• Cookbook Expert Interview Series: Dianne Jacob: Have Something New To Say That Will Appeal To A Large Audience










    Author and writing coach Dianne Jacob is considered a go-to expert for food writers. Both her book, Will Write for Food, and her blog, are considered go-to resources for those who want to dip their toes in the world of food writing. As a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, I have had opportunities to hear Dianne speak about food writing, so I knew she would make a nice addition my interview series. Thanks to Dianne for sharing her knowledge and I hope you enjoy this interview with Dianne. 

    Please explain your role in the publishing industry. Do you own an agency? Have you written a book? Or do you provide a service?­
    I am a writing coach for people who want to create an irresistible cookbook proposal for traditional publishers or help to start improving a food blog. I also teach food writing at conferences and in workshops around the world. I’ve written a multiple award-winning book called Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More. I’m also the co-author of two pizza cookbooks with chef Craig Priebe: The United States of Pizza and Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas. I have a blog on the subject of food writing, and a free newsletter on the subject as well.

    What are some key factors for aspiring authors to consider in the development of a cookbook concept?
    Have something new to say that will appeal to a large audience. A general soup-to-nuts cookbook will be a hard sell because you’re competing with Ina Garten and The Joy of Cooking.

    Develop a big enough audience for the book through social media, writing, or teaching – before you send out the proposal.

    Can you expand a bit on what a publisher looks for in terms of “big enough audience”?
    No one agrees on what constitutes a “big enough” audience. The issue is that publishers need to know you have developed an audience for your book. If your social media numbers add up to under 500, they will wonder who will buy this book, since you have limited contacts. Writing freelance articles on the subject of the book, teaching, building a newsletter list and other similar strategies will also be helpful in showing publishers that you communicate regularly with the target buyer of your book.

    What are the most important parts of a cookbook author’s visibility in today’s digital-media-driven world?
    Both aspiring and continuing authors need a consistently growing social media platform and an engaged readership. See this guest post on my blog: What Bloggers Need for a Book Deal: Reader Relationships.

    What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to self-publish her cookbook?
    Find out what it will cost before you dive in. I’ve heard of books that cost $5000 to produce, and books that cost $60,000. There are so many variables: how many copies you want, whether you want color pages, whether you have to pay for photography, whether you’d like a hardcover book.

    If your book is for family and friends only, that’s great. If you plan to sell your book to an awaiting audience, do you have one in place?

    You can learn about what other authors have learned when self-publishing through these posts on my blog.

    What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to find an agent?
    Network with friends who have already published a cookbook to find out if they will introduce you to their agents. Agents want a referral rather than a cold call. If you have no friends in this category, join an organization such as The International Association of Culinary Professionals, so you can meet cookbook authors at the annual conference. I’ve also interviewed literary agents on my blog.

    What advice do you have for submitting an unagented/unsolicited proposal?
    The biggest publishing houses, such as Clarkson Potter and Random House, will consider your proposal a low priority and it will take a while to hear back. If they are interested, you might want to find an agent to represent you, as it is difficult to negotiate your own contract. Smaller publishers, such as Storey and Page Street Publishing, do not require you to work with an agent. They are accustomed to doing so, however.

    What are your top tips for writing a cookbook proposal?
    Backup before going forward. If you have no expertise on the subject of the book, start a blog or Facebook page about it, or teach a class. If your social media numbers are low work on increasing them before sending out the proposal.

    Take your time. Since proposals have a 1 percent acceptance rate, you need time to make sure you eliminate any objections or concerns that an agent or editor would have.

    If you are a first-timer, you might also benefit from reading my blog post called 5 Rookie Mistakes in Cookbook Proposals.

    What other advice would you give aspiring cookbook authors?
    Be prepared to be in love with your subject for years. You should be creating your expertise on the subject before writing a proposal. It can take at least a year to then write a proposal, get an agent and contract, and then another year or so to write the book, and then at least six months to promote it. If you’re not prepared to be known as the writer of this cookbook for years, and to be enthusiastic about it, it’s not the right title for you.

    If you could tell every aspiring cookbook author one thing about the publishing industry what would it be?
    It takes only one agent to love you and your book, so be prepared to approach lots until you find that person. Rejection is hard, but what’s harder is to abandon your dream because you are afraid of being turned down. And it only takes one editor to buy your book, so expect the agent to go through a similar process until he or she finds an excited publisher.

    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?   Applications are now open for the next Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group.  


