As someone who makes a large part of their income from writing, I feel grateful for the solitary time I have to write and that I’m able to earn money both writing and talking about cookbooks, cooking, food, and nutrition. But, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post I often felt alone when I wrote my cookbook. At times I had nowhere to turn to get my food-writing questions answered. Don’t get me wrong, my acquisitions editor at my publisher was lovely, but since she wasn’t a food person she couldn’t answer many of my food-related questions. I also didn’t retain an agent, so I didn’t have him or her to turn to either.
After my cookbook was published I heard from other authors concerns about these same challenges I had. This made me ask: If I had my first cookbook to write over again, would I entertain the idea of hiring a book or writing coach?
People work with coaches all the time for a variety of reasons -to improve their health, to eat better, to upgrade their business marketing, or to make happier and healthier life choices. So, why would you, an aspiring cookbook author, hire a cookbook coach?
1. You feel alone in the writing process. A book coach is a mentor, teacher, consultant, and friend all rolled into one. A book coach is someone you can reach out to while you are working on your cookbook project and who cares about you getting the results you want from your project. They guide you while you write your cookbook proposal or provide accountability while you finish your manuscript.
2. You need someone to help you get started with your cookbook project. Who better knows how to start a cookbook project that someone who has written a cookbook? A cookbook coach can help you look at the goals for your book and then help you decide the best avenue to take to get your cookbook published.
3. You want a published cookbook author to explain the process of writing a cookbook. Maybe you think you need to write your entire manuscript before you approach an agent or editor. Maybe you aren’t sure about where photography fits into a cookbook. Maybe you need to know when and how to develop and test recipes. A cookbook coach can walk you through the steps of writing a cookbook so that you don’t get lost wasting time doing something unnecessary.
4. You feel afraid to start writing. You’re afraid of the mistakes, the judgments, and all the other negative emotions that could be leveled against you when putting your work out in the form of a cookbook. A book coach has faced those fears and can help you overcome your personal whim-whams or whatever is holding you back. They know that writing can be scary, but will help you get the words on the page and let your brilliance shine.
5. You started a book project before, but the files now live in a computer folder or cardboard box. Even though you want to write a cookbook, you’re afraid that you won’t finish this project either. A cookbook coach provides accountability and encouragement. Together you develop a writing routine, or sign a writing contract, that works for you so that you can finish this project.
6. You are upset because someone else wrote the cookbook just like the one you wanted to write. This happens a lot more than you may realize in the cookbook world. A cookbook coach, though, won’t let this deter your project. They know that this must mean that your idea is a brilliant one. But now you need to work on turning this brilliant idea into your cookbook because only you can communicate to your audience the unique perspective that you can bring to the topic. Your cookbook shares your knowledge about your passion in the kitchen. That’s something no one can take away from you. A cookbook coach helps you get unstuck and keeps you moving along, even when the competition makes you want to stop.
7. You feel daunted by the task of writing a cookbook. A book or writing coach helps break a writing project down into small, doable steps. She helps you focus on what’s the most important next step so that you don’t get stuck worrying about the big picture.
8. You’ve read books about writing and have invested money in food writing courses, but you still can’t get your project finished. This means you are someone who will benefit from a more personalized approach to writing with a lot of one-on-one attention. Online food and book writing courses are a great place to start, but a cookbook coach can help you take what you learned from previous books and courses and then apply the useful information to your cookbook project.
9. You lack organization and your files are scattered around your computer, desk, and kitchen counter. A cookbook coach can provide tips to help you organize your writing and recipes and suggest steps for organizing the digital and paper files. A cookbook coach can also provide suggestions for the organization of testing notes, recipes, manuscript chapters, and references.
10. You work alone and no one is around to make sure you get your work done. A cookbook coach talks to you on the phone or in-person on a regular basis. You won’t be alone during your project. Your coach helps keep you accountable to your writing schedule and can help you with work flow. A book coach is committed to you for several months while you work on your project. They want you to have good results, reach your goals, and know that you aren’t alone in your work.
When a writer commits their time and their money to work with a cookbook coach the results speak for themselves: a completed cookbook proposal, organized recipes and writing files, regular commitment to the writing process, defined cookbook concepts, and a jump-started cookbook project.
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?”