About the Episode
The advice from literary agents and traditional publishers is to pick a lane and stay in it when it comes to writing nonfiction and fiction. But, today’s guest, Erin Greneuax, shares how she has used both to deliver her message to her readers.
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About My Guest
Erin Greneaux is a wife and mom to three girls in Lafayette, Louisiana. A graduate of Baylor University, Erin has worked in Christian ministry for over a decade in children’s ministry, missions, education in at-risk communities, and curriculum development. Erin is passionate about applying God’s Word to everyday life in a way that is clear and creative. Her published works include fiction, non fiction, poetry, and even a board game!
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Click for Transcript
Erin: [00:00:00] This is more than a book, it’s more than a project. It, it is a ministry. Mm-hmm. Um, it’s also, you know, a side hustle while my kids are napping. But I really believe that this book, that this series, the second one comes out in March, is going to have a huge impact in the lives of this generation of girls that, that read its message and, I don’t know, there’s something about that that just is bigger than the numbers or the time that you have to put into it.
Rachel: I’m here with my friend Erin, and I’m so excited to have her with us because, I, I know Erin, we’ve been friends for a little bit now. We’re both in Hope Writers. Just recently we were at the same conference and she and I got to talk a little bit more about her writing journey, and I was just blown away with the wealth of information she had to share, her generosity in sharing it and just the insight she had. And so I knew I wanted to bring her on the [00:01:00] podcast and have her talk about her writing journey, especially from the lens of being both a non-fiction writer and a fiction writer. So thank you so much for joining us.
Erin: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me, Rachel. This is gonna be fun.
Rachel: So let’s dive into this conversation about being a, like a non-fiction writer and a fiction writer and navigating those worlds. Did you intend to do one or the other, or always both? Did you just decide like, okay, I’m gonna write this non-fiction book. Oh wait, I also have this fiction idea. Like, how did that all come about?
Erin: Yeah. So it’s kind of interesting because I was just telling a friend of mine the other day that I just discovered that I have a lane, because I’m published in so many different genres that all this time I’ve kind of been thinking like, well, I just don’t have one.
But I realized, no, I, I do have one. And it is applying God’s word to everyday life in a way that is clear, creative, and captivating. Hmm. And I do that through fiction, non-fiction, board games, uh, you know, whatever comes up.
Rachel: Oh yeah. I didn’t even mention that. Like [00:02:00] you have a board game you created.
We may dive into that a little bit later on just cause it’s so unique and that’s a form of storytelling too.
Erin: Absolutely. Yes. And so the first book I wrote was a fiction book, and it started out as just a fun project. I wrote it for my brother, who is like one of my best friends, and all of his friends, they were into like filming things and editing.
So I was like, I’ll write you a little script and y’all can have fun with it. Well, the script quickly turned into a full-length novel and then I was like, okay, I’ve got this book. What do I do with it? So I pitched it, and that one was traditionally published. That was in 2011. I’m dating. Wow. Here.
Rachel: Yeah. 2011, huh?
Erin: Yes. Yeah. Okay. And then I did a lot of writing. That wasn’t really connected to publishing in any way. I wrote several musicals for the church that I worked for. Um, a lot of magazine articles. I just did a lot of writing and working for a church and then a [00:03:00] nonprofit. Um, and then whenever I stayed home to raise my babies, I have three girls, and became a stay-at-home mom, it was like the words began piling up and, yeah, that’s when I wrote my devotional and that’s when I also wrote about, um, a novel about miscarriage and infertility. And so it just, it was kind of whatever message God had placed on my heart in that season, that’s the one that, that came out and it wasn’t really planned other than just.
What message is keeping me up in the middle of the night and I can’t move forward until the words are on the paper. Yeah. Um, and then once it became something big enough and quality enough to share with others, then, you know, it went out into the world. So, uh, yeah. And the, the board game was a total fluke. It, it started out as a book idea. Okay. And it was the gospel message. I wanted to show how the gospel story [00:04:00] really starts in the Old Testament and goes all the way through the New Testament. Mm-hmm. And of course there’s lots of creative ways to present that in a book.
But I wanted something that was more interactive.
I wanted people to discover the story on their own instead of just reading it. And then, you know, it can kind of wash over you, but it doesn’t stick the same as if you are, you feel like you’re in, in it, uncovering it. Right. So I’ve been wrestling with this idea, wrestling, wrestling, couldn’t get it right.
And then of course I woke up in the middle of the night one night and I was like, oh my gosh, it’s an escape room in a card game version. Of course, everybody wakes up and thinks that, right. It’s right. Oh. Uh, I like mapped it all out. Oh my gosh. It was like the funnest project to work. And then a, a publisher picked that one up and so yeah, that’s, that’s how the board game came about.
It started as a book idea and just couldn’t seem to get it right. But when you have the, the message that you wanna send, there [00:05:00] isn’t really a boundary or a box on how you can portray that message. So I really tell one story over and over again for different audiences in different ways. Um, it’s always Jesus, that’s spoiler alert. It’s Jesus .