  • 5 Reasons Writing A Cookbook Is Easier Than Maintaining A Food Blog

    Cookbook not Food Blog.2I’ve often said that it has been easier for me to write a cookbook than to maintain a food blog. I say this because I’m writing my 3rd and 4th traditionally published cookbooks and have never had a food blog. Maybe you want to write a cookbook, but you think you can’t, or worse you shouldn’t, dream it or write it because you don’t have a food blog. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. A food blog may draw attention to your work and for many cookbook authors a food blog forms the foundation of their platform, but you don’t have to write and maintain a food blog to write a cookbook. In fact, for me, I enjoy the cookbook-writing-process more than the thought of maintaining a food blog. Here are my five reasons why I don’t see a food blog in my future either:

    1. Physical product
    A book can be held, carried, shelved, sold, and traded. I’ve always loved books. I love having a book to show to my audience and sell at events or cooking classes. I like cookbooks to give as gifts and I frequently donate by books for fundraisers and silent auctions. Plus, from a cookbook user perspective, I like the ability to write notes, thumb through the pages, and refer to a book when I need a recipe. I realize that digital books offer the ability to write with a stylus or electronic pen and that a Kindle or iBook offer a “thumb through the pages” action, but that doesn’t provide the tactile enjoyment of a physical book. Plus, in the kitchen, we interact with knives, cutting boards, and ingredients. Those are real, tactile things. So is a cookbook belongs there, inthe kitchen, with other things I can touch. And I like that.

    2. Food Photography
    Food blogs that stand above the rest are highly visual and I suck at food photography. I’ve never had the desire to invest my time and energy to learn how to be a better photographer of food so that I can have a food blog (or photograph my own cookbooks for that matter). Nor have I wanted to invest money in a camera orthe software to edit photos. I do enjoy content creation, but I’ll leave the photography to someone else. In addition, I have success at negotiation with my publishers to pay for the photographer for my books, so book over blog is a cost-effective proposition for me.

    3. Money
    If you generate a cookbook concept and write a proposal about it, it is possible that you can find a publisher for your work. And, there’s a very real chance that you will receive an advance for your work or the very least royalties. I choose to think positively about the money surrounding a publisher. They make more money off my book than I do, but they also help me get my book into the marketplace. I don’t earn all of my income off my cookbooks, but I do earn a portion of my income off my books. And to me that beats a food blog where I spend an equal or higher amount of time doing the work and may get no monetary return unless I sell ads, write sponsored posts, etc.  

    4. Project Timeline and Brain Rest
    Every book project (the writing, editing, design, and production of it) has an end. There is a point where the book is printed and in the hand of the reader. This never happens with a blog. A good blogger will always need to create consistent content for their audience. Book marketing and sales go on as long as a book in in print, but the actual writing of recipes stops. This pause in the recipe development process gives my brain time to rest and study, and regroup,  rather than always being challenged to come up with new recipes idea (and photos! See #2.)

    5. Techy Stuff
    Writing a cookbook is less techy than writing a food blog and I like that. One (the blog) is a digital platform and the other (a book) is a physical product, so I don’t need to know as much tech stuff or be concerned about as much tech when I write a cookbook. I could even write my whole cookbook on a yellow legal pad if I wanted to and have someone type it for me and then let a traditional publisher take care of the rest.  Some would argue that you need to have a website for book promotion, and that requires tech knowledge, but if I choose to I can have someone build and maintain the website for me too. Some would also argue that you can hire someone out to do all the work for a food blog as well, but if you want to understand what’s behind a successful digital product like a food blog, and digital food photography, and SEO, and ad, and sponsored posts, then you’re standing in more techy world than you are with a physical book.

    If you want to write a cookbook, I encourage you to not let the fact that you don’t have a food blog, or don’t want to write a food blog, stop you. If you have an audience waiting for a cookbook idea that you have that solves a problem or presents a solution to a kitchen-related challenge, a food blog is not a requirement. I don’t have one, I don’t want one, and I don’t need one to write my cookbooks and get them published. All you really need is an audience, an idea, a print publisher, and commitment to your idea and your project. That’s what takes to get you from cookbook idea to physical, cookbook product.

    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?  Applications are now open for Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group beginning in September 2017. Read more about the mastermind group here. 

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 9

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksCookbook Writing

    Cookbook authors have routines they follow to help them focus and write their manuscripts. Let’s take a look at the role of music in the manuscript development of some award-winning cookbook authors.

    What’s it like to write a fully illustrated and handwritten cookbook in this day and age of food photography?

    Kathryn Taylor from food blog Cookie + Kate shares her tips on writing a cookbook in advance of publication of her book Love Real Food.

    Here’s another blog post from Kathryn in 2015 when her cookbook project was starting and she was in the process of testing and developing recipes.

    If you’ve ever considered self-publishing your cookbook, this article sheds light on both traditional and self-publishing with some $$$ attached.

