40 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Platform
40 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Platform

DesignAspiring cookbook authors have a dual-focus for tasks they need to complete, especially if they desire a traditional publishing contract. First, they need to build their platform and second, they need to write a proposal. One doesn’t necessairly come before the other, but both are important to focus on as you prepare to approach an agent or editor. If you are building your platform with a website as the hub and if you plan to blog, you may feel concerned that you have to always blog about recipes. That’s not true. What you need to do is create regular content that your audience is interested in. By regular I mean at least once a week. This is important. And for as long as your blog continues, commit to regular content. Topics for your blog post and content can vary. Your audience is interested in answers to their questions, your help solving a problem they have, and connecting with you. Here are some ideas for blog posts that aren’t directly related to recipes, but that you can easily write to create and update content and inspire and educate your audience.  You might even consider batch creating of blog posts. For the next 30 days, schedule time to write 12 blog posts. Then you get to take the next two months “off” of writing blog posts and focus on other projects.  It’s nice to get ahead and not have any writing emergencies. Here are numerous idea for blog posts topics.

1. Review a book from a competitor

2. Write a list of things that made you happy this month

3. Describe a day in the life of you

4. Review your favorite cooking or baking products

6. Provide advice on a topic related to your area of expertise

7. List what’s in your junk drawer

8. Explain things that inspire you

9. Give away your seasonal bucket list or bucket list for the next year

10. Describe what’s on your desk

11. Share one of your secrets related to cooking, baking, or your area of expertise

12. Describe your favorite ways to unwind after a productive day

13. List facts about you that you’re willing to share

14. Provide tips on how to stay organized

15. List your favorite posts from other blogs

16. Give your opinion on a topic of interest to your audience

17. List quotes you live by

18. Describe how you spend your time alone

19. Give advice for your audience

20. State the top 10 reasons you blog

21. Write a series: 7 days of the life of someone who wants to write a cookbook

22. Write an open letter

23. List 30 things to do before you’re 30, 40 things to do before you’re 40, 50 before 50, 60 before 60, etc.

24. Describe your perfect day

25. Expand on your most important life lesson

26. Write an A to Z post

27. Tell about things you don’t regret

28. Describe what apps you use every …

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, …

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?”

Limit Time to Make Time
Limit Time to Make Time

At the beginning of July we took a trip to the beach. We live in a land-locked part of Kentucky so we drove 11 1/2 hours to dip our toes in salt water. When we travel by car such a distance we pull out of the driveway at “o-dark-thirty” with the hope of arriving at our destination before supper time. This trip, to a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, was a new vacation spot for us. The island was beautiful and our side trips to Charleston, SC fun. We even ate at HUSK with Chef Sean Brock at the helm and Stephen Colbert sat at the table right next to ours. Other good news was that my ATT iPhone didn’t have good service much of the time. (You’ve seen the maps.) Most of the time instead of bars I saw the words “no service”. So what’s a girl to do other than enjoy the time disconnected?I’ll tell you what I did: I spent time watching the sunrise, took morning bike rides with the best male cook I know, read the daily newspaper, worked the daily crossword puzzle and Sudoku, sat under a large red umbrella on the beach, splashed in the ocean with my kids, and floated on a raft in the pool. These activities are what this vacation was made of. It’s an understatement to say I enjoyed my time away from the normal routine of home, office, computer, and smart phones.

We’re home now and the iPhone has full bars and service, but I’m trying to look differently at how I spend my time. I’m limiting my time at the computer, limiting my time poking around on my iPhone and my Kindle, and limiting the time I sit down to write. And guess what? I feel more productive than I felt before I left for vacation. I think for me by limiting my time, I make more time, if that makes sense. Seems counter-intuitive, but with more focus and limited time the work seems to get done quicker. Or maybe it was just the time off work?

With this vacation in mind I think I’ll add a one-speed bicycle to my Christmas list. Then I can mosey around the neighborhood Pee-Wee-Herman-style recreating one of the simple enjoyments of my vacation. I’ll enjoy filling the time I’m creating by not spending unlimited periods of time thinking I’m being productive with my electronic devices in hand and my computer screen in view.

Hope you’re having a great summer and that you are taking some time to enjoy your favorite people, places, and simple enjoyments!
175 Simple Wintertime Pleasures
175 Simple Wintertime Pleasures

This week is my favorite week of the year. It’s officially winter, the Christmas season is in full swing, the kids are out of school, and my days are different. The best part too is that this is true for most everyone. To celebrate I’d like to share my list of 175 simple wintertime pleasures. If you can’t get in the spirit of the holiday season, or if you’re looking too far ahead to 2012, take some time to sit and reflect on this list. Maybe you might want to even work on your own list. Every year when I read this it makes me smile. I hope you enjoy it.