Rachel: I, I love, I love so much what you just said there because I think that the, a thing that fiction writers in particular can get into this, um, they can get into this trap of thinking that what they do is about the thing they’re creating. And you have seemed to take a step back as I think we should and say, okay, what’s the story I’m telling? What is the message that I’m trying to share and what vehicle does it wanna come out in right now? And I think that’s such a wise thing to, um, be able to identify and say, okay, this is, I’m not doing a bunch of different things. I’m doing the same thing and I’m just creating it differently each time. And the person that’s going to, that’s gonna appeal [00:06:00] to is a certain kind of reader.
And I think that being able to say, okay. My audience is going to look like this and there’s gonna be different aspects of their life that these stories are, the story is gonna come out in this form and it’s gonna meet that particular aspect of their life. And so I think that’s really wise that you have been able to step back and say, this is what it is.
And that has given you the freedom to go the route of either nonfiction or fiction or a board or a board game.
But it all goes back to that storytelling, to that ability to say, this is the story that God’s given me and I’m going to share it over and over and over again. So I wanted to go back. You said that your, um, you had said that you had done a devotional and then you had a book about miscarriage, and did you say that was a novel?
Erin: I did, I misspoke. It’s not a novel.
Okay. I didn’t think it was.
It’s kinda a mix. No, no. Okay. It’s kind of a mix. Once again, it’s kind of outside the box. It is like part memoir, [00:07:00] part non-fiction. Um, okay. You know, I don’t wanna call it self-help cuz I hate that term , but, um, it’s definitely kind of a mix of nonfiction and memoir.
Rachel: Okay. And so it, it’s really like storytelling mixed with a little bit of guidance. Yes. Reflection.
Erin: So I include all of my journal entries that I had written during that season and they’re unedited. Um, that’s scary. It is. It was really scary. But I wanted women to know that you’re not alone.
These thoughts that you’re thinking, that you’re afraid to admit, that you’re thinking, um, that you think that no one else is having. They are, you’re not alone. Mm-hmm. Those thoughts and feelings are valid and they’re important to identify. And then at the same time, you’re not gonna be there forever.
That’s, that’s not the period, that’s not the punctuation mark on this journey. There’s more and there’s hope after that. [00:08:00] Um, but in order to take someone’s hand and bring them along that journey, they really have to know that you were where they were, because so many women came up to me and said, you know, oh my gosh, I had a miscarriage. I know how you feel. And I just kept thinking, no, you don’t. You don’t know how I feel. Right? Yeah. And so I really wanted women reading the book to know. I do. Mm-hmm. I do know where you were and what you were thinking, what you were feeling. I had all of those same thoughts and now I don’t feel the same way anymore. Right. And you don’t have to either.
Rachel: I, I love that you took the time to, to be vulnerable in your storytelling. And I think that just is a testament to the power of storytelling and um, that at the heart of it, whether we’re writing non-fiction or fiction, that that storytelling element has to be there to be Yes. Powerfully moving. Otherwise, you’re just writing an essay [00:09:00] or you’re writing.
I was, I was, my first job out of college was on a scientific journal on dentistry. So like, there is no storytelling. I mean, there were stories in there of people, but it’s very, like very, um, particular in the way that they present the imagery and the way that they tell the facts and everything. It’s very factual and there’s no storytelling.
It was like, it was, it killed me to work on that every single day of my life. I was like, I would go home and I would write stories cause I had just been like in the scientific world for so long during the day. But my point with that is, If we’re creating non-fiction that moves somebody, or we’re creating a novel that moves somebody, we have to be able to tell stories in a way that lets the reader know that you hear them and see them, and you put them into an experience where they can say, oh, I relate to that.
And whether or not we’re doing that in non-fiction, where maybe we’re being a little bit, this happened in [00:10:00] real life, we’re sharing our personal stories or the stories of others, or whether we’re creating a world for somebody to engage with. Either way, we’re still letting that reader be seen and experience those emotions, those thoughts, those feelings, and so I love the fact that you’re like, I’m going to be vulnerable in this and I’m going to pull that back because I need my reader to know that. I need to know them, to know that it’s okay to experience these things. It’s okay to feel those. I think that’s so lovely and so that’s so beautiful.
Erin: And now with AI , have you seen the things that AI can write? Uh, but yeah, the piece,
It’s so, it’s a little bit, it’s a little scary.
It’s a little scary, but when you read it, it’s, it’s definitely missing that human aspect. You know, when we bring our story into it, yeah. It brings something different. That hits different when a human reads it true from another human. True, true. And so very, any of us can write a blog post [00:11:00] that you know, was written by AI or whatever.
But we need to keep bringing meaningful messages that come from our stories, because that is something that AI will never bring to the table. And we’ll never connect with readers in the same way.
Rachel: Yes. And I think we have to remember that we. I like to say we were created within the context of story.
Yes. Because the word was spoken. Yes. And the world came into being and um, and I truly think that there is, I mean, Jesus spoke in parables. He told story. Yep. He relate. You know, so I do believe that there is like a powerful undercurrent two story. And I think you’re right. It’s about that human, it’s like a connection to the humanness in us, the spiritual enough. It’s, there’s just a level of connectivity that you can’t replicate with. Yeah, they haven’t figured it out yet and praying they don’t .