    Memoir Writing

    I’ve recently had a few clients who want to write a food memoir based on a trip they’ve taken, places they’ve lived, and other experiences with food. Memoirs are a different type of book. The require different treatment than traditional cookbooks. Here are two links to good articles about writing memoirs:

    Why Your Memoir Won’t Sell by Jane Friedman. I like almost all the advice Jane gives and this provides so great tips for those who want to write a memoir.

    Roundtable discussion about writing memoirs with five literary agents. Jane refers to this article in her blog post, and even though it was from 2010 it’s full of great information.

    When my clients started asking about writing food memoirs, I made a connection with four editors at traditional publishing houses (2 mid-size traditional publishers, 2 NYC large, traditional publishers.) Here is a link to my blog post with their answers to my question, “Do you recommend that my client(s) submit a manuscript for a memoir, or write a manuscript or write a book proposal?”

    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? 


  • 5 Questions Every Cookbook Author Must Answer

    5 Cookbook QuestionsImagine if you knew five questions that every editor, publisher, marketer, reviewer, and reader of your book would love to know your answers to. Imagine that if you took the time to answer these questions before you write your book, how much more on target the finished proposal and book would be. Imagine answers to such questions that could direct and inform the book entire project.

    What are the questions?
    Answer the questions below and you’ll have a crystal-clear focus. In addition, you will be able to supply essential information for your publisher, marketing team, book reviewers, and most importantly the buyer of your book.

    1. Am I willing to control my thoughts, manage my time, and commit to activities to imagine, write, publish, and sell this book?
    Answer this question first for yourself in an honest and real way. Can you commit to the work and dedication to propose, write, publish, and market your cookbook? Is your mindset a growth mindset (I can do this) or a fixed mindset (It’s too hard and I’m confused)? If the answer is a yes, move onto the following questions. If you’re wavering, get your thoughts and commitment in order before you proceed.

    2. What is the book about?
    This may seem obvious, but it’s important to be able to succinctly describe your book’s topic as well as how you identified the topic to write about or how you became interested in the topic. Include the book’s argument or problem that you are solving. If there is a payoff to this book, meaning if you read this, or cook this, you’ll get that, then describe the payoff. Describe what is new about this problem or argument in your book. Include what stopped you “cold” and made you want to write a book about this topic. If this topic is popular or written about in previous books include what you are adding to the idea or topic through the book.

    3. Why are you the person to write this book on this topic?
    Sell yourself as the author. Describe your expertise, social proof, and/or proven messages you have in writing, speaking, or teaching about this topic. Brag about the overwhelmingly positive responses you received to the message. Describe what you bring to the topic. Everyone from editor or marketer wants and needs to know why you are the perfect author for this book.

    4. Why is now the time to publish the book?
    Everyone is writing books. Publishers need books to publish. Describe why this is the perfect time for this book. Even with existing books (which you will describe in the competition section of a proposal) why there room for another book on the topic in the market.

    5. Who makes up the core audience for the proposed book?
    Describe your ideal buyer in detail. Include a discussion on why they will find your book appealing. Describe the problem they have and the payoff or solution you are offering this specific group of people. Describe where they hang out in the real world and online. Discuss how you can reach them to market and sell the book.

    Take time to answer all the questions. Direct the project in a focused fashion with your answers, and help all those who will help you get your book published and sold do the same.

    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 Author Interview: Lauren Harris-Pincus: Write And Fix It Later

    File Jun 19, 11 34 42 AMFile Jun 19, 11 30 22 AMA few years ago, I met Lauren virtually through a conversation about her desire to write a cookbook. This is one of the things I love about taking with aspiring cookbook authors. I get to hear about their dream of writing a cookbook and help them see the possibility. Lauren took our conversation to heart. She identified her concept, wrote a cookbook proposal, found an agent, chose her best route to publication,  and wrote her cookbook! I feel so happy for Lauren. I want everyone to learn from what she, and many other cookbook authors, has done. Please enjoy this interview with Lauren Pincus.

    What is the name of your cookbook?

    The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club: Easy High Protein Recipes with 300 Calories or Less to Help You Lose Weight and Boost Metabolism

    Is this your first cookbook?


    When was your book published and by whom?

    May 2017 by Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

    What are the main components of your author platform?

    Social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as well as my blog at Nutrition Starring You. I am frequently quoted in the media and on podcasts and radio.

    What compelled you to write a cookbook?

    I have always been a breakfast lover, and I found it intriguing that the most common challenge of my patients is their inability to consume a healthy, balanced breakfast. Whether it’s lack of time/resources/ideas/knowledge, there’s always some excuse to skip breakfast or eat something that is not properly fueling your body. I wanted to create a resource for my own patients as well as other RDs whose clients struggle with the same issue.

    How did you publish your cookbook?

