• 6 Tips for Negotiating a Traditional Cookbook Contract

    It was just a few months ago that I negotiated my third and fourth cookbook contracts. I’ve actually negotiatled all of my cookbook contracts because I don’t have an agent. I toyed around with getting an agent, mainly to see if I could get a better advance, but because I was approached by a publisher, I decided to move forward and negotiate my own terms again. I’m really not sure if this is unusual, but I’ve done it now for the third time, and thought I’d share a few things I learned along the way.

    Note: This information is NOT professional legal advice because I am not an attorney or an agent. So, if you’re unsure about the way this relates to your specific cookbook contract situation then I highly advise you to seek professional legal advice. This is not legal advice. Use it for information, but seek an attorney if you need one.

    Think of negotiating your cookbook contract like negotiating the purchase of a home. Sometimes you use a real-estate agent and sometimes the house is For Sale By Owner. In either case, each party is expected to negotiate. In book deals, not every author has the same contract outcome and in home buying the same is true. But, in all cases it’s all about negotiation and a back-and-forth discussion. In the end what you hope for is a deal where each party feels good about the outcome of the contract. Then the project can move forward in a positive fashion.

    Before I proceed, I do want to emphasize that I value the work of both agents and contract/intellectual property attorneys a great deal. I know from working as an editor for Joy of Cooking (Scribner 2006) and BakeWise (Scribner 2008) that agents are necessary and beyond helpful in many instances. But, my particular situation was a bit different. I don’t currently retain an agent,  and for my cookbooks I was approached directly by the publisher, and/or an editor, at each publishing house. I did write and submit a cookbook proposal for my first cookbook, but I knew ahead of time that the editor was waiting for the proposal, so an agent wasn’t necessary to get it in the door and on the acquisition editor’s desk. (Note: my platform and network helped in all instances of being offered a cookbook contract. The publisher reached out to me based on my visibility in the marketplace. More on that in another post, but for now just remember the importance of your platform.)

    For me the hardest part of negotiating my own contract was wearing the hat of negotiator while maintaining a professional relationship with my (hopefully) soon-to-be-editor. But, I also looked at it this way: if my publisher accepts unsolicited and un-agented proposals, and since they had contacted me to write a specific book for them, then they more than likely expected that I would negotiate my own contract. In these situations the publisher has probably walked the fine line between being a hard-nosed and unbending-publishing-partner and a publishing partner who negotiates the terms of the contract with the author.

    So, if you find yourself in a situation where you have decided to negotiate your own cookbook contract, and don’t retain an agent, my tips are below.

    1. Value your time and value your value. Before your embark on negotiating your own contract remember that your time is valuable and your knowledge is worth something as well. Book publishers make their money packaging and selling your work and your words. They can’t do what they do without authors who write books for them to publish. Remember this and don’t sell yourself short by accepting terms that don’t make the project worth your time and effort. And if your book is your baby, and your best work, find the best publisher for that work.

    2. Define your own idea of success. Ask for what you want in a professional and thought-out way. My cookbook contracts are different from each other and I can only speculate different from what other authors are offered. It’s my job to define success in my own terms when it comes to my advance, royalties, print-runs, and expenses I’m responsible for paying out of my advance.

    3. Ask for everything in writing. Whenever I make a cookbook contract counter-offer I put everything in writing. If the contract is available in an electronic format I open the document in Word and ask questions or make counter-offers using tracked changes. This works for me so that when it comes time to discuss the counteroffer I have a documented version of the terms I want and so does the publisher. Our conversation starts there.

    4. Sleep on it. Don’t feel like you have to say yes or no to the contract immediately. In fact, it’s best to read the contract through and then let some time pass before you say yes or no. After you’ve carefully considered the terms of the agreement then you send your reply and counteroffer.

    5. Consider what parts of the contract are generally more negotiable:

    a. Publication date - Does the publishers publication date fit your schedule? How long will it take you to write the recipes and the narrative? Consider the time it takes for recipe development and testing. Map out the time between the signing of the contract and when your manuscript is due. Will you have enough time? How many recipes will you have to create each week to meet this deadline? Is that number realistic considering your other work and family obligations. For both of my cookbooks I was given an average of 9 months to complete the manuscript. Unless I had some sort of manuscript well underway I can’t imagine being able to complete either of these projects in 6 months. Shorter cookbooks (less than 50 recipes) or projects where much of the narrative and recipes are ready for publication may be an exception.

    b. Royalties - A royalty is your profit as the author from each book that is sold. Is the publisher paying you a royalty to write the book and what is the % of each book you will make? Usually there is an increase in the royalty % based on the number of books that are sold – the more books you sell the higher the %. Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher % of if you want it. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

    c. Advance - An advance is just that, an advance payment on your royalties. Typically an advance is divided into parts: part paid when the contract is signed and the balance paid when the manuscript is turned in. This allows the author to have some cash flow while they are working on writing and testing recipes, working with a photographer, and other duties a cookbook author undertakes.

    d. Expenses - Make sure it’s clear what expenses you as the author must pay for. I paid for the index of my first cookbook and the publisher commissioned and paid for the original artwork and illustrations. For my second, third, and fourth cookbooks the publisher paid/is paying for both the index and the photography. This will vary depending on the publisher and the style of books they publish. In the most recent contract, I had the photography discussion removed from my contract, and the publisher agreed to work with the photographer in a separate contract.

    e. Rights - What if the publisher wants to use your manuscript and publish it in another format – eBook, in Spanish language, or sell the idea as a TV show? What are your rights and how will you be paid if one of these things happens? I have retained my electronic rights and renegotiated them closer to the time of the electronic book formatting.

    f. Complimentary book copies –  Every book contract should spell out how many copies of the book an author will receive. It’s easy to think that because I wrote the book that I should receive all my copies free, but that’s not the case. You’ll get a specific number of books for free then after that you will have to buy books from the publisher. Be sure it’s spelled out how much it will cost for you to buy books from the publisher. With both of my contracts, I was offered a discounted price to buy the books at a wholesale price and now I can sell the books when I go to events where a book seller is not present to sell the books or give away copies of my cookbooks for fundraisers and as gifts.

