• 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. She son is leaving for college this fall and I know that I will never regret taking a break from my work to spend time with him 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 cookbook 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?”. 

  • 5 Myths About Writing a Cookbook

    5 Myths Blog Post
    Writing a cookbook should not be a mysterious process. Also, writing a cookbook is not a project available only to celebrities and TV stars. If you have a passion about baking, nutrition, special diets, or cooking, and you have an audience who needs something you know about, then you can write a cookbook. Based on my experience with both my own and other author’s cookbook projects I’d like to dispel a few myths about writing a cookbook.

    Myth #1
    I need to have a successful food blog before I write a cookbook.

    While a food blog might help with promotion of a cookbook or it may provide the way that you connect with your audience, you do not have to have one prior to writing a cookbook. I have written two cookbooks, and am under contract for two more books, and I don’t have a food blog. I tried to start a food blog once, but it did not take long before I realized that I didn’t enjoy food photography. Also, I am interested more in cooking and building my business than I am in taking the time to learn how to photograph food. There are other cookbook authors who do not have a food blog. However, even if you don’t have a food blog, what you do need is a platform. This is how you connect with your audience and how your audience connects with you. If you are a consultant, speaker, cooking or baking teacher, food or nutrition writer, you have a connection with an audience even without a food blog. Agents and publishers like robust platforms, but this is not always specifically a food blog.

    Myth #2
    I cannot write a book because someone has already written about my topic.

    Let’s put this myth to rest. Take a trip to a local bookstore or the Food, Cooking, and Wine section of cookbooks on Amazon.com and look at how many Italian cookbooks or cookie books or Paleo diet books are published and in print. Even if your topic has been written about before, there is room for you and your unique spin on the subject. That is the difference between your book and everyone else’s book – YOU! -and your unique approach to the topic. Insert yourself in any topic you write about and provide for your audience what they want and need in a way only you can. No one has written that book before.

    Are You Ready to Write a Cookbook- Download an 11-point checklist and find out.



    Myth #3
    I must have my cookbook published by a major publisher.

    There are several routes to the publication of a cookbook. Large publishers look for authors with extensive, robust platforms. If you have that, then a larger publisher with nationwide distribution may be for you. However, I’d argue that small, regional publishers are worthy of your cookbook proposal as well. Smaller publishers create beautiful cookbooks generally on more regionally focused topics that are popular such as micro-cuisines as evidenced by the rise in interest in books about Appalachian cuisine and cooking. Mid-range and regional publishers also have wide distribution in smaller, boutique-like retails spots and non-traditional venues for cookbook sales. One of the best ways to get a feel for a publisher is to spend some time in a cookbook store or the cookbook section of a large bookstore. Browse the cookbooks and find out who publishes books that you like – the topic, the design, and the “feel” of the book. You can also browse the online book catalogs of publishers to get a feel for the cookbooks they are publishing this fall or spring.

    Myth #4
    I do not know enough to write a cookbook.

    The best thing about working with food is that you always have something to learn. The day any of us thinks we have to know everything before we start our project is the day we get stuck and stalled in our writing. If you have an audience you can help, then give yourself permission to get started on your own cookbook project. I can say without a doubt that I learned the most about writing cookbooks, and about my topic, while in the midst the research on a cookbook that I was under contract to write. I did not know everything before I started and wrote my proposals, but knew I could always learn. I still don’t know it all, and I try not let that lack of complete knowledge get in the way of my writing cookbooks. If every first-time cookbook author let their fears stand in the way, then we would have never seen a written book from many authors we know and love. Moreover, yes, there is always someone out there who knows more than you, but that is still not a good reason to get started, write your proposal, and research the topic for your cookbook.

    Myth #5
    I need to know how to photograph food and design my own book pages before I write a cookbook.

    Your skill set is food, cooking, nutrition or baking. Maybe you like food photography, and chances are you are you may have an interest in good design, but extensive knowledge of either of these skill sets is not a pre-requisite to writing a cookbook. I know I am too impatient to handle my own food photography, and I am not a graphic designer. However, I have a message about food and cooking that my audience needs. This is what’s most important. You do not need to know how to do every aspect of book publication to get started. Focus and excel at what you know best and communicate this to your publisher. Then, after you have a contract, and write your manuscript, they’ll assemble a team to put your cookbook together.

    Hopefully, this helps dispel some myths about writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook you may wonder if you are ready. 

    Are You Ready to Write a Cookbook- Download an 11-point checklist and find out.



    Culinary dietitian, cookbook author, and cookbook coach Maggie Green works with aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. Maggie offers complimentary Cookbook Conversations. Visit her online calendar to schedule your conversation.  

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 7

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksThis roundup, while not specific to cookbooks and food writing, contains websites and organizations for writers of all genres. 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 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? 



  • Is My Cookbook Concept Good Enough?

