• Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 5: Check Your Commitment

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-5-1“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.

    Cookbook projects are multi-step processes. Each project has a unique set of nuances and challenges. My goal for this blog post is to acknowledge the challenges and help you evaluate your commitment to seeing the project through to completion.

    Commitment to your cookbook project is an essential ingredient for successful completion of  all phases of the book – your book proposal, manuscript, and ultimate publication and book promotion.  In the end, your willingness to commit to these all phases defines the success of your book.  Below are several steps that can help you to commit and take action on your cookbook project.

    Determine your path in the publishing landscape. As I discussed in a recent blog post on routes to publication, there are various options for publishing your cookbook. If you are not clear on your route to publication I encourage you to stop and take time to make this decision. Once you decide on your path, take time to learn and follow that path. Commitment to your options on the path will help you ignore the shiny parts of other choices.

    Dream big, but work small with patience. It’s ok to keep your end goal in mind and imagine how it will feel to share a copy of your book with your audience, family, or friends. But, once you imagine the excitement, thrill, or exhilaration, you have to be patient with the process. This is when it’s important to return to your next step in the process and do the work of the next stage well. With patience and deliberate actions, your cookbook will get written and published as you desire.

    Enhance focus and concentration. Focus and concentration are harder than ever in our virtual- and social-media driven lives. I receive numerous texts, phone calls, emails, Twitter notifications, and package deliveries in the course of my typical work day. The outside world wants in even when I have the need to focus or concentrate. It’s up to me to commit to creating time and a place where I can focus and concentrate. 

    Create a space and place to write. Everyone has a different place where they like to write. What’s most important is to commit to a physical space and place to write where you are the most focused and productive. In that place, keep supplies handy and work diligently. My writing space is a clutter-free desk. At my side, I keep my iPhone (for the timer), my computer, a notebook, a pen, a candle, and reference books. The reference books are important to me so that I’m not tempted to go online to “research”. For me, “research” equals a rabbit hole and I get distracted with online research and am definitely not writing. Also during my writing time, I prefer quiet. I turn off music, notifications, and other distractions. When I show up in commit to working here, my work gets done.

    Develop a writing routine. My writing routine anchors my progress on projects and this routine trumps mindset and topic for me. My commitment to a routine makes my productivity soar. If my routine is thrown off for some reason, my productivity suffers. My personal best time for writing time is between 8:00 – 10:30 am. It is during this time that I feel refreshed and energized and can set aside time to focus and write. I set my timer for 50 minutes and work. Then I take a 10-minute break and if time allows I may write for 50 more minutes. At the very least I know if my routine allows 50 minutes, 5 times/week, I can accomplish about 4 hours of writing time. For me my routines eliminate worry. Once my writing time has expired, I move on to other work I have to do related to my business and my clients. Some writing routines are based on writing a specific number of words each day, or a particular page count. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you measure your writing time, what’s most important is that you commit to a routine.

    Define interruptions vs. emergencies. Interruptions are common, and it’s important to commit to managing interruptions whether you write in an office environment, a coffee shop, or at home. You set the tone for when and how others interrupt your writing time. Ideally, I structure my writing time so that I can write during the quiet hours of my day. For me, that is in the early morning. For you, quiet time may be in the evening after everyone is in bed or after other coworkers or employees have gone home for the day. If others are around when I write I usually wear headphones or earbuds to signal not to interrupt unless there is an emergency.

    Adjust your mindset. It’s not uncommon to feel like giving up during the course of a book project. At these times enhance your commitment with positive messages such as: You can do this matter what. You do have enough time. You have enough talent. Your audience is waiting for your book. Your cookbook will help your audience. Your audience is excited to learn more about your topic. You don’t need permission to move forward. Repeat as necessary. Another mindset adjustment to remain committed to the project is to think thoughts that lead to energy-producing emotions such as I am productive, optimistic, energetic, focused, composed, and disciplined. Avoid thoughts that lead to energy-draining emotions such as I am confused, unsure, stumped, or overwhelmed. Positive emotions and energy are your friends. Tap into them.