    6. If all of this seems like too much to think about it might be a good idea to have someone review the contract for you. If you hire a lawyer make sure she/he specializes in intellectual property and that they have experience with book (preferably cookbook) contracts. Alternatively, you can ask an agent to work with you and represent you. Agents are paid by the author and the typical rate is 15% of your earnings. For every $100 you earn, you pay the agent $15. Some authors join The Authors Guild. One member benefit of The Authors Guild is a “free review of U.S. book contracts from experienced legal staff…” and more benefits such as help with a website, domain name registration for an author site, and newsletters and invitations to functions that the Author Guild offers.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”. 

  • Writing a Cookbook Proposal – 5 Tips for Success

    Every cookbook needs to have a specific audience defined. Be it men, women, school-age children, older adults, newly retired executives, experienced cooks, newlyweds, home chefs, or bakers, your cookbook needs to speak to a specific audience. When you keep this audience in mind, your message will be on-target and the audience won’t believe how much they can learn from you and how much you can help them. So what about when you write your cookbook proposal? Who do you write that for?

    When you write your cookbook proposal, the target audience is not the same audience as your cookbook. Your proposal audience is an agent and/or an editor at a publishing house. Your job in a cookbook proposal is to speak to that agent and/or editor and WOW them with your cookbook idea. Your proposal not only packages, but delivers, your cookbook concept in a neat, clear, concise, and hopefully unforgettable, document. Think of your proposal as a tool to educate someone about your book idea. If they read the proposal they’ll know everything they need to know about you and your awesome cookbook idea. So, how can you do this?

    Here are 5 tips for success with your cookbook proposal.

    1. When you write your proposal always keep agents and editors in mind. Answer any question you think they would have about you, your topic, your platform, and your book idea. You are selling your book idea to them. You want them to lay awake at night and think of your cookbook idea and how you are the best person to write about this idea.

    2. The proposal must showcase your best writing skills. This is done through how you write the proposal and how you express yourself in you book’s introduction, sample chapter, and in the several tested recipes you provide. Make your proposal an enjoyable read. Through your writing, and the way you express yourself in the proposal, the agent and/or editor must get an example of your ability to write clearly. Convince them of your ability to deliver your cookbook concept through your narrative and recipes.

    3. When formatting your proposal check to see if your agent and/or the publishing house where you plan to submit offers style guidelines to format the proposal. If they have guidelines be sure to  follow them to a “T”. If guidelines are not available, format the proposal in 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, or another widely acceptable font- style. Include a footer with page numbers and 1-inch margins. Skip elaborate design and stylized fonts unless you have a compelling reason to do so. Avoid  “fluffing” up a proposal with fancy binding or random food images unless you want to include sample photography. Keep the proposal simple and keep it focused.

    4. Make sure your proposal is clear, to the point, well-formatted, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  If writing and grammar is not your skill, partner with a collaborator, but disclose the collaboration to the agent/editor so they don’t get the impression you did the work solo. And, if you work with a collaborator to help write the proposal, you might also want to consider working with a collaborator on the actual book manuscript because the same challenges about writing will crop up again with creating your book manuscript.

    5. Read the proposal carefully before submission. When I take the time to read it out loud, I hear the mistakes.  Schedule time to ask a trusted colleague or friend to read and edit the proposal too. The proposal is the first impression you give to an agent and/or editor so you want the document to be as good as it can be or even better!

    Do you want to write a cookbook, but would like to work with a cookbook coach who can answer questions and be sure your’re on the right path? If so, take time to schedule  a complimentary 30-minute Cookbook Clarity Assessment today. In this assessment you can talk more about your cookbook dream and learn about the cookbook coaching mastermind groups and the 6-week cookbook publishing coaching package.

  • 3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook

    nothingOver the past several years I’ve enjoyed coaching clients who want to write their first cookbook. They come to me in all stages of cookbook desire, but what they all have in common is that they’ve never written a cookbook before and they have a ton of questions about where to start and how to get published.  In my programs and private coaching we work through the questions and the obstacles they face. Most of them make good progress on their projects and hone in on their cookbook concept and content. I’m so proud that an attendee of a recent program signed her first cookbook contract. Through the program they learned the essential ingredients of writing a cookbook and when the request for a proposal came she kicked into action and wrote her proposal. Now that the proposal has been accepted, she’s working on a deadline to complete her manuscript.

    The secret to her success has been all about taking action. She took a class, wrote a proposal, and is now writing a manuscript. She didn’t sit back and talk about her project and hope it would happen. In honor of my client’s cookbook contract, I’d like to share my 3 sure-fire ways to NOT write your cookbook:

    1. Wait for inspiration

    One way to not write your cookbook is to wait for inspiration before you write. This means, if you don’t feel inspired, just go ahead and take a break from writing. Instead, wait for the rush of ideas to come and the words to flow – wait for the magical writing fairy dust!

