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MBP #12: Erin Chase, $5 Dinner Mom, on selling 150,000+ copies of her books

Erin Chase, $5 Dinner MomA few years ago, when I was interviewed for the New York Times, a few literary agents emailed me to ask if I’d ever considered writing a book.

I passed, knowing that my audience wasn’t large enough to support it, plus I didn’t have the time to write a book on a subject I wasn’t an expert on (this was 6 months into starting the blog) and work on the site itself at the same time.

The idea of writing a book as always fascinated me and so when I met Erin and learned she had so much success, I had to find out more. I knew she had a very loyal following, that she’d sold a few books, but my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I learned the exact number of copies she’s sold.

If you’ve ever considered a book or just want to know what would be involved, this is the episode for you.

What will you learn in this episode:

  • Why she started 5 Dollar Dinners and her epiphany moment
  • How she was approached by a publishing house 3 months into starting the site
  • How she found a literary agent, a publisher (St. Martins), and a signed book deal 6 months in
  • The importance of finding partners (agents, editors) who are advocates who “get it”
  • Why it’s important to work with professionals
  • How to evaluate an editor and a publishing house
  • The difference between publicity and marketing
  • The importance of having a “platform” today
  • Why she didn’t self-publish her cookbooks
  • What she did to promote the book
  • What promotional channels worked the best
  • The importance of “Super Fans” and how to nurture them
  • How advances and royalties work
  • How she got on Good Morning America, The View (twice!), and the Rachael Ray Show

Did you enjoy this podcast? If so, please let Erin know! She was very generous with her time and experience, please show her some love — click to tweet @5dollardinners and tell her you loved her on the podcast!

Resources and links mentioned in this chat:

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Raw Transcript

Jim Wang: Everyone, today’s chat is phenomenal, it’s with Erin Chase,
she’s a $5 Dollar Dinner mom, at, and it’s about how she
was able to sign a book deal within months of starting her blog. In the
time since, she’s written three cookbooks, sold 150,000 copies, she’s been
on Good Morning America, Rachael Ray – I mean, it’s amazing. This was not
her goal, this is sort of fell into her lap, and she studied and learned
and grew, and it’s an amazing story. But we go over actionable advice – how
to find a literary agent? What do you look for? What do you look for in a
publisher? How do you publicize the book? How do you sell copies?

It’s a ton of stuff – if you ever wondered what it takes to publish
and then sell 150,000 copies of a book, this is the one for you. You want
to get the show notes, has links, other information, go to All right, I’m super excited, let’s just get to it.
Hey, Erin, how’s it going?

Erin Chase: Hey, it’s going really great, thanks for having me on

Jim: I’m really excited to have you on because you’re probably one of the
most accomplished, I guess, writers, booksellers? I don’t know what the
term is, [laughs] but . . .

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: . . . certainly with all the folks that I know. And so I just wanted
to talk to you to sort of pick your brain on that whole process. You know,
it sounds exciting and fun, and everyone who’s told me has said that it’s a
lot of work, but it can be very rewarding, from, like, a branding, and you
know, royalties and all that stuff, so I’m just excited to have you on.

Erin: Thanks, I’m really excited to share kind of my story and
experience with, you know, how all this got started and where we brought it
to today in the last, I guess, five and half years it’s been? So yeah.

Jim: Wow, five and half years. So let’s start all at the beginning – how
did 5 Dollar Dinner start?

Erin: So 5 Dollar Dinner started in August of 2008. We were a single income
family, living, you know, not quite paycheck to paycheck, but pretty close.
My husband is a teacher, you know, so it’s kind of that teacher salary. You
know, everybody knows teachers don’t make a ton of money, but we were, you
know, we were being smart. Our mortgage was, you know, financed at the
lowest rate at the time that we could get, and we didn’t have, we’ve never
had cable. We had, at that time, like, pay-as-you-go cell phone plans, and
we had dumbphones – actually, that was kind of when smartphones were first
coming out. But we had dumbphones for a long time; my husband, actually,
just upgraded [laughs] to a smartphone this past [laughs] year.

Jim: Nice.

Erin: So we’ve always just kind of been frugal in nature, and so any
who, he had a long commute to work, and when the gas prices started going
up in July of 2008, we saw, very quickly, that our budget was going to flip
from, you know, being able to stay in the black each month, to into the
red. And just because his long commute and the gas prices, you know, not
quite doubling . . .

Jim: Right, right.

Erin: . . . over $4 a gallon in our area. And so we, you know, looked, sat
down and looked at our budget, and it was pretty much at the bottom that it
. . . Everything was as low as it could be at that time. You know, we’ve
never been extravagant spenders, and so I said, “Well, you know, the only
line here on our budget that we could really control is the groceries.”
That’s you know, I think it’s . . . I read, typically, like, the third
largest discretionary expense and one that you have the biggest control
over. So I challenged myself; I’d seen and heard these whole, like, cut
your grocery bill in half things here and there on the Internet, and so I
challenged myself to do just that – to cut our billing have.

At that time we were a family of four, and spending about $500 a
month, and I was able to get it down to $250 through a combination of meal
planning and strategic couponing and things like that. For a couple of
weeks I was really watching prices really closely, and I would say to
Steve, I would say, “Hey, you know, this pork chops meal was only, like,
$3.85 because we made rice, which is really cheap, and some peaches that
were on sale.” And you know, just these really simple, balanced, you know,
helpful meals. We deal with a couple food allergies, so I can’t just really
buy box of Hamburger Helper and make that for dinner, right?

Jim: Right, right.

Erin: So one evening after one of these, like, kind of recaps of the cost
of the meal, I was doing the dishes and it was, like, kind of like a
ticker, like a news ticker, an ESPN ticker, something, like, flashing
across my brain, and this, like, $5 dollar dinners just sort of, like,
floated by. And I was . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . like, “Ha!” So I stopped doing the dishes right away and I ran
over to the Internet; I had a family blog at that the time, so I knew
enough about blogging and searching and you know, sort of branding.
Personal branding was very new at the time, but I knew enough about it just
from what I’d seen and read online to, you know, search – is anybody else
doing this? So I started 5 Dollar Dinners, really, out of necessity and
what was happening in our family. And it was just sharing my story, and
sharing what I was making each night, and how I was making it, and what I
was buying at the grocery store, and how I was mixing and matching
ingredients, and you know, the importance of meal planning.

And which coupons were I using? Which coupons was I printing? And all
of those different things – and the website took off right away. You know,
I didn’t know you could even, you know, have a website that would become a
business, at the time, I didn’t even know you could make [laughs] money
from a website.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: I thought you would make, like, pennies a day on, you know, Google
AdSense, which most people start out that way, but when your traffic gets
to a certain point, the pennies turn into dollars and the dollars turn into
hundreds of dollars very quickly.