    Identify your obstacles. There are obstacles to writing a cookbook. Examples include day jobs, home lives, community involvement, children, and travel demands that keep us too busy. In addition, there are inner voices that leave us 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”, try to set a goal to wake up one hour earlier several mornings a week to work on your project or to set aside weekend mornings and double up on your writing time. Schedule doable goals, stick to your plan, and your obstacles become stepping stones instead of blocking the path.

    Writers who are committed to their cookbook project make consistent progress and get their books published. They manage distractions and negative emotions. They are consistent and build their platforms and write their book proposals or manuscripts. Evaluate your commitment with this worksheet.

    commitment-to-writing-worksheet

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?

  • Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 4: Build Your Platform

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-4-2Welcome to part 4 of my ongoing series Steps to Write a Cookbook. If you’re new to this series, I encourage you to go back to part 1 and work your way through the series. In each blog post I’ve provided a worksheet or checklist to help you identify:

    Your goals for cookbook publication

    Your cookbook concept

    Your route to cookbook publication

    In part 4 we are going to talk about your author platform as a key part of writing your cookbook. Your author platform serves to help your audience get to know you better. It’s how they see you, hear you, and get to trust you. 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 essential. You need to have a way to get in touch with these women, 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/or nutrition.

    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 are able to 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. In addition, if you desire to have your cookbook published with the help of an agent and/or traditional publisher know that they will find you as a potential author more attractive if they know you have a platform.

    Below are some specific ideas for you to consider as you build or expand your platform. The first five tasks I would consider to be the highest priority for an aspiring cookbook author. I also recommend that you consider building the first four tasks before querying an agent/and or editor with your cookbook concept. Tasks five and six provide additional ideas for how to let your audience get to know you better. It’s not essential to do everything on this list. You can reach your goals as a cookbook author with only a few of these in place. What’s important is to do something, and to be consistent. Your audience does want to, and they need to, hear from you. As a result, they will get to know you better, and hopefully, like you and trust you all because of the work you’ve put in to build your author platform.

    1. Create a hub or home on the web. Build a website or blog with a unique domain name that belongs to you. (Or hire someone to build it for you. You’ll save a lot of time and they are the expert in this area.) Some aspiring authors use their name for a URL, and some use their brand or company name, but regardless of what you choose, it’s important to have your own home on the web. Think of it this way – if a social media site or platform goes down, or crashes, you want your audience to still be able to get in touch with you outside of the social media site or space that crashed or went out of business. Your website or blog doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, but it should reflect the work you do and be kept up to date with new and fresh content.

    2. Create an email address related to your domain name. A domain-connected email address lends credibility and professionalism to your work. Once you select your domain name, you can set up an email connected to your URL through your hosting company.

    3. Collect email addresses from your audience. One of the best ways to keep in touch with your audience is via email. Collect the email addresses of those who visit your website and then send unique content on a regular basis to their email address. To collect email addresses, choose a provider that offers email service and address collection, such as Mail Chimp or ConvertKit. While you get started, some providers offer free packages. Have your web person add a place to your website to collect email addresses. (Ensure your audience that you don’t spam or share their email address with anyone.) To entice your audience to sign up, offer something for free in exchange for their email address. Examples of freebies are a newsletter, checklist, video, short email course, or workbook that relate to your audience’s most pressing problem or challenge. For example, I offer a checklist to assess if you’re ready to write a cookbook. 

    4. Join social media sites where your audience hangs out. Connect with your audience on social media. Go to them where they are already spending time. Be interactive, share information, and be a source of expertise. Keep your online profile names consistent with your brand by selecting account names that use your name, your company name, or the name of your brand. Social media sites that are popular in the food and nutrition space are:

    *Facebook
    *Twitter
    *Instagram
    *Snapchat
    *Pinterest

    5. Create a simple press kit as a promotional tool. A press kit should include a bio, headshot, writing samples, contact information. Make the press kit available as a PDF download from your website, or use links to Dropbox for higher resolution images and files. Whenever anyone wants to know more about you for a speaking engagement or other opportunities, you can direct them to your press kit.