    The problem with this is that those times seldom produce a large quantity of work and they don’t come frequently. Dedicated writers know that they can’t wait for inspiration before they write. They commit to writing whether they “feel” like it or not. Then, once they show up at the computer or notebook, inspiration pokes its head in the door and the writing gets done. In the end, it’s impossible to tell the difference between work that comes easy to an author and those paragraphs which an aspiring author rewrote numerous times. For that reason every aspiring author must make a habit out of showing up to write on a consistent basis, whether they feel inspired or not. Without a habit of writing, or creating content for your book, your project won’t move along.

    2. Wait for permission

    Another way to not write your cookbook is to wait for permission before you take action on your idea. In fact, be sure to try to get approval from everyone that you think matters – your friends, your spouse, your sisters – before you move forward. If for some reason they don’t like your idea then put your cookbook dream on hold. Ignore the excitement you feel about your idea because it’s not good enough. Others said it’s not good and because they know better, go ahead and stop.

    The problem here is that there are really no new ideas in food, cooking, or baking. But, what IS new is your perspective on the topic, your ability to write about it, and your ability to attract readers to your work. Stop waiting for permission to proceed with your idea. If you’re excited, and have the energy to move forward, that’s all you really need.

    3. Don’t focus on your project

    Because you’re not getting paid during the writing phase, and money coming in seems to be a long way off, be sure to make your cookbook project low priority. And, because there’s not a direct relationship between how hard you work now and any immediate monetary payoff, don’t schedule any time to work on the project. Instead, in your extra time be sure to shop online, get lost in social media, or play games on your iPhone. You’re not getting paid for the work you’d do on your cookbook project anyway, so be sure to let everything else in your life take priority. And, don’t forget not to schedule anytime to work on your cookbook project early in the morning or for a few hours in the evening. If this cookbook dream is going to become a reality, you shouldn’t have to schedule time to work on it.

    Again, the problem with this method of not writing is that nothing gets done if you don’t schedule time to work on your project. Most of my clients have full-time jobs. In the end the ones that move forward with their cookbooks are the clients who schedule time on a regular basis to focus on their project. They’re good at managing their distractions and they work consistently and regularly on writing content, building their platforms, developing their recipes, and writing their proposals.

    There’s no one more interested in seeing aspiring cookbook authors succeed more than me. With regular, consistent writing, focus, and giving yourself permission to get started, you might just be like my group-coaching client – on your way to writing, and having published, your very own cookbook.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”. 

  • 10 Ways to Persevere When Writing A Cookbook

    Perseverance1

    You aren’t going to find anybody that’s going to be successful without making a sacrifice and without perseverance. – Lou Holtz

    We live in a world where we want everything quick. Better yet, how about immediate, fast, and tomorrow is too late. In an instant-ramen-noodle-style life, we don’t want to wait, work hard, or feel challenged. We just want results.

    The truth is that most book projects are more like making a batch of chicken stock than they are like instant ramen noodles. Stock can’t be rushed if we want excellent results. To make the best stock we have to be willing to let the ingredients simmer and allow the heat to extract the flavor and gelatin from the bones. The results are worth the time and effort of preparing stock the correct way.

    Perseverance is defined as steadfastness in doing something despite delay or difficulty in achieving success. I’m in the middle of two work-related projects that require perseverance – writing a cookbook manuscript and launching a mastermind group. I wrote this blog post on the day the new group had their first meeting. For eight weeks I worked hard to promote and invite aspiring cookbook authors to participate in the Mastermind group. I met my goal and had members sign up. At the same time, to complete my cookbook manuscript, I have to schedule time every day to either test recipes or write content.

    In a recent blog post, I wrote about commitment. Making the commitment to anything new provides fuel to get you started. When you sign a publishing contract, you commit to completing a manuscript. When you start a new business project, you undertake seeing it through in spite of any difficulties you may encounter. Ask anyone who is in the middle of a book-writing project, or launching a new program, and they will tell you that it’s dogged determination and persistence, aka perseverance, that drives them toward the finish line.

    While researching material for this blog post I collected a list of qualities that are present in individuals who persevere. With those in mind, and using my experiences with book and work projects (and marriage and raising children!), I added more qualities that I’ve found to be helpful for perseverance.

    1. Do you feel resilient?  
    When you come upon a challenge or setback in a project, you may feel defeated. The choice is now yours: you can quit or bounce back and keep trying.

    2. Do you ask for help if you’re stuck? 
    Feeling supported and connected in the achievement of your goal help you persevere m. Seek out role models or mentors that you can turn to when you have questions.

    3. Do you practice self-compassion? 
    Take it easy on yourself if you make a mistake. Avoid negative thoughts about setbacks and do give yourself for a misstep. Practice positive self-talk and get yourself back on the track to completion.

    4. Do you accept that uncertainty of the outcome is a reality? 
    Surrender to the fact that you can’t control a lot of what happens in your life. Focus on what you can control – your hard work and effort.

    5. Do you maintain a sense of humor? 
    There’s a time to be serious and strict, but be sure you balance that with the ability to laugh at yourself and your mistakes and move on.