Erin: And not only did God create with words, but it says that Jesus was the word yes. And the word was with God. And the word was God. I [00:12:00] mean, we, the reason stories resonate within us is because we were created looking for, One story.
And when something else sort of replicates a small piece of that, then we feel it. We feel it deeply, it resonates within us. Yes. And so it’s so exciting to be part of that process of creating stories that, that touch people in that way and point them to Christ.
Rachel: Oh, for sure. And the fact that we, um, you know, we’re made to create, we, our creative being, we steward creativity and the fact that we get the privilege of that, that we get to engage with him in that work and get to steward creativity in that way, that we get to tell these stories and they have an impact because they’re woven into the very fabric of our DNA is just, it’s so mind blowing and it’s just, it’s a little humbling at the same time, and so it can be, it can be both incredibly exciting, but also [00:13:00] a little terrifying too, to know that you’re stewarding a st a story that could possibly impact somebody’s life. Is there, um, do you struggle with imposter syndrome? Like, is that something that comes up?
Erin: I, I don’t wanna say not at all, but not a ton. Okay. I don’t know. It’s just not really in my personality to think I can’t do something. Mm-hmm. That sounds weird.
Rachel: Do you ever worry that you’re not going to be able to do the job well? Like either one. You can’t communicate the story well enough on the page, or you can’t figure out how to get it to people who need to read it.
Erin: Yes. So there are stories, I can tell when something is done.
And I have a couple of books completely written and several ideas that I really wanna pursue that, um, I don’t know if those completed books will ever see the light of day, because I, I know there’s something not done with them yet, and maybe [00:14:00] that’s something that’ll happen in the future.
But for now, I’m just sitting on manuscripts, um, and then other ideas that I just keep playing with, keep coming back to one. It’s been almost 15 years now. Mm. Um, and I hope eventually when it does become a story that I share with the world, but until it is right, then it, it won’t, it won’t ever be anything. Um, because you only get one chance to tell that story
Rachel: Once you hit published, is what you mean. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, it makes sense. Let’s shift gears a little bit here. You went the traditional route, but you are like, you only went the traditional route on that first book. Right. And the rest of your books have been self-published and you have, yeah. Your non-fiction and then your fiction is actually a children’s book. Yeah.
Talk a little bit about that process. So like I know that you had this experience with the traditional publisher and then you have [00:15:00] the experience of self-publishing. How did it, how did it vary from each one to each one? What were the challenges? What were some of the similarities? Can you speak to that a little bit?
Erin: Okay. Yeah. So with my first one, um, it’s actually sad within the last month, maybe two months, I was, uh, trying to reorder author copies and got the notification that it is out of print. Mm. And so that’s the end that, that’s the end of that book.
It is now, yeah. Just. Here, I’ll show it to you. Cause you’ll never, let’s, let’s honor it right now. You’ll never see it on a shelf again. Um, but so it’s kind of, that’s part of the downside of the traditional publishing method is that I’m, it’s not my work anymore. I can’t do anything with it. I just have to kind of let that project die and move forward.
Yeah. But it’s okay too. That is sad. You know, like, yeah. Yeah. That’s my first book. And so it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a little [00:16:00] sad. Um, but there were other things that you’re just, you don’t have control over. Some of my other books I’ve been able to translate into Spanish, uh, which is a heart of mine. I have a degree in Latin American studies.
Okay. And so the miscarriage and infertility book, when I published it, I looked on Amazon to see if there were any books on miscarriage or infertility in Spanish that were written from a Christian perspective. There were only like three on Amazon and Spanish total, none of them from a Christian perspective. And so I was like, I have to translate this book, right?
No, no, definitely.
Just so you know, it’s not a good entrepreneurial move, but uh, I get messages from women in Bolivia and Spain and Mexico and Argentina. That that’s amazing. Just in Spanish, pouring their stories out to me, um, and thanking me for that book. And so it’s, [00:17:00] that was a ministry piece, not a, sorry, I’m totally sidetracking here onto
Rachel: No, no, I think that’s fine for us to go. No, don’t feel like we’re sidetracking. Yeah, I think that’s, I, I think it’s important to mention that business aspect of it. Yes, this book may be profitable for you, but having to translate it and then sell it to a different market might not be profitable.
Right. And so you kind of have to make that decision. Is this product getting into the hands of these people? Are we just gonna treat this one as a ministry based, like knowing that we’re probably not gonna make a huge profit off of it. Right. But this one over here will and it will kind of supplement what we’re not making off of this one.
I’m glad that you mentioned that. I’m glad that you pointed out that, uh, you had this heart’s desire for this book to be in this language, but at the end of the day, it’s not a money maker for you.
And you had to make that conscious decision that it’s not gonna, essentially, it’s not gonna be making a huge money, but it was worth your investment into it. It’s worth doing it for you. Um, yeah. So, but that means that [00:18:00] you have to make decisions with your other product. to in order to continue doing that ministry aspect of it.
