Emilie Haney | Influencer Spotlight 130

Emilie Haney is a self-employed freelance writer, photographer, graphic designer, and part-time youth director living in Northern California with her husband and two dogs. Emilie writes Young Adult fiction and has built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand Create Explore Read, with a focus on bookish merchandise sold on Etsy and Society6. Check out Create Explore Read or follow Emilie on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to name a few.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and including how you became a writer?

I have always loved story. I loved reading since I was super young. My parents would read to me before bed, when we were on vacations, things like that. And I think that love of story just transitioned as you get older. You want to write your own stories. So I started doing that at 10 and they were horrible, but as I got a little older, when I hit my senior year of high school, I challenged myself to write a novella for my senior project. It just kicked off from there.

And then, as time went by, I actually studied music in college and did a bunch of different things, ended up doing photography as well, and then circled back around to my love of writing. Every year, I write for, it’s called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. And as I did that, I just fell in love again with writing as an adult.

So I picked up freelance writing in, gosh, probably eight years ago and just started to seek out clients. I’ve worked on Upwork in a bunch of different freelancing sites, and found people who just wanted to hone their stories, or they wanted me to write them for them. So I’ve done a lot of that. And on the side, I’ve also written for myself and I’m working on getting my book published, hopefully sometime soon.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your young adult novels?

Oh, so many things, but since I write predominantly young adult science fiction and fantasy, there’s a lot of things that happen in our real world that, to me, I think it would just be a little bit cooler if it was in space, or if there was magic involved. So I start to think of ideas based on what people would call a high concept. So the current novel that I’m going to be submitting to publishers is The Greatest Showman meets Star Wars in space. So things like that, where like, oh, I love these two things. What would it look like if they were together? Same thing with fantasy worlds, but usually it starts with a what if question. What if this happened, then what would happen next? And then I fall in love with the characters and go from there.

What have been some of your favorite collaborations to-date, whether with a brand or with another author?

So through my Instagram page, which is dedicated mostly to books, hence all of the books behind me, I’ve gotten a chance to work with a ton of different publishers. So I get advanced copies of books to read and things like that, but then I’ve also been connected with brands who just like my style or want to reach into a different area on Instagram.

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One of the brands I’m working with recently is, I don’t know if I’m saying it right, but Gaston Luga, and they create really awesome backpacks. And it’s perfect for me as a writer, because I’m always headed off to a coffee shop to write somewhere, or adventuring out on a hike or something. So they sent me a couple of backpacks to use and I get to feature my books, but I also get to feature their products. So for me, working with them and working with Studio Headphones as well, because I listen to a lot of audio books, it melds really well with my brand. So I like a brand that connects with reading. Maybe not, oh, it’s not book-related necessarily, but something that’s along the same lines as, I enjoy reading, or I enjoy listening to audio books, or things like that.

Can you tell us about your Exploring the Blank Page podcast?

Absolutely. My co-host and I, Christen Krumm, just, it was during, I think, the apocalypse of 2020. We sat down, and we don’t live close by, so we sat down over zoom and brainstormed this idea. Independently, we had both wanted to start a podcast, but we thought, wouldn’t it be better with us together? So there’s a little bit of that work sharing type of situation.

So we started, I guess it would be, I think it was the end of 2020, and just reached out to the authors that we’ve connected with. We both work with authors quite frequently, so we had a lot of people we had already known and we knew that they’d be willing to be on that podcast. So we started off our first season with those intimate connections, and then moving on into a second season, and then thinking about our third. We’re starting to reach out into just more of, Hey, are you interested in being on a podcast, and growing it that way.

But it’s focused on young adult books and we love to share anything that’s connected with that. We had an editor on recently. Just things like that, where we can share our love of reading and writing together. And we came up with the name based on the fact that we all start at the blank page, whether that’s a reader, and so, turning their page, or whether that’s the writers who sit down to write. We all start there, so what does our process look like?

What are some of your weird collaborations you’ve received, if there are any?

Yeah. No, definitely there have been. So when I think about collaborating with our brand, I always try to think, okay, is this something I would use in my daily life? But then also, there’s the constraint of does it fit on my platform? I’ve gotten some vitamin connections that have been very interesting. But honestly, I’ve actually decided to work with them, because as me as a person, I like gummy vitamins and I want to explore, Olly’s is a new brand that I could really use. So when I’m thinking of working with somebody, it’s always will this fit into my personal lifestyle, as well as what I put forth on my Instagram page or my platform?

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And a lot of the times, it might seem a little farfetched that vitamins and books go together, because they really don’t. But me as a person, I’m kind of the core of the brand. So I figure, if it’s something that I would use honestly, then I’ll work with them. But yeah, I’ve done that in some weird light stand things that, it’s just weird stuff that people think, Hey, will you sell this, or will you share about this for me? But again, if it’s something that I think I would use or will actually showcase, then I’ll probably work with them.

What are some of your goals as it pertains to the end of the year, or you’re writing and influencer marketing?

I am a big dreamer and a big goal creator/follower, but at the same time, I am a bit of a free spirit, as I think most creatives are. So I like to sit down and plan and think, this is what I want to accomplish by the end of the year. And then a lot of the times, I kind of, oh, but there’s this project or this project. So I have a feeling that’s going to happen for the rest of this year. But as of actually today, the recording of this, I’ve just submitted my book to my agent. So I’m going to be on submissions with publishers for the rest of this year with that young adult novel.

And then, I will basically hop into the next book, which is the best advice I could give any writer, is just always write the next book. And as I’m doing that, I will also be just trying to expand my platform in general, sharing more about my writing journey and more about the books that I love, basically. Other than that, I think probably consistency would be my last goal. It’s hard after coming off of that crazy year, last year, and things are starting to shift back a little bit to the way they were. But at the same time, everything is different too. So I’m hoping, at least hoping to be able to get back into the normal, what’s the word I’m looking for? Then normal run of things, I guess. But yeah, being able to shift back into regular life, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. So, yeah.