• 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


    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?”



  • Secrets to Cookbook Writing Progress

    Secrets to ProgressI’ve been thinking a lot about cookbook projects. They are complicated, but fun and rewarding when you have an idea you want to share with a curated set of recipes.

    Aspiring cookbook authors can do any of these three things: consume, indulge, or produce.

    When you consume you read and research. You scroll and watch. You listen and you learn. Consuming may tell you what you need to do, but it rarely leads to a cookbook. It doesn’t involve results-based action.

    When you indulge, you have self-pity, confusion, and a don’t-know-how attitude. There is overwhelm. Indulging equals stuck and doesn’t lead to a cookbook.

    When you produce, you focus on results. You plan. You commit. You seek help and direction. You take action on your plan. You schedule the time to rest. You enjoy the journey. You make progress on your goals. You write a cookbook and you find a publisher.

    Discomfort is real. It can be the temporary discomfort of sticking to a schedule when we want to consume. That’s a good discomfort because it is the currency of our dreams.

    Discomfort can also be long term when we indulge in confusion and overwhelm instead of producing. It is uncomfortable to not go after our dreams. When we are stuck we fail ahead of time and that doesn’t feel good.

    Which discomfort do you choose?

    If you’re stuck consuming (watching others write their books on Instagram or Facebook) or indulging (feeling overwhelmed and stuck), you are a perfect fit for Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group. You’re so close to producing and achieving results.

    Hungry For A Cookbook starts September 19th.

    I want you to produce results.

    I want you to get your cookbook written and published.

    I can show you how to get there. And you can make progress with only temporary discomfort as you go after your dream.

    Apply for Hungry For A Cookbook today.

    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?”. 

  • Fall Cookbook Roundup

    Fall Cookbook Roundup 17Fall is a favorite time of year for cookbook publication, so it’s time for my annual fall cookbook roundup referencing lists from foodies websites, Publishers Weekly, and newspapers. The lists include authors who have written more than one book, I like to remember that for many of the authors this their first book. And every book starts with an idea they had about a topic related to food, cooking, or the kitchen.

    And be sure to read the last link about a 19-year old who published a print food magazine.

    Huffington Post
    Huff Post looks foward to the end of summer with their top 10 fall cookbooks, some from food bloggers, and some from chefs who’ve written mutiple cookbooks. All give us a chance this fall to bake, cook, and slow-cook.

    Epicurious takes a look at cookbooks as “the pendulum has swung back to home cooking, and publishers have heard the call.” Chefs and restaurants are no longer front and center of the list that Epicurious has chosen.

    Eater take a look at the Biggest Restaurant Cookbooks of Fall 2017.

    Publishers Weekly
    PW describes their list as “eclectic” as the books address topics from work hunger to feeding the resistance.

    Tasting Table
    TT claims that the 37 books they’ve selected will change the way you cook.

    LA Times
    An “impressive” list with first books about Native American cuisine, drinking food of Thailand, and making bread.

    Here’s what I call an amazing story about a 19-year old college student who wanted to write a print publication. So, she went “nerd deep” on a topic and published a magazine. Don’t ever let anyone stop you from your cookbook or print-publication dreams.

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



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

    question-mark-463497_640Agents and publishers love well-written cookbook proposals. They want to read proposals that are unforgettable and read about aspiring authors who have excitement and passion for a topic. This is attractive!

    The nuts and bolts of a cookbook proposal are pretty standard. Think of a cookbook proposal as a business plan for your cookbook. It identifies your cookbook concept as well as your ideas for marketing and sales of your cookbook. You may be lucky enough to have a publisher approach you about writing your first cookbook, you may choose to self-publish your cookbook, or you may send your proposal to agents and/or publishing house, but in any case you’ll need a plan for your cookbook before you start writing it. In most cases, a cookbook proposal is the tool to use. In the end the proposal communicates to everyone involved in your cookbook project your vision for your cookbook.

    Writing a solid cookbook proposal takes time and energy.

    Cathy Barrow spent one year writing her proposal. With her research, she turned her ideas into a proposal that gained her a cookbook contract. Her book was published in November 2014 and Cathy won an IACP award at the recent 2015 IACP conference.

    Heidi Swanson, from food blog 101 Cookbooks, has a four to five year cycle for writing new cookbooks. She likes to take time for her ideas to gel. In addition, she started to write part of her manuscript for the book before she writes her proposal. Her third cookbook, Near & Far, will be published in 2015.