    6. Explore these alternative methods your platform as a way to connect with potential cookbook buyers:

    *Build a private practice in nutrition or food coaching
    *Open a restaurant or catering business
    *Write for print or online newspapers, magazine, or website
    *Explore public speaking opportunities
    *Promote your area of expertise as a guest on radio shows or podcasts
    *Start your own podcast
    *Create a cooking show for television or video on your website
    *Create a vlog on Vimeo or YouTube
    *Teach classes, seminars, webinars, or online courses

    How are you doing with building your platform? Download this checklist and make a plan to develop or build your platform. Your work will go a long way for future book sales, promotions, and reader engagement. In addition, a future agent and/or publisher will be pleased with the work you’ve done to get in touch and stay in touch, with your audience.

    build-your-author-platform-worksheet

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 3: Routes to Cookbook Publication

    Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 3

    In part #1 of this blog series, we focused on WHY you want to write a cookbook as well as your WHO – your target audience.

    In part #2, we discussed WHAT – your cookbook concept or main topic. An ideal cookbook concept joins your audience’s needs and desires with your skills, expertise, and knowledge. If you can match what you know, and feel excited to write about, with the needs, desires, or problems of your audience, then you’re well on your way to identifying a cookbook concept. The next step is to ask yourself:

    In this part #3 of this ongoing series Steps to Write A Cookbook, we will identify your HOW.

    HOW do you want to have your cookbook published? Here are some common answers:

    • Organize recipes with an app or recipe software and print at home or using a quick-print shop
    • Operate as an independent publisher and self-publish an ebook or print-on-demand book
    • Pay a publishing company to help publish
    • Secure a publisher without an agent
    • Retain an agent to help find a traditional publisher

    These examples are all ways to get a cookbook published. 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 publication that best matches your goals.

    NOTE: If you plan to sell cookbooks to the general public it’s important to build an author platform. Your audience needs to get to hear you, read your work, and get to know you. Once they know you, they are in a better position to buy your book when it’s published. Also, publishers choose to publish writers who are in touch with their target audience through their platform. Read more about platforms here.

    Routes to Cookbook Publication

    Software or online recipe tools
    If you identified your family or a civic group as your WHO and perhaps the goal to raise money or to share recipes with your college-age children as your WHY, your cookbook concept is pretty straight-forward. Your book will contain a set of recipes and maybe some stories, genealogy, history, or photos.  For this type of cookbook, there are online tools and other software to compile your recipes. Costs for each service vary, but because the software streamlines the process, it may be worth the price. Outside of online tools, word processing software, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, works well to create your book’s interior pages. For a more upscale design consider software such as Adobe Design.

    If you want to use an online tool or software to compile recipes for family, your next step is to choose the software or online tool that best suits your needs. Refer to this summary of 5 Tools and Software for Writing a Family or Fundraiser Cookbook.

    Self (or independent) publishing
    As an independent publisher, you form a publishing company and coordinate all aspects of your cookbook publication. You are in total control of the schedule and the way the book is put together. You hire experts such as the photographer, editor, designer, indexer, printer, and book distributor. You obtain an ISBN for book sales. You pay the freelancers for their work, as well as for the cost to print the book. As an independent publisher, you earn and keep all profits from book sales.

    If you decide to self-publish your cookbook, your next step is to identify the format for your book publication  – eBook, print-on-demand, or simple pdf file. From there the book is written, edited, designed, and printed or converted into an eBook or pdf all under the umbrella of your own publishing company. 

    Assisted self-publishing
    Also called subsidy or hybrid publishing, this form of publishing you pay a company to produce your book. The upfront payment makes this feel like a self-publishing project, but because the company helps hire the experts to help create and print your book, it has a traditional publishing feel as well. Some subsidy publishers vet their authors with a submission process, which maintains the quality of books the publisher produces.  The services provided vary from publisher to publisher. It’s important to identify the service you want help with (such as editing, book design, or printing) and then compare companies to see which one best fits your goals. Once your book is published, you receive royalties from the book sales to help offset the fees you paid to the publisher. In terms of comparison, you generally earn less than a self-published book, but more than you would with a traditionally published book.