And I think it’s important because a lot of times authors have these messages they wanna share with the world and they want just one reader to be impacted. And it’s important, but you gotta have money to do the mission as, um, Sean Cannell says, uh, he’s a YouTube expert and he talks about this about like, yes, we are purpose-driven entrepreneurs. But even like, we have to have money for the mission. We have to be able to sustain what it is that we’re trying to do. Yeah. And so, um, I think you’re kind of acknowledging that like, yes, it’s wonderful. I have this, this beautiful ministry that in, in this beautiful, the way that my book’s impacting these lives, but let’s be realistic. It’s not making me money that I have to make other decisions that will make me money. Right. Um, and so you decided to self-publish that book and, I think it’s important to note that right now because you probably would not have had the option to [00:19:00] translate it No. If it wasn’t self-published, right?
Erin: Yes. One of the other things that I run into a lot too with the traditional publishing is that they have certain boxes that things should fit in. Um, yes. And my miscarriage book is like part memoir, part non-fiction, and they really want it to be one or the other.
Right. But I really thought that the blend was something. I would’ve wanted mm-hmm. in going through that season. And so knowing that market, knowing what that reader needs, I was able to create that on my own. That didn’t fit the boxes that you traditionally would fit into.
Rachel: Right. For those listening, like the reasons that they. Things in boxes, it’s because it makes it easier to market. And so they’re really not, it’s very hard for a traditional publisher to market a memoir if you’re not known because people, it’s really hard to have people buy into [00:20:00] somebody’s story that really they have no clue about.
Like, why should I care about this random person? Right? And so it’s really hard for traditional publishers to market a memoir. So they want it to be more, either this is a memoir and you have a following that cares about your life story or is non-fiction where somebody is like, oh, this is gonna help me.
It doesn’t really matter who it is that’s writing it. Not like they care who’s writing it, but they’re, they can kind of say like, oh, here’s, here’s the reasons why you should listen to this person. And they can lift out like, Uh, what’s that called? Like qualifiers or whatnot, you know? Right. And they can say like, these are the qualifications of this author to write this self-help book.
That’s why you should pay attention. And that’s a really easy thing to market. But when you’re tying it all together and it doesn’t fit into that mold, it doesn’t fit into that marketing mold. It becomes very difficult on the traditional publisher’s part to figure out how to get that into the [00:21:00] hands of a reader.
And so it takes in on a higher risk for them. And so it’s not that they don’t want unique projects, it’s just that they don’t know how to make money off of them per se, or rather, it’s harder for them to make money. And so it’s a bigger risk that they’re taking on you.
Erin: And I kind of ran into that as well with my new children’s book that came out.
Um, once again, my daughters are two, four and six. Mm-hmm. . So my older two, they are getting past picture books. They’re ready for chapter books. Right. But chapter books have one black and white illustration per chapter. Yes. And they really wanted. More pictures, you know? Right. So there’s like this gap between picture books and chapter books that isn’t really being addressed.
Mm-hmm. And that’s why I was like, okay, I know exactly what I wanna create. I wanna create an early chapter book. It’s like 9,000 words, so think similar to Magic Treehouse Box car Children. Mm-hmm. But it has full color illustrations on every page spread. So there’s always something engaging for them to look at, right? [00:22:00] And this doesn’t really exist in the industry at all. If I wanted to traditionally publish, there’s no way they would put the budget into those.
Rachel: I was gonna to say, cause that’s expensive. That’s expensive.
Erin: It’s very, very expensive. Yes. It’s a 70 page book. So you’re talking about 70, well, 35 illustrations.
Yes. Yeah. For a chapter book, which the price needs to be pretty low. Right. People pay more for picture books than they do for chapter books. So yes, once again, I’m kind of walking this line, you know, blurring the boxes, but it has been so well received. And, um, that project, let’s see, it published in August, so it’s been out four months and it’s already in the black, which is like, that’s amazing. Blown me away. Yes. Um, after, you know, putting all that money into the illustrations upfront, cuz that’s the only way to do it when you self-publish.
Rachel: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay, so let’s dive into that a little bit. Let’s dive into, um, into that conversation about you took the risk on it. And [00:23:00] you and I I wanna point out like you have followed your gut on both of these projects.
Yeah. You, both of them, you said, I know this is what the reader is gonna want and I’m going to make it happen because it, it’s like you know who your reader is and you’re willing to create products for them. Yeah. And that’s what I think is really important for fiction writers to understand. They have to understand who it is that they’re creating for, and have that instinct about what it is that they want from. Because if you’re not creating products that they want, they’re not gonna buy for you from you. So, um, how did you switch from okay, I am, I followed the tradition route, eh, this time around, I think I’m not gonna go to the traditional route, so I’m gonna be a self do self-publishing. You kind of had to take on an entrepreneurial hat with that whole situation for both your non-fiction book and with this one, was that an easy transition or was that something that came along with a learning.
Erin: It was and it wasn’t. So I like the [00:24:00] entrepreneurial side of things. Mm-hmm. I like selling. I’m not scared to walk into a store and pitch my book cold to the lady behind the counter, um, or whatever.
Impressive. I am
I do it all the time. I’m not afraid to do it. Um, and I like thinking of creative kind of out of the box ways of promoting the book as well.
Mm. What I am not good at and just drains me incredibly is the social media part of things. Yeah. Um, you asked me to get followers and I just wanna crawl under the covers and never come out. Yes. So that whole, uh, trying to build a platform and grow an audience and all that, I wanna serve the audience, but growing them is just, ooh, goodness, I don’t like that part. Yeah.
