Episode 2| Interview with Jenny Hartin of Cookbook Junkies Facebook Group and Eat Your Books
Episode 2| Interview with Jenny Hartin of Cookbook Junkies Facebook Group and Eat Your Books

In this episode, Maggie interviews Jenny Hartin. Jenny is the owner and administrator of  Cookbook Junkies Facebook Group and cookbookjunkies.com as well as the Director of Publicity for Eat Your Books. Jenny shares her introduction into the cookbook space as a cook and cookbook collector, why she started Cookbook Junkies and her role as Director of Publicity for Eat Your Books.

Listen to Episode 002 below:

Things We Mention In This Episode:

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A Taste of Kentucky Cookbook: Behind the Scenes
A Taste of Kentucky Cookbook: Behind the Scenes

Last week, I began the testing phase of recipes for my next cookbook A Taste of Kentucky: Favorite Recipes from The Bluegrass State (Farcountry Press 2016). For this project I have the good fortune of collaborating with a talented Kentucky photographer named Sarah Jane. Our Tuesday session was great fun. I cooked, while she chased the light around my house and photographed the finished dishes.

The photographed pancakes are Buttermilk Pancakes with Whipped Bourbon Vanilla Butter from The Red River Rockhouse in Campton, KY. This is one example of a recipe we worked on last week. While shooting this particular photo, Sarah Jane instructed me to pour a thin stream of syrup onto the pancakes. While I poured, she took pictures of the syrup stream flowing onto the pancakes. It was a beautiful shot. Just for fun, she also shot this picture of the resulting puddle of syrup around the pancakes. I call this Buttermilk Pancakes en Dolce Brodo (in sweet broth).

A Taste of Kentucky should be a beautiful and delicious cookbook with close to 100 recipes from the best chefs, restaurants, inns, food producers, and writers across Kentucky. While you wait for this book, I share a pancake recipe from The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook. Try to control yourself with the syrup.

Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes about eighteen 4-inch pancakes

Not made from a mix, these pancakes are a soft, fluffy, rather tall pancake. Vary the size if desired. For a 6-inch pancake use 1/2 cup of batter, for a 5-inch pancake use 1/3 cup batter, and for a 4-inch pancake use 1/4 cup batter, and for silver dollar pancakes, or pancakes the tiny size of a silver dollar coin, use a tablespoon to portion out the batter.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted 

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix the dry ingredients together until the ingredients are blended, but not smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes. Heat griddle over medium-high heat until water flicked on the surface beads up and dances around. Use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop the batter onto the griddle. Cook about 3 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface of the batter, the edges look dry, and the bottom of the pancake is lightly browned. Turn the pancake and continue to cook until the other side of the pancake is browned, about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven with warm maple syrup.…

Cookbook Proposals: Writing Your Cookbook’s Summary
Cookbook Proposals: Writing Your Cookbook’s Summary

Writing a cookbook proposal is an important step before writing a cookbook manuscript. One of the first meaty parts of your cookbook proposal is your cookbook summary. This section must hook and engage the agent and/or editor with clearly written information about your cookbook. For today’s blog post I’ll review the two parts of the cookbook summary.

1. A 25-word cookbook summary

Some people in the business call this statement the 25-word cookbook summary. (OK, it can be 30 words, but it needs to be short.) Maybe you’ve heard of an elevator speech or elevator pitch? Your cookbook summary is similar. Your cookbook needs an elevator pitch.

The summary defines your cookbook and its value to your audience. It contains the succinct and clear answer to the question you will inevitably be asked, “What’s your cookbook about?” And, as for the word “elevator”, imagine that this summary must be verbalized in the time you would have in an elevator with the agent or editor who wants to know what your cookbook is about.

This short summary and its tiny collection of words serves to help pitch your book to agents and/or publishers. It could form the core of press releases and might even serve as a dust-jacket blurb or sound-bite for your book. It will make your cookbook stand apart from all the others, but only if it’s done well. It can be customized ever so slightly when necessary, depending on who’s going to read it.

The 25-word Cookbook Summary needs to convey:

What the book is about (including genre and/or target reader demographic)?

Who will relate to your book, buy it, and want to read it?

Why an agent must represent you and your book and/or publisher must publish the book?

That’s a lot packed into 25 words, but this is an important task. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect the first time you write it. Chances are it will become more clear and powerful as you work on other parts of this proposal, so refer back to this summary after you write your proposal to tweak and hone the words.

Just to give an example, the 25-word summary for my cookbook is:

A seasonal cooking journey that guides home cooks through a year in a Kentucky kitchen, highlighting the best of the Bluegrass with local dishes for all to enjoy.