Jim: Right . . .

Erin: So . . .

Jim: . . . right.

Erin: . . . I mean that’s how I got started, and then you know, I just saw
that it was just meeting a need, it was resonating with so many people
that, you know, we’ve just kept it going. And it’s met a need for us, and
it continues to meet that need and help other people. That’s really why 5
Dollar Dinners is here is to, you know, be a helpful resource for other
people who are struggling; maybe they’ve recently lost their job, or have
a, you know, a big medical bill coming up, or whatever it may be. Just to
really, you know, you really can do this, you know, and here’s some great
recipes and ideas and resources to help you, you know, cut your grocery

Jim: What I love about the site is, like you said, it’s helpful foods;
it’s foods that, you know, you get the ingredients at the grocery store,
and it’s not like you walk in and get a Hamburger Helper, or you buy, like,
a $1 microwavable meal. That’s less than a $5 dinner, but you eat and
you’re, like, hungry 15 minutes later, and it’s not good for you because
it’s full of sodium. But that’s what I think is genius about your site, was
the, here are the ingredients, here’s how much it cost. Like, one thing,
sort of going off on a tangent a little bit, is your whole thing about the
Costco, like going to Costco, and you can do with this whole plan,
essentially, to make a whole lot of meals for not a lot of money.

Erin: Right, the Costco post is kind of now become what I’m famous for.

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: Even though people are, like, “That’s not $5 dinners.” I’m, like,
“Yes, I know, it’s $7.50, but it’s still [laughs] really close, and . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . this is going . . . to help you.” You know, and that’s
actually been an amazing thing, because I had an interview with the . . .
I’ve always wondered; I posted that in September last year, 2013, and
wondered, you know, did Costco ever take notice. I mean, it’s had millions
of views, and I was actually picking up contacts at Costco not long ago,
and I handed him my debit card to buy the, or to pick the contacts, as he
goes, “Erin Chase, that sounds really . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . familiar.” And I was, like, “Well, I’ve sort of made Costco
famous. I mean . . .

Jim: Kind of famous.

Erin: . . . I’ve sort of made y’all famous with this meal plan.” He goes,
“Wait, I saw that, I saw that on my Facebook the other day. I shared it.
When I saw one of my friends, who doesn’t even work here, and I thought it
was something from our corporate, dah, dah, dah, dah, and then I saw your
site.” It was just so funny, I’m, like, “Okay, well, I guess I’ve reached a
new level of fame with [laughs] Costco.”

Jim: You’re famous, you’re famouser.

Erin: So yeah, but you know what? I did – they actually asked a freelance
writer to reach out to me to do an interview for their Costco Connection
magazine, which is amazing. I’m not sure when it’s going to print yet, but
I’m just, like, “So they did take notice,” which is, you know, I’m just so
honored and humbled by that. But you know, you just never know; I mean, in
the age of today with things going viral and concepts that are going to
work. But that’s exactly what I said earlier, that the Costco post, I mean
everybody loves Costco and they feel like they’re walking out of there
spending an arm and a leg. Which sometimes I do too when I’m just not on my
game, right? Not on my . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . [thinking.] So that’s why I think this tool is really helpful
for people; they can get, you know, here’s a plan that’s going to get you
20 helpful, simple, family-friendly, pretty everybody’s going to pretty
much like them, you know, meals for $150 bucks. So you know, again, it just
resonates with people I think that that’s, you know, one of the keys just
in general, with, you know, online . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . entrepreneurship, or even, you know, content marketing. It’s
just finding that sweet spot and what’s going to resonate with people and
meet that need.

Jim: So speaking of meeting needs and sweet spots, you’ve written three
books, now. You want to talk about the first one, the one that has
seemingly done the best?

Erin: Yes, so I was approached by a small, small, small, tiny publishing
house really early one. I think about three months into 5 Dollar Dinners,
and he said, “I want to publish this book.” And I was, like, “Huh? Book?
What? Huh?” I had no idea. So I emailed a friend who I knew just had a book
deal, she just signed a book deal, and I said, “Hey, this is a huge
opportunity, I’m not sure how to navigate these waters.” So she literally
called me, like, two minutes later, and I was, like, “Huh?” [laughs]

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: So she was obviously really excited about it, which, you know, made
me more excited, you know? Because if she just signed a book deal, you
know, she’s, you know, a step ahead of the process of me, and she knows
what’s exciting, and you know, she thinks the concept is exciting as well.
So she connected me with her literary agent, and that’s who I still work
with today, and you know, she was really excited about . . . you know, she
emailed me back right away too. And I think, you know, I think it’s the
concept that really sells the . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . you know, sold the literary agent, then my publishing house.
And so I put together a 25 page proposal, [laughs] book proposal, that my
literary agent then sort of shopped around, and then it landed on the desk
of my, you know, current editor. And he already knew about me, he already
knew about the site, so when he saw it, across his desk, he was, like, you
know, “We need this book right now.”

Erin: And so I actually signed about, let me think about that, probably
seven months, seven or eight months into the site starting I signed. . .

Jim: Wow.

Erin: . . . a two book deal. I think that was . . . well actually that was
February, so it was about six months. August to February, yeah, six months
I signed on with St. Martin’s, which is part of Macmillan, and signed on
with them, a two book deal. And then so the first book published, like,
eight months later – it was crazy. [laughs]

Jim: Wow . . .

Erin: I had . . .

Jim: . . . that’s fast.

Erin: . . . [real] deadline to pull together 200 recipes, many of which
were on the website I had. You know, each book I’ve had so many percent
that have to be only in the book. And so that published in January of 2010,
so that was, you know, I signed in February of 2009 and published in
January 2010, so it was pretty tight turnaround as far as deadline and then
to print. So usually it’s a much longer process, and authors [laughs] get
very . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . [Inaudible 00:12:04] waiting, you know, don’t doing all of
the, you know, marketing prep work that needs to be done. So with the first
book, I was really fortunate; they featured it number one in a Good Morning
America segment in a holiday cookbook roundup, which was amazing.

Jim: Wow . . .

Erin: I think . . .

Jim: . . . yeah.

Erin: . . . that is the key to that first book’s success. You know, there
were a number of books featured and the number of books they didn’t even
get to, and they spent a good chunk of the segment on the book, which was,
you know, so fortunate they were willing to do that, which was great. And I
think one of the reasons that is sold so well. The first book, I think were
pretty close to 80,000 copies sold, and you know, a majority of that, you
know, at launch, you know, that first six months we were really pushing
hard on the website, and I didn’t even have that large of a platform, you
know, then that I do now.