Rachel: Tell us more. Tell us more. Do you really not? Look,
Erin: really, don’t really don’t.
Rachel: Is there anything that you have found that you are like, oh, okay, I’m okay with this [00:25:00] side of the whole social media marketing? Or is it like just across the board you’re like, if I never have to do it ever again, I will be happy,
Erin: I would be happy never doing it again.
I have a recently discovered, um, like if you go into Facebook groups, so like in a children’s book, uh, review group where people like parents will post reviews of books, um, Groups like that, that kind of go along with your niche or your genre. Mm-hmm. where your readers will hang out? Yes. Then I wait until they ask a question and then I can answer it with my book.
So they’ll say, I’m looking for a book for my six-year-old that mm-hmm. uh, you know, Doesn’t have any kind of language in it or what, you know, whatever the, the case may be. Or they’re just starting chapter books. What do you recommend? And so I can say, oh, my girls love– I have no shame– my girls love the Enchanted Garden.
They do. I’m not lying. Um, I did [00:26:00] write it. Side note, I wrote it. A few times people have like commented under like, oh, who is it by? And I’m like, it’s me. Whoops. It’s fine, but I feel like if I’m answering a question, I am serving my reader. I’m not self-promoting, right? And so I do feel more comfortable. in those kinds of areas of of social media.
I also really love my email list. Go figure. Yeah. I can’t stand social media, but I love my email list. They’re my favorite people.
Rachel: Which is funny cuz most people is the opposite. They’re like, I dunno what to do with the email .
Erin: I know it’s, when I put something into social media, it’s like this is a void. I don’t know who’s seeing it. I don’t know if they care. But with my email, Like, these are my people. I know who you are. Yeah, I know your names. You reply back to me like we’ve built a relationship. Um, I have, and I send weekly devotions, so. Okay. They really are my people. Yeah. As they
Rachel: read, read, they read. So what your opening read every week? Do you know what your open rate [00:27:00] is?
Erin: It’s like 50%. That’s awesome. Yeah. Way to go. I go through and take people out though. If they’re not, yeah, like if you’re not reading, then I don’t wanna bother you so you can go and these are my people.
Rachel: I don’t wanna pay for you either, let’s be honest. Yes, right. Yes. Because you do, you do have to. for somebody who might be unfamiliar with it. When you have an email list through like mail, mail, mailer, light, wow. Mm-hmm. , tongue tied, tied there for a second, or MailChimp or active campaign or any of those. When you hit a certain subscriber number, they up your price in what they’re charging you each month.
And so, um, that one unengaged reader can be the difference between one price point and another. And so yeah, keeping that, that email list to, um, that they’re not taking up. People who aren’t engaged with you, don’t take up space is important. So have you noticed, um, was there a difference for you in promoting your non-fiction book and promoting the fiction book? [00:28:00] Was that experience different?
Erin: Not a ton. I, well, okay. So yes, it was different, but I don’t think it was because it was moving from non-fiction to fiction. I think it was more different because it was moving from. 2020, pre 2020 to, oh, yeah. Post 2020. Um, and the, the world is just a different place. Mm-hmm. , I didn’t use a launch team with this one, which I had on previous projects.
And, um, the project right before this that did launch, Uh, in 2020. At the end of 2020, I had used the launch team and it was just like the saddest, most pathetic thing. And I was like, okay, I’m not doing this . What, what was that for? It was for Mary’s treasure. It was an Advent devotional. Mm-hmm. . And once again, out of the box instead of, um, let me show you what it looks like, but instead of a book, it’s card.
Like little clear. Okay. There are individual cards with artwork and poetry that sit on a stand and you flip one each day. So once [00:29:00] again, something that you’re not gonna find by a traditional publisher. Um, but
Rachel: you do know that that should be part of your marketing, right? What?
Erin: What the publishers won’t publish, I will.
Rachel: Well, I was talking about more like the out-of-box, like that you provide out-of-box storytelling. Yeah. It’s gotta be in there somewhere. It’s, it’s different. It’s very different. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Somewhere in there. Yeah. It’s food for thought.
Erin: Sounds good. I’ll have to add that in my, that’s the creative. The creative and the captivating. Cuz it’s something different. That’s true. People wanna see something different. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. I love it. And you can only learn through certain ways so many times. Mm-hmm. you know, they say it takes seven times of hearing something, but I think it maybe takes seven different ways of hearing something, not just seven times of the same thing.
Rachel: I like that. So I think that’s true. I I would agree with you on that one. Yeah. So did you approach the fiction the same way that you did your [00:30:00] non-fiction when you went to launch it? In the non-fiction market, people tend to do this in a more, um, traditional online market. Like, here’s the offer I like, I may have a different off offer that’s a little bit lower price, and then I have this offer and um, I’m following up and I’m putting you in a nurturing sequence.
And there’s like a launch team and there’s just more of like these core online marketing principles that they’re following when they’re doing non-market, um, non-fiction. But then you get these fiction writers who are using all these like very platform specific techniques. And so what I’m asking you is, did kind of approach it the same way for both at the core, or did you feel like you had to switch because it was fiction?
