A 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?
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?