Jim: Going back to that, actually, before we get too far away from sort of
the beginning, it sounds like you found your agent because it was through a
friend who was already working with someone, and signed the deal. How did
you evaluate that agent in terms of using them?

Erin: Partly, I was comfortable that, you know, she understood the blogging
landscape and she was able to connect me with the right editor. She was
able to say, “You know, I’ve had experience with food and with cookbooks in
the past.” And she said, you know, “You know, here are the people I think
would be great for this.” And she was able to snag, you know, my editor at
St. Martin’s who was a huge foodie and totally gets the food landscape. And
I think one of the other things, too, that you know . . . because it’s and

It’s a calculated risk, but it’s the risk; you’re not really sure
what they’re going to be able to land for you, and you know, how great of a
deal it’s going to be. I think part of it was, I was confident in her
because she was able to land the deal for my friend who was also a blogger.
So she, you know, understood the landscape and how, you know, how it is,
and it still is changing. And my editor, even, very early on, I think one
of my first meetings with him, even said, you know, “Bloggers are going to
be the new authors.” And he’s totally right; if you look, at least cookbook-
wise, if you look at the number of food bloggers who’ve published cookbooks
at this point, it’s very high.

I was probably one of the first ones to get a cookbook out there, you
know, Christy Jordan from Southern Plate, Ree Drummond from Pioneer Woman.
There were a couple of other people who had books coming out at the same
time that mine did, but very, very few. And now you’re seeing a lot more,
you know, food bloggers, you know, putting out cookbooks, which is amazing
– and my editor was right. And I think that that insight for him was one of
my sort of, like, you know, I really like, you know, this editor and I like
this connection, and you know, I’ve always been really comfortable . . .

Jim: He’s someone that’s going to be . . .

Erin: . . . . . . they understand the landscape. Right?

Jim: He’s going to be a champion for you, right?

Erin: [Yes.]

Jim: It’s not like you’re trying to convince him that, “Oh, look, it’s a
blogger. It’s so cute . . .

Erin: Right.

Jim: . . . they want to write a cookbook.” No, this guy gets it.

Erin: Yeah, he did get it, and he still does. I was in New York, well, I
was just there, but the last two times that I [laughs] [go there, I was
there]; I’m always in New York – I’ll be there again next week.[laughs]

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: But anyways, you know, I try to see him anytime that I’m up there,
and he still gets it. Like, we’ve just done a meeting and he’s just still,
like, “I just love watching the evolution of this landscape and it’s just
so amazing to me, you know, your success and your continued success and how
you’re continuing to drive it. And you know, having the books and
continuing to promote them, and you know, use them as a helpful tool for
other people.”

Jim: So it sounds like your relationship with your editor is as important
as is with the agent. But in the case of finding that editor, it was your
agent’s job, after they took your 25 page proposal, to sort of shop it
around and then find the editor?

Erin: Exactly, so you take your book proposal and the literary agent, you
know, they have all the connections, you know, and they well, yeah, send it
around to all the people who they think would be interested, and then, you
know, kind of cross your fingers, hold your breath . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . and wait to see who responds.

Jim: Do know how many publishers you brought it to?

Erin: I don’t know that, I don’t think she ever told me. I would imagine it
was in the dozens, but I’m not really sure . . . number.

Jim: You always hear those stories, like, Tim Ferriss will say that he
took his 4-Hour Workweek proposal to hundreds of editors himself to try to
sell it. It sounds like you were able to sort of avoid that by working with
an agent.

Erin: So this is what I always say, you know, an agent takes 15%, that’s
the industry standard, and you sign a contract with them and they take 15%
of, you know, your advance as well as royalties, and that’s just part of
the deal. And I always say, you can try to do by yourself, but if you’ve .
. . let’s liken it to buying a house for the first time. If you’ve never
bought a house for the first time, would you do by yourself or would you
use a real estate agent?

Jim: Right.

Erin: Same thing. So if you’ve never written a book before and you have no
idea what to expect, no idea how much to negotiate for yourself, as far as
an advance, royalty percentages, those kinds of things, would you do it by
yourself? Sure, you could spend a whole lot of time and energy, you know,
trying to understand how it works, trying to make the connections,
searching forums for an editor, email addresses that will get directly to
them instead of the generic one on the website, you know, instead of
dropping your . . . Or you can hire a literary agent, let them take 15%,
and they do all the work for you.

You know, she still works for me for certain things; I did a national
media segment a couple weeks ago and she was involved in the process there
– so you know, she’s still working for me here and there. And so yeah,
that’s my analogy; I would not buy house all by myself – I wouldn’t even
know what paperwork I would need to sign [laughs] . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . if I was trying to do that. So it’s a similar concept. If you
are going to do traditional publishing, I would highly recommend working
with a literary agent to help you navigate the waters and get you the best
deal and the most money.

Jim: I think you bring up an excellent point with the housing analogy,
less so about the paperwork to fill out, ’cause that, I mean, with a little
bit of time you can get all the paperwork and be pretty sure that you’re
doing it right. But when you negotiate, that aspect of it, if that’s not
what you do, especially not with editors who are trained, or not ed –, you
know, with the people and the publishers that are trained to do this. You
don’t know what to ask for, what’s customary, what’s, you know, irregular,
or outlandish, or whatever. That’s the part that I think would scare me the

Erin: Yeah, and I think that’s where she was really helpful, like, she was
able to get me an advance way higher than I [laughs] thought would ever be
possible for all three books, which is amazing. Especially given the
economy and how it was at the time – and we’re kind of still is.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: But yeah, I think she was really helpful in getting all of that into
place. You know, even the higher advance that she was able to get me was
well worth the 15% [laughs] . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . cut that she took from it, so.

Jim: Okay, so she finds the publisher, and then now you work with an
editor there. What were you looking for outside of an editor that gets it?
What does a publisher do, like, how do you evaluate whether someone’s a
good editor or a good publishing house to work with?

Erin: I think the key for a publishing house and the key question to ask
when you’re getting to that negotiation point with your agent and the
publishing houses who are interested, is how much marketing and publicity
support is the publishing house going to provide you? Because they might,
you know, want to edit your book and print your book for you, but then they
might just leave it with you, and then what you do? You’re in charge of all
of the marketing of it, all of the publicity opportunities that you might
get – they might leave that in your hands. Which, you could again, try to
do for yourself or you could hire an outside publicist to help you. But
when, you know, working with a publishing house, you know, be very clear.