Erin: I think I approached it the same way, but I also think that the way that I’ve approached all of my marketing has been non-traditional. So, okay. So tell us more. I don’t fit the mold. Um,
Rachel: just across the board. You’re not fitting the mold, huh? [00:31:00]
Erin: I just do my thing. Um. So some of the marketing things that I did with, um, the Enchanted Garden was, uh, it was my first one with merch. So I’ve got like these little necklaces. They’re gold feather gardener necklaces, and um, that’s the name of the series, the Gold Feather Gardeners.
And when the two characters in Join the Enchanted Garden, which is the, you know, allegorical equivalent of becoming Christians, at the end of the book, they each get a necklace with a gold feather on it. And so it has a huge symbolic, uh, meaning in the book and. So when little girls order the book and then they get the necklace, it’s like this huge deal.
Yeah. And I have already had parents send me pictures, like their kids’ school pictures where they’re wearing the necklaces. Oh, it’s so sweet. It’s the sweetest thing. But, and here’s something for fiction that I didn’t do with non-fiction was, Um, Clara, the Garden Ferry has become like this whole entity of her own.
She’s got a PO Box, [00:32:00] she gets fan mail and pictures. Oh gosh, that kids have drawn and she writes letters back. She’s very busy. This, this garden Fair . Um, and that’s not something you can do with non-fiction. You know, you, I mean, you can answer your own fan mail, I guess, but also we’ve gotten, it’s not as fun.
No, it’s definitely not as fun. This has been a blast, uh, kind of creating her into her own, um, character. Yeah. Uh, another thing I’ve done differently has been, you know, they always say capture email addresses. I’ve been trying to capture physical home addresses. , we’re going way old school with Clara, the garden ferry.
Uh, she’s gonna send birthday mail and she’s going to send postcards. Oh my gosh. Whenever the new books are coming out, because. Kids like to get mail. How many little girls have gotten mail? Like,
Rachel: so this is just brilliant. This is brilliant because you are we all okay? Especially if children’s, children’s, um, marketing children’s book is hard [00:33:00] because you have two audiences, right?
Yes. Like you have the kid who needs to love the story, but then you have the parent who needs, who has to buy it, right? And so you have these two audiences and essentially what you’re doing is you are hitting both at the same time. Yeah. Because you are sending a postcard, which little kids love getting mail, right?
Yes. But then the parent is seeing the excitement on the child’s face, and that’s gonna entice them to buy the product for them. Right? Right. Yeah. So it’s like a brilliant piece of marketing right there.
Erin: Well, and the necklaces, like they are so inexpensive, um, cost-wise now I do handmake them all. So, there’s that piece in the last four months.
You need figure out, figure out how to 400 necklaces. So yeah, that’s probably need to outsource that a little bit. But you do.
Rachel: But that’s like the next level, right? I think that thing of entrepreneurship is that you get into this, like you kind of have to start by yourself a little bit.
Like you just getting into your rhythm. Like especially as creatives, right? [00:34:00] When we are these writers, when there’s storytellers and we’re like, okay, I, I, I have this instinctive know, knowing the instinctive, knowing that the thing is gonna. But I’ve gotta figure out how to do it. And so you kind of have to like dig deep into the creativity within you and pull it all out and make sense of all of it.
And then you can replicate it and then you can have somebody else replicate it. But it’s like this process that you have to kind of go through and it’s a little exhausting. In the meantime, , like as you’re having to do all this by yourself.
Erin: Well, and. It’s fun too for me, and I know like I won’t be able to keep this up forever, but at least at this point in the project, like I said, my two older girls are four and six, and I know how over the moon excited they would be to get a handwritten letter from a character in one of their books.
So, did I hand write 200 letters to the first 200 books that were bought? Yes, I did. Um, with those, are they typed up now? [00:35:00] Handmade necklaces? They are now typed, yeah. Just switched over. And when I tell you, when I put that typed note in the envelope, it like a little part of me dies. I’m like, okay, once I get through this printed stack, I might go back to the handwritten uhhuh because it there’s just something Yes. Special there. Yes. And. I don’t know. There’s just something different. Like you can really reach someone in a way that maybe no other book will ever in their lives.
Rachel: I think the key takeaway from here is that you are doing something that’s very authentic to you, very authentic to your heart. You’ve figured that out a way to do that in your.
Just trying it out. You’re just trying to go for it and saying like, all right, this feels right to me. Yeah. Feels right for my reader. Yeah. And I’m gonna give it a go and then I might have to adjust a little bit, but I’m still gonna try.
Erin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just special because I get their names, you know, and I can pray over [00:36:00] each one as I send that out.
And. This is more than a book, it’s more than a project. It, it is a ministry. Mm-hmm. . Um, it’s also, you know, a side hustle while my kids are napping. But it’s, um, I really believe that this book, that this series, the second one comes out in March, is going to have a huge impact in the lives of this generation of girls that, that read its message and, I don’t know, there’s something about that that just is bigger than the numbers or the time that you have to put into it.
Rachel: Right, right. Oh, that’s lovely. So what tools have you figured out along the way that have like really helped you out as um, an online entrepreneur, as a writer, as marketing, all the things with helped you?