    6. Are you a mindful person? 
    Focus on today, and the hour you have before you. Work on small, accomplishment-oriented tasks to keep your project moving forward.

    7. Do you see the big picture? 
    While focusing on tasks for today, it is good to use your vision to keep you motivated. Imagine holding your printed cookbook. Imagine clients engaged in your programs. A view of the big picture can provide motivation to keep going.

    8. Do you love a challenge and work harder when something gets hard? 
    Adopt a growth mindset and accept the challenge as an opportunity to improve your skills and yourself. Be willing to take the stairs, not the elevator.

    9. Do you strive to be a better version of yourself, rather than trying to always compete with someone else? 
    Each time I write a cookbook, I try to improve on my last book and on my systems that I use to write the book. I learned from what I’ve done before and applied that to my next project. Competition needs to make us stronger in our actions and not lead to envy, bad feelings, or quitting because we don’t think we’re as good as the next person.

    10. Do you value practice? 
    Making an effort to try, and to keep learning even when you don’t see immediate results. Practice, practice, practice.

    Using the ten questions above, score your perseverance quotient. Take a look at the areas where you excel and be proud. Use them to build something new in your work or personal life. And for areas where you need to improve, use current projects or life situations to practice these qualities. Life always hands us what we need to learn, grown, and become people who persevere.

    If you want any to read more about perseverance, I recommend Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. In her book, she encourages readers to test the limits they have set for themselves in their lives and to realize that success most often comes from overcoming difficult circumstances.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

     

     

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 6

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksCookbook News

    Publisher’s Weekly shares regular and reliable information about the publishing industry. Here is there recent Preview of Cookbooks: March 2017 from Publisher’s Weekly

    According to Publisher’s Weekly “It was a good year for cookbooks all around—unit print sales in the category were up 6% in 2016 over 2015.” Ina Garten’s cookbook was the best selling print cookbook in 2016 selling >400K copies since October. Bestselling Cookbooks of 2016 included: *cookbooks featuring kitchen appliances: an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, an air fryer, and a spiralizer,
    *cookbooks from authors/celebrities with robust platforms: Chrissy Teigen, Ina Garten, Anthony Bourdain, and Ree Drummond
    *cookbooks for diet/health: Skinnytaste Fast and Slow.

    Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks got her start blogging about what she cooked from her collection of cookbooks. She added photography and her goal was that she “would learn a lot and gradually improve my writing, cooking, and photography; it would be a personal, creative outlet.” Read more about How Heidi Swanson made 101 Cookbooks.

    Bowls are the new plate? Lots of bowl cookbooks being written.

    We are obsessed with food. In Australia, four of the five bestselling books related to food and nutrition. This in an interesting article, from Huff Post Australia that claims Cookbooks Aren’t Going To Solve Our Health Problems.

    Lucky Peach’s list of cookbooks you need when you must create an “impressive feast”.

    Productivity

    If you’re anything like me, you write lists, maintain ongoing lists, and refer to lists that pertain to both business and personal life. Examples of lists I write or refer to regularly include shopping, errands, phone calls, grocery, gratitude, tasks to complete, recipes to test, recipes to develop, people/situations to pray for, goals, projects, bills to pay, passwords, and birthdays. In the management of these lists, I vacillate between lists maintained in my daily planner (handwritten), a notebook (handwritten), as well as Scrivener, Drafts, Dashlane, WorkFlowy, and Excel (electronic).

    So far, my mixed system of handwritten lists and electronically maintained lists works for me. I measure my success with the ability to find what I need when I need it, and the ability to access the list in a cross-platform way, especially with the electronic lists.

    Despite these systems functioning well, I always tend to go back to handwritten for certain tasks or when I need to make a brain dump and sort and organize the things I have on my mind.

    This is an interesting article about how hand-writing to-do lists helps your brain, and who does’t need a boost in brain power?

     

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

  • Writing A Cookbook: Plan For The Obstacles

    Obstacles Quote3If you want to write a cookbook, I guarantee that obstacles will appear the minute you state your intention. Obstacles block your path and hinder your progress. Sometimes, you’ll hear an obstacle called a barrier, stumbling block, hurdle, or snag. No matter what it’s called, it can stop you dead in your tracks. Sometimes you jump over obstacles. Sometimes they make you retreat and give up on your project. The sad thing is that most of the time, even when we give up, we had the opportunity to overcome the obstacles – but we chose the easier path. Let’s take a look at what obstacles are, which obstacles we can control, and some tips on how to overcome obstacles when they appear.

    Obstacles can be material or non-material, real or imagined. For example, a blood clot, concrete barrier, or wall are real obstacles. We can physically touch or see them. They block the flow of blood, traffic, and people. It’s possible to physically remove these obstacles and allow the flow of blood, traffic, or people to continue again. With a cookbook writing project, though, barriers are frequently non-material or imagined barriers. We can’t see or touch them. But, they still block our path to our goal.

    In my time as a cookbook coach, I’ve heard clients describe their obstacles to writing a cookbook. I’m too busy. I don’t work fast enough. I’m not creative. I’m too old. I can’t think of what to write. I work during the day. I have kids. I travel too much. I’m confused. I’m overwhelmed. The economy is bad. People might not like my book. It’s summer, and I want to go to the pool. I can’t define my cookbook concept. Any number of barriers have come up. Some of my clients gave up because of the obstacles. 