St. Martin’s has a phenomenal publicity department; obviously, they
got the book on Good Morning America for a shot, right? I’ve since been on
Rachael Ray, The View twice, you know, and they were very instrumental in
all of those connections. And so I think that, you know, finding out how
they’re going to support you, how much time they’re going to give you, you
know, what connections they have in the media world – and even if it’s, you
know, whether it’s magazine, radio, print, whatever it may be. And how much
marketing support they’re going to give you, because there’s a difference
between publicity and marketing.

Jim: What’s the difference?

Erin: So with marketing, you know, that’s you know, kind of how a PR agency
might work, and they might hire an outside PR agency to do that, but you
get pitches all the time. You know, “So-and-so’s written a new book. Here’s
a couple recipes from it. Would you please promote it? Or would you do a
giveaway? Would you participate in, you know, a Facebook chat with Erin?
Would you do it?” You know, all of those different types of things that you
see happening all of the time, somebody has to orchestrate those, and so a
marketing department would do that.

So the marketing department at St. Martin’s managed the entire
blogger, we did a huge blogger giveaway, sort of promotion for each of the
three books, and they managed all of that; the outreach, the shipping of
the books, the shipping to the winners, you know, all the communication
back and forth – it’s a lot of work. Could I have done that myself? Yes,
but I wouldn’t have slept. [laughs]

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: Because it was all bloggers who already knew, and I let them know,
“Hey, we’re going to be reaching out to you, look for an email from Sarah.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: And then publicity is reaching out to all the media contacts; from
national media, to radio, to local media, to magazines; you know, whoever,
whatever contacts they think would make the most sense for the book to be
featured. And as I said, our publishing department is amazing and they were
able to, you know, land some of these really huge national hits in the
number of national magazines, you know, over the last couple of years as
well. So I think that that is key, and you know, as you already said, and
we’ve talked about having an editor who is going to be champion for you and
your brand, I think it’s key as well. Because when they’re excited about
it, they get their editorial team excited about it, they get the sales team
excited about it, so then the sales team can then go and sell it to, you
know, Sam’s Club, and Costco, and beyond the typical Amazon and Barnes &
Noble and Books-A-Million.

You know, beyond the typical, you know, retailers who are going to
pick up the book, they can get into other places as well.

Jim: Gotcha. Okay, and you said that initially you signed a two book deal?

Erin: I did, I signed a two book deal; they came out one year after the
other, so I was pretty much in front of my computer [laughs] . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . for two straight . . . No, not really. And a lot of that was
the content I was developing for the site and I would just tweak it for the
book or make adjustments to the recipe. You know, I would publish one
version of the recipe online and then I would tweak it, you know, enough to
fit it into the book, a different type of recipe. You know, I would tease
recipes online and say, “Hey, you know, this is in the book,” which I got a
little flak for, but hey, it’s how you [laughs] . . .

Jim: You got a little flak for it on the blog itself?

Erin: Yeah, yeah, but it’s, I mean it’s how you sell books and I had to
honor my contract with the publishing house. And people understand, they
were just, you know, “I wanted this recipe.” I’m, like, you know, my
overnight granola is one of the really popular ones that’s not online
anywhere, and everybody loves that recipe and it’s only in the books and I
can’t ever publish it online. [laughs]

Jim: Overnight granola?

Erin: Mm-hmm, yeah, it’s a genius concept, that’s all I can say. [laughs]

Jim: [laughs] Which book is it in?

Erin: The breakfast and lunch book, the second one.

Jim: That makes sense.

Erin: So the first book is all dinner recipes and then the second book is
different breakfast and lunch recipes that you can do for all under $5,
which is easier. I mean, breakfast, you can do for $1 for a couple people,

Jim: Right.

Erin: Depending on what it is, and you know, if you get apples and mix it
in with oatmeal and a certain number of, you know, different spices, you
can have a really, really cheap, cheap breakfast.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: But was able to get some really creative lunch ideas in there for
under $5 as well. So that book, I think sold, I think it was about 25,000
maybe, I think that’s the last number that I saw. And then after the second
book was finished, we went back, my agent went back to the publishing house
and said, “Hey, we need to do a third one, I think this will be a great
series.” And so we signed a third deal after the second book came out. We
went back and forth on different concepts for that meal; I really wanted to
do a book about Italian food, but only because I wanted to go to Italy.

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: And learn from this sweet . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . Italian woman about all the tips and tricks for [laughs]
Italian cooking, but ended up . . . with that was my own selfish [inaudible
00:25:18]. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll watch . . .

Jim: That could . . .

Erin: . . . [inaudible 00:25:20].

Jim: . . . be the fourth book.

Erin: Yeah, well, I have an idea for a fourth book, I’ll tell you in a
minute. But we ended up settling on the one dish dinners concept because I
was finding myself gravitating towards those types of recipes, like,
whether it’s cooking your entire dinner on the grill and, like, less
cleanup in the kitchen. Or you know, the slow cooker meals where you can
literally dump everything for the meal in the slow cooker and that’s all
you need for your meal – you don’t even need a side of bread or anything.
So I found myself kind of gravitating towards those the busier that I got;
I was blogging more, I was working more with different brands and
companies, and I was sort of gravitating in that direction as well.

So we were able to pick up . . . they picked up the one dish dinners
concept. And that third book has also done really well, and just was
featured on Rachael Ray’s show two weeks ago, three weeks ago? So yeah,
it’s really just fortunate to have landed on some really great concepts,
you know, with all three of the books.

Jim: And they all revolve around the whole 5 Dollar Dinner concept . . .

Erin: Right . . .

Jim: . . . which is great.

Erin: . . . right. I put the prices in there, it’s all prices that I pay.
You know, I hear from people, “Oh, I can never find chicken that cheap.”
I’m, like, “You’re not looking hard enough, chicken is that cheap all over
the country.” [laughs]

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: And I price it out based on the prices that I paid at the time that I
made them, so the prices might be a little higher now than they were in
2009, but not much higher. You know, all the same strategies and concepts
for spending less on ingredients and on dinner still apply today that it
did then, so.

Jim: So knowing what you know now about how book deals are structured,
what advice would you give to yourself, you know, from 2008? Or I guess,
February 2009, whenever the first deal was signed? Like, I don’t know
anything about how . . . you know, when you say a two book deal, in my mind
I think, “Okay, you’re on the hook for two books.”

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How does that all work?

Erin: Well, you sign a contract to write two books, you have to write two
books. I would do everything over again in a heartbeat.

Jim: Exact same way?