Erin: Yes. Okay. So number one, hope writers, I know you’ve mentioned that, but yeah, just having a group of writers, of Christian writers who mm-hmm. are in the space, who can answer your questions, encourage you, who know [00:37:00] how you feel, who have great advice. Mm-hmm. Um, and just that community is absolutely irreplaceable. It has been an incredible blessing to be a part of Hope Writers. Let’s see. Pro writing aid. Okay, if you, for editing.
Rachel: Okay. Editing tool. All right. Yeah. I’m like, I haven’t edited that one yet.
Erin: You haven’t heard of Pro Writing Aid? Okay. So it’s, um, they have like a annual subscription and a lifetime subscription wait for their Black Friday deal. They put it like half price or something crazy. But, um, I use that for the copy editing or not the,
Rachel: oh, is that like you put it through and it. It like runs a filter on everything. Yes.
Erin: It runs a filter on everything. And you haven’t seen, you heard of it, I just didn’t know that genre and your right. You know, all of that. So it changes the filters based on what kind of, what type of writing you’re doing. Okay. Um, and then,
Rachel: so you don’t h well, I mean, you have a shorter book, but you don’t hire an editor.
Erin: So I will for [00:38:00] book three, book two is done. It comes out in March book three. I am gonna hire a developmental editor for that one.
Um, just cuz this is my first series to write. Yeah. And things are getting a little complicated and hairy. Uh, and I wanna make sure that the themes are cohesive and everything is, um, pacing right. That makes sense. Cause I have to pace things out over eight books and make sure that I’m not, you know, getting ahead of myself or moving too slow.
Makes sense. So I will use a developmental editor that I’ve met in Hope Writers, um, on book three. Okay. But for all the other edits, I, I do them myself. Okay. Yeah. So Pro, pro writing tools, is that or pro writing? Pro writing aid. A pro writing aid. Okay. Yeah. Any other tools that you found? Um, so I do all my own formatting as well, which gets complicated with a picture book.
So it’s more than just, you know, your, your Word document or anything. Right? I use Affinity Publisher with an a Affinity publisher. Okay. And [00:39:00] I had tried InDesign, I tried Microsoft Word. If you’re formatting your own book, I cannot say enough good things about afi. Publisher. Yeah. Um, and it’s really inexpensive. I got it on a sale too, but I think it was like 30 or $40, which is
Rachel: Oh, okay. Like that’s like nothing.
Erin: Yeah. Yeah. It was very much worth every penny. And, um, I love it. I love formatting with that. It’s super easy. And then, um, Canva. Everybody knows Canva who can live around.
Rachel: You know, it’s surprising there’s still people who don’t know about Canva, and I’m like, it’s like the best thing ever. Yes. How do you not know about this?
Erin: Yeah, Canva’s. Great. Canva. Yeah. Yeah. And then other than that, I would say local writing friends. Like I have some, just some writing friends around in my city that are just nice to. Check in with every now and then and kind of encourage one another. That’s
Rachel: awesome. I agree. I think having strong writing community around you is really essential. It’s really important. As we begin to wrap up our conversation, and thank you so [00:40:00] much. I just love your heart for your reader and the work that you’re doing. Um, but as we start to wrap up, is there any advice you would give to that author who is trying to navigate this whole world of writing and business and, um, online marketing and all the things? Is there any advice you would give to that?
Erin: Yes. Okay. So of course, of course, my advice would be think outside the box when it comes to marketing your book. Um, I think so often we want our book in a bookstore, you know? Yeah. We want it on the shelf of Barnes and Noble, but let’s say you get one copy on the shelf of Barnes and Noble, then your one book is amongst thousands of books. Um, so think outside the box. Where are your readers hanging out that they would wanna read by this book? Mm-hmm. Um, is it a book about teeth? Then you might wanna go to a dentistry [00:41:00] conference, right. Or something, you know, and set up a booth there. And this is not a place where you would think to put your book, but I’m telling you, you would sell a ton of books there. Mm-hmm. Um, because every dentist wants your book in their dentist office. Exactly. A place like, okay. A few of the out of the box places that I. taken my book, um, would be like girls boutiques.
Rachel: Like, like hair
Erin: salons? No, no, like clothing boutiques. Oh, clothes. So where you get like little girls clothes. Mm-hmm. And then you also wanna get like a gift. And the fact that the book comes with the necklace, then it’s like a whole thing. And um, it has sold really well at those.
Rachel: That’s, that’s amazing. That’s amazing idea.
Erin: The only book in the store. Right? So if you have a girl who likes to. There’s only one to pick from. Here’s your book. Um, smart. So think outside the box of where you can put it. Um, is there a book club? What kind of groups? For my miscarriage and [00:42:00] infertility, I looked up every single infertility and miscarriage group that met. Through churches in the United States and like emailed every single one of them to let them know about my book and mailed them a free copy so they could share it with their group members.
So find like, where are your people? They’re probably not at Barnes and Noble. Um, I have just a few examples. A friend of mine wrote a book called Once Upon an Alligator. Okay, I’m from Louisiana. Y’all are about to hear. I love that , you’re, you’re about to hear some Louisiana stuff. , the number one place that she sells her books is in the Gift Shop of Swamp Tour businesses.