    Some other cookbook authors write their proposals in a few months, once they have started building their platform and connecting with potential buyers of their book.

    Brian Yarvin follows the instructions in the book Writer’s Market to write his proposals. According to Brian, Writer’s Market lists “many legit, paying cookbook publishers and gives clear instructions for how to write a good proposal. I have sold every cookbook proposal I’ve circulated using the method spelled out there. (Although an agent helped me get better deals in some cases.)”

    No matter how long you take to write your proposal, here are key components to include:

    Cookbook Concept: There’s no reason to write a cookbook unless you feel that you have something different to say or are writing on a different topic or have a unique approach. Your concept should be a natural fit for you. If you’re struggling to define your concept, or struggling to pitch your idea, the concept probably needs to be refined. Once you get the flow, your idea will delight you and you can speak in your own voice and experience and be authentic.

    Target Audience: It’s important to have your audience defined. Be specific. Who are you writing this book for? It is fine to write a cookbook to fulfill a personal dream, but in the end if you want to sell the book (after you write it) you need to have an audience for your book. Describe the audience in detail. Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they buy artisan or store-bought value brands of ingredients? How experienced of a cook or baker are they? What kind of recipes will they like?

    Marketing and Sales Plan: This is the second part of your job after you write your book. First, you write the book. Then, you sell the book. What can you bring to the table for potential? Do you have a blog audience or social media connections who want to buy your book? Are you willing to do speaking engagements or cooking demonstrations? Publishers want to know what you can do to add to sales.

    Table of Contents: The table of contents provides an outline of your book and gives an overview of the project in outline form. I like to suggest annotating the TOC. Annotation adds brief descriptions of the chapters so that the agent/editor won’t have to guess what you plan to do with a section of information.

    One Sample Chapter with Recipes and Photography If Applicable: Don’t write the entire cookbook manuscript. Focus on writing one chapter and writing it well. Include teach text, supporting information, and sample recipes. Make sure the recipes are tested and formatted correctly. Don’t be surprised if the editor cooks one of the recipes to try it out and get a feel for the flavor of your book. If you have ideas for photography, or if you do your own photography, include some photos here too so that the agent/publisher gets a feel for your vision for the design element of your cookbook concept.

    Author Bio: This is where you define what you bring to the table for your book. Describe you, your experience, and anything that connects you to your audience and your concept. Toot your horn. Be memorable.

    If you want to read other blog posts about cookbook proposals visit these links below:

    Cookbook Proposals are Important

    Writing a Cookbook Proposal: 5 Tips for Success

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

  • Why Join a Mastermind Group?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Cookbook Expert Interview Series: Cameron Ludwick: Trust Your Publisher

    image1I’ve known Cameron for several years. She worked for my first publisher, the University Press of Kentucky. When I thought of someone to interview for this expert series, Cameron came to mind. She’s everything I imagine a book publicist to be: always looking for creative ways to get “free” promotion for a book. Cameron has moved on to another publisher, but because of the relationship we developed I know she’s always part of my cookbook business and I love her for that. Thanks, Cameron. Can’t wait to visit Austin!

    What is the name of your company?

    University of Texas Press (Full disclosure: I came to Texas from Kentucky, where I worked at the University Press of Kentucky, which published The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook.)

    Please explain about your role in the publishing industry. Do you own an agency? Have you written a book? Or do you provide a service?­

    I’m a Publicist, which basically makes me the carnival barker at the press. I’m always working to make sure media not only know about new and forthcoming books but also connect them to backlist titles and authors who can help inform or interpret their reporting.

    Most of what I’ll talk about below refers to publicity and not to marketing, meaning I’ll be talking about promotion for your book that’s not paid for. Marketing would be another round of answers to these questions that would encompass advertising, exhibits, direct mail, and other ways of pushing your book out to the widest audience possible.

    What are the most important parts of a cookbook author’s platform in today’s digital media driven world?

    Having a platform at all gives an author an immediate leg-up on the publicity game. I realize it’s a lot to juggle—turning yourself into a charming, multi-platform, multi-media, chef/nutritionist/writer/photographer/tweeter/podcaster/curator, and all-around culinary guru. But! If you take a step back, it’s really just about having something to say that people want to listen to.

    When you have a clear point-of-view and a passion for what you want to share, it’s not terribly difficult to get the message out. I think authors often get so caught up in the newness of new media, that is, the ever-changing social networking apps that all the kids are downloading these days, that they don’t take a beat to consider, “What do I want to share?” and, “Where are the people I want to share it with?”