    If you decide to find a subsidy publisher your next step is to research and select a company that will help produce the type of cookbook you envision and that offers the services you need help with. After you decide, enter into their submission process, if necessary, and when accepted pay them to help you publish your cookbook. 

    Traditional publishing (without an agent)
    In this route to publication, you search for a cookbook publisher who accepts a cookbook proposal “unsolicited” or without representation from an agent. You negotiate your contract or hire an attorney to help you negotiate the deal. Then you write the manuscript according to the publisher’s schedule. Once the manuscript is submitted, they coordinate the work to edit, photograph, design, index, print, market, distribute, and publicize your book, or hire the experts to do these tasks. In return for their publishing your book, you give them control of the publishing schedule and share a large part of the profit from sales of the book. In exchange, the publisher pays you in an advance of royalties and/or royalties from book sales.

    If you decide on this path, your next step is to write a cookbook proposal for your cookbook concept.  Then you research publishers who accept unsolicited proposals and submit your proposal to the publishing company’s acquisition editor according to their submission guidelines. If the publisher accepts your proposal, you negotiate your contract with the publishing house. Once your contract is signed, you write your cookbook manuscript and submit it to the publisher according to their publishing schedule. From there they will turn your manuscript into a book and help you with book distribution, sales, marketing, and publicity.

    Agent-assisted traditional publishing
    In this form of traditional publication, you first retain an agent. The agent then becomes your connection to book publishers and your ally in the publishing world. Your agent shops your cookbook idea to publishers with the goal of selling it to an editor at a publishing house. When an acquisitions editor at the publishing company likes your idea, they negotiate a contract with your agent for you to write your book. Agents are not paid upfront by authors for their negotiations. Instead, they receive a percentage (typically 15%) of all the money you make from advances and/or royalties. So, for example, for every $100 you earn from your book’s advances or royalties, the agent is paid $15, and you keep the remaining $85. The advantage of an agent is they remain committed to the project and help you communicate and negotiate with the publisher. Agents can also negotiate a larger book contract with a publisher, and this translates into more profit for you and your agent. Once a contract is signed, the publisher sets the schedule. Then you write the manuscript according to the publisher’s plan. After the manuscript is submitted, the publisher coordinates the work to edit, photograph, design, index, print, market, distribute, and publicize your book, or hire the experts to do these tasks. In return for their publishing services, you give them control of the publishing schedule and profit from sales of the book. In exchange, they pay you in the form of an advance and/or as royalties off book sales.

    If you decide on this traditional and agent-assisted route to publication, your next step is to start the process to retain an agent to represent you. Be prepared to submit a cookbook proposal to an agent if requested.  You can find an agent through personal introductions from other cookbook authors, by attending writing conferences, or by utilizing books such as Guide to Literary AgentsA personal introduction carries the most weight, but other methods of finding an agent can be successful.

    HOW should you publish your cookbook? This is a question only you can answer. To the various routes to cookbook publication, download this worksheet and score your answer.

    Routes to Cookbook Publication

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 2: Define Your Cookbook Concept

    Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 2

    This is part #2 of a series of blog posts to help aspiring cookbook authors walk through the steps to writing a cookbook. In part #1 we discussed the importance of identifying WHO you are writing your book for and WHY you want to write a cookbook. Your WHO and your WHY are unique to you. Every aspiring cookbook author has a different audience and set of goals for their project, so it’s important not to skip part #1.

    The next step involves identification of your WHAT – what is the topic of your cookbook? What is your cookbook concept?

    NOTE: If you identified your family or a fundraiser cookbook as your WHO and WHY it may not be necessary to define your concept in a lot more detail. You know that you plan to write a cookbook to share a set of family or curated/collected recipes. You may decide to add stories, genealogy, history, or photos to the recipes, but your reason to write your cookbook is clear. The next steps for a family or fundraiser cookbook involve the process to collect recipes, organize them into chapters, write a table of contents, and make decisions about how to compile the manuscript, design the book’s interior, and print the manuscript. Refer to this blog post for 5 Tools and Software for Writing a Family or Fundraiser Cookbook.