Erin: Yes, I think for me, the process . . . you know, I’m very, very
fortunate that I know this does not happen for a lot of people, and I know
a lot of authors and writers are really struggling to find the right
person, get the right connection, you know, land . . . I still hear from
bloggers, “Hey, I have this book idea. Would you connect?” I connect them
with the agent and then nothing happens, you know. You know, I’ve had a
very, very fortunate, you know, I’m very humbled . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . [laughs] to have had . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . the experience that I had, and I really think that, you know,
it just goes back to the concept, is what sells. You know, 5 Dollar Dinners
is, I guess it’s a product; it’s a product in the sense that the website is
a product and the books are a product, but you know, it really kind of
sells itself. So I would totally go back in a heartbeat – I don’t think I
would change a thing.

Jim: Okay.

Erin: You know, I think, you know, if you’re not happy with your agent, you
know, look around for another agent. I know, you know, if your agent says,
you know, “You need to grow your platform before I’ll take you on,” I know
a friend who that happen to. And what did she do? She grew her platform and
then the agent was, like, “Oh.” [laughs] “Maybe I should’ve signed you
earlier, we could’ve gotten this whole thing off the ground faster,” you
know? So you know, trust what they say because they do know and understand
the landscape.

You know, if you’re not comfortable with them or you don’t think they
have the right connections for you, you know, ask around, look on the
writers forum, see who other people are talking about is a great agent. You
know, there are a handful that I know of; I’ve only worked with mine, but
that I know of from other people who have published, you know, from kind of
the blogger/author space.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: It’s all about, you know, being comfortable with who you’re working
with and making sure that they really have your back.

Jim: Gotcha.

Erin: And chances are that they will; I mean they’re just not in it for the
15%; like, they’re in it to see you succeed, and they’re in it to help you,
and your editor’s the same way. Like, they’re in it to help you refine your
writing skills, and if you’re not comfortable with the change . . . I saw
somebody else who’s publishing something right now. I don’t know how it
happened, I got into a Facebook group and she’s, you know, I think it’s
kind of a promoter group for her new book that’s coming out, but she said,
“My editor won’t let me say this.” And I wanted to say, “It’s your book,
you can say [laughs] [whatever] . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . you want.” You are the author, it’s your final decision, and
you can strike her edit, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: So anyways, and that’s just one tiny, tiny little example of a small
thing, but that goes to say, it’s still your book, it’s still your story to
tell, so don’t be afraid to tell it in your words. [laughs]

Jim: So it’s funny you brought up the idea of platform. I also had heard
from someone that you knows, she was trying to work with [somebody] . . .
this might be the same person, who knows? But she was going to work with a
literary agent and then they said, “You need to grow your platform.” It
seemed like you didn’t have that problem because you were three months in.
I guess you could of had a huge platform, but you’d earlier said you

Erin: I didn’t even have a Facebook page back then – they didn’t even
exist, like, fan pages didn’t exist.

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: [If I did] [inaudible 00:30:43] it was, like, 800 people, right?
We’re at 80,000 now, right? So I think, yeah, we probably are talking about
the same person.

Jim: How important is the platform?

Erin: Okay, well, a publishing house wants to know how you’re going to help
with the marketing. Because I said that you want them to help, but you also
need to, you know, help as well. Like, your platform . . .

Jim: Of course.

Erin: . . . is part of the reason that, you know, your book is, or your
concept is going to sell – it’s how many people do you have in your network
that you can sell to. So I think that that is important, and I think that
that . . . you know, she was, you know, our friend who was coming into the
landscape a couple of years after I did, platforms are more important now.
You know, there are always so much noise online, they want to see that you
are going to be able to sell, you know, X number of books.

Jim: Unless you have a killer idea, like 5 Dollar Dinners that, like,
resonates and connects . . .

Erin: Right.

Jim: . . . like, people see it they’re, like . . .

Erin: But I do think that if it had come in two years later with trying to
publish, it would have been much more difficult. When the first book was
published, I don’t even think K.D.P. existed. You know, I didn’t even have
a Kindle version of the first book – K.D.P. is Kindle . . .

Jim: Yep.

Erin: . . . Direct Publishing. There wasn’t even a Kindle version – I
think there is now, but at the time there wasn’t. It was right as it was
starting to transition, but it had not even come close to taking off. And
you know, self-publishing, there were, like, four people doing it. [laughs]
Now there’s, like, 4 bazillion people doing it . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . right?

Jim: Is that why you didn’t self-publish?

Erin: Yeah, it wasn’t, I mean . . .

Jim: Okay . . .

Erin: . . . [inaudible 00:32:20].

Jim: . . . it just wasn’t there.

Erin: I mean, I knew it was out there, because I was just starting to see
Kindle books for the really popular ones, the publishing the big, big, big
names, you know, like, Jim Cl –, you know, whoever. The big-name . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . authors, they were starting to convert them for, you know,
Kindle format. I mean, Kindles weren’t even selling then, right? [laughs]

Jim: Yeah, yeah . . .

Erin: [inaudible 00:32:41].

Jim: . . . that’s true.

Erin: So it really involved with the selling of the Kindles and then the
transition of all the, you know, printed to digital, really kind of in that
2009, 2010, 2011 timeframe, so I really kind of got in there right before
all of that happened. I do have one and a half, I’ll say one and half
[laughs] . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . self-published e-books that I have, but those are both later,
later, later in the game, so yeah.

Jim: Okay. So going back to what you were doing to promote the book,
outside of, you know, being on Rachael Ray, being on the radio, and TV and
all of that stuff. What were you doing maybe with the platform, or
otherwise, that the publisher wanted you to do to try to sell more copies?

Erin: Well obviously we promoted on the website. I . . .

Jim: Right.

Erin: . . . have it, you know, in the header, “Here’s my three [laughs]
books.” I’ve done giveaways at holiday time, I will do a big, like, give
away 200 books at once kind of thing to different people – you know,
wherever it makes sense in the year to be talking about it. You know, I
just leave it in, I’ll drop it in, organically, into different blog posts
here and there. If there’s a sale, if I see that it’s $6 on Amazon, I’ll
drop it on Facebook or whatever. Just to keep it front of people without
being, like . . .

Jim: Buy my book.

Erin: . . . spamming . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . and pimping out the [laughs] book . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . . . . [time], right? Because I think it is a useful tool, and
you know, it’s the only place, and I say this all the time, it’s the only
place where all of my tips and tricks are in one place. You can find it on
the website – it’s going to be buried deep. [laughs] . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . but you can find it and piece it together. But if you want to
know how 5 Dollar Dinners works, start to finish, it’s all in the book. The
first book, yeah.

Jim: There’s something good about having, like, a physical could book.
Like, I’ve tried looking up recipes on, like, my iPad when I’m cooking, you
know, it tastes like oil and it’s, like, greasy . . .

