they need to be read in order?
The Veil series is a five-book urban fantasy series that needs to be read in order. Each book has its own story arc, but the series has an ongoing epic series arc too. It’s a complicated world where some characters are not what they seem. Their motives evolve over the five full-length books, as do the plots. It’s a journey, for sure, and one I’m so thrilled I was able to share with Karen. She’s also recently edited the first book in a spin-off series set in the same world. It was a delight to revisit the world and do so with the same editor. This is actually quite rare in the traditional publishing industry, as editors often switch positions or the publisher will hire a different editor for each book. Keeping the same editor means each book has a cohesive feel.
I adore urban fantasy. It was my first love, some twenty-six years ago, when I first picked up a pencil and started scribbling down stories of magic in the modern world. Throwing magic into the mundane of the nine-to-five, or plotting demons in the shadows of apartment blocks appealed to that side of me who wanted to believe the fantastic existed but we just couldn’t see it. As for science fiction? I wanted to write something I would love to read, and I’d become disillusion with all the hard sci-fi out there. As a reader, I don’t care for the size of a ship’s engines or the military jargon. That’s not why I’m reading. I’m interested in personal battles, the pitfalls and triumphs of people up against the wall, in a world gone wrong. So, I set out to create a seat-of-your-pants sci-fi, (think Killjoys and Ex Machina). It’s dirty, it’s fast, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
What part of self-publishing do you enjoy the most?
I’m a control freak. I enjoy almost every aspect, from outlining, to cover design and marketing. Each requires a different skillset, but I control the end product. If it flops, that’s on me. But if it soars, that’s on me too. The rollercoaster of indie publishing is quite the adrenaline rush. It’s hard work, and twenty-four, seven. No holidays. No breaks. But it’s incredibly rewarding when all that hard work slots into place and the books climb the charts.
You have some great covers. Who does your cover work?
I have a weakness for book covers. I sometimes hoard them, like candy (authors can buy pre-made book covers—cover designers sometimes “play” with ideas and put those spare designs up for sale). It took me at least a year to find the right cover designer for the Veil series. I already had covers, but they weren’t as polished as I wanted them to be. So, I kept looking, knowing I wanted a grittier, darker feel. Eventually, I stumbled across the artist Ravven on Pinterest. And the rest, as they say, is history. She’s extremely talented and has that perfect grungy feel.
I came at my sci-fi series from a completely different angle. I spotted a pre-made cover on a website, and it immediately sparked a whole new idea for a series. I snapped it up, tweaked it myself in Photoshop, and that’s how the colorful and dramatic covers for the Girl From Above series took shape.
The London Fae series covers were designed by Jenny at Seedlings, courtesy of my publisher, Bloomsbury. Those covers are simply gorgeous. Up close, the detail is stunning. I was incredibly lucky to have a publisher who understood the market and hired the best. I met Jenny during a trip to New York (I live in the UK). She’s all kinds of awesome.
The Soul Eater series of covers were designed by Rebecca Frank. She incorporated an Egyptian feel, and the grittier aspect, that all my books have.
I love all my designers and wish I could keep them all to myself, locked away in a designing dungeon. Not really. Maybe.
I try to read a lot, but I also have two young girls (ages 6 and 4), so they soak up the majority of my non-writing time. I’m also a gamer; I do enjoy various computer games such as World of Warcraft and Mass Effect, but I don’t have much time for gaming these days.
What are you working on right now? Something in a current series or something entirely new?
My most recent release, Hidden Blade Soul Eater #1, blew the doors off in terms of launches. It peaked at #350 in the entire Amazon store, and hit #1 in four categories. That sudden success threw my schedule off balance, so I’m trying to fit this new series around my existing spin-off series. With that in mind, I’m currently writing a short story that will feature in an anthology alongside some of today’s bestselling urban fantasy authors, and then I’m diving into Book #3 of the Soul Eater series. The rest of 2016 is mapped out and locked down. There’s no rest for the wicked!
What advice would you give to a new author?
Easily, the first is this: the writing “rules” are like the pirate code—they’re guidelines. In the early days. I worried about all the advice out there, telling me I shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that. I eventually edited out a lot of what made my voice unique. I only found my voice again as I released more books and understood that the rules aren’t rules at all. They’re tiny titbits of advice that, as you gain experience, you can manipulate, use, or toss aside. You make the rules.
Where can readers find you?