Ep.9 – Prioritizing, Publishing, & Platform Building with Alicia Greer
Jul 28, 2022 by Dalene Bickel
Ep.9 Ink and Impact

Dalene Bickel 

I am thrilled to have an author friend with us today, Alicia Greer. She is a kingdom communicator who enjoys finding creative ways to share spiritual truth with her generation. She is a University of Southern California alum and she earned her Master of Arts and Christian leadership from Grand Canyon University in 2014. Alicia is the author of Dethroning the Queen, and enjoys creating relatable and inspirational Christian content on her YouTube channel. Alicia is married to Jerrell Greer – a youth and young adult pastor – and the two have one young son named Zion. Welcome, Alicia. So glad to have you here today.

 

Alicia Greer 

Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

 

Dalene Bickel 

We actually met about a year ago, virtually, because you’re in California, I’m in North Carolina, but through the weekly write-in that I offer for Christian writers called The Inkwell. And so at that time, we got to know each other and I learned about your book, Dethroning the Queen, which we’re going to talk about in just a little bit. But first, I wanted to ask you, what is one book that has really made an impact in your life, whether it was when you were a child, or as an adult?

 

Alicia Greer 

Aside from the Bible, I would say, a book called Boundaries in Dating by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud. They are also the authors of the book Boundaries, but I heard about them when I was single through this book called Boundaries in Dating. I was in a relationship crisis and that teaching really opened me up to the concept of boundaries. They’re Christian, they’re ministers, and they’re also Christian psychologists. So it’s really nice to have that pastoral and clinical background.

 

It was just so wonderful. I think the concept of boundaries has been so helpful, and God used them to show me that boundaries are … it’s not about holding people at arm’s length. I think people hear that word, and they think that’s what it means. But it’s really about responsibility and stewardship, and how do we steward our time in our relationships? So definitely that book.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Oh, that sounds like a good one. I haven’t heard of that one. Thank you for sharing that.

 

So when you began to write Dethroning the Queen, what was your hope at that point? How did you want to impact your readers?

 

Alicia Greer 

When I wrote that, I actually was at first just writing for myself. I didn’t set out initially with the intent to write a book. I was writing lessons. I’m just a copious notetaker by nature, whether I’m listening to a sermon … I think a lot of readers and writers are note takers. And so I was just taking notes about some of the things the Lord was showing me, particularly about female relationships. That’s the topic of my book.

 

And at a certain point, it occurred to me that these lessons are not only for me – all of these insights and scriptures and things that the Lord’s helping me to wrestle with and apply – those lessons aren’t for me to keep to myself. So at a certain point, I realized, Hey, there’s a theme to this group of notes that I took. They really became the meat of my book. Once I decided that it was a book, I wanted to impact women to help bring biblical perspective into how we interact with one another in our female relationships, and not just go down the cliche of Oh, I don’t get along with women. Women are catty, you know, but really crucifying some of those mindsets and replacing them with biblical truth.

 

Dalene Bickel 

That’s so good. And I know, whenever I was looking at your book and reading more about it, one point you brought up, we can all relate to how we’ve been treated by others, right? Especially the cattiness of women and our self-esteem and how we’re feeling “less than” and then other people maybe say something that make us feel even more “less than.”

 

But then you ask a question, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s a tough question.” It flips the tables; okay, so when have you done that to someone else? And I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I guess I kind of have.” So this is such a great book. And to be honest, I haven’t read anything like it out there. And so that’s why I was hoping that you would agree to be on this podcast because this is such an important topic, I think.

 

Alicia Greer 

I am blessed to hear that. It was definitely on my heart really strongly. So I’m always blessed to know it’s encouraging others.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Yes, yes, for sure. You said that you started out just taking notes for yourself. So were you experiencing these kinds of issues with women? Is that why you’re writing these notes or did the Lord just start showing you scriptures? Or how did you come about writing that book?

 

Alicia Greer 

It was based on things I was learning maybe not in real time, but in that season. I was in college when I first started taking those notes, and I was part of campus ministry with a group of women. We were doing Bible studies in the dorms; we even had a worship dance group on campus. It was really exciting.

