• 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.

    3. 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?”

  • Mastermind Groups

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

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

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

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

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

    What is a mastermind group?

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

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

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

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

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

    There are many benefits of a Mastermind Group such as:

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

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

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

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

    *Connection as you network and gain valuable support from colleagues

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

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

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

    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. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

     

     

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 10

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksINSPIRATION
    I’ve always loved Nora Ephron. Her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, is too relate-able. I also love lists so was drawn to this list, written by Nora, who sadly died in 2006, but her list here is a poignant reminder of life, and what’s to be missed (or not missed) when we no longer inhabit our physical bodies.

    WRITING
    It’s often recommended, to be a good writer we need to be a reader. This article looks at the relationship between reading and writing.

    COOKBOOKS
    An argument for cookbooks as a source of recipes. Love it.

    Points to the concept that a kitchen appliance provides the basis for a new cookbook. Six (6!) cookbooks are being written about the Instant Pot.

    PUBLISHING
    This link is to my favorite graphic about publishing, created and updated every year by Jane Friedman. This graphic is always relevant and helpful for anyone dipping their toes into the world of book publishing.

    If you want an agent to represent you and shop around a proposal, here are some tips.

    BOOK DESIGN
    A book cover speaks volumes to your book buyer. Learn some mistakes made on book covers.

    SELF-PUBLISHING
    A fascinating story about self-publishing revenue.

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?  Applications are now open for the next Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group.

  • Focus List and Ignore List

    Lists to read in the morningIn 2009, Peter Bregman wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning. Even though he wrote the article 7 years ago, the content rings true.

    In Bregman’s article, he encourages readers to create two lists: Your Focus List and Your Ignore List. Through a series of questions, Bregman helps you define “your road ahead”: what makes you happy, what you’re trying to achieve, and what’s important to you, as well as to define “your distractions”: what you’re not willing to do, what’s not important, and what gets in the way of focusing on where you want to go. Bregman suggests that you write down your two lists and then take time to read them before you start your day.

    I’m a big believer in early morning routines that allow time to read, write, and reflect. For me this usually happens before anyone else in my house steps out of bed. It’s a sacrifice to get up early, but I know that my morning routine has been an integral part of my focus and determination as a nutrition writer, cookbook author, cookbook editor, and parent. The coffee pot that brews coffee at a time I specify doesn’t hurt either.

    This week I encourage you to write down your Focus and Ignore lists. See if your actions lead you down the right path and shape your day with intentional action. See if the lists help you avoid distractions that take you away from the work you need to do. And, before you know it, your intentional actions will help your goals and dreams come to life.

    Read the original article here.

    And more about Peter Bregman here.

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

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

    DianneJacob-1-portraitWWFFIII.cover

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

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

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

    What are some key factors for aspiring authors to consider in the development of a cookbook concept?

    Have something new to say that will appeal to a large audience. A general soup-to-nuts cookbook will be a hard sell because you’re competing with Ina Garten and The Joy of Cooking.

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

    Can you expand a bit on what a publisher looks for in terms of “big enough audience”?

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

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

    Both aspiring and continuing authors need a consistently growing social media platform and an engaged readership. See this guest post on my blog: What Bloggers Need for a Book Deal: Reader Relationships.

    What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to self-publish her cookbook?

    Find out what it will cost before you dive in. I’ve heard of books that cost $5000 to produce, and books that cost $60,000. There are so many variables: how many copies you want, whether you want color pages, whether you have to pay for photography, whether you’d like a hardcover book.

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

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

    What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to find an agent?

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

    What advice do you have for submitting an unagented/unsolicited proposal?

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

    What are your top tips for writing a cookbook proposal?

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

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

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

    What other advice would you give aspiring cookbook authors?

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

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

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

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?   Applications are now open for the next Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group.  

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?  Applications are now open for Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group beginning in September 2017. Read more about the mastermind group here. 

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 9

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksCookbook Writing

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

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

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

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

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

    Memoir Writing

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

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

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

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

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

     

  • 5 Questions Every Cookbook Author Must Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What is the name of your cookbook?

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

    Is this your first cookbook?

    Yes.

    When was your book published and by whom?

    May 2017 by Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

    What are the main components of your author platform?

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

    What compelled you to write a cookbook?

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

    How did you publish your cookbook?

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

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

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

    What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook?

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

    What was your biggest challenge in publishing your cookbook?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tell me about your experience with CreateSpace.

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

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

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

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

  • Time Management Tips

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

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

    1. Make decisions and move forward

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

    2. Schedule actions that produce results

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

    3. Plan your calendar with discipline and precision

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

    4. Plan your perfect day

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

    5. Honor your plan

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

    6. Constrain your focus

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

    7. Stop distractions

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

    8. Delegate

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

    9. Complete items

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

    10. Quit trying

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

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

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