    Outside of family or fundraiser cookbooks, if you identify your clients, customers, or other cooks and/or bakers as your audience, then the concept for your book needs to be defined in more detail.

    Cookbook Concept Development

    To more fully develop your cookbook concept make time to identify a topic that is in alignment with who you are and what you teach, cook, or bake. Use your brand identity to define the type of cookbook your clients or customers would expect from you. For example, if you are a diabetes expert and nutritionist, your audience probably wouldn’t expect you to write a cookbook about fancy cakes and buttercream frosting.

    Below are some questions to help you develop your unique cookbook concept in more detail. Before you work through these concept questions, make sure you have clearly identified your WHO – describe your audience in more detail: their age, gender, income level, and cooking experience. Then ask yourself:

    1. What information do you have that your audience would be excited for you to share with them?
    2. What unique set of cooking or baking skills do you want to share?
    3. What is your area of expertise?
    4. What secrets do you know about baking, cooking, or nutrition that you can share with your audience?
    5. What challenge can you help your audience with?
    6. What questions does your audience ask?
    7. What problems does your audience need you to solve for them?
    8. What is your audience curious about?
    9. What excitement about food, cooking/baking, nutrition, or the kitchen do you share with your audience?

    Mindset Barriers

    Mindset barriers often arise when aspiring cookbook authors start to define their cookbook concept. Here are a few common obstacles that crop up related to cookbook concept development and some suggestions for overcoming the obstacles.

    My goal is to make money, a lot of money. This has to be worth all the effort. How do I choose a topic that sells?

    Pick a topic with “legs.”  Look at food trends, but ultimately select a concept that will be relevant after your book is published. It may take 18 months from idea to publication for a trade or traditionally published cookbook, so select a topic that fits this timeline. Self-publishing your cookbook might not take that long, but you still want the topic to be relevant. Also, pick a topic that your audience engages with and refers to over and over. Think about it: the customer’s relationship with a cookbook isn’t linear like it is with a novel. A well-written cookbook becomes a favorite cookbook and is cooked from over and over again. That should be your goal.

    I have a unique idea, but I’m worried I’ve waited too long and the market is saturated with books similar to the one I want to write.

    Pick a topic where a new voice (your voice) will be a welcome addition to the other books out there on a similar topic. Many topics of cookbooks are always popular, and your topic, with your unique twist, can be attractive and relevant even with other books published on the same topic. How many Italian cooking books or cookie cookbooks are out there? There are a lot. And they sell. Don’t let other books with similar concepts stop you. An idea that’s not strictly unique can sell very well. A  book coach, agent or editor will help you shape your idea into a usable, salable cookbook.

    I want to connect with my readers, but how do I figure out what they want?

    This does require research and hopefully a connection with readers before writing your book. What you need to determine is if there is room for your idea with you as the author. Research is necessary but has to be finite, because sometimes excessive research is a sign of fear to get started with the project. Research involves studying cookbooks, food blogs, and DIY sites that present a concept similar to your idea.  Determine how you will differentiate yourself. Once you complete a reasonable amount of research, then stop the research and take action. Select your concept and get started. Pitch the idea to an agent or editor.

    I want my book to sound like me. How do I find a unique theme/voice?

    Pretend you are helping one person – what would you tell them about your topic and why? Write your concept in your own words, using the way you would explain something as your guide. Some writers speak their concept or ideas into a voice recorder and then have the recording transcribed. Then it sounds like them. When a reader reads your work, you want them to be able to hear you in the text and words. Your voice and words will be unique because they come from you.

    Define Your Cookbook Concept Worksheet

     

     

     

     

     

    You may also be interested in links to some other blog posts about generating a cookbook concept:

    Is My Cookbook Concept Good Enough?

    Three Ways to Generate a Cookbook Concept

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1: Identify Your Goals for Publication

    Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1

    There are many reasons that someone wants to write a cookbook. Maybe they want to write for their family, or perhaps to showcase their restaurant’s recipes. Maybe they have a nutrition business and their clients need help cooking, or perhaps an organization they volunteer for wants to publish a cookbook to raise money. Regardless of the reason, many aspiring cookbook authors feel overwhelmed by the scope of a cookbook project.