  1. A blank page
  2. A clean bill of health
  3. A dad and son headed out to run errands
  4. A drive through Kentucky back roads
  5. A dusting of snow that won’t melt
  6. A few priorities for the week
  7. A fresh notebook
  8. A freshly bathed dog
  9. A freshly vacuumed rug
  10. A good tear jerker
  11. A hard day’s work
  12. A hilarious movie
  13. A hot shower
  14. A job well done
  15. A juicy homemade burger
  16. A Kroger card for a school family in need
  17. A Midnight train to Georgia
  18. A new pen
  19. A new recipe
  20. A new white shirt
  21. A nice, wide, smile
  22. A note from a friend
  23. A photograph that catches a sideways glance
  24. A pizza party
  25. A pleasant-scented candle
  26. A quiet house on Christmas eve
  27. A roaring fire in the fireplace
  28. A sleeping child
  29. A warm pair of socks
  30. A young boy with a new watch
  31. Accomplishing a task long overdue
  32. Aged Gouda Cheese
  33. An a ha moment
  34. An Aeropress coffee maker
  35. An awake child
  36. An emergency fund
  37. An emphatic yes or no from a child
  38. An evening wine and cheese party
  39. An organized book bag
  40. An unexpected hug
  41. Another writer’s perspective
  42. Automatic coffee pots
  43. Baking Spritz cookies
  44. Baking while snow falls
  45. Bing and David singing “Little Drummer Boy”
  46. Bourbon-barrel ale
  47. Ceramic Santas my Aunt Eileen painted
  48. Chap Stick
  49. Checking something off my list
  50. Chili Con Carne
  51. Christmas spirit candles
  52. Clementine tangerines
  53. Constant Comment tea
  54. Dave Brubeck
  55. Dinner with my sisters and my mother
  56. Doing a little bit at a time
  57. Dreams
  58. Driving the back roads
  59. Dusted tabletops
  60. Eighty’s music
  61. Energy
  62. Fingerprint-less kitchen cabinets
  63. Freedom to live with intention
  64. Fresh Christmas tree
  65. Fresh laundry
  66. Fresh smelling shower gel
  67. Fresh, whole ingredients
  68. Frost on the rooftops
  69. Getting up early
  70. Good health
  71. Gratitude and humility
  72. Hair falling softly around my daughters face
  73. Hand lotion
  74. Happy school-aged and high-school-aged kids
  75. Having a plan
  76. Having the pots and pans cleaned up before dinner is ready
  77. Hearing a first grader read
  78. Honey bell oranges
  79. Hot chai tea with milk and a dash of sugar
  80. Hot green tea to warm my hands
  81. Hot tea and shortbread
  82. Hot, hot water to wash dishes
  83. Ice on the trees
  84. King Rat nutcracker
  85. Knowing I can accomplish a task
  86. Krohn Conservatory Winter flower show
  87. Lazy mornings at home
  88. Leaving a secret note for someone
  89. Lentil soup in the slow cooker
  90. Less is more

What We Ate Last Week Resurrected
What We Ate Last Week Resurrected

I just sat down to a lunch of leftover Hoppin’ John (from Monday evening) and stared to think about how I stopped my weekly What We Ate Last Week blog post. The reasons I stopped are somewhat unclear to me except I was bearing down on the deadline for my cookbook and I felt like I was always eating (read testing) the same thing.  Today, I quite frankly don’t feel too much different. The cookbook is in a different stage of production that’s for sure, but in some ways I feel like I keep cooking and eating the same food/meals. So what?

That’s the point of What We Ate Last Week. An honest glimpse into the evening meal for the GreenApron family – one whose lead cook (me) is a Registered Dietitian, former personal chef, culinary-trained, cookbook author etc., etc.  No secrets, no surprises, just a list of our evening meals.

“Are you cooking lots of gourmet food over there”? or “How many times do you eat out”? are questions I am faced with more often than  one might realize. So next week will be the first in the resurrected installment of What We Ate Last Week.

And now a quick question:

Does your week start on Sunday or Monday?…

4 Ways A GreenApron Starts Her Year
4 Ways A GreenApron Starts Her Year

This blog post has been brewing  for several days as I ponder my first blog post of the new year. What is there to say for 2011? Well, in lieu of a recipe, best-of-2010 or favorite cookbooks list, I thought I’d share what the last few days of an old year look like for me and how I get my new year off to a bang-up start. This is longer than blog posts are “supposed” to be, but so be it.

1. Write down Notes from Christmas/Holiday 2010

Every year I make notes about the holiday season while it’s fresh in my mind. I write out the following items on a piece of paper with “Christmas Notes 2010” at the top of the paper. Then, I store the list on the top of a decorations box before I store it away for next year. My Christmas notes include:

  • Menus for meals prepared during the holidays
  • Parties we attended and what I wore. (Holiday outfits can often be recycled.)
  • Varieties of cookies, candy, and snacks baked and who I delivered cookie-gifts to (it’s usually neighbors).
  • Our actual Christmas day activites and if we traveled out of town that day what time we left and where we went.
  • What church services we attended and what time we left the house to meet our obligations and still be able to sit together as a family.
  • How many business and personal Christmas cards we sent and if we didn’t send cards I note that too.
  • List of gifts bought for the YoungAprons and our extended family.
  • When we visited Santa and did other activities for Christmas – Duke Energy Train Display, Live Nativity and flower show at the Krohn Conservatory, ice skating on Fountain Square, etc.

Then I answer these questions: What worked this Christmas? What didn’t work this year? What should I do differently next year? How much vacation time did I or the best male cook I know take?

This might seem like a bunch of information that I’d remember, but trust me: when I read last year’s notes I smile, remember, and chuckle to myself while saying, “Boy, I’m glad I made these notes”.

2. Make No More Than 10 Concrete Goals for the New Year

Call them resolutions, or call them goals, but just like 45% of other Americans I enjoy setting a few goals for the new year. Similar to my Christmas list (above) I write the goals down and then put the list away somewhere where I can read it at the end of the year. I keep mine in my journal. (If it helps, store the list in an envelope in the box with the Christmas/Holiday notes.) I usually set no more than 10 goals and when I read them at the end of the year I’ve usually accomplished at least a few of the goals.

Note: Over the years I’ve noticed that the bigger and more “fluffy” the goal, the less likely I am to accomplish …