    The other thing to always keep in mind when you’re talking about publicity is, “What’s the result I want?” Your digital marketing approach will be different if you’re looking to build followers than if you’re trying to sell a product, and different still if you’re doing both. That difference, by the way, between building an audience and selling a product is a subtle but important one—especially for cookbook authors.

    I always coach my authors to build their platform with themselves as the product and not the individual book. For example, one of the things I liked best about working on Maggie’s cookbook, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook, is that she had a personal brand first as a nutritionist and as the Green Apron Company. It made my job and her’s much easier to be able to springboard off that.

    What kinds of marketing and publicity support should a cookbook author expect from their publisher?

    This is going to vary pretty widely from press to press, but I can definitely speak from the stand point of a University Press. I’ve loved working at University Presses because they really are a caring bunch. You’ll be working with a smaller staff—unless you’re published at one of the big, big presses—which generally means more communication amongst the marketing staff and interdepartmentally.

    Before your book is even announced in a season, the marketing and publicity staff are working with your editor and the production team to come up with the best “package” for your book. As a quick aside, I’ll say that this is one area where authors who have a publisher benefit in ways that self-published authors have a tougher time. A publisher will take the time to make sure they’re getting the right title—unique, with great keywords that will make it easy to find in a search—the right cover image and cover design—something that pops on a bookstore and a digital bookshelf—the right endorsements—from other experts and authors—and the right copy—a description that will convert to sales from customers discovering your book.

    Once your book is announced, that is, the data is out to vendors and your publisher is going public with the news that new books are coming soon, a publisher will start calling on media and other PR contacts to preview the forthcoming titles. To keep using The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook as an example, the PR team took our list of titles to our contacts at various media outlets, including national contacts in New York and Washington D.C., and local contacts around the state. This allows editors to begin planning their editorial calendars and to begin making mental lists about the interesting and important projects that will be hitting their desks. It’s also how the PR team compiles their list of requests and, hopefully, commitments to reviews or coverage. This is the biggest way that I reinforce my relationships with editors, so I try to be honest and forthright about whether or not I think a book is a good fit for their outlet. Realistically, not every book is going to be attractive to the New York Times.

    That was my long-winded way of saying it’s all about the pitch. You’ll probably experience some radio silence after your publicist makes their initial PR calls as they shift their attention back to the current season in which new books are rolling off the press, and that’s OK! If there’s something you should be working on as a result of the publicist’s meetings, they’ll let you know. Things will ramp up as you get closer to your publication date.

    Once we have an actual book to send, your publicist will send out review copies to media who requested it as well as media we might not have a personal connection with, but who we think would be interested in the book and might review or feature it. We’ll send wider notice of a book’s publication to media via email as well. There are a lot of places that don’t necessarily need a print copy of a new book, or who would prefer an electronic review copy. Radio and television stations are usually an example here.

    Review copies will generally go out about a month before your book’s official publication date. But your publicist will follow-up with anyone who received a review copy to 1. make sure the book was received, and 2. give them the elevator pitch. After this, it’s all about managing the requests that start rolling in.

    The other thing I’m constantly trying to stay aware of is current events and news trends—and I ask all of my authors to be aware too. This is a bit more creative when it comes to food and cookbooks, but I’ll try to give you an example. Say, there’s a big trend toward CSAs popping up at farmer’s markets around Kentucky—there totally is, by the way—I would ask Maggie (jump on it!) to pull together a quick 500-750 words on the trend. Or, maybe it’s a list of the “6 Best Recipes to Make with This Month’s CSA Basket.” Whatever it is, it’s great material that promotes Maggie as an expert on fresh, local, seasonal foods and delicious recipes to make and share. The bonus is, Maggie’s expertise is that she’s the author of The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook and Tasting Kentucky, and hey, they’re both available wherever fine books are sold. Working with your publicist to provide this kind of material and content helps immensely! It’s a pretty big ask to go to a book review editor, send them a book, then expect them to read it, consider it, maybe find an outside reviewer for it, write a story or review, and slot it in for publication. Your publicist will love you for having well-written, timely, relevant content they can send to editors to plug-and-play for their readers. This is also the way your publicist can help the book stay relevant beyond the first blush of newness. For more information, scope out The OpEd Project as a resource.

    Is there anything unrealistic to expect?