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: . . . it gets, like, dirty, I’m, like, this isn’t . . . With the
book, I mean if it gets dirty, actually, I kind of like it, ’cause it’s,
like, I’m using the book.

Erin: Well-worn, yeah.

Jim: Like, if it’s a clean cookbook, it’s probably not one that I’ve been
using all that [laughs] often.

Erin: That’s right, that’s right. That’s too funny.

Jim: Okay, so you did all that through your platform. If we were to think
of these all as sort of sales channels, which you think were the most
effective in terms of selling copies of the book? You’ve mentioned Rachael
Ray, so obviously, mainstream, like Good Morning America . . .

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: . . . those are gonna be enormous.

Erin: You know, I think it’s the same, you know, sort of mentality and idea
as far as, like, earning revenue online in general – is like having
multiple channels and having multiple promotion channels going on kind of
all at once. Like, obviously when you launch something, whether it’s a
product, or an e-book, or a regular book, it’s got to be everywhere. You
know, you’ve got to have a Twitter party happening, you’ve got to have a
live Facebook chat going on . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . having a Pinterest party. You know, just getting people
talking about your book. You know, even people posting, “Oh, I got the book
on Instagram,” you know, and tagging you. It’s all of that; you know, it’s
a combination of the word-of-mouth, the content marketing, you know,
talking about it on your website, having, you know, freebies to go along
with it if you can develop the, you know, kind of corresponding content to
go with it. And just, you know, kind of creating those, you know, super
fans who are going to help you then sell beyond your current, you know . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . community of people. You know, and if you can get media, get
media. I mean just kind of having, like, a multifaceted approach to
getting, you know, all of the promotion you can get from as many different
channels as you can get, you know, out there. So that you get as many
eyeballs, you know, seeing your product and hearing about your book or
whatever your product may be. You know, I think I’ve heard this a number of
times and I think it’s true, you know, especially in new product or a new
brand, people need to see or hear about it two or three times before
they’re, like, “Oh, I should buy that,” or, “Oh, I should check that out.”
So you want people hearing about you from multiple places and multiple
sources so that they are intrigued by what you have to offer and how it can
help them.

Jim: You mentioned the idea of a super fan. What did you do to sort of
develop or find or nurture super fans?

Erin: You know, I think super fans are, first of all they’re key [laughs]
in getting, you know, with your promotion of whatever your products may be.
I think it’s just, you know, being out there, you know, talking to people,
providing them with useful content – in my case it’s free recipes, all the
time, every week. [laughs] Or ideas, you know, chatting with them on
Facebook, answering their emails as fast as you can so that they’re . . .
like, I respond to emails within four or five hours, usually, for a reader
email. And they’re always, like, “Woah. First of all, thanks for answering
my email, and second of all, thanks for answering it so quickly.” Right?

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: I mean it’s, I want to answer their email, I want to talk to them and
I do, but at the same time it’s, you know, kind of bigger business picture
– it’s good customer service, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: Like, you’re just really helpful [laughs] [to them.] You know, I
don’t do it to try and create super fans, but that’s what happens when you
are genuine and you are, you know, quick to respond to people and just
really want to help them out, you know, beyond just publishing a blog post

Jim: That’s a good point. You shouldn’t try to develop a quote unquote
super fan.

Erin: Right.

Jim: But you should treat everybody is you would want to be treated, and
you want to reply to the emails, help them out, be nice, everything. And
then eventually, the ones that are more vocal, that will respond or
participate in Pinterest parties and . . .

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: . . . you know, take a photo of the book, they’re just going to
naturally start doing it because they’ve connected with you, and they like
you, and they think the book’s great, and all that good stuff.

Erin: Right, right.

Jim: I think it’s funny. I guess it’s more so on the Internet, there’s
always, like, this sense, like, there are these strategies that you could
use to sort of blow up your business. Not blow up in a bad way, but, like,
you know . . .

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: . . . grow your business, growth hacking and all this. But in
reality, it’s just making connections with people, and then the ones that
are more vocal, they become your quote unquote super fans, but everyone’s
still a fan because they bought your book.

Erin: Right, and you know I think with growth hacking, growth hacking is
creating super fans. Like, that’s just a fancy word . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . fancy phrase for, you know, blowing up your business. You
know, and some people, growth hack a whole lot faster and I think it’s, you
know, you just hit the right concept. I could say, probably, that 5 Dollar
Dinners, [laughs] I growth hacked it. I didn’t, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: [laughs] But it growth hacked itself, right?

Jim: It’s just as good.

Erin: Yeah, yeah, which is great. And so I think that was even before
[laughs] [hacking] . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . [inaudible 00:39:43], but you know, and that’s happened for
certain people, which is amazing. And I don’t think that growth hacking is
something you could force; I’ve read enough about it to know what it is to
know that it works for some people and it doesn’t work for other people.
And even though strategies, I might be able to implement, you know, X, Y,
Z, that growth hacking expert, you know, A, says to do, and none of them
work. But I think it goes back to being yourself, being authentic, being
real, connecting with people. You know, I just put up a web [laughs] . . .
I was out of town this past weekend with my family at the ranch, at my
friend’s ranch, and I took a picture of my one-year-old – he’s the fourth
child, so you know, fourth child problems here.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: He is adorable when he cries, and so he just . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . . . . my friend’s son took the little Badminton racket out of
his hands and so he starts crying. Well I have my camera in my hand, so I
just literally pick it up and take a picture of him crying. Well my dog is,
like, hooping in the background.

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: I . . .

Jim: Nice.

Erin: . . . didn’t even see it. It’s, like, the best photo bomb ever. But
as I’m putting that kind of stuff out there, it’s just silly, and you know,
it just makes people giggle, it’s that kind of stuff that, like, you know,
I think helps people connect with you and, like . . .

Jim: ‘Cause . . .

Erin: . . . [inaudible 00:40:55].

Jim: . . . you’re real.

Erin: Yeah, I’m real. Everybody thinks that I have this, like, fabricated
life because I always post these lovely food pictures . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . which typically, there’s a child pulling on my leg because
they’re starving. And I’m, like, “Wait, mommy has to take a picture of this
food,” you know?

Jim: Yes.

Erin: [laughs] So I think it, you know, it just helps, you know, to be real
and to be honest, and you know, be sure what you’re passionate about and
just [laughs] share your dog’s photo bombing. [laughs]

Jim: That sounds like, you know, your readers become your friends in a . .

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: . . . sense. Like . . .

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: . . . you email, I mean you email your friends back and forth all
the time. Like, I don’t know if I email back my friends within four hours,
as it is. [Right?]