    I self-published through my book agent’s small publishing company, Eggplant Press, using CreateSpace. My heart was set on having a print book vs. simply an ebook. I’ve never liked cooking from a screen, so I always print out recipes from websites before I cook. I like to take notes in the margins and make ingredient substitutions which I’m unable to do with an ebook.

    What advice do you have for an aspiring cookbook author who wants to write/self-publish a cookbook?

    Just do it. Write and fix it later. Create a format for yourself and be consistent. Write all of your recipes in the same way which will save major editing time later. I wrote a thorough book proposal before I did anything else – it came out around 30 pages. I sent that out to agents and then my agent helped me tweak it before we submitted to publishers. If you don’t want to or choose not to go the traditional publishing route, I suggest setting a goal and breaking it down into small pieces. Write your own book proposal even if you don’t plan on submitting it to anyone. It will keep you focused and make a large project much more manageable. I think it’s important to understand that few people actually make money on a book, especially when figuring in the opportunity cost of the time spent writing versus what you could have potentially been earning income. Write the book because you love to write, or you need to have “author” in your signature line for other projects, or because you see a need or problem that should be fulfilled.

    What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook?

    TIME! It’s a project that generally doesn’t pay unless you have a large advance from a publisher which is pretty rare. It’s tough to keep your regular job, take care of the kids, house, husband, dog and find the time to write on a regular basis.

    What was your biggest challenge in publishing your cookbook?

    The process of shopping for a publisher was definitely challenging. There are emotional highs and lows, a lot of “hurry up and wait”, and tough decisions to make along the way. I heard two things consistently that are not fixable: (1) you’re not a celebrity and (2) breakfast books historically don’t sell well. Once we decided to self-publish the process became much easier.

    Any thoughts you’d like to share on the marketing and sales of your cookbook?

    I’m really just getting started so I don’t have a lot of wise words to share yet. Even if you find a traditional publisher, most of the marketing efforts are your responsibility. I sent some copies of the book out to other RD’s who I know would like to do a review for me. I’m sure I’ll continue to do that over time, but it has to be strategic because I need to buy the books from CreateSpace. As an Amazon affiliate, you make more per book so it’s an easy way to passively collect a little extra money. I also plan to send out a press release to all of my media contacts who have quoted me in articles or had me as a guest on the radio.

    I use my profiles in my dietetic practice groups to post about the book. I’ve gathered over a thousand email addresses on my list blog to send out an announcement in a newsletter. I sold a bunch at a conference but only brought a select amount with me on the plane.

    Tell me about your experience with an agent and using CreateSpace?

    I’m very lucky to have an agent to guide me. Publishing is an area I knew absolutely nothing about and I didn’t have the time or patience to research things on my own. She believed in the project immediately and was a pleasure to collaborate with. I think an agent acts as a therapist sometimes to help the author through the bumpy road of publishing. I don’t think I would have been able to do this without her…and if I did it certainly would have taken much longer. We had a few offers from publishers but the terms were not favorable and she recommended I decline the contracts. Sometimes taking a bad deal is not worth it in the long run. I’m quite happy with the end result.

    Tell me about your experience with CreateSpace.

    I can’t speak to the tiny details because my agent loaded my manuscript into their template and chose the book size and style. It worked well with Microsoft Word so I didn’t need any special software – another plus! We didn’t have to hire anyone as she served as my editor, and I designed the cover with my tech-savvy teenage graphic designers (kids can be very helpful).

    I will say that customer service at CreateSpace was available 24/7 for free help and answered very quickly. The turnaround time from submission to print was only a few days. Traditional publishers take MUCH longer which can be detrimental if you have a trendy, timely topic.

    They build the Amazon page quickly – the preliminary page was up and functional in a few days with all the features showing up after a couple of weeks like extra photos and the ability to browse a certain amount of the book.

    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? 

  • Time Management Tips

    Time Management TipsIn working with my cookbook coaching clients, mastermind groups, and on my own projects, I realize the importance of planning my time to get the most out of my week. I’ve always had a pretty consistent pattern for activities do on a weekly basis, but use care when planning tasks for work, book writing, free time, and family activities. Planning ahead of time keeps projects moving along in my business and sets up the time to enjoy activities with family and friends.

    I once heard the analogy that a calendar with a well-planned week is like a river. It has strong banks, a certain direction, and flows quickly with energy and focus. A week that isn’t well planned is like a lake – big, open, and lazy – beautiful to look at, but lacking direction and focus. Lakes are nice for weeks of vacation but in order to schedule time for everything I enjoy I prefer to use my calendar like a river. Each week the flow takes me where I want to go, and not where is wants to take me.