2. A 250- to 300-word cookbook concept introduction

This gives the agent and/or publisher a more in-depth overview of why you want to write the book and why it should be published. In this section you describe the benefits of your cookbook and its appeal to your audience. This overview communicates in a clear and compelling way what the cookbook is about and who the market is for your book. Be sure to shed light on important things right up front. For example, if a large segment of your target audience has been demanding this book, this is where you tell the agent and/or publisher about that. Give …

We Almost Have A Cookbook
We Almost Have A Cookbook
The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook files were sent to the printer today. Said files are now in the hands of capable professionals (in Michigan no less) who turn words and images into a beautiful bound books. I think I’ll die when I see a copy of the book in April. In the mean time I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Instead I’m scheduling book signings, events, and promotions so I can get “out there” and talk about, cook from, and discuss the book. In the end I hope The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook makes better fresh home cooks out of us all. If you would like for me to come to an event near you, please let me know.

I’ll kick off my promotion with the following events:

Friday, April 15, 2011
Kentucky Writers Conference
You Can Write A Cookbook: Essential Ingredients For Success
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Friday, April 16, 2011
Southern Kentucky Book Festival
Bowling Green, Kentucky

Speaking of cookbooks: Cookbook circulation in libraries is at an all time high and last year print cookbook sales were up 9% more than any other genre of print books (except entertaining.) There’s never been a better time to write a book of your own. Very soon I plan to officially announce a series of teleclasses on writing cookbooks. If you dream of writing a cookbook stay tuned for more information about this exciting opportunity. I’ll draw upon my experiences as a cookbook reader, editor, and author to guide would-be cookbook authors through essential ingredients for a successful cookbook.

Proof(s) On My Mind
Proof(s) On My Mind

Today I keep thinking of the word proof(s). Here’s why:

1. The first set of page proofs for The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook arrived yesterday. The pages look beautiful thanks to the hard work of the designer and of course the top-notch coding of the manuscript by the copy-editor. The interior is set with shaded and boxed text, menus, recipes, stories, tips, and beefy head notes. I’m typically amazed at this stage of cookbook production, or the transformation of any text to design for that matter.  Presto. Magico. (not a word I know) Beautiful. I gave the proofs a thorough side-by-side run through, and now a few final tweaks to get the final pages set. Then we head into the phase where the cookbook is proofread and indexed. Some might complain about looking at page proofs over the holiday, but since my hobby has always been reading cookbooks I consider this a holiday pleasure. Plus the best male cook I know is off work for several days next week so I can still read while the Young Aprons are directed by him to “shovel the driveway”, “clean your room”, “take out the trash”. Lucky YoungAprons. Never fear. This will be followed by, “Want to go ice skating?”, “Let’s make Chicago-style Dogs”, and “Anyone want to play Axis and Allies?”

2. I have some finely chopped pecans soaking in 80 PROOF Kentucky bourbon for my annual bourbon-ball-making session. With this in mind I’ll sign off and head to the kitchen. It’s a gorgeous snowy day here and I look forward to doing a bit of holiday baking. The photo above is my batch from last Christmas. Wish I had one right now.

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Shameless Plug
Shameless Plug


I guess since this is my blog I can write about any darn thing I want to. It’s hard though. I grew up in a large, estrogen-dominated family where drawing attention to ourselves was not encouraged. Walk in line. Follow the pack.

I’ll break from my upbringing for a moment to shout out about a recent accomplishment of mine and of my friend Shirley Corriher (and her dear husband, Arch). We worked tirelessly this summer finishing BakeWise, a highly anticipated baking companion to Shirley’s first cookbook CookWise. Shirley as the author, Arch as her live-in editor and nitpicker, and lil’ ole me as their freelance editor (for Scribner – thanks Beth Wareham!) did everything humanly possible to whip the manuscript into shape before turning it over to our precise copy editor, Suzanna Fass. Next, we poured over every word in the designed pages making sure that what we wanted said was in fact, well, said.

My editing work (all via telephone) with the Corrihers was a pleasure. What a sweet honor to help Shirley release BakeWise the world. Now I need to get myself down to Atlanta to celebrate at their favorite eatin’ spot. “Great day in the morning, BakeWise is out!”

BakeWises official publication date is Tuesday, October 28th. I’ll be in Chicago but, despite the forecast for chilly rain and wind, I can hardly wait to make a mad dash into a bookstore to view a copy of BakeWise “on the shelf”. I have a bound copy right here on my desk. I’ve seen it already – cover to cover, inside, outside and upside down, and it’s a beautiful thing. But, until I see the fruits of our labor sitting among other cookbooks it’s still a little hard to believe.

Amazon is shipping copies of BakeWise. If nothing else, visit Amazon and read the reviews. Next time you’re in a bookstore pick up a copy. Look at the fabulous photographs. Flip through the pages. Read a recipe or two. Can you smell the brownies?

OK, enough of that. Time to get back in line. I’ll return again and talk about something other than myself, and my friend Shirley.…