Sadie Radinsky, author of ‘Whole Girl,’ demystifies process of publishing

Photo of Sadie Radinsky and her book
Sadie Radinsky/Courtesy

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There are some people we meet who help us realize that our goals and ambitions are closer in reach than they may appear. Sadie Radinsky, a sophomore at UC Berkeley, has become one of these people: As a freshman, she wrote a book, inspiring those around her to share their own writing.

In February 2021, Radinsky’s first book was published, “Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends With Food,” a lifestyle and recipe book aimed at helping young women redefine messaging around personal wellbeing and nourishment. Around the same time, she also published an article with the New York Times titled “Baking as a Mindful Break From Zoom School: How Making Healthy Treats Helped Me Enjoy Desserts Again.” 

Less visible to the public eye, however, are the years of dedication, passion and hard work behind these accomplishments. In my conversation with Radinsky, she broke this Herculean task down, demystifying the process of publishing a book and building a community around it into three main components: vision, intention and confidence. 

Vision

Authorship is an intimidating process. It demands dedication to a long term vision. Radinsky found hers when her own love for cooking exposed her to the often challenging stigmas that surround food and body image for many women. As she explored her passion for cooking and baking, she learned that she wanted to write a book to serve as a refuge for women who wanted to embark on their own journeys towards wellbeing and nourishment — “to help girls and to make everyone feel less alone and more heard.”

She wanted to write a book to serve as a refuge for women who wanted to embark on their own journeys towards wellbeing and nourishment — “to help girls and to make everyone feel less alone and more heard.”

The process of submitting a draft to various agents and publishers was extremely daunting, and is perhaps the phase of publishing a book many of us never get to. However, it allowed Radinsky to crystallize the ideas she was passionate about communicating. It also orchestrated a steady foundation for the future of the piece — the project which would become her book “Whole Girl.” 

Creating this proposal took several years, and writing the actual book took nine months more; another year and a half elapsed before it was eventually published. “Things do not go fast at all,” Radinsky said, laughing. She encourages us to give purpose to the incredibly lengthy and intensely personal process itself. “You have to really enjoy it to do it,” she said, “because of the amount of years you put in and because it might not even pan out.” 

In our conversation, Radinsky recalled how she found joy in the process by experimenting in the kitchen for recipes for her book. “The recipe creation was wildly creative,” she told me. “I tailored each recipe to a different mood and I was literally tapping into different emotions and flavors and ingredients and combining them to create these 45 recipes that are in here.” 

Radinsky also succeeded in crystalizing her vision by reaching out to experts for interviews to develop her own ideas even further. “I interviewed other young women, and experts — doctors, activists, musicians and yoga teachers,” she said. Radinsky’s vision for “Whole Girl” was brought to life by both her own self-expression and her willingness to learn from others, which proves that curiously pursuing expertise can serve as a vehicle to refine our creative ambitions. 

Intention

As Radinsky brought her own creative goals closer within reach and her project came to life, she realized that preserving the integrity of her vision would be both challenging and crucial. “I needed to be really clear with all the people I was working with, with what my message was and I made sure everyone was super in line with it.” 

Our conversation brought to light social media’s potential role as a huge obstacle to preserving the integrity of intentions in the creative process. Radinsky recalled her own frustrations with it.

“The biggest struggle was trying to stay true to my values in what I was sharing,” she said, “which is very hard with the way social media works.”

The ability to post instantaneously on social media stands in stark contrast to the lengthy process of writing and publishing a book, and Radinsky argued that it might not be the best means of self-expression at all. “I don’t think (social media) is a fair metric for us to use for ourselves because it can really undermine the quality of what we are putting out into the world.” 

Instead, she recommends finding clarity on our messages to the world as well as the things that inspire us, and seeking personal connection with other people. Writing and other forms of expression can build community outside of social media. “It can be an email, a newsletter,” Radinsky told me, “but whatever it is, try to have conversations with people about what you’re passionate about and reach out to specific people.”  

When it comes to sharing our creations, perhaps publicity is not as important as community. It’s certainly an issue of quality versus quantity: Trying to gain followers or attention online is often far less important than creating a community of people who truly identify with your cause. 

Sometimes, separating ourselves from the convolution of the internet keeps us from losing sight of our own artistic convictions. “It can fill us with other people’s ideas and lives to the point where we don’t know what’s ours and what’s other people’s, so I think that if we want to be truly creative, taking time away from it is so important.” 

Radinsky shares that in today’s fast paced world, the concreteness of writing was a driving force for her ambitions: “That’s part of why I wanted to create a book. I’ve always wanted something tangible that didn’t even have to be on the screen.” 

“That’s part of why I wanted to create a book. I’ve always wanted something tangible that didn’t even have to be on the screen.” — Sadie Radinsky

Confidence

Even with strong visions and clear intentions, however, young writers often face the falsehood that their youth and inexperience takes away from their credibility and the value of their work. In response to this challenge, Radinsky shared that her experiences battling claims such as these taught her to confidently market herself. “We put such an emphasis on having to be an expert on things and having to know all the answers, but you don’t have to know all the answers,” she explained. “You can start out writing as a quest to learn.” 

“You can start out writing as a quest to learn.” — Sadie Radinsky

What makes Radinsky’s experience so interesting is that her journey towards authorship really was just that — a quest to learn. In exploring a topic she was interested in learning more about, she sowed the seeds for creative projects that would eventually grow into multiple successful literary publications. 

“(The process) definitely made me have more confidence in my own ideas,” she shared. “And also in the fact that I do have ideas that are valuable.” 

In having the confidence to express her vision, and substantiating it through her quest to learn, she overcame the obstacles of her youth and inexperience. The process of writing a book became a process which reciprocally built her confidence and gave her credibility, setting her in good stead to keep writing about nutrition and more far into the future. 

“(The book) opened the door for me to talk about these issues; it gave me some level of authority to where I was able to speak to things that I cared about.” Although creative expression through writing and publishing your ideas is a risky challenge, having the courage to start building your own vision, intention and confidence is a strong foundation for purposeful expression.    

“(The book) opened the door for me to talk about these issues; it gave me some level of authority to where I was able to speak to things that I cared about.” — Sadie Radinsky

Radinsky is a staunch believer that such a quest is really available to anyone who seeks it. “If you have an idea that you’re really passionate about, you have opinions and you like to listen and learn, then you have something you can write about.” 

Contact Katie Cota at [email protected]