    1. Make decisions and move forward

    The best thing we can all do to become more in charge of our time is to decide ahead of time. Plan for tomorrow and the next day, today. Decide ahead of time when you are going to work, eat, answer email, shower, exercise, read. Decide what projects you are going to focus on. Decide what you are going to say no to. Decide, decide, decide. So much of our time is wasted in indecision. Your ability to be successful is directly related to making decisions (and sticking with the decisions you make.) Read more in the book Decide: The Ultimate Success Trigger by Jim Palmer.

    2. Schedule actions that produce results

    When you plan actions to take and put on your calendar, focus on items that produce results. For example, when working on my cookbooks, I focus on specific tasks to schedule. Instead of saying, research salad dressing recipes, or think about salad dressing, I write specific action-oriented tasks such as write a recipe ingredient outline and list for 5 salad dressing recipes. This is specific, action-oriented, and get things accomplished

    3. Plan your calendar with discipline and precision

    I plan my calendar for the next week on Fridays. At the end of the workweek, I put in my appointments, client calls, and daily tasks for marketing, bookkeeping, ingredient shopping, phone calls, and follow-up on the calendar to complete at a specific time. Then I schedule in any tasks related to my 90-day goals. When Monday morning rolls around, I’ve decided ahead of time how to use my time and I follow the plan. I can accomplish a lot this way and it’s very freeing, not restrictive.

    4. Plan your perfect day

    One reason calendars fail us is that we don’t schedule the time to do things we enjoy. Want to go out with your mate on a Thursday night each week? Then put it on your calendar. Want to walk the dog each evening? Or relax for a half-hour every afternoon? Read a book a week, or learn to crochet? Put these fun things on your calendar.

    5. Honor your plan

    If you don’t hold yourself accountable, no one will. This is especially true for business owners. Do what you say you’re going to do when you make your weekly plan. You deserve not to let yourself down.

    6. Constrain your focus

    Read this blog post about a 12-week year. The concept is using laser focus to work one project for 12 weeks. Much to the surprise of many, limitations don’t restrict your life. They allow freedom – freedom to work on one thing and know that in 12 weeks you will have accomplished a lot and you can move on to another project for the next 12 weeks.

    7. Stop distractions

    Turn off the notifications on your phone, desktop, and laptop. Turn off the ringer too. Don’t take any text messages. Save phone calls and email for a scheduled time during the day. Distractions are really the enemy of focus and making traction on your projects. Commit to being distraction free while you work.

    8. Delegate

    If you suck at something or despise doing it, and if you’re spending a lot of mental energy resisting and avoiding something, consider delegating the task to someone else who doesn’t suck at it and who would be much faster and better at the task than you are.

    9. Complete items

    Don’t quit before you finish. Trust yourself to finish. Get started, get busy, and finish or close the deal. Quitting is failing ahead of time. If you want to write a book and you think I can’t do it, it’s too hard, no one will like it, so I quit just remember that you are getting the results your thoughts created. You don’t do it, it seems hard, and no one will like it because it’s never been published.

    10. Quit trying

    Trying doesn’t get anything accomplished. What you accomplish is based on what you follow-through on, not what you “try” to do. Commit to creating results and not just “trying”.

    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 and Food Writing Links Vol. 8

    Cookbook and Food Writing Links

    Writing Routines

    If you’ve followed me here for a while, then you maybe know by now that I live by my routines. I don’t die by them, meaning I try not to get too hung-up if something doesn’t go as planned, but the routines I have in place free me from worry that I’ve forgotten to do something and free me from pressure to do things at the last minute.

    With a good routine and a weekly plan I’m able to accomplish my goals related to business, writing, family, hobbies, and social time. In this blog, Scott Myers discusses the process of writing and writing routines with various writers. I love to read about other’s routines, and I hope you enjoy this too.

    AP Stylebook

    When it comes to food terms, we often wonder about editorial style, italics, spelling, hyphens, and other seemingly fussy details. Every year the AP Stylebook (AP stands for Associated Press which is an association of newspapers, radio and TV stations.) includes food entries and adds new food entries that are making their way into mainstream media. The stylebook dictates how journalists, writers, and broadcasters are to “style” the terms presented in the book.

    Here’s the link to an Eater article about the 2017 AP Stylebook as well as a link to the various options for buying the style book. I do like this list for two reasons: it shows me what food terms are becoming mainstream and how the AP likes to spell the terms. When we write our cookbooks, we pick our style, but it’s interesting to me to see the preferred spelling and style from the AP.

    Writing Resources

    On these sites you’ll find information about traditional and self-publishing, book marketing, writing, freelance opportunities, agents, copyrights, contracts, and author rights.

    Publishers’ Weekly
    Offers updates about all things related to publishing.

    Publishers’ Marketplace
    A well-known site for up-to-date information about the publishing industry. Also, available is a daily called Publishers Lunch for a subscription fee that summarizes book deals, changes in staff publishing houses, and acquisitions and mergers within the publishing industry.