 

But what was interesting – and I think anyone that’s been involved in ministry realizes this – is that God brings together people with really different personality types. And so in order to get the work done, you have to learn how to work together.

 

And so the Lord really developed a great sisterhood between us. It’s not a horror story, like, “Oh, this was such a bad experience.” It wasn’t bad at all. It was a good experience of learning sisterhood, but it took learning hard lessons to get there, and it took not doing the normal thing of, “Oh, she operates this way, I operate this way, then it’s just not gonna work.” No, we had to learn how to work together; how to overcome obstacles.

 

It was in that process of working together, really in ministry with other women in college, that a lot of those lessons came to be.

 

 

Prioritize Your Writing

 

 

Dalene Bickel 

It’s great that you were able to get those insights at that age. So many of us learn it much later. That was a blessing, I’m sure.

 

What was one of the biggest challenges you had to overcome while you were writing it, or even after writing it?

 

Alicia Greer 

Definitely time. I was kind of learning throughout college, but I wrote the book two years after I graduated from undergrad. Time was definitely the biggest hurdle to overcome because while I’m in college, of course, that’s college. We all know why that would be busy. And then after that, I started working full time and I had roommates. So then you’re trying to do your social life. I was in my early twenties, so you’ve got work and your social life and your friends and your roommates. So just carving out the time was the biggest hurdle.

 

The Lord really took me on a journey where He really was speaking me in that season and saying, “Alicia, I want you to take your gifts seriously.” I felt that impression so strongly, to make the time. And so what I ended up doing was I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I [had been] living in Los Angeles at the time, but after our rent was up, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona; it was a lower cost of living. So I was able to live alone without any roommates because I was able to afford my own place. Whereas in LA, there were four of us living in a house. It was a lot of fun. But I moved and I got my own place.

 

This was the really tough part. I decided to live on my savings for the first couple months of being there. I know it sounds so crazy. I was used to being that studious, good grades … I do things right. And there was that pressure of, “Oh no! People [are going to] look at me like the flaky college grad that doesn’t want to settle down.” But for me, it was really such a faith journey. I felt the Lord saying, “You need to make writing your book and finishing your book your job right now.” And I tried to ignore that, actually. I was applying for jobs but I was still writing. But the Lord was like, “I’m not going to open that door yet.”

 

So long story short, I treated finishing my book like a job. And the scripture that was on my heart was John 17:4 – “But Jesus said, I brought you glory.” He’s talking to the Father. He said, “I brought you glory by finishing the work you gave me to do.” And I just felt really convicted by that scripture. Look, the Lord didn’t give us gifts for us to just play with the idea of them. He gave us our gifts to finish the assignments that he gave us.

 

That scripture was just really speaking to me. So I would write twelve hours a day, fourteen hours a day, just to finish that. And the day that I finished and signed a contract with a publisher, I got a call back from one of the jobs I’d applied for. So it worked out for me.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Yes! But that was a huge step of faith for you. What a great experience that you can reflect back on the faithfulness of God.

 

Something else that you said that I wanted to point out, too, was about how God was calling you to take your writing seriously. I just have been given that sense by God too for calling Christian writers; right now is a time when we need to boldly stand up for Him and share the messages that he has placed on our hearts.

 

So yeah, I agree 100% that if we have been given a story, a message from God, then we need to share that.

 

We were speaking previously, and you mentioned a little bit about your publishing experience. And I was wondering if you could share that with our listeners as well?

 

 

Publish Wisely

 

 

Alicia Greer 

Yes. So the publishing experience was really a learning experience for me. I had no knowledge of the publishing industry at all. And I was really in that very green state of [thinking], if I finished a book, then that’s all. That’s all my job is.

 

I didn’t understand that, as a writer, as an author, you have to promote your book, and you have to understand publishing, and you’ve got to understand sales and those kinds of things. How do you navigate that as a Christian writer? I didn’t understand any of that.

 

I was just at the time going off knowing the Lord wants me to finish and he had made it really clear finishing is not leaving the manuscript on my computer. Finishing is submitting it and getting it out.