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: I also have an email problem. How many do I have in my inbox right
now? Like, 10. I’m super psycho processing my email as fast as I [laughs]

Jim: Well that’s good, I mean, ’cause it’s been able to build this

Erin: [Yeah.]

Jim: I don’t like the word following.

Erin: Community.

Jim: Community, right – it sounds a lot better.

Erin: [FaceTiming]. [Yeah.]

Jim: When you say following, it’s, like, you’re this cult leader and these
people are like, “Oh, the cult of the 5 Dollar Dinner,” which . . .

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: . . . probably exists.

Erin: Well, it might. Yeah, you know, I have seen some interesting things .
. .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . which is amazing. Those are the people who love the concept
and are excited about it, and implementing it in their own lives, and
that’s really what this is about. It’s about, you know, I’m really here to
help people navigate these, you know – How do I spend less on groceries?
You see people talking about it all the time. Just helping, being a
resource and a tool for them to be successful in that process, so that they
can have more money to pay off debt, or stay out of debt, or go on
vacation, or pay for college, or whatever it may be.

Jim: Yeah, yeah.

Erin: Right? I mean there’s so many, so many things that you could do with
your money. Wasting it the grocery store is [laughs] not one. [laughs]

Jim: Yeah, no, it’s a good point. Speaking of money, how do royalties work
with books?

Erin: So in your contract that you sign with the publishing house, it would
have an advance amount that’s, obviously, pre-agreed upon in the
negotiation process, and it will also have royalty percentages. It’s
typically tiered based on some, you know, copies 1 to 50,000, it’s this
percentage, copies 50,000 to 100,000, it’s this percentage, dah, dah, dah,
dah, dah. So it’s typically tiered, and the percentages can vary, and
that’s where your literary agent . . . and you know, I think there is an
industry standard in general, but if you think . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . you have a really hot topic or, you know, you’re already a
best-selling author, you could probably negotiate for higher royalty
percentages. But I would say that trust your literary agent on that,
because obviously, they’re getting a cut of that, so they’re going to want
to get it as high as they . . .

Jim: Right . . .

Erin: . . . possibly . . .

Jim: . . . right.

Erin: . . . can and negotiate that with the publishing house. So what
happens then is they send you your agent, your advance check, and then they
take their 15% and then they pay you the difference or whatever. And then
you write your book, you publish your book, it sells, and then you have to
sell however many books – you know, it’s all calculated how many . . .

Jim: Right.

Erin: . . . dollars per book or whatever , to earn your advance back. And
then once you’ve, you know, sort of earned your advance back, then you
collect royalties on all of the sales beyond that threshold. Does that make

Jim: Yep, yep.

Erin: So if your advance is $10,000, you probably have to sell, you know, 8
to 10,000 books, depending on the price that you get, and then beyond that
sell you get, you know, your royalty percentage per sell or whatever.

Jim: Do they set the price of the book ahead of time? Because, like, if
you go on Amazon, book prices will vary based on, like you said, when
there’s a sale or whatever. How do they know, like, the base price from
which to calculate the percentage?

Erin: Yeah, but the base prices is . . . well mine was set after the book
deal was signed. You know, it’s all percentage based and based on sales.
Yeah, I’m not a hundred percent versed in . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . all of that sales, you know, the tactics as far as, they sell
the book to Amazon for X price, and Amazon turns around and sells it for X
price. And then you know, I think we get, the publishing house and I get
the royalties based on the price they sold it to Amazon for.

Jim: There’s a little bit of, like, a lot of movement going on, it seems.

Erin: Oh yeah, there’s a ton of movement going on, and then you’re, like,
“There’s only three left in stock. How is that possible?”

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: [Inaudible 00:45:19], it’s all in the warehouse, they just have to
send an email to somebody and say, “Hey, stock it back up to 800 or

Jim: Or they just say three so that you buy more.

Erin: Or you buy right away. It’s actually probably a combination of Amazon
wanting to sell more and the stocking issue, but there’s always more
[laughs] in the warehouse, right?

Jim: Yeah, there’s always. Cool, this was great. I want to thank you for
your time. Before you went, I wanted to ask about the Rachael Ray Show.
Like you said, I guess it sounds like St. Martin’s, or your editor, or the
publicity department at St. Martin’s set up that and Good Morning America?

Erin: The St. Martin’s publicity department set up Good Morning America and
The View, both times I was on . . .

Jim: Okay.

Erin: . . . back in 2011. I took a little media hiatus because I had a
baby. [laughs]

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: I was on the Marie Osmond show when I was five months pregnant and
that was the last time I [laughs] . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . that was about as big as I wanted to be on television. So with
the Rachael Ray Show, I was on her show 2009; I actually emailed the show
and was, like, “Hey, this is what I’m doing,” and they wanted me on, which
is amazing. That was the first national media experience that I had, so I
did that on my own. Obviously . . . well no, I think they knew that had a
book coming out, but we couldn’t promote it because it wasn’t out yet.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: And then this last time, we’ve been reaching out to them a number of
times over the last five years, and this last time we just hit the right
concept at the right time. And it was my outside publicist who was reaching
out to them, and then the publishing house, you know, sent books over and
you know, orchestrated from kind of the book promotion side once we landed
a segment. So it was all a combination effort on this last time on the
show, so.

Jim: Okay, and this was to promote the third book, the one dish recipe . .

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: . . . [one.]

Erin: The last segment, they promoted the third book. I didn’t even know if
they were going to promote the book, and I walked out on set, she has a
book in her hand, and I’m, like, “Oh my goodness, thank goodness!” ‘Cause
you don’t know; like, we pitched a segment that doesn’t really have
anything to do with the book and both of the recipes that they chose of the
ginormous list that I sent them . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . were both from the one dish dinners book. And we’re, like,
“Hey, if you wouldn’t mind, we’d love to promote this.” I didn’t even know
until I got on set. [laughs]

Jim: That’s awesome.

Erin: So I was just very, very pleased.

Jim: The fun part about all this is . . .

Erin: No, [inaudible 00:47:39] [the book], yeah. But that was not something
I was expecting or even wanting, so. I mean, I wanted it, I wasn’t
expecting [it].

Jim: [laughs] Yeah, of course you would want it.

Erin: [laughs]

Jim: The fun part about all this is, like, being Facebook friends with
you, I get to see, like, the behind the scenes where you’re, like, picking
what to wear and, like, you’re nervous, and all this stuff and it’s been
fun. It feels like your readers probably also get to see that too, right?