    The Creative Penn
    Geared toward writers who are interested in writing eBooks with their various routes to publishing, as well as internet marketing and promotion for books.

    Write To Done
    Editor Mary Jaksch shares what she and guest bloggers have learned about writing better. This blog is for any writer looking to improve their craft and their art.

    Women On Writing
    WOW offers on-line writing classes and search functions for publication routes and agents. Sign-up for their e-Zine promoting the communication between women writers, their editors, their agents, and more.

    Writer’s Digest
    An excellent on-line resource for writers that offers blog posts, resources, and articles all about writing.

    Media Bistro’s Avant Guild
    Join the premium membership level AvantGuild at Media Bistro to enhance freelance writing work. For a membership fee you receive access on how to pitch articles, access to health insurance for freelancers, and discounts on classes, Freelance Marketplace, and more.

    Recognized by Writer’s Digest as one of the best websites for writers, this website provides a genre-specific searchable database of literary agents.

    The Authors Guild
    The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Since its beginnings over a century ago, we have served as the collective voice of American authors.

    Cookbook Publishing

    If you want to write a cookbook and you want to find a publisher that will pay you for your work (and you don’t pay them), then you need to build a platform and write a cookbook proposal.

    Before you write your entire cookbook manuscript before you spend hours researching online publishing before you give up before you think it can’t be done I challenge you to take action on your platform and your proposal.

    Build a platform
    Write a book proposal

    If you focus on completing tasks for your platform and your proposal you’ll be miles ahead of someone who sits back and dreams of writing a cookbook. And as always, if you want to discuss your cookbook project please schedule a complimentary Cookbook Clarity Conversation phone call. I’d love to talk with you about your cookbook dream and help get you on the right path 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? 

  • Want to Write a Food Memoir: Start With a Proposal

    Start with a ProposalOne of my private coaching clients is discerning the format of the food/cooking book she wants to write. Part of her wants to write a memoir and part of her a cookbook. One would be more story driven, and the other more recipe driven. She was then questioning whether she needed to write a book proposal for a memoir and wanted me to tell her what to do.

    As a coach, I try to avoid giving direct responses to my clients that can be perceived as telling them what to do. Not giving a direct response is a challenge because that’s often what my coaching clients desire – someone to validate their next step. As a coach, I want to facilitate their decision-making process, and let them create their own results. But, in this instance, I wanted an informed answer, from someone in the trenches, about writing a book proposal for her book concept.

    To get an informed answers, I emailed colleagues who are editors at traditional publishing houses and university presses. I asked them if they received a submission for a food memoir, would they expect to see a proposal or manuscript? Much to my delight, they all responded. (Never underestimate the power of asking and never be afraid to ask!) And here are their answers:

    Editor #1: She needs to write a proposal but does not need to write a full manuscript.

    Editor #2: I would advise the author to put together a proposal if possible. It is a wonderful and helpful exercise and ultimately will be a strong snapshot for a publisher or agent to gather information quickly about the project. It is important to include marketing thoughts and comparable books as well.

    Editor #3: My recommendation would be to put together a book proposal first to solicit either an agent or traditional publisher, whether or not she has a manuscript completed. When soliciting an agent or editor, they are going to be bogged down with submissions so even if she has a completed manuscript, a comprehensive proposal is going to be much more compelling to catch their eye. My recommendation would be to keep it simple but engaging (around 8-10 pages is about perfect because you can include a lot of important information without asking too much time of the agent/editor.)

    Editor #4: A proposal is a way to go. That’s what literary agents and editors/publishers are going to want to see: an outline, sample chapter, author bio, competitive/comparative title overview, marketing strategy.

    So if you’re reading this, and want to find a publisher for your cookbook or your food memoir or any work of non-fiction related to health, wellness, or food, write a proposal. Don’t write your entire manuscript. To read more about writing a proposal, here’s a bunch of blog posts that will be helpful to you:

    Steps To Write A Cookbook: Write A Cookbook Proposal (complete with a cookbook proposal checklist)

    Writing a Cookbook Proposal – 5 Tips for Success

    Q & A: How Do I Write a Cookbook Proposal that Attracts Agents and Publishers?

    Cookbook Proposals: Writing Your Cookbook’s Summary

    Cookbook Author Interview: Jeanne Sauvage – A terrific way to get a sense of the process is to write a cookbook proposal.

    Cookbook Proposals are Important

    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?”. 

  • 20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 2

    time-371226_640Procrastination and lack of focus is a common challenge for writers. Procrastination is sometimes based in fear, while lack of focus can be as simple as paying more attention to the bright shiny objects that bring immediate gratification to our day than we pay to our writing and the other things we need to accomplish. Like most of you, I manage my own schedule. When I’m in the middle of meeting a deadline, focus and productivity become all the more real for me. I know that if I don’t focus, my work won’t get done, and there’s a chance my deadline won’t be met.  In the last post, I covered Part 1 of my tips to focus and enhance productivity. Today, I wrap up with Part 2 that includes tips 11 through 20.

