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

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

Your goals for cookbook publication

Your cookbook concept

Your route to cookbook publication

In part 4 we are going to talk about your author platform as a key part of writing your cookbook. Your author platform serves to help your audience get to know you better. It’s how they see you, hear you, and get to trust you. One reason to define your audience early in the process of writing a cookbook is to help you determine if building a platform is necessary. For example, if your audience is your family or college-aged kids, a platform isn’t essential. But, if your audience is middle-aged professional women who suffer from heartburn, then your platform is essential. You need to have a way to get in touch with these women, and they need to be able to find you, hear you, and see you as an expert in the treatment of heartburn through food and/or nutrition.

Your platform forms the foundation of most of the promotional work you will do for your brand, business, and cookbook. Through the various parts of your platform, you are able to stay in touch with your audience and build a relationship with those who are interested in what you have to say. Every aspiring cookbook author, including those who want to self-publish their cookbook, needs to have a way to connect with their audience. In addition, if you desire to have your cookbook published with the help of an agent and/or traditional publisher know that they will find you as a potential author more attractive if they know you have a platform.

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

1. Create a hub or home on the web. Build a website or blog with a unique domain name that belongs to you. (Or hire someone to build it for you. You’ll save a lot …

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

These examples are all ways to get a cookbook published. The method of publication you select may be different than another cookbook author. Rather than comparison with what others are doing, I recommend you focus your energy on your reasons why you want to write a cookbook and then choose the route to publication that best matches your goals.

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

Routes to Cookbook Publication

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

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

Self (or independent) publishing
As an independent publisher, you form a …

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

Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 2

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

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

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

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

Cookbook Concept Development

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

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

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

Mindset Barriers

Mindset barriers often arise when aspiring cookbook authors start to define their cookbook …

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

Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION 1: Who are you writing your cookbook for?

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

Family and/or friends
I suspect that if you want to write a cookbook you’re an experienced cook or baker, and as a result have recipes to share. Your family loves your home-cooked meals, and your friends think you’re the go-to person to bring a signature casserole or cake to a party or get-together. They all want you to share your recipes, and you know this because they’re always asking you for your recipes.

You may be wondering if these reasons are compelling enough reasons to write a cookbook? Yes, it’s a good enough reason. Your audience is on the small side, but they are important. Your recipes and style of cooking for friends and family needs to be preserved. Plus, if they’ve asked for recipes, they will enjoy recreating the dishes you make when they cook for their friends, move to their own apartment, head off to college, start their own family, etc., a cookbook written for them will fill that need.

Clients or customers
If you have a nutrition-focused business, and you help your clients with weight loss, disease management, or wellness, I suspect that food preparation might be part of what you teach them. You also know their challenges when it comes to food, cooking, and nutrition. You know what motivates them to cook, and you know what their barriers are to cooking. Your cookbook can help them live a healthier lifestyle and provides a preset way to connect with them in the office.

If you own a restaurant or catering business, …

Creating Your Perfect Day

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Cookbook Roundup
Fall Cookbook Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 …

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 10
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 10

INSPIRATION
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.

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

WWFFIII.coverAuthor 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, …

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

I’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

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 9
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 9

Cookbook 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 Questions Every Cookbook Author Must Answer

Imagine 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 …

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 8
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 8

Writing Routines

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

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

AP Stylebook

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

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

Writing Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 7
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 7

This 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.

AgentQuery.com

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?
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, …

6 Tips for Negotiating a Traditional Cookbook Contract
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 …

3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook
3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook

Over 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 …

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 6
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 6

Cookbook 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”.

Productivity

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?”

Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 5
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 5

 

FOOD TRENDS

One of my favorite resources for food trends is Allecipes’ Measuring Cup Consumer Trend Report. This report provides information from the Allrecipes group of home cooks such as how they shop, cook, and eat. Using intense databases and online information gathering, Allrecipes has the unique ability to gather information related to the online activity of their users. Here’s a link to their September 2016 report on Back to Kitchen trends.

Also, don’t forget to follow my Food Trends Pinterest board and watch FPS for my annual Food Trends roundup in January 2017.

COOKBOOK CONTRACTS

I hope you enjoyed last week’s Fall Cookbook Roundup. If you missed it, you could read the blog post here.