 

I really wanted to stop at that stage, I did. And then He was like, “No, keep going. Follow all the way down.” And so I found a website where you can submit your Christian manuscript and it allows various publishers, mainly smaller publishers, to look at your manuscript. And so I just went with that. It was the first thing I saw, you know. Now, I think you [should] do your research first, but I was just, “Let’s just get it out there.”

 

I ended up going with a hybrid publisher, which, the way they described it, is they do some of the things that a publishing house would do like distribution, and editing, and formatting, and doing my cover, but I would be responsible for selling some of my own copies, like a self-publisher would. Now I wouldn’t go with a hybrid publisher in the future. But I think at the time, it allowed me to complete the work. And I was really blessed for the opportunity to get it done that way. It was a learning experience for me, but it was a blessing at the time.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Yes. Well, I do want to speak on that just a little bit, because there are some not-so-good hybrid publishers out there that are willing to take advantage of green writers. And I’m glad that you weren’t completely taken advantage of, but I do believe that you had to pay up front for like 1,000 copies of your book, is that right? So you were shipped 1,000 copies of your book.

 

A lot of times, there are some hybrids or boutiques, sometimes they’re called vanity publishers, that they will, like you said, offer you the cover design and editing and so forth. But they require you to pay a significant upfront investment for that, as well as pay for a certain number of books to have in hand. I’ve heard of some people having to order as many as 5,000 to 10,000 copies of their books. That’s just really, really, really hard – especially for a first time author – to sell that many books.

 

Plus, there’s the storage factor and then you have to ship them out yourself. A lot of that goes on. So if you’re a new author listening, just like Alicia said, do your research. There are so many more avenues now available for self-publishing than when Alicia was doing this, that by just taking the time to research and learn how to do it yourself, you can save a lot of money that way. But yeah, but if you are in a time crunch or whatever, and it feels right to you, then feel free to go for that. But like we both say, do your research.

 

Alicia Greer 

Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ll say it that way. Like you’re saying, I think absolutely anyone listening, listen to what Dalene was saying. That’s what I didn’t understand at the time. So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can say that it worked out in my case.

 

I think God gives us grace for what we don’t know. It was a lesson learned.

 

Grateful that it got published, but yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily….

 

Dalene Bickel 

So did they require … did they receive part of the royalties, too?

 

Alicia Greer 

So the way it worked, so I had to only buy 1,000 copies. There wasn’t a fee that I had to pay on top of those.

 

Dalene Bickel 

That’s good. Yeah. So there are a lot of them out there that do require that.

 

Alicia Greer 

Right. All I had to do was be responsible for those 1,000 and they were very transparent about that upfront. I knew what I was getting myself into. Again, it doesn’t always work that way. The reason why I said yes to that was because of our network. My dad’s a minister and I knew that with a few speaking engagements, I could do that. So it worked out. But yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

 

They required me to buy those 1,000 copies – they weren’t at wholesale rate, but they also weren’t at retail; it was like a middle rate in between there. So you know, it was a hefty amount of money. But I was still able to make some profit off of them once I sold those first 1,000 copies. And then after that, I get a royalty from the copies that they sell. And once I got past the first 1,000 copies, now I’m able to purchase copies at a wholesale rate and get even more [royalties] when I sell them directly. So that’s the way it works in my case.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Thank you for sharing that, because I do think that’s going to be helpful for a lot of people.

 

I know that when you were at The Inkwell last year, you were starting to write another book. And I know from our discussions beforehand that you’ve kind of put that on hold to work on building your platform. So I was curious: are you going with self-publishing right now, are you working through an agent, or are you working with a traditional publisher?

 

 

Build Your Platform

 

 

Alicia Greer 

This time around, I would like to work with a traditional publisher. That’s kind of recent; even when I started the writing workshops that you were doing, I was thinking I was just going to do self-publishing. But lately, I felt encouraged by the Lord to not close that door to myself. I know that traditional publishing is about platform, it really is. And so I kind of had this thing in my mind, like, “Oh, well, it’s about platform, so therefore, it’s not for me.” But I really felt encouraged to not look at it that way; to just instead build a platform.

It’s so interesting that there were a few authors that I met that had that same encouragement for me. It’s kind of like Queen Esther, you know, when Mordecai told her, “You were born, you were put in a position for such a time as this.”