    11. Work with a coach or an accountability partner. It’s hard for me to go it alone at times and be accountable to only myself. That’s why I have been known to reach out to someone and ask them to help me stay on task with my deadlines. You too can do the same. When I work with a coach, and exchange money for her expertise and guidance, my productivity soars. An accountability partner doesn’t have to cost money, though. A trusted friend with whom you share your deadline can accomplish the same end, IF they will hold you accountable to your word and to when you say you will complete a project.

    12. Join a writing group. Belonging to a group of writers who meet on a regular basis can also help you stay accountable to your project schedule. It doesn’t have to be an in-person group, but it does need to be one that meets consistently. I recently joined a newly formed group. We are four food writers and we meet once a month on Google Hangouts with a video call.  It’s fun to connect, hear about each other’s projects, and give updates on our own progress with recent writing projects. In between calls, we exchange emails if we have questions or feel the need to check in. If you want to form a writing group, now’s the time. Seek out like-minded writers who lift you up and have like-minded goals. Avoid negative or pessimistic, you-can’t-do-that-type-of people. What you need are people who encourage you and support you as you complete your writing projects.

    13. Restrict your social media. Go on a social media diet if this is a source of distraction for you. I know for myself, Twitter and other social media sites are beneficial, but it can also be a “rut activity” for me. (Read about “rut activities” in Part 1 of  this post). I also turn off notifications on my iPhone and inbox because these notifications distract me when I’m writing. They make me want to jump over to Twitter or my email. I lose my train of thought. Trust me, nothing will happen if you don’t respond right away.

    14. Identify your sweet spot of the day. My sweet-spot of time is from 8 am – 11 am. This is the time of day where I am most productive, alert, awake, and focused. I like to use this time to sit at my computer (where I do a lot of my work) and chip away at big projects where more concentration is required. Whenever possible I save my active tasks for the afternoon: such as recipe testing, ingredient shopping, phone calls, and in-person meetings.

    15. Take a break to remember why you are doing what you’re doing. During the work day I try to take a walk, eat lunch, call a friend or my Mom, play with my kids (after school) or visit with Maggie the dog. These activities help me refocus and gain perspective on why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m pretty selective about how I use my time on the weekends too. Except for early on Saturday or Sunday mornings, I don’t spend my weekend time writing for work. In addition I try to take a break from email and limit my social media on the weekends. This past weekend we finished planning our daughter’s graduation party and spent time on a lake in a boat with her. She is leaving for college this fall and I know that I will never regret taking a break from my work to spend time with her and our family. Because of these scheduled breaks, I feel rejuvenated when the work week rolls around and as a result of my break, I am more productive and energetic.

    16. Create a motivating playlist of music. Some writers like to write in a quiet environment and some like to work with background noise. If you like music, then listen to music, but try to use a playlist that you only listen to when writing. Let it motivate you to work and write, not put you to sleep or make you want to get up and dance.

    17.  Focus on disciplined, sustained actions, that are task-focused. The only thing I really have control over is my actions. I can’t control others and I can’t control their reaction to my work. I know from writing my first two cookbooks that with a disciplined writing schedule I can be productive and produce the book I wanted to write. It is only action that took my dreams and turned them into a reality. When you set out to write your article, book, or cookbook proposal, try not to focus on what others might think of your book or what others might think of you promoting your ideas. This is where the fear creeps in and a procrastination block might come up. Instead focus on everyday taking action toward to completion of your goal.

    18. Believe in what you’re doing and never give up. Imagine your customers or your audience when they hold your cookbook or your finished writing project. If you are in touch with them through your platform, they’ll be thrilled to have something else you’ve produced with them in mind. Believe that what you are doing for them is important and never give up on helping them with your work.

    19. Study the actions of someone who you aspire to be. There are prolific writers and bloggers that amaze me. I like their books, I like their blog posts, and I like their newsletters. (Laura Vanderkam is one of my current favorites.) If you have a favorite writer, try to find out what they differently to maintain their focus on big projects.

    20. Read my blog posts on Workflowy and Pocket. These are two apps for my iPhone that I habitually turn to for my master to-do list and keep track of internet-based articles I want to read.

    This blog post, and last week’s blog post, identifies twenty ways to help you enhance your focus and fight procrastination. If you’d like to read more about common reasons why you might be putting off your writing, check out this blog post on “Eight Reasons Writers Procrastinate”. Good luck with your work and feel free to add any tips you might have in the comments section.