    It’s not uncommon for aspiring cookbook authors to worry that their cookbook concept won’t be “good enough”. They think they’ll spend a lot of  time writing a cookbook and no one except their mother will want to buy it. Along those same lines, other aspiring cookbook authors fear that even if they think they have a great idea for a cookbook someone else will publish a cookbook on the same topic before they finish theirs. When I wrote my first cookbook, I initially felt the same way and asked myself will anyone care about my topic? I even had a publisher ready to accept my manuscript and I still felt that way.

    These concerns are real: fear that your cookbook concept isn’t “good enough” and fear that someone else will write the book you want to write. Even if you feel this way, it’s important that you move forward. Pick the idea you want to write about and then get going. Take action. Write your book. Now, that’s a little simplistic, but much of our fear leads us to inaction. We get stuck and we don’t act. Because I’m not an agent, or a publisher or acquisitions editor, I can’t say for sure what topic is “good enough”. But, I do know that you can work to get over your fears. Here are my suggestions for overcoming the self-doubt you may feel as you work to write your cookbook.

    1. Identify your audience and learn what they want. Everyone who has a business, or a blog, or an idea for a cookbook should have a target audience in mind. That audience needs and wants certain things. Hopefully, you are in touch them, and you know what cooking information, or types of recipes, they want. Even if your audience is your family, and you want to write a family cookbook, you should know what they want. If you maintain a blog, you have a built-in following of people who like your style and the topics you blog about. They will get excited if you write a cookbook because you’ll meet their needs in this book. If you don’t already have a built-in audience then, the first step is to identify a group of people and find out what they want in a cookbook. Create a following for your work, and then these fans will embrace your cookbook concept when you develop it.

    2. Solve a common kitchen-related problem. Our kitchens are fraught with mistakes waiting to happen and opportunities for us to educate our audience about food, cooking, baking, or nutrition. Maybe your audience doesn’t know how to use cast-iron cookware or how to bake at high-altitudes. Maybe they want to know more about how to use a pressure-cooker to cook economically and healthfully. Guess what? You can teach them. Take the time to select a challenge your fans can identify with and develop your book around your solution to their problem. Keep in mind that feeling better, saving money, losing/maintaining weight, and looking younger and healthier is of interest to almost anyone, so tie these ideas into your problem-solving idea.

    3. Study food trends. If you recently wrote a cookbook manuscript or proposal on gluten-free baking, Paleo cooking, craft cocktails, or ancient grains, you would now have a trendy cookbook. The challenge is that the idea for any cookbook starts to take shape at least 18 to 24 months in advance. Take a look at food trends and incorporate what’s on the horizon, not what’s already for sale on the bookstore shelves. I have a board on Pinterest that captures some food trends for 2017: plant proteins, healthy fats, tea, and Instant Pots are just a few examples . Consider incorporating an up and coming trend if you’re planning to reach out to an agent or publisher to write a cookbook for 2017 or beyond.

    4. Ignore the opinions of the naysayers, including the voice in your head. There are people, sometimes your inner critic, who you can never please. They tell you that you shouldn’t pursue your cookbook dream. Don’t worry about them. If you’re passionate about a topic in the kitchen, your passion may be enough to write a solid, informative cookbook. Even if the naysayers tell you not to, go ahead and move forward. Build your following. Write a cookbook proposal. Seek a publisher or consider self-publication. An aspiring cookbook author with passion and enthusiasm can go down roads with cookbook topics that seem boring and their passion and enthusiasm can make their project soar.

    5. Get started even if you don’t think it’s perfect. I haven’t met very many perfect topics for a cookbook or very many perfect cookbook authors. The next time you’re in a bookstore, count the number of cookbooks on Italian food, vegetarian cooking, or cookies. These books are publishable, and they sell, because of the author’s spin on the subject and a unique way they approach the topic. You’ll never know if your idea is perfect or one that everyone is clamoring for until you try. And besides, thinking about the perfect book will get you nowhere. What you need to consider is the right book for your audience and what you can do to help them and then get started.

    6. Embrace your idea. Spend the next 90 days writing your cookbook proposal. Then write a short query letter and send the proposal out to agents and publishers. They’ll know from the way you write your query and proposal  if your topic is one you believe in (your passion and excitement will show) and if it’s a topic they can publish. Even if one publisher or agent says, “no” to your proposal (REJECTION) it doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea isn’t good. A “no” may only indicate that they already represent an author with the same idea or that they have a cookbook with the same concept on their list. Keep trying.

    It’s no secret that generating a cookbook concept that everyone will love is impossible. In addition, there’s not a lot of new in food or cooking. So, why pursue this cookbook? Because it’s relevant to your audience and your approach and your message is important. Don’t wait too long to write your proposal or your manuscript, though. Sitting around and think about your book for too long won’t work either. Do your research and get started! You’ll be glad when you do.

    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?”. 

  • 6 Tips for Negotiating a Traditional Cookbook Contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Writing a Cookbook Proposal – 5 Tips for Success

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

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

    Here are 5 tips for success with your cookbook proposal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook

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

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

    1. Wait for inspiration

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

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

    2. Wait for permission

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

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

    3. Don’t focus on your project

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

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

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

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

  • 10 Ways to Persevere When Writing A Cookbook


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 6

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksCookbook News

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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