The fact that my family is in ministry, I do know different churches. I may not have a big following on my own, but I feel like the Lord has encouraged me to not look at [it like] that. I was like, well, “I don’t want to cheat just because my family is in ministry.” He’s like, “It’s not cheating. It’s you can see where the position that you’ve been given to get out the things that I’m giving you to give.”

 

So I feel called to just work on the platform side – the work that we don’t want to do. I think most people who are writers at heart, we just want to write. That’s the part we want to do, [not] all this other stuff. But we kind of have to have to do it either way. Even with self-publishing, you really need to.

 

Dalene Bickel 

I was just going to add that platform is not just for traditional publishing. Now, they look more for the numbers of followers, but everyone needs to build their platform. And I highly encourage everyone to start while you’re writing. Don’t just wait until after that book is written to then say, “Oh, no! I need a platform.”

 

Begin building those relationships, because that’s what the platform building is all about. It’s relating with your readers. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about engagement and learning how you can best help them. And if you’re doing that during the writing phase, that will help your material as well.

 

Alicia Greer 

Right, absolutely.

 

Dalene Bickel 

I went on to your YouTube channel, and I was just blown away, Alicia. You do such a phenomenal job on there. It’s so energetic and fun. And obviously, you’re on fire for the Lord. It just shows. You are so engaging in the way you do it, especially the drawings and stuff. That’s so cool.

 

So let me step back for a second and first let me ask you, how did you decide on YouTube? Because not a lot of authors are really using that platform.

 

Alicia Greer 

Well, first, thank you so much for the kind words. It’s always encouraging to hear because sometimes I think when we’re doing the work, we’re like, “Is this reaching people? Is this helping in any way?”

 

Dalene Bickel 

I started binging once I watched one, then another…

 

Alicia Greer 

I’m glad. So I started with YouTube without a book strategy in mind; it was just another platform that was open to be used. Back in 2009-2010 when people started getting on YouTube, I started the channel. I didn’t always consistently use it, but I saw it as another tool, another ministry platform.

 

More and more people are just consuming video content. There are people who don’t read books that will watch a video. And so, at the time, I just felt impressed by God to put some of the things He put on my heart in video form for the people who need it in video form. So that’s really … it didn’t start out connected to the books in my mind. Now I understand it’s very much connected, because it’s all part of platform.

 

But really, from my heart, it’s just another way to spread the word of God.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Yes, absolutely. And, you know, a lot of us authors are now looking at it like, “Oh, we should be doing more video” because, exactly to your point, so many people that aren’t readers are consuming video. And, you know, some of us authors just say, “Well, I’ll just do some reels on Instagram,” which is perfect, too.

 

But I think YouTube is what everyone immediately thinks of whenever they think video. And a lot more authors are starting to get on there and even use it just even for their trailers, if nothing else. So as you’ve started to make the connections between YouTube and your books, are you now thinking that YouTube is helping you come up with the content for your book? Or how is that correlating?

 

Alicia Greer 

That’s always an interesting question. In my mind, when I have a burden for certain teaching, I’m always thinking, is this a book, is this a blog, is this a video?

 

I most often go off of the length. If I feel I can do this topic justice and I can talk about this for 15 minutes, I will put it in a in a video form. If I feel like this is a topic that I need to unpack with scriptures and give examples, then I tend to look at that as a writing project. But I could still do videos, in pieces; the videos may not be the whole thing.

 

And that’s where the synergy can start to happen, where we have a piece of it in a video and if you want to learn more, I have a book on this. So I think they can work together; you can kind of mix and match your content for different classes.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Yes. So do you already have a contract with a publisher?

 

Alicia Greer 

I don’t. I am first just working on building up the platform because once I realized I wanted to do that, the first thing I did was I attended a writers conference. I was able to interact with a couple agents and take some workshops. And that’s where I learned that I want to get my platform where it needs to be before I even pitch to the to the agent, because I was really fortunate that the agent was pretty transparent about what numbers she was looking for.

 

I thought, “You know what, let me first just get there. I think that’s a good goal I can have in mind, and then I will go down the route of [publishing].” It’s not that I can’t submit to the agent now, but she’s like, “I’m not gonna have anything to do if we’re not ready to send it out. And we’ll be ready to send it out if we have at least a certain benchmark.” So I’m just trying to be really strategic in ways that I wasn’t before.

