Emily Belden is a Chicagoan, the blogger behind Total E-bag, and the author of the new bestseller Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned. Emily’s edgy little memoir debuted this month on Amazon as the #20 best seller in Women’s Memoirs and #3 in the chef’s category. We chatted with Emily about her blog, her book, her new online greeting card shop – and the time she glue 60,000 pennies to her bedroom floor.
What inspired you to write Eightysixed?
I started writing “Eightysixed” long before it was ever Eightysixed. It began simply as more of a “Dear Diary” to help get me through a terrible break-up and all the laughable accoutrements that went along with heartbreak. At some point the experiences became so outlandish and unbelievable, I realized “This could be a book!”. So I made it one!
What can readers expect from Eightsixed?
An honest and humorous portrayal of navigating the perilous 20s. In a nutshell, it’s 50 Shades meets Mean Girls meets Sex & The City meets Bridget Jones Diary. And then they all went and had dinner.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write like no one will ever read your stuff. Do you think I could have written some of the scenes in Eightysixed (examples: the “Jacob” or the “Mindy” chapters) knowing that my mother and future in-laws were going to read it? No way! So I had to really pretend like my words were just between me, the computer, and the bottle of wine on my desk.
You gained national attention after gluing 60,000 pennies to your bedroom floor. How did that project come about, and did you ever think that it would lead to an interview on The Today Show?!
My fiance and I were looking into flooring options for our bedroom. One day, he noticed the jar of change on our countertop and had the funny idea to glue its contents to the floor. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.
It was crazy to think we got on The Today Show for gluing money to the floor, but what it just reiterates is that if you have an easy-to-understand concept, something somewhat original, and fun to look at…people will want to know about it. Even Matt Lauer.
How did the exposure from the penny floor bring you to where you are today?
A lot of the literary agents I was interested in pitching to just so happened to be big Today Show fans. They recognized me from the segment and a lot tweeted at me saying they were eager to read my stuff. That never happens.
Do you have any advice on how to make the most out of a viral moment?
Have something to sell! We had 7 million viewers of http://www.ThePennyFloor.com site during its first week. I wish we had Penny Floor t-shirts and glow-sticks to capitalize on all that traffic. Right?!
You also just launched Happy Happy Gay Gay, an online card shop that caters to the LGBT community. What inspired this project?
My gay friend married his long-time partner after DOMA was shot down in San Francisco last summer. I wanted to send my congratulations in a card, but Hallmark had nothing that catered to a lively, same-sex couple. I knew they deserved better. So I just made my own, which morphed into Happy Happy Gay Gay.
Which female entrepreneurs do you look up to?
I like Bethenny Frankel. I look up to her something-from-nothing way of success. And just like the simple genius of the penny floor or gay greeting cards, I think her low-calorie cocktail mixes (“Skinny Girl”) are along those same lines. And now, she’s one of the most successful businesswomen in the industry.
How do you think blogging lead you to where you are today?
Besides it giving me a head-start for a platform of loyal readers, Total E-bag made me not afraid to write whatever was on my mind and get really good at perfecting my voice. I don’t claim that Eightysixed will cure for cancer, but I do think it’s one of the most relatable literary works for our generation and that makes me proud.