    I know how they feel. I’ve been there before with my own cookbook projects. When I work with aspiring cookbook authors they often ask me what is the first thing they should do to write a cookbook? To help answer this question I plan to create a series of blog posts to walk aspiring cookbook authors step-by-step through the process of writing a cookbook. This will include key decisions you need to make before you get started.

    Before you start with your cookbook project, it’s important to be able to answer clearly two important questions:

    • Who are your writing your cookbook for?
    • Why do you want to write a cookbook?

    Let’s take a look at these issues a bit more in-depth:

    QUESTION 1: Who are you writing your cookbook for?

    By answering this question, you will be better able to identify the best way to get your cookbook published. Once you identify how to publish, the steps to publication are easier to map out. Here are three common groups of people that cookbooks are written for:

    Family and/or 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 needs 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 own apartment, head off to college, start their own 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 what their barriers are 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.

    Specific groups of cooks or bakers
    For the purposes of 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. This is a topic you have experience with and knowledge about, and you’re excited 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, 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.

    After you have identified WHO you are writing your book for, it’s time to determine WHY you want to write a cookbook.

    QUESTION 2: Why do you want to write a cookbook?
    For a long time before I wrote my first cookbook I had the desire to share approachable recipes that used common grocery-store ingredients with a larger audience. I wanted to explore the concept of seasonal cooking with regional variations in my home state’s cuisine and share it with those who lived in my state. I also wanted to find a local publisher who could help me design and distribute the book in my area and regionally. Your answers to WHY you want to write a cookbook won’t be the same as mine. But, just like identifying WHO you want to write your book for, WHY you want to write a cookbook also guides the process of getting your cookbook project started and making decisions about how to get your cookbook published.

    Here are a few examples of WHY you might want to write a cookbook:

    • Teach and influence others about a topic related to cooking or baking
    • Earn a lot of money off the sale of my book
    • Raise funds for an organization or non-profit agency
    • Say “I am author” when someone asks me what I do
    • Share our family’s favorite recipes with my children, grandchildren, or friends
    • Sell my cookbook “at the back of the room” after speaking engagements
    • Expand my nutrition, catering, or food business
    • Promote my restaurant or catering business
    • Sell e-books on my website to generate a stream of income
    • Check “write a cookbook” off my bucket list

    Another WHY for writing a cookbook might be that you possess, and a solution to cooking or baking problem and you have a desire to share the solution. Maybe your audience doesn’t know how to bake with gluten-free baking mixes, or they always fail when they deep-fat fry Twinkies. Write down any challenges your audience might have about the topic that you are experienced with. Your cookbook on this particular topic will help the reader with the problems or challenges you have identified.

    Once you identify the WHO and the WHY, the path you need to take to get a cookbook published becomes a little clearer. (I will discuss the paths to publication in future blog posts.)

    To help organize your thoughts about WHO and WHY I invite you to click the yellow box below to download my Goals for Cookbook Publication worksheet.

    Free Worksheet Blog Graphic Cookbook Publication Worksheet

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Cookbook Writing A to Z

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This post is an A to Z random thoughts list about writing a cookbook. I wrote it because this week I keep thinking about clients who say, “I don’t know”. What if you did know? What would that look like? So when you don’t know what to write, write an A to Z list around your area of expertise. You might be surprised what comes up.