    The good news is that we can control many of these obstacles. Our emotions, judgments, attitudes, perspectives, desires, decisions, determination, and thoughts are ALL within our control. We can alter the effect these obstacles have on our projects if we learn how to go around them and move our book projects forward.

    Then, there are obstacles we can’t control: the economy, life circumstances, other people’s behavior and judgments, or disasters. But, even if these out-of-our-control obstacles have a real effect on the world, we do have control over how we think about them. We don’t have to let our thoughts about the economy, other people, or disasters define what we do.We can decide to proceed in spite of these obstacles. Even though we can’t control them, we can control ourselves.

    Why focus on obstacles at all? Because the obstacles will appear. They always do. Obstacles are almost inevitable when you embark on any new project, especially a project that requires effort and possible rejection. When an obstacle presents itself, this is your chance to either overcome it or let the obstacle stop you. You can either embrace the opportunity or retreat and turn back without your cookbook. In order to overcome obstacles here a few strategies that may help: 

    Shift your perception. Change the way you look at things. The old saying is that “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Acknowledge that the presence of an obstacle doesn’t mean it’s an end to your dream to write a book. It just means an end to your old way of thinking. Start to think differently. Challenge yourself to see something in a different way. Seeing an obstacle as something to overcome and not stop me was the first perception I had to change. And in 2017, my perception of what I can accomplish has shifted a great deal. I’m challenging myself to a lot of new projects, new opportunities, and new ways of looking at things. And all of the results happen because of a change in the way I look at things. 

    Direct your actions. Specific and deliberate action will help to get you over almost any obstacle that comes your way. It might be an action like deliberately changing the way you think (as described above) or deliberately changing a routine, but either way deliberate actions will get you closer to the results you want. I am trying to be more deliberate about writing content for my blog, and testing recipes for my new cookbooks. Progress is visible and a series of directed actions have helped a great deal.

    Manage your energy. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise to keep your energy level at it’s best. When you live with higher levels of energy, it’s easier to overcome obstacles than when you live with low energy. I always feel pretty energetic. I go to bed at a reasonable time, try to eat less refined carbohydrates (which make me sleepy), and drink a lot of water. A stroll through the neighborhood several times a week helps me feel better and sleep better too.

    Focus on what you can control. Maintain belief that most obstacles are within your control and that with effort (and directed actions) you can overcome them. Define the obstacles in you life and determine the ones you can control. With writing a book the thoughts someone else might think about me, or my work, could stop me from proceeding. I definitely can’t control someone’s else’s thoughts or judgements, so I choose to not even let them get in the way.

    Maintain inner drive and affirm your goal. Remind yourself on a regular basis your vision for your cookbook project. Imagine what it will feel like to finish your book. Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to pursue the goal. These reminders will help you keep your inner drive alive even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. I read a list of reminders, or some call them affirmations, every morning. These affirmations have to do with my vision for my self, my books, my family, and business. It’s like an athlete imagining their best performance. Then when the day of the event comes, their winning image comes to mind and their performance follows suit. 

    Commit to the goal. Commitment is the foundation of overcoming obstacles. With strong desire and a deliberate choice to stick to what you set out to do, then all other options fade away. Commitment narrows the path but provides the freedom as you work within the boundaries that are often needed to get something finished. Obstacles become stepping stones instead of blocking the path. I have a several hard and fast commitments, but commitment to my word and commitment to myself ranks right up there as ways I can overcome obstacles.

    Everyone experience obstacles when they set out to do something new. Obstacles are present with any goal. Life’s too short to let something that’s inevitable, like an obstacle, separate us from our dream. When we set out to write a cookbook or start a new project, it’s not uncommon to feel certain emotions to appear that could  stop us from doing what we set out to do. We have a choice at that point. We can quit and let the obstacles defeat us. Or, we can use our mind,  our will, and our actions to overcome the obstacles. That’s when it’s time to tap into deliberate strategies to push us forward to success with our goals, including our cookbook writing endeavors.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

  • How To Write A Cookbook: Don’t Quit Before You Start

    Don't Quit Before You Start2This story is about Felicia and Grant, two aspiring cookbook authors. Both Felicia and Grant think to themselves, “I’d like to write a cookbook. I’m not a cookbook author yet, but I am good at cooking, food messages, and the practice of translating food and ingredients into recipes that resonate with my audience. Plus, I connect well with people, and I enjoy writing about cooking. I love cookbooks and sharing recipes with others. Those I share my recipes with love the food they prepare, and this gives me great joy.” Both of their stories starts the same.

    The next day, they both wake up and think, “Maybe I can write a cookbook. I have an idea and an audience who will love the work I produce. They already love my blog, or are thriving in my nutrition practice and they are always asking me recipes. It seems, though, like writing a cookbook is a massive project and seems difficult. Where do I even start? I feel confused. What do I do first? I’ve never done this before. Who would even care? I’m not a Food Network star, and I don’t write for a major food publication. Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? My cookbook won’t be as good as all those other cookbooks I see for sale anyway, and what if there’s a mistake in the book? I will look foolish, and people who hate my book and my mistakes will laugh at me behind my back.

    The next day, Felicia decides never mind. I can’t do it. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough energy. I don’t know what to write my cookbook about. I don’t have enough money to hire anyone to help answer my questions. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. No one will care. I don’t want to figure the process. I don’t think I’ll write a cookbook.

