To be honest, I hadn't heard of her prior to opening my inbox one Sunday and finding her darling email introduction. As a Chicago-based author whose recently-launched memoir Eighty Sixed is quickly climbing the New York Times Bestseller list, I was intrigued. We set up the interview, to which she kindly hosted me at her apartment, and immediately became fast friends upon my arrival. What was supposed to be a 15 minute chat turned into an hour, and it all felt like 5 minutes. Yup, she's one of those girls.
I wrestled for a while on how to adequately relay our conversation, and kept coming back to the notion that a standard Q & A wouldn't do her justice. Instead, I've summarized the top reasons why she rocks. Enjoy!
6 Reasons Emily Belden Rocks
1. Bravery may not be her middle name. But it should be.
Let's just say Eighty Sixed isn't PG. It's a daring, honest, emotional, hilarious, no-filter and enlightening journey as she bares all to the world. That takes guts, my friends.
The book actually started as her personal blog; each chapter originated as blog posts that she then went back to and elaborated. Emily explained, "Have you ever had a night out where you thought, “This should be a book?” I started saying that so much that I thought it actually could be." Again, bravery. To tell such personal stories as they happen, then go back and convey (very) personal details for the public to read takes a whole lot of courage.
2. Failure wasn't an option. So she succeeded.
After deciding to write a book, she researched countless publishers and agents to self-pitch Eighty Sixed. The result? A whole lot of "No's". Emily talked about how defeated she felt, and how her fiance Ryan kept saying, "It only takes one person to say yes. You have to keep trying." He was right - Emily got her big break when a Forbes author showcased her memoir's pitching website in a story about people changing the publishing game. After that, she had the pick of the litter.
What I loved most about this whole story was a side note of the above. Apparently a lot of publishers wanted to change the book and requested that she rewrite it to make it more about food. ("Eighty sixed" is a restaurant term meaning an item has run out.) Emily believed in her story despite the "big dog" publishers saying she had to change it, and ended up going with a smaller publisher who encouraged her to keep her book just as it was. To her, going with a publisher who believed in her story was more important than morphing the story into what someone thought it should be. And here she is today on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Take that!
3. She's proven that patience (and hard work) is a virtue.
It took her 3 years to write the book. I'll add that she worked full time as an advertising copywriter as she was writing it, and only recently left that job to go on a media tour. It took months and months to sign on with a publisher. After signing on with a publisher, it's take 9 months to get her book out. All this is proof that hard, tireless work pays off.
4. PR for her is actually "Personal Relations".
This girl hustles. While her publisher is doing a lot of press on her behalf, Emily is personally reaching out to bloggers and media all on her own, which is relatively rare for authors to do. She stressed the importance of always having a personal connection to the community. Most people just send off an email introduction and leave it at that when they're pitching themselves. Emily has gone to book clubs, events, and yes, invited bloggers over for interviews. She's all about that personal connection, which sets her apart from the rest.
5. Creativity shines through her.
And in her room. Literally, it's shiny. She was featured on The Today Show for her DIY crafty floor that is made of 6,000 pennies glued to the ground. It blew my mind seeing it in person.
6. "Girl power" was literally used in our conversation.
No, we weren't listening to Spice Girls. We were talking about how she found my blog, which was through Amelia's feature on me a while back. We then bonded over women-to-women outreach in general. Doing her own PR, she's reached out to many people, and noted how amazing some women are in their willingness to help spread the word. The truth is, that can often be hard to find, but when you do find women who support others without question, (The CHICago Life Blog & the women of Cheeky Chicago were among a few names mentioned) it's a beautiful thing!
Needless to say, I purchased Eighty Sixed after our conversation and can't put it down. But don't take my word for it, take the word of the countless people who have reviewed it online. If you're still not convinced, here's a fun fact: this lovely lady is in talks with Hollywood producers to adopt the memoir to a TV series or movie. #Winning
Emily has offered 20% off to all ITC readers - so if you're interested in purchasing - click here and use the code 2NPRU7QM!
And, for those of you who are interested in publishing your own book, Emily and I have you covered there too. Check in tomorrow for her advice on how it's done.