Last week I signed two new cookbook contracts, so I’m getting ready to write cookbook #3 and #4!  I love new projects, and the process of writing a cookbook is one of my strengths. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for me, it’s easier for me to put together a cookbook manuscript than it is to maintain a food blog. The advantage of a cookbook project is that I get to do what I’m good at (develop, write, and test recipes) and let others help me with the rest (such as photography, design, and production). In addition, a cookbook project is finite, and there is a financial reward. I feel the excitement to get started on the research for the cookbooks.

With the signing of the contracts fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share a blog post and tool that relate to contracts and manuscripts.

First, here is a blog post with 6 Tips to Negotiate a Traditional Cookbook Contract. This blog post 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 situation, then I advise you to seek professional legal advice.

Just like my last cookbook, I plan to use Scrivener as a tool to write the manuscripts. My favorite feature is the way the data is managed in smaller files until it’s compiled, along with the addition of metadata to sort the work I need to do. Here’s a nice video on the basics of Scrivener in case it might be of interest to you when you write a manuscript.

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

Fall Cookbook Roundup
Fall Cookbook Roundup

It’s time for my semi-annual cookbook roundup. Fall and the Christmas/holiday season traditionally creates a busy time for cooks as well as cookbook sales and publication. My roundup this fall includes links to recently published articles about cookbooks from the perspective of food safety, gift-giving lists, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the platform and success of Ina Garten.

Let’s start with an article that presents cookbooks as a biohazard because of harmful bacteria clinging to their pages.

And next are 11 best new cookbooks 2016 from the Independent in the UK. Topics for these cookbooks include seaweed, food of Palestine, a new family classics book from Jamie Oliver, foods of Pakistan, Miso cookbook, Cardamom Trail baking book by GBB Show semi-finalist Chetna Makan, food from the Amalfi Coast, Simple food by Diana Henry, Scandinavian comfort food, and Japanese cooking at home.

This list of cookbooks that add a dash of science to holiday meals includes books that explore the idea of science not just in a restaurant kitchen, but in the home kitchen.

This is a hefty report from the LA Times fall cookbook roundup and let me draw your attention to their look at the current state of the cookbook industry. This report takes a look at how cookbook sales responded to the digital and ebook response to recipes. In the end, sales have proven that cookbook users want physical books “with recipes that work, are explained well, and that they can follow.” Amen.

And a follow-up from the Frankfort Book Fair that reiterates that the cookbook sector of the market has been unaffected by a drop in sales unlike other sectors. Cookbooks can evoke emotion and are more visual which helps to explain why hardcover cookbooks still sell well.

Here’s a list of cookbooks [that] make tasteful gifts for foodies.

Ina Garten has written 10 cookbooks. Here’s a look at how she does it and what makes her books successful.

And finally, from the NYTThe Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016.

And if after all this, you still dream of writing a cookbook of your own, be sure to check out my blog for my Steps to Write a Cookbook Series.

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. 4
Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 4

 

BOOK MARKETING

My 2nd cookbook, Tasting Kentucky: Favorite Recipes from the Bluegrass State continues to keep me busy. Most marketing efforts for this book are up to me. Every week I schedule time to contact new sales and signing leads and to follow-up on activities from the previous weeks.

One of my go-to resources for topics related to writing, publishing, and marketing is Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn. You can read here her thoughts on marketing or if you’re interested buy her book, How to Market a Book where she discusses marketing principles, prerequisites for success, short-term marketing concepts, author platforms,and book launches.

WRITING ADVICE

November is #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While this newsletter is about writing cookbooks, there are similarities between writing novels and cookbooks. As part of a #NaNoWriMo promotion, I became aware of this complimentary copy of The Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice

AUTHOR PLATFORMS

It takes time to build an author platform. It also takes time to write a cookbook proposal or manuscript. In this blog post, Chad R. Allen answers the question How Do I Write My Book and Build a Platform at the Same Time?

If you have questions about what an author platform is and how to build one, read my blog post and download the Build Your Author Platform worksheet.

FOOD TRENDS

We’re nearing the end of the calendar year and food trends for 2017 are starting to emerge. Reading about these trends is something I always enjoy. In the article written for Foodservice Equipment and Supplies, six trends are identified that “may move from cutting edge to mainstream.”

Follow my Food Trends board on Pinterest.

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?”