In our interview below, cookbook author Cathy Barrow talks about the importance of social media to connect and “meet all the people”. This is ironic, because social media is how I met Cathy. She’s been a friend to me, and many others, on Twitter and Facebook. Through our regular social-media-led interactions, we got to know each other well enough that I felt comfortable emailing Cathy to ask a few questions about cooking classes she taught in her home. Not only was she responsive to my questions, but her answers were helpful and thorough. A few years passed and I had the good fortune to meet Cathy at a cookbook conference. True to everything I imagined, Cathy was friendly and we were happy to meet in person. In my experience, most cookbook authors are like this – helpful and willing to share what they know – all you have to do is ask. I hope after reading Cathy’s interview that you’ll agree: She’s wants aspiring cookbook authors to succeed in getting their cookbooks published too.
What is the name of your cookbook?
Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving
When was it published?
Is this your first cookbook?
What compelled you to want to write a cookbook?
I’m not sure I was compelled to write a cookbook, I sort of slipped into it once I started my blog, got some notice on the internet for my recipes, and people started asking me if I wanted to write a book. I don’t mean agent or editor people, I mean readers. Nevertheless, I suppose that got me thinking.
Was your blog a driving force in obtaining a contract?
Yes, there’s little doubt that my blog helped, but more than that, writing for national publications helped pave the way to obtaining a book contract. But I never could have written for national publications without getting noticed for the writing on my blog.
Can you tell us how you were offered a contract for your cookbook?
I spent about a year writing a book proposal. My agent, Martha Kaplan, was very helpful editing and commenting and helping me prepare the proposal. I never could have done it without her. Martha sent the proposal out to a number of publishers, there was an auction, and I opted to work with W. W. Norton and the legendary editor, Maria Guarnaschelli.
Do aspiring cookbook authors need food blogs? If no, what other ways can they promote their work (or how do you promote your food writing work)?
Aspiring writers should be writing all the time anyway. Practice, practice, practice. And what better place to do that than a blog, which also helps to build your audience? Social media is imperative these days. You just can’t expect to get a writing gig without social media to go right along with it. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are all important.
Do you find the publishing industry daunting in any way?
It’s a …