That’s a thing. We have humor. Um, yes. You like get on a boat, you do the swamp tour, and they find the alligators and show them to you like in the wild. , well, they’ve got the gift store. You go take the boat tour, you wanna buy a book about alligators for your kid. There’s her book that’s her number one for, I think, has sells books.
Rachel: I think we were in, um, [00:43:00] Louis, Louisiana last year, and I think I saw that book in a Gift Shark in a gift store. You probably did. You did. I, as soon as you said that, I’m like, oh, I think I can even imagine the cover. That’s so funny. Yes. Yeah. Ah, so smart.
Erin: Another place that really surprised me that my books have been selling well are Botanical Gardens gift. Because it’s called the Enchanted Garden.
Rachel: You. You really have, you really have thought creatively about where you could, where those hubs and spokes are like, you know that, that idea of like, let me find the hub that can connect me to the spokes of Yes. You know, or the gatekeepers, you know, like, let me find somebody that gives me access to more people. Exactly. Really smart.
Erin: So think outside the box. That would be my, my, um, yeah, you know, my one thing is it, um, is there a market? Is there a festival? Is there an in-person conference? Is there a book club? Um, you know, or a book fair? Like, I haven’t gotten into any yet, but I’ve pitched [00:44:00] my book to a few. Uh, Christian Book Fair Companies, so think like Scholastic, but they’re for Christian schools because they don’t want all the other stuff. Yeah. And that’s the perfect market for my book. So hopefully I’ll hear back from them eventually, but I’ll keep bothering them until I do .
Rachel: So when I get ready to like, think through how I’m gonna, um, I’m releasing a book next year, a novel, and when I get to that point, I’m gonna call you up and be like, okay, Erin, help me brainstorm we’re book this thing. Cause I,
Erin: it’s, that’s really, it’s just like honestly hours of middle of the night Googling, you
Rachel: know? Did you come up, like, did you come up with these ideas or did you have people like suggest things to you too?
Erin: No, most of it was middle of the night Googling. Oh. Oh. That is, that’s awesome. Like, you wake up and like, I love it so much. About, what about this? Let me Google. Is this a thing? You know, are there, fill in the blank.
Rachel: So, awesome. Oh my goodness. I love that. I, I love, um, my business coach, Jennifer Allwood, she prays that God like download in your dreams, the wisdom that he has for you, and [00:45:00] it kind of sounds like that’s what he is doing for you. You kind of wake up and you’re like, wait, I need,
Erin: I need to Google this. How, how this, yeah. How, what about this? Does, does that exist? Oh, it does. Look at that. Okay. I love that. Contact them. You know, and don’t be afraid to ask. Like, the worst I can say is No, and that’s fine.
Rachel: I wanna emphasize the fact that you’re willing to just go with it. Like you’re like, here’s an idea. Let me just try it. Yeah, and I think that’s, you have to do that as an entrepreneur. You have to be like, okay, here’s a unique idea. Nobody else is doing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a bad, that it’s a bad idea.
It could be like the best thing for me and my readers. Awesome. Well, I am so thankful that you agreed to come on here and share with us. There is so much, so much good things. You’ve given me ideas. I’m like, I gotta go think this through. Um, so I’m excited to take that information and apply it to, uh, what I’m doing in the, in the next year.
So I wanna make sure though, that people know where they can go and find your book. Can you, do you have a copy of [00:46:00] it nearby? Yeah. You wanna hold it?
Erin: It was so pretty, you guys. It is so crazy. I
Rachel: love it so much. Yeah, I um, my daughter has read it. I gave it to my niece. I just love it so much. I read it on the airplane right home from the conference that we both attended.
I’m like, I was reading it on the plane. Oh. So I just, I love it so much. Uh, so that’s the first book and then the second book comes out in March. Yes. In March. So where can people, where can people find you? Where can they follow you? Where can they join your email list so they know when the next book’s coming out?
Erin: Yes, so greneuaxgardens.com is my website and you can sign up for my email list. There’s, I have two different ones. So one is my weekly devotions that I send out. Um, that’s like one of my favorite things that I write regularly. And then the other is the gold feather gardeners, so you can sign up for that one and you’ll get all of the inside.
I think in January I’m gonna send out the first chapter of Book two, so they’ll get like a sneak [00:47:00] peek and you get, you know, everything ahead of everybody else so you’ll know when stuff comes out.
Rachel: So cool. Awesome.
Erin: And you get access to things like handwritten cards and made connects and, and things like that.
Rachel: I’m all for this now. I’m like, we’re totally after this call. I’m going to make sure I’m on that list. I don’t think.
Well, thank you so much, Erin, for joining us. I really appreciate it. Um, and I think our, I think our listeners today are gonna really benefit from hearing the wisdom you have to share with us. So thank you for sharing your journey.
Erin: Oh, I hope it does benefit. And, uh, thank you for having me. This was fun!
Rachel: You’re welcome and thank you for joining us and listening to today’s episode. Join us next week as we continue the conversation about the business of Christian Fiction. Bye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
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