    That same day Grant goes on to decide never mind about all that. I can do it. I will schedule time to work on the project. I will take care of myself and manage my energy so that I have all the I need to work on the project. If needed I will invest money in myself and my project and get questions answered. I will figure this out. I’m not afraid of the effort. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. I can develop new skills such as perseverance. I realize effort is part of the journey and with the effort, I can do something new. I’m not going to let my fear of making a mistake stop me. I am committed to this project and to reaching my goal. I am willing to do what it takes and feel excited about the result.

    The End of Their Stories

    The final result for Felicia and Grant is entirely different. Felicia is still not a cookbook author. She didn’t write her cookbook. She quit before she started. She let her thoughts about confusion, looming deadlines, and overwhelm stop her in her tracks. 

    Grant, on the other hand, focused on turning large goals into smaller tasks that were easier to accomplish. He took care of himself and managed his energy. He worked with a writing coach and found resources to help him with his cookbook proposal. He worked with commitment, determination, and perseverance. Grant feels excited when he thinks about becoming a published cookbook author.

    How Are These Two Authors Different?

    With these two aspiring authors, the beginning of their story is the same. The end to their stories is different.

    Felicia gave up before she even got started. Grant, on the other hand, decided to put forth the effort, and focus on the project. He reached his goal.

    The difference between Felicia and Grant is their mindset. Felicia has a fixed mindset. Grant has a growth mindset. Felicia avoids challenges and is afraid to fail. A good analogy is she takes the escalator and not the stairs. She thinks that because she’s never written a cookbook before, and now that she is aware of the scope of the project, that she can’t do it.

    Grant on the other hand was willing to put in the effort to make his cookbook come to life. He wants to use projects to learn more and become a better version of himself. He embraces challenges and isn’t deterred by the fact he hasn’t done this before. He sees writing a cookbook as an opportunity to grow and develop skills of perseverance, commitment, and energy management.

    My Hope For You

    My hope for you is that if you want to write a cookbook that you never quit on your dream. I will admit it’s hard, a big project, and may leave you feeling confused. And yes, others may judge you and evaluate your work. But just because something is hard, confusing, or puts you in a position where others may judge you, doesn’t mean you should stop and quit on your dream before you even start.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

  • Why Join a Mastermind Group?

    Mastermind Groups 2Last week I introduced the concept of a Mastermind Group and how a Mastermind Group can be beneficial for support, growth, accountability, and positive mental energy when it comes to your business, career, or personal life.

    I like the idea of joining a Mastermind Group and can see at least five advantages belonging to one:

    1. There is typically an application process to join a Mastermind Group. This screening process ensures that members are committed to the Mastermind Group and that group members are not in competition with each other.

    2. Decision making is enhanced because a Mastermind Group serves as a personal board of directors and advisors to group members. These members come together to help each other decide what to do and create a plan to work on their goals.

    3. There is a spirit of collaboration to achieve more together, as well as a spirit of assistance because members brainstorm ideas to implement goals.

    4. Networks grow to include the members of the Mastermind Group as well as to include the network of each individual member collectively.

    5. Members gain a broader perspective to solutions to their problems through the shared-solutions that a Mastermind Group offers. This “Master Mind” is the best part of a group. It’s a wisdom and brain-power that allows members to think big as they access the collective wisdom of all the group members.

    If you would like to apply to join the Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group, you can read more about the Mastermind Group here.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. 

  • 5 Questions to Ask Before Writing A Cookbook

    Five Cookbook Writing Questions

    Writing cookbooks has been a rewarding experience for me both personally and professionally, and the fact that I’ve repeated the process more than once is a testimony to the fact that I believe in the process. I also know that good things happen when you write a cookbook. Examples from my experience are enhanced creditably, expanded professional opportunities to speak and teach, and heightened self-awareness related to time and energy management and procrastination,  not to mention the benefit my readers receive from using my cookbooks. That in and of itself is almost reason enough!

    While writing cookbooks is rewarding, such a project isn’t for the faint of heart and in most cases requires a team of dedicated professionals. The pre-publication involves you as the author and perhaps a book coach, agent, acquisitions editor, recipe tester(s), and maybe even a ghost writer. The publishing of the book requires a copy editor, designer, photographer, indexer, printer, distributor, marketer, and sales person.

    As the author, you decide which publishing method best aligns with your goals – either become an independent publisher and hire the professionals to do all phases of the publishing yourself or work with a publisher who handles most of the publication tasks on your behalf.

    Let’s assume you have the skills, passion, and knowledge required to write about a topic and you have your cookbook concept clearly defined. You still may wonder if you have what it takes to write a cookbook and what else you many need to consider.

    Here are five questions you can ask yourself before you decide to write your own cookbook. If you have a handle on these items, then the work that follow during the pre-publication and publication phases will be easier to manage. This helps to ensure the best possible outcome of writing you own cookbook and getting it published.

    1. Who am I writing my cookbook for?

    Be sure you specifically know who you are writing your book for. Here are three common cookbook audiences:

    Family and friends – I suspect that if you want to write a cookbook, you’re an experienced cook or baker, and as a result have recipes to share. Your family loves your home-cooked meals, and your friends think you’re the go-to person to bring a signature casserole or cake to a party or get-together. They all want you to share your recipes, and you know this because they’re always asking you for your recipes.

    You may be wondering if these reasons are compelling enough reasons to write a cookbook? Yes, it’s a good enough reason. Your audience is on the small side, but they are important. Your recipes and style of cooking for friends and family need to be preserved. Plus, if they’ve asked for recipes, they will enjoy recreating the dishes you make when they cook for their friends, move to their apartment, head off to college, start their family, etc., a cookbook written for them will fill that need.