    • Action, not inaction, leads to your book’s completion.
    • Build your platform every day.
    • Create book content that your audience will enjoy and benefit from. You are the expert.
    • Delve deep into a narrow topic to broaden your appeal.
    • Effort is not always necessary when you feel good and write what you love.
    • Follow your favorite cookbook authors on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Let them inspire you.
    • Go for it. Don’t be afraid. Love others and love what you do and from this good-feeling place, you will get good results.
    • Host a cookbook recipe tasting/testing party. Gather your friends to test and taste recipes.
    • Inspire others with your message and they will follow you.
    • Just because you receive a rejection, you don’t have to stop. Yes lives in the land of no. Don’t be afraid of no.
    • Keep track of your recipes in writing. Note any changes made to the recipe as you revise and test.
    • Lower your expectations. Don’t expect others to do the work for you or for others to be the reason you don’t get started on the book you always dream about.
    • Move along. Always keep moving. If you’re not moving you’re probably not growing.
    • Never let bad thoughts or feelings drive your results. Your results will be negative. Let good feelings drive results. You’ll get better results.
    • Other people have good ideas, but when you’re generating your cookbook concept, don’t take a poll. Just poll yourself and decide what you want to do.
    • Pay attention to how you feel during this journey because it is a journey. Even when you finish your book, the journey continues as you market and sell the book.
    • Quitting won’t get you closer to your goal. Don’t quit, just keep learning.
    • Rest assured that no one can write a book exactly like you because they aren’t you.
    • Save yourself the trouble of not asking too many opinions. Your reason to move forward is in you.
    • Test all recipes for your cookbook proposal. Test them again so you put your best foot forward.
    • Unless you plan to write only one book, don’t feel like you have to cover everything in your first book.
    • Vary the ways you feel inspired from travel, to exercise, to a meal at your favorite restaurant.
    • When it’s time to submit your cookbook proposal, follow the agent’s or publisher’s submission guidelines.
    • Xylophone. This had nothing to do with cookbooks but I can’t think of an X word.
    • You are the reason your book idea is different from your competitors. You make it unique.
    • Zero in on your audience and how you can help them or what you can offer them from your expertise.

    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?

  • 40 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Platform

    DesignAspiring cookbook authors have a dual-focus for tasks they need to complete, especially if they desire a traditional publishing contract. First, they need to build their platform and second, they need to write a proposal. One doesn’t necessairly come before the other, but both are important to focus on as you prepare to approach an agent or editor. If you are building your platform with a website as the hub and if you plan to blog, you may feel concerned that you have to always blog about recipes. That’s not true. What you need to do is create regular content that your audience is interested in. By regular I mean at least once a week. This is important. And for as long as your blog continues, commit to regular content. Topics for your blog post and content can vary. Your audience is interested in answers to their questions, your help solving a problem they have, and connecting with you. Here are some ideas for blog posts that aren’t directly related to recipes, but that you can easily write to create and update content and inspire and educate your audience.  You might even consider batch creating of blog posts. For the next 30 days, schedule time to write 12 blog posts. Then you get to take the next two months “off” of writing blog posts and focus on other projects.  It’s nice to get ahead and not have any writing emergencies. Here are numerous idea for blog posts topics.

    1. Review a book from a competitor

    2. Write a list of things that made you happy this month

    3. Describe a day in the life of you

    4. Review your favorite cooking or baking products

    6. Provide advice on a topic related to your area of expertise

    7. List what’s in your junk drawer

    8. Explain things that inspire you

    9. Give away your seasonal bucket list or bucket list for the next year

    10. Describe what’s on your desk

    11. Share one of your secrets related to cooking, baking, or your area of expertise

    12. Describe your favorite ways to unwind after a productive day

    13. List facts about you that you’re willing to share

    14. Provide tips on how to stay organized

    15. List your favorite posts from other blogs

    16. Give your opinion on a topic of interest to your audience

    17. List quotes you live by

    18. Describe how you spend your time alone

    19. Give advice for your audience

    20. State the top 10 reasons you blog

    21. Write a series: 7 days of the life of someone who wants to write a cookbook

    22. Write an open letter

    23. List 30 things to do before you’re 30, 40 things to do before you’re 40, 50 before 50, 60 before 60, etc.

    24. Describe your perfect day

    25. Expand on your most important life lesson

    26. Write an A to Z post

    27. Tell about things you don’t regret

    28. Describe what apps you use every day or week

    29. List and describe your favorite podcasts

    30. List habits that make you successful in creating weekly blog post content

    31. Describe your hometown

    32. Write about the highs and lows of the year so far

    33. Answer questions you get asked a lot

    34. List what you would take if you got stranded on a desert island

    35. Write your favorite power quotes

    36.  List what you ate or cooked yesterday

    37. Describe your favorite office supplies

    38. List what’s in your refrigerator

    39. Describe what you like about the season you’re in Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer

    40. Describe what design features you love in cookbooks

    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 Manuscripts Done!