 

Dalene Bickel 

It makes sense. So your plan, once you hit that number, is to then submit to the agent. Do you have any idea or guesstimate of how long that will take?

 

Alicia Greer 

I would love to be in a position within a year. I have some opportunities coming up the end of this year, I’m trying to see if they will open up the door for my platform to kind of go to the next level. So we’ll see. This is where I’m not the expert at all.

 

Dalene Bickel 

That’s good; I think that’s realistic – about a year. Because you still have to finish building that platform, then you have to submit to the agent, assuming that she’s still the one that’s interested in that material. Then she has to pitch it. It’s a process. So that’s good that you’re realistic about those expectations.

 

That’s so exciting. And everything that you were saying, it all keeps coming back to those connections. You’re getting out from behind your computer screen, because so many of us authors, myself included, are introverts. [But] it’s connections: You’re going to a writers conference, you’re talking to agents, you’re thinking ahead to these things at the end of the year of making more connections that will help build your platform. So it’s all about people, right?

 

And God made us for community. I think that’s really key for us to remember that; to not just hide away and then hope that our book will somehow sell thousands of copies on its own. We have to work at it along the way.

 

I am looking at the time and we’re kind of getting close to the time we need to wrap up. So I was wondering if there was just one more thing? Is there a writing truth or tip that you might share with our listeners, before we go?

 

Alicia Greer 

That tip would be from the same scripture that encouraged me, in addition to the John 17:4 that I mentioned, but 2 Corinthians 9:10. It talks about God giving seed to the sower. And I just really love that encouragement, because I think of the ideas that he gives us as seed, whether it’s a creative idea or a teaching idea. We’re all different kinds of writers, and he keeps giving seed to the sower, which means we’re actively sowing the seed.

 

So I just think if we always look at it like this, like, “What does it look like to steward this seed? What’s the next thing that I need to do?” Then the Lord can bring the increase, but he wants to keep giving seed to those who are in the process of sowing, not waiting for him to just do it all.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Oh, that’s so good. Yes. Thank you for sharing that.

 

So where can our listeners learn more about you? Obviously, YouTube, so please share your handle there. And if you have a website or where people can get your book, that kind of thing?

 

Alicia Greer 

Yes. So my website is aliciargreer.com. That’s also my Instagram handle @AliciaRGreer. My YouTube channel is AliciaReneeGreer. My name is spelled out so you can find me there. You can also find me on Facebook, @AliciaReneeGreer. But yeah, my website, my book, and all my links are at aliciargreer.com.

 

Dalene Bickel 

Perfect. And I will also include a link to that in the show notes so people can just do one click and get there.

 

But if you are a woman, I highly encourage you to read the Dethroning the Queen because it is such a good, good book. And so Alicia, thank you so much for joining us today. It has been a pleasure.

 

Alicia Greer 

Thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed the talk.

 

Industry Update

 

There isn’t an industry update this week because, well, I didn’t come across anything that was truly relevant to us this week.

Which leads me to wonder – do you appreciate the stats and news about the industry that I’ve been sharing? If not, I’ll discontinue that part of the show in future episodes as well. But if you like the info, let me know. I’m considering putting them together in one bonus episode every month rather than including them every week. 

 

Weigh in on the topic by emailing me at info@inkandimpact.com or send me a DM in Instagram. 

Listener Opportunities

 

Are you receiving my email newsletters? If not, be sure to download my free gift for you, The 10-Step Author Blueprint, and you’ll be good to go! Each month you’ll receive encouragement, writing tips, and first dibs on special writing opportunities. 

 

Do you like WWII-era historical fiction? If so, be sure to sign up to receive your free copy of my new e-book, Made to Fly, when it launches mid-August! 

Next Week’s Episode

Be sure to come back next week when guest Elizabeth Jacobson will share how to write a believable faith journey. 

Subscribe below and, if you know a fellow Christian writer, please share this podcast with them as well.

Thank you for listening. And remember:

Don’t just write a book. Make an impact.

Subscribe to the Ink and Impact Podcast