    I touched on this a bit above, but to reiterate—not every book will be a New York Times bestseller. And, bless her for being an amazing platform for literature and writers, but not every book will make it to Oprah’s Book Club. Would I LOVE it if yours did? Would I shoot fireworks from my office for a month to celebrate if it did? Would I carry around your book with the Oprah’s Book Club Seal and show it off to every person I meet for the rest of my life? Yes! I 100% would! But, realistically, is that likely to happen? Probably not. Dang it.

    One of the earliest lessons I had to learn in publishing was that an author’s book is quite literally their baby. They worked hard. They sweated. They battled writer’s block, and typing cramps, and self-doubt, and deadlines, and by God, they wrote a book! But the truth is, more than 300,000 books are published in the US each year, and as a publicist, I’m responsible for 100 of them, including yours. And I promise you (I’ve raised my right hand, you just can’t see it,) I will be your partner in promotion and do everything I can to maximize you and your book’s potential audience. I will make pitches, and send review copies, and consult with your editor and advertising, and make sure the social media manager is aware of all your great clips. But I’ve also made this promise to 99 other authors, and I’m keeping them all. Sometimes that means you’re not going to get a daily/weekly/maybe even a monthly update. I might not be in touch every day with a new opportunity or review. You might even, and I apologize in advance for this, have to nudge me about something. Publicity can be a crazy, swirling morass of emails and phone calls for many disparate projects all at once. Something might happen in the middle of my day that incinerates my to-do list, and then the rest of my week shifts to a different track.

    Here’s what you should expect: A publicist who tells you, up front, the plan for your book. A publicist who invites your input. A publicist who helps you define success for your book. And a publicist who will help you achieve it. For me, this includes setting up phone calls with authors early in the process. The best time for this, I think, is after I’ve made my PR calls. Once your book has been announced and I’ve had an opportunity to talk about it with media, I’ll have a better idea of how media will receive your book, and will be better equipped to work with you on a plan.

    What are the top 3 things an author can do to support the publisher’s efforts?

    1. Fill out your marketing questionnaire.

    2. Fill out your marketing questionnaire.


    No, seriously, please, for the love of all that is good, fill out your marketing questionnaire. I know, it feels so strange and formulaic, and nobody likes filling out paperwork, but this will be the foundation on which we build your marketing and publicity campaign. I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve opened an author’s marketing questionnaire to pull their ideas about the most important review media who should receive a copy of their book, and saw an answer like this: “I’ll leave it up to you. You probably know what’s best.” You’re the expert—you know best! It’s why we’re publishing your book!

    Phew, sorry, I’ve just taken three deep, cleansing breaths. Please. Just fill out your marketing questionnaire.

    What are the top 3 things an author can do to self-promote their book?

    1. Build your personal platform before you start selling a product. Back to the top on this one—again, it’s about building an audience and crafting your image as an expert. If you want your cookbook to be taken seriously, work to make yourself a serious resource!

    2. Do your research. Look for titles that are similar to yours and explore all the ways they built a successful marketing campaign. Who were the reviewers that wrote about the book? Were there any particular radio shows that they were interviewed on? What blogs did they pitch for excerpts or Q&As? Similarly, look further into what your publisher will be doing on behalf of your book. A really great resource is Jane Friedman. She’s a former publisher with an amazing newsletter and blog for aspiring and published authors.

    3. Be ready to share! Your publisher will provide you with a flyer, and if they don’t, just ask. Or, be armed with business cards that mention your book. Or bookmarks you can pass out. Or, whatever! Just be ready to share your book with whomever, wherever. If you’re in a cute gift shop that you think could carry your book, drop a business card. If someone asks what you do, tell them about your book! You’re your best advocate—so talk it up!

    Any other advice would you give aspiring cookbook authors?

    I’ll leave you with my advice for anyone who asks me the best way to get a book published: Go to your local bookstore and check out the shelf. Which publisher is publishing the books that most closely resemble yours? Snag the publisher’s name on the copyright page. Is there an acknowledgements section? Did they acknowledge an agent or an editor to whom you can address a query letter? Those are your resources!

    If you could tell every aspiring cookbook author one thing about the publishing industry what would it be?

    At the risk of this sounding too self-aggrandizing—trust your publisher. This goes for everyone on your team—and it is your team—from acquisitions to editorial to marketing. We’re in the business of promoting and selling books, and we want to create opportunities to get as much promotion and as many sales as possible for yours. We understand that you’ve been working on your book for a long time, and that you have a vision for it. If we’re looking to change the title or emphasizing something in the marketing copy, there’s probably a good reason for it. Keep an open mind and trust that your publisher wants to make your book the best that it can be.

    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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