    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?”. 

  • 20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 1

    adult-18598_640I worked on this blog post for longer than I expected to work on it, but I don’t think it’s because I’m procrastinating (meaning that I don’t think I have a fear of results or block against writing). Instead, my time has had other demands placed upon it last month for family travel, book promotions, writing another cookbook, and other client projects. These are worthy reasons not to be super-productive and I’m not telling you anything new unless you live in a vacuum and don’t have demands made on your time. But, I hate to say – that’s not the point here. The point is that even with all of these activities and demands on my time, they didn’t fill my entire calendar. What about when I sat with my iPhone and scrolled through Instagram? What about when I drifted off track and checked how many people were visiting my blog?  What about when I rewrote my to do list and then rewrote it again the next day. I’ll discuss this more in detail, but what I’ve learned is that many of these actions are called  “rut activities”. Scrolling on the iPhone is usually a signal that I could be doing something else a whole lot more productive and that better uses my time.

    If you’re not able to focus, or feel less productive than you might like, I encourage you to study this list below (and the list on my next blog post that will go up next week). It’s my list of tips that help me focus and raise my productivity at times when I lack focus and times when I’m procrastinating (fear-based avoidance of a project). I hope some of these tips help you improve your focus and your productivity as well.

    1. Acknowledge that you are procrastinating or wasting time. More often than not I know when I am procrastinating or wasting time – I feel unsettled. It’s as if a cloud follows me around. The cloud is the “presence” of my unfinished projects, blog posts, or cookbook research. I find myself busy much of the time, but when I’m busy with the wrong tasks, I know I could be avoiding what  I need to be doing.

    2. Identify “rut activities” that you turn to when you procrastinate. For example, I tend to scroll through Facebook on my PC, or Twitter on my iPhone, or leave my office to run errands when I’m avoiding something. This is a trigger moment. This is when I know I’m either wasting time or avoiding the next step in a project.

    3. Keep track of the time you spend on your ” rut activities”. Each time you turn to your rut activity, write down how much time you spend or put a hash mark on a piece of paper. Track your time for the day and for a week. It’s easy to burn up the clock with activities that seem worthwhile, but in the end these keep you from writing or completing other actions toward meeting your goals.

    4. Acknowledge that you can’t control time and how fast it passes. I’ve learned that for me the idea of time management is a misnomer. Time and its passage is always the same. It ticks away at the same rate, all the time. The secret to unlocking this for me it to learn to effectively manage myself and my focus, not time. I can’t change time. I can only change myself.

    5. When you sit down to work on a project set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on one task for 25 minutes. Don’t do anything else and then stop the task when the timer goes off. The Pomodoro Technique suggests using this 25-minute increment tool as a way to focus and even to estimate how much you can accomplish in a given time.

    6. Be realistic about how long it will take to complete a task. I have a client who frequently says, “This took me a lot longer than I thought it would take.” The reality is that any large project, such as writing a cookbook manuscript, keeping up with a blog, or any other ongoing writing project takes sustained writing, testing, and research. And for a book, a six month estimate of time might be on the low side. In order to be successful, it’s important to first be realistic about how long your project is going to take.

    7. Create more deadlines. Offer a promise to deliver an article or a chapter by a certain time and on certain day. High expectation situations motivate me. I want to be seen as reliable and I want to meet others expectations of me and my work, so deadlines are great motivators. They move me forward and enhances my productivity.

    8. Pay someone to help you stick with what you need to do. I am more productive when I have someone else waiting on my work. If you work alone, pay to work with a coach, or hire a virtual assistant, to help you manage your deadlines. The attachment of money to a deadline can be a motivator because none of us like to waste our money.

    9. Make a plan for each day. Every morning I select the most relevant “money-making” task that I need to accomplish for the day and focus on that task. Maybe it’s finishing an article for a client, or doing research for my cookbook manuscript. When I know my work will help with the cash flow, I prioritize that work.

    10. Write down tasks that make you uncomfortable, anxious, or restless. These are the tasks that I can’t quit thinking about when wake up early in the morning or in the middle of the night. I write these down rather than dwell on them. Then, even if I feel resistance, I schedule time to complete these tasks. Maybe it’s making a series of phone calls. Maybe it’s answering some emails or putting some important dates on my calendar. I block out 25 minutes and focus on these items first thing that day.  This helps me get moving on other projects, because I needed to clear my head of these sources of restlessness with some focused action.

    This blog post identifies the first ten ways to enhance focus and increase productivity.  I’m curious, what are your rut-activities?

    If  you’d like to read more about the common reasons why you might be procrastinating, check out this blog post on “Eight Reasons Writers Procrastinate”.

    In my next blog post, I’ll cover the next ten tips to enhance your focus and and productivity.

    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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