    Clients or customers – If you have a nutrition-focused business, and you help your clients with weight loss, disease management, or wellness, I suspect that food preparation might be part of what you teach them. You also know their challenges when it comes to food, cooking, and nutrition. You know what motivates them to cook, and you know their barriers to cooking. Your cookbook can help them live a healthier lifestyle and provides a preset way to connect with them in the office.

    If you own a restaurant or catering business, your customers will enjoy a book with your recipes as a souvenir of their visit, or to remember their special occasion.You can imagine your clients and customers buying your cookbook from you, your website, or an online retailer.

    Certain groups of cooks or bakers – For this audience description, let’s say that you have mastered the art of making homemade candy with a process that simplifies the process on rainy, humid days and you feel excited and motivated to share it with home bakers, crafters, DIYers, and those who make candy for holiday gifts. You think a cookbook would be a good way to reach your audience, so you set your sights on getting your book published by a traditional publisher. You envision your book for sale at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other locations.

    To help identify the audience for this group for your particular concept, write down details about the knowledge or cooking experience you want to share with them. Describe the cooks or bakers you most want to connect with. Define their age, gender, income level, and cooking experience. Keep them in mind when writing your cookbook or cookbook proposal.

    2. Who are my competitors?

    If you plan to write a family and friends cookbook this step may not be necessary, but if you intend to publish your book via either the traditional- or self-publishing route, there are two reasons to study other cookbooks:

    Competitive title research
 – You need to research competing cookbooks to show how your book will fit into the current publishing landscape. The purpose of studying competitive books is to generate a list of cookbooks that are similar in their audience, concept, and category to the book you want to write. This list is then shared with potential agents and editors so they can visualize where your book fits in the context of other published cookbooks. It’s important to realize that the goal of the research isn’t to prove that your concept is unique and that you don’t have any competition. In fact, the opposite is true. You want to point out your competition to validate your idea and then add why it’s time for you to write a similar book for this audience and what you plan to add to the conversation regarding your perceived cookbook concept.

    Inspiration and design research - 
The study of published cookbooks can be a source of inspiration as well. While looking at other cookbooks pay attention to what delights you – cover design, paper, fonts, interior colors, photography, recipe or text layout, trim size, or other features. Parts of other books that attract (or repel) you are clues about the type of book you may want to write.

    A word of caution, don’t let the study of other cookbooks deter you from writing your cookbook. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to see so many cookbooks already published. When we see these books, we may feel doubt that we can see a cookbook project through to publication. The best remedy for this feeling is to acknowledge that there are hundreds of cookbooks published each year, but the exact book you want to write hasn’t been written yet because you haven’t written it. Your message can only be communicated in a way that you can write it. Use the study of published cookbooks to motivate you and not deter you. Work hard and commit to moving forward with your project.
 A common mistake during this phase is to get too caught up in research. Research makes us look busy, but the reality is that excessive research slows down progress on writing your proposal or book manuscript. Even though research is necessary, it’s important not to spend excessive amounts of time on this step. I recommend scheduling approximately three 2-hour blocks of time on your calendar over the course of two weeks. During each 2-hour block of time visit either a local bookstore, library, or perform an online search.

    3. How do I want to have my cookbook published?

    This answer is important, so you know the path that you are on and the next steps. Here are some common methods to get a cookbook published that you can choose from:

    *Organize recipes with an app or recipe software and print my cookbook at home or in cooperation with a quick-print shop

    *Operate as an independent publisher and self-publish a PDF of recipes, an eBook, or print book

    *Pay a publishing company to help publish the book as a print book and eBook

    *Secure a publisher (without an agent) to handle all aspect of publishing my book

    *Retain an agent to help find a traditional publisher who will publish my book

    The method of publication you select may be different than another cookbook author. Rather than comparison with what others are doing, I recommend you focus your energy on your reasons why you want to write a cookbook and then choose the route to the publication that best matches your goals.

    4. How does my audience know me and hear me? What is my presence in the marketplace based on?

    Your author platform serves to help your audience get to know you better and establishes an ongoing presence in the marketplace. It’s how they see you, hear you, and begin to develop a relation of trust with you.

    Your platform forms the foundation of most of the promotional work you will do for your brand, business, and cookbook. Through the various parts of your platform, you can stay in touch with your audience and build a relationship with those who are interested in what you have to say. Every aspiring cookbook author, including those who want to self-publish their cookbook, needs to have a way to connect with their audience. Also, if you desire to have your cookbook published with the help of an agent and traditional publisher the fact that you already have an established platform makes ou more attractive as a prospective author.

    One reason to define your audience early in the process of writing a cookbook is to help you determine if building a platform is necessary. For example, if your audience is your family or college-aged kids, a platform isn’t essential. But, if your audience is middle-aged professional women who suffer from heartburn, then your platform is necessary. You need to have a way to get in touch with these women. You need to be present to them somehow, and they need to be able to find you, hear you, and see you as an expert in the treatment of heartburn through food and nutrition.

    5. Am I fully committed to this project?

    “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. [S]He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if [s]he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” 
— Lawrence Clark Powell, author.

    Commitment is defined as the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something. Commitment to your book project is an essential ingredient for successful completion of your book proposal, manuscript, and ultimate publication and book promotion. In the end, your willingness to commit to whatever it takes to finish your book defines the success of your book.

