Back in March 2011 I interviewed Jeanne about her cookbook contract with Chronicle for The Art of Gluten-Free Holiday Baking. Since our interview, Jeanne and I have kept in touch via Twitter and Facebook and I’m excited that I’ll get to meet Jeanne *in person* at the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in just a few weeks. Thanks, Jeanne, again for sharing your experience, and if you place to stay while on book tour in my area, you’re more than welcome to stay at Casa Green.
Needless to say, Jeanne has been working very hard on her cookbook and I’d like to provide this update on her book.
Is everything still on track for pub date of Fall 2012?
What stage of production are you in? Have you finished the manuscript?
I am currently waiting for the proofs. This is the stage where I look over the book one final time to make sure there are no glaring/obvious mistakes.
What is your biggest piece of advice to an aspiring cookbook author who has a contract, but now must write the manuscript?
I would highly encourage folks to make a schedule with all the deadlines for themselves. Among other things, they should put on it when recipe testing will be done, when each chapter will be done, when the whole thing should be done, etc. This makes things so much less stressful. You can see what work you have to do, and what work you have done, and how close you are to finishing on a day to day basis. This helps avoid the last minute freakout.
Any words of advice about developing and testing recipes?
Write down every single thing that happens during the development process. There were a couple of recipes for which I didn’t write down certain key issues with the recipe and then I had to re-test them (even though they should have been done testing). Also, when your recipes go out to outside testers, make sure your testers understand that they need to follow the recipes exactly and not play around with them. I had some communication problems around this issue with my testers. We eventually got things settled, but it took a bit of time to get things straightened out. Also, I recommend writing the headnotes as you write the recipes. It makes things so much easier.
Has your work been edited? How did that feel for you as the author?
Yes, it has been edited. And I have to say–it completely rocked my world. I was shocked at how badly I responded to the edits. I have written a Ph.D. dissertation, for goodness sakes, so I assumed that I would sail through the cookbook editing process. My manuscript was a sea of red when it came back from the copy editor. It turns out that the style sheet I thought I was supposed to use (the one on the publisher’s site) was different from the style sheet I should have used. So, every single recipe had major edits to conform to the style sheet, in addition to other edits. Sigh. This made it kind of hard to edit for me because I couldn’t easily see the other stuff I needed to work on. My editor even wrote a note that came with the edited manuscript, telling me that it was a well-done book and not to be put off by the amount of edits. But, I kind of fell apart over the edits. Next time I will know better and, among other things, ask my editor specifically for the style sheet they want me to use. But, now that it is all over, I feel like I am a much stronger food writer after having gone through this process. That feels terrific!
What plans are you making for the DIY book tour?
Yes, I have been kind of obsessing over the book tour. Since my book comes out in the Fall, and my book topic (Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays) is such a season-specific book, I need to have a fast and furious tour, which makes me a bit nervous. I am hoping to hit the big cities in person if I can. And I have pals in various places that can put me up. I hope to be able to connect with kitchen stores so I can maybe do some baking classes in connection with the book and maybe pay for part of the tour that way. I am also trying to think of some online book tour stuff to do that would be fun. I was thinking of maybe having a Gingerbread House contest related to the Gingerbread House recipe in my book. Or, something similar. Also, I am very active on Twitter and Facebook, so I want to try to do some stuff that is specific to those two mediums. If anyone has any other ideas, I would be happy to hear them!
What do you wish you knew then (before contract) that you know now (after manuscript writing-phase)?
Write down everything! It is so much easier to write stuff down the first time around than it is to have to re-test something because you forgot to write down a key piece of info. Also, I would clarify with your editor what style sheet to use (who knew the style sheet would be such an issue?). Makes things so much easier!