    DesignThis is a short blog post – but I’m so happy. I did it! Done and done. I submitted my cookbook manuscripts. Manuscript transmittal is the end of the beginning phase of cookbook publication.

    Now my publisher takes over. They edit, design, and produce/print my books. They are specialists at EDP and that is why I personally like to collaborate with publishers. If all goes well (and it will), the Essential Pantry and Essential Plant-based Pantry will be published in September 2018.

    I am tentatively booked at BEA in NYC at the end of May 2018 to start promos and signings. Sort of a pre-launch signing event. I’m excited to plan cookbook marketing efforts

    What steps are you taking to get closer to submitting your cookbook for publication?

    Here is step #1: Identify Your Goals For Publication

    And, if you are a cookbook author and interested in a Cookbook Marketing Mastermind Group, email me. I plan to facilitate this new mastermind group. I would like to see who’s interested.

    Now, I ‘m going to enjoy my submission with a hot cup of tea and a good book! And then, get started on my next project.

    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?

  • Creating Your Perfect Day

    Creating Your Perfect DayIt’s a beautiful morning here as I write this blog post. We just finished a great weekend. My 15-year old son went to his first homecoming dance. We bought the pants, tie, and flowers. We made the salad for a dinner hosted by a friend. We took pictures and enjoyed his friend’s parents. We drove the kids to the dance and then to a friend’s house after the dance. I love and appreciate all the fun that having a high-school-aged son brings. It was a lovely evening of teens dressing up and dancing. Who doesn’t love good music and dancing? The boys and girls were all adorable. This is the fun of my life with my family.

    My week ahead will be filled with results. Quite frankly, it has to be. My 2 cookbook manuscripts are due to my publisher in one week. My mastermind groups are meeting this week. I have projects for other clients that I will make progress on. This is the fun of my life with cookbooks.

    My mornings are the heart of my day. I use the first 3 hours of my day to do what I need to do get ready for the day with an open mind and positive attitude. I know what makes me happy in the morning, so I focus on those actions before I even sit down at my desk to work. I get up early. This is possible because I go to bed at a decent time. I take time to read, write, do a rampage of appreciation, drink coffee, sit in silence, let my dog out, empty the dishwasher, make my bed, start a load of laundry, drive my son to school and pack his lunch if needed, catch up on the news headlines, water my patio flowers, take a shower, put on some nice clothes and shoes, set my iPhone to do not disturb, and away I go. I’m ready for the day. The pump is primed so to speak and I can focus on my work with ease and excitement.

    My schedule provides time to read, cook and eat dinner with my family. That is important. I like to read the paper while I cook or I call my mom. I also plan every day to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I’m tempted to stay up, but sleep fuels my next day, so I honor that. 

    My work hours are scheduled ahead of time so I know not the “activities” I will do when I go to my computer, but the results I need to create. For example, I don’t block off one hour to “write cookbook manuscript.” Instead, I block off time to “tag recipes that are gluten-free” or “read and edit introduction”. These items have a result attached and help me accomplish everything I need to do. I focus for a 4- to 6-hour block of time each day on being highly productive. I can accomplish a lot during that time.  I schedule clients calls on specific days at specific times. They have my calendar so they can schedule a time that’s good for them. 

    My goal for you this week is to take a look at how you spend your time at work and outside of work. Every day is your life. Every day we are presented with opportunities to grow, take action, and appreciate all that is around us. We can look at yesterday, and marvel at its fun and beauty. We can hold our vision of tomorrow with our goals and our dreams, but remember that all we do is lived out one day at a time and that day is today. The days belong to you. What are you doing with your mornings, work time, evenings, and nighttime? I hope they serve you well so that you can create days that are worth remembering and results that get you closer to your dreams.

    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 two weeks away from turning in two book manuscripts and today I launched my September Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Groups. For the past two months, 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 scheduled time on my calendar for results-focused activities.

    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 launch an online program, you see 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 determination and persistence, aka perseverance, drives them toward the finish line.

    While researching material for this blog post I created a set of questions based on 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.

    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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