Erin: Oh yeah, everybody loves . . . you know, I always take, like, behind
the scenes pictures, and you know, everybody just gets really excited. You
know, it’s kind of one of those, “Woah, she’s [wearing it] with what?” You
know . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . it’s just really exciting. And you know, Rachael Ray is, she’s
so generous and she’s, you know, her audience is perfect for, you know, for
5 Dollar Dinners and the concept that we have. And so we’re just really
fortunate to, you know, be invited back to the show, and you know,
hopefully, will lead to other opportunities as well that I think would be
really cool, so.

Jim: Yeah, definitely. I felt like I was on the Rachael Ray Show [laughs]
blogging a lot of the photos.

Erin: [laughs] I know, it’s kind of just one of those, you know, it’s an
amazing experience and you’re just so excited and honored, and you know,
humbled . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . to get to share it with everybody. And I wish that I could
take [laughs] everybody with me just for the fun of it. So we’ll have to
just share photos on [laughs] on Instagram and Facebook instead.

Jim: Yeah, yeah. So looking back, like, you said you wouldn’t do
everything different. Are you happy you published, now I guess, three
books? It seems like a silly question, but after all that work and looking
back, do you think it was a good idea?

Erin: Yes, I think having a book, especially, I think it gives you a lot of
authority in the space. You know, it can be a platform, to want to grow
your platform. It could be something that, you know, helps you become, you
know, quote, a television personality if that’s your goal. If your goal is
to speak amid events, having a, you know, you’re the author of X, Y, Z
book, it’s really helpful in, you know, sort of giving you that authority
that you kind of need to, you know, grow into the speaking world if that’s
. . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . you know, that’s what your goal is. And I think that, you
know, it’s just a . . .

Jim: Fun experience?

Erin: Yeah, it really was fun. And so my [laughs] next book, I told you I
was going to tell you about this one.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Erin: My fourth book, and I’m not planning on writing this anytime soon,
and I can’t write it anytime soon, and I tease it here and there, and every
time I do, people are, like, drooling about the concept. I have four boys,
and when I found out my third was a boy, I was in New York City having
lunch with my editor, and I said, “Michael, one day I’m going to write a
feeding teenage boys on a budget cookbook. You just wait.”

And he goes, “Oh yes, I would love to [laughs] publish that for you.” And so then I had a fourth boy, and I’m, like, “Okay, this is, like, I have to write this.” So I would love to write a book about feeding teenage boys on a budget. And I think it would be, you know, part recipe; probably not 150 or 200 recipes that my current books have, but probably more like 75 to 100.

But it would have quite a bit of, like, satirical drama, like feeding boys. You know, even though we have this no bodily functions rule at the dinner table, it still happens sometimes. And I actually have, like, [laughs] a [running] list of, like, silly things that they say, or foods that they had the wrong names for the
food, you know, that kind of . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: . . . thing. I think I will probably try and leave this, you know,
make it kind of a conversational cookbook and sort of satirical, like, boys
are just gross [laughs] . . .

Jim: They are.

Erin: . . . sort of concept. And I think it could be really entertaining,
but also really helpful for people who . . . you know, I remember my aunt –
I have three boy cousins, she raised three boys. And she, at one point, I
must’ve been a teenager probably, but I still remember it very vividly, she
would say, “Oh yeah, we go through about three boxes of cereal a day.” And
I’m, like, “Huh?”

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: Like, we go through, like, three a week in my family, you know?
She’s, like, “Oh, they’ll eat half a box for breakfast and half a box when
[laughs] they get home from school.” And I’m, like, [laughs]”What?” So just
kind of having that in the back of my head knowing that that’s coming, and
you know, what can we do about that that’s coming? And you know, feeding
them snacks after school right now is basically like a third meal of the
day, or fourth meal of the . . .

Jim: [laughs] Or fourth . . .

Erin: . . . day . . .

Jim: . . . meal.

Erin: . . . [right?] I might as well just have a pot of chili going as
soon [laughs] as they get home from school ’cause they eat so much in that
– I call it our fourth meal now. So you know, what does that look like? How
can I keep . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . costs down for them as they grow and still, you know, give
them . . .? I think I made a recipe the other day that’s going to be my
headline recipe [laughs] for this teenage boys on a budget cookbook.
[laughs] But yeah, so you know, who knows? And that may publish it – if
they don’t want to pick it up, I might have to self-publish that one. But I
think that that’s a concept too, that could sell itself, so.

Jim: Yeah, definitely.

Erin: Obviously I have the platform and the background to being kind of
known as kind of this budget chef, right . . .

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: . . . that I think would do really well, [laughs] so we’ll see.

Jim: Whenever you get that going let me know; my dad’s one of five
brothers, so I can ask him what my grandma did.

Erin: I know. You know what? That’s one of the things I want to
incorporate, is what do other families, you know, who have all boys, what
are their tips and tricks? I don’t want this to be all about us and our
family, but how other people survived, you know, the [laughs] . . .

Jim: It was a . . .

Erin: . . . teenage . . .

Jim: . . . lot of rice.

Erin: . . . years.

Jim: Like you said, rice is cheap, relatively cheap, and so it was just a

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: But yeah. Well, Erin, this is been a ton of fun, I’ve actually
learned a lot, and I think people listening are going to take a lot away.
Especially if they’re thinking about publishing a book and doing promotion
and all that, so thank you so much.

Erin: You’re welcome, thanks for having me, it’s been great to share with

Jim: Definitely. If people want to find you, where would they go?

Erin: So is the website and you can easily email me
through there as well as, it’s got links to Facebook and Twitter and
Instagram and Pinterest and everywhere. I am . . .

Jim: [laughs]

Erin: . . . online a lot, all the time everywhere, so I’m not hard to
find. [laughs]

Jim: Great, well thanks again.

Erin: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Jim: Take care.

Erin: Bye-bye.

Jim: Wow. You know, I remember when I finished talking with Erin, we said
our goodbyes and I hung up, I was just blown away about how much I learned
about publishing a book. And it’s all because she’s able to not only
explain it and it’s simple and easy to understand, she just experienced it
– she’s had such huge successes that it’s amazing. So I hope you really
enjoyed it. If you want the show notes, you can go to,
that’s the number 12. If you look at the player, if you listen to it there,
if you look right underneath the player, there’s a way to click tweet.
You’re on Twitter, just tweet her a thank you; she shared a ton of stuff,
she’s very generous with her time. I can only thank her so much; I keep
thanking her all the time, but it would help if you did that as well. Also,
if you haven’t subscribed, reviewed, or given this podcast a rating on
iTunes, well I’m going to be in [new noteworthy] for a couple more weeks –
every last rating, vote, everything, matters so, so much.

Thank you if you can take a couple seconds to do that right now. You
need to reach or share a thought, anything you want, you can reach me at, or you could tweet me @wangarific. See you next time.

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In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog ( that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

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