    Commitment involves focus, concentration, the creation of a space and place to write, and development of a routine for writing. It’s also important to adjust your mindset and avoid the mid-project slump when you may feel like giving up. It’s at this time in particular that you need to remind yourself why you are embarking on this project and to focus on energy-producing emotions such as optimism, discipline, productivity, and energy.

    There are obstacles to writing a cookbook. Examples include day jobs, home lives, community involvement, children, and travel demands that keep occupy our time. Other obstacles include the realization that there are agents who won’t represent you and your idea and editors that don’t want to publish your work. But at the same time don’t let this overshadow the fact that there are agents who DO want to represent you and editors who DO want to publish your work. Another obstacle is your inner voice and thoughts that leave you feeling confused, unsure, and overwhelmed. Obstacles are present with any goal. Your job is to commit to the goal and work to overcome the obstacles. For example, when you identify the obstacle, “I can’t write this book because I’m too busy with my day job”, change it to an action such as, “I will wake up one hour earlier four mornings a week to work on my project”, or “I will set aside weekend mornings and double up on my writing time”. Schedule doable goals, stick to your plan, and your obstacles become stepping stones instead of blocking the path.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, float your idea in a cookbook proposal, and search for the perfect people to help you with your project. It’s only through the risk of asking and possible rejection that you will find the perfect publishing arrangement for your book idea. And it’s only through commitment to your project that any of the work required with be completed.

    Taking time to study your answers to these five questions lays the groundwork necessary before you move forward with the next steps in the cookbook writing process. Any time you invest in identifying your audience, defining your competition, choosing your route to publication, building your platform, checking your commitment will pay dividends when the project starts moving forward, and your dream of writing a cookbook is closer to becoming a reality.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group forming soon, learn more here.

  • Mastermind Groups

    Mastermind GroupsWhen I graduated from chef school, one of the first books I read was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I can remember the night I visited the local bookstore, most probably to look at the cookbook section, but found myself in the Business and Money section of the bookstore reading this book. I still have the book (with the date of purchase recorded on the inside first page) and I read parts of the book regularly.

    Written in 1960, this book is considered an influential book for the achievement of personal goals, financial independence, and a spirit-filled life. In the book, such concepts as self-direction, organized planning, auto-suggestion, imagination, faith, persistence, and mastermind association are reviewed in detail and have helped countless individuals realize the power they have to create their future.

    In his discussion of “the power of the Master Mind,” Hill says, “economic advantage may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of people who are willing to lend wholehearted aid, in a spirit of perfect harmony.” Hill believed in the power of association with others. “When a group of individual brains is coordinated, and function in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual brain in that group.”

    So what’s the take-home message for those of us who have projects, careers, businesses, and families? The message is that if we band together in a spirit of harmony, with a common purpose, we too can use our experiences, intelligence, and knowledge to benefit one another. It’s in this spirit of cooperation that I have become more interested in mastermind groups.

    Mastermind Groups are a win-win for everyone involved. If you feel stuck, alone in your work, or unable to move forward with a project, then joining a Mastermind Group may be perfect for you.

    What is a mastermind group?

    A Mastermind Group is a group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to challenge each other to set goals, brainstorm ideas and support each other in a spirit of compassion, respect, and honesty. Mastermind Groups help participants grow because the other participants are supportive, but can also help to clarify goals through being a devil’s advocate to one another.

    Each Mastermind Group meeting has an agenda, but participation by each group member is key, for the group cannot function without participants who are committed to attend the meetings, set goals, and help others set their goals as they grow alongside each other. Brainstorming and a spirit of community and cooperation are key to the success of a Mastermind Group.

    Anyone can join a Mastermind Group. Typically there are 5 to 8 people in a Mastermind Group. The members have a shared interest, similar skill or success level, and have a desire to make the next months of their life extraordinary. The want to be in a supportive group that helps them reach or exceed their goals. They are ready to let their desire to reach their goals overcome any fear of change or goal setting that they may have.

    Mastermind Groups are organized by an individual who is responsible to gather the group, set up the meeting space, set the agenda for the meetings, and ensure that the meetings run smoothly. Because of the group nature of a Mastermind Group, commitment from each member is crucial. Highly motivated participants who are willing to ask, and give, help and support, and who commit to showing up for meetings make the group successful.

    Mastermind Groups meet at least once a month, but sometimes more frequently such as weekly or every other week. The agenda is the same at each meeting, and every group member has a chance to share their goals and their progress on their goals and gain access to the brainstorming power of the group. Groups meet either in person, on the phone, or in a virtual conference room either through Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facebook groups, or Skype.

    There are many benefits of a Mastermind Group such as:

    *Emotional support through brainstorming to lead you to answers to your questions, solutions to your problems, or ideas for moving forward with a project or goal

    *Social contact and shared experiences add to your knowledge base and enhances your experience

    *Confidence that your decisions are vetted and decisions are in alignment with your goals

    *Accountability to get your goals accomplished and that you can make progress on your goals

    *Connection as you network and gain valuable support from colleagues

    *Sense of belonging through shared work and knowing there are others who support your goals

    *Positive mental energy through meeting with others and working towards your goals

    You can see that a Mastermind Group can be a powerful tool for moving forward in your goals related projects, business, or personal life. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time I join a Mastermind Group.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

     

     

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