Over the past few months I have enjoyed interviewing a variety of cookbook authors. Today I introduce Jaclyn Douma. What I love about Jaclyn is her positive attitude and her willingness to put the work into the success of her book. She also identified a niche audience, newlyweds, and wrote to them. What a neat concept. Here’s more about Jaclyn’s experience as a published cookbook author.
What is the name of your book?
The name of my cookbook is Our First Year: Cost Effective Recipes from the Home of Newlyweds. All of the recipes were written by my husband and I during our first year of marriage.
How is your book published?
Originally, I had it published by a local publisher here in Phoenix, which they were somewhat of a “print-on-demand” type company. It was a tricky situation as I had originally partnered with them to dually promote my book, but during the process of production they were bought out by another company who focused mainly on travel print. The publisher did his best to help but cookbooks were not his forte. Then in September of 2010, I submitted my manuscript to a national publisher who extended me a contract. This also is similar to a print on demand publishing company, but they focus on giving the authors a lot of freedom in the production, while guiding us along with their expertise in each particular department. I also work along side a marketing representative to brainstorm ideas and she helped to promote my book as well.
When was your book released?
The official release date of my cookbook was October 11, 2011
Did you write a cookbook proposal first, or jump straight in the manuscript?
When I approached my first publisher, I provided a proposal to pitch my idea of the cookbook I was planning to write. I felt that I could really narrow my niche market with a unique product that included cost effective recipes along with several how-to tips in the kitchen, party ideas and bits of advice I had learned throughout the years. I was inspired to first write the cookbook because of the cookbooks I had received as wedding gifts, all including culinary lingo that, although I new bits and pieces of, my husband was completely oblivious too. I also did not feel that many of the recipes were very practical for every day living. Don’t get me wrong, the recipes sounded and looked delicious, but we were barely paying our bills as newlyweds and just trying to get something on our plate that we both enjoyed was a challenge in some of the cookbooks. I also realized that through my years of cooking with my family, many things I had learned I took for granted when talking with my friends who were also newlyweds but living on take out and box dinners.
After my original proposal I got to work on my manuscript, which took much longer than expected, especially when I would continue to add little tid-bits of information along the way.
Once I chose to try to work with a national publishing company, my manuscript was already complete from having it previously published. I did add 10 more recipes, plus a bit more information, which was simple to add since I already had the outline.
What were your biggest challenges writing this book?
Control. I was blessed to work with two publishing companies that did give me quite a bit of freedom, but I had a hard time staying calm when the “ball was in their court.” Which is just a personal challenge, but none the less, it was my biggest challenge. I think also a challenge of mine was working with the artists who designed the layout and cover for both my books. I am from a graphic artist background (my father taught me many things growing up in this field) so when they provided me with samples of artwork that they felt portrayed my style I felt defeated. I know defeated is a strong word, but when you have so much hope and excitement in a book, and it comes back not the way you envisioned, in that moment, defeated is the feeling. I am pleased to say though that we were able to agree upon a beautiful cover (both times published) that is very marketable while still portraying a beautiful cookbook that can be given as a gift or kept for ones self.
What did you find most rewarding writing this book?
Praises from strangers. Granted, the continued support and encouragement from my friends and family goes beyond words of how thankful I am; but there is just something about the words of a stranger that drive deeper into my soul. They didn’t have to say such nice things like a family member may feel obligated to do. I love seeing comments through my blog, facebook, and comment forms of people being so pleased by my product.
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring cookbook author?
Get your name out there and be fully devoted. Through working with my publishers I am continually reminded that although they are working very hard to promote my book, they also have many other authors under their belt that they are doing the same for too. YOU are the only one that can devote the care, time and concentration into the full success of your book. Rather than waiting for that one perfect moment where you “become famous”, get out there and find that moment. I have submitted press releases to food blogs, wedding blogs, news stations, newspapers, national television programs, etc. and I am proud to say that there are several pages of articles about me and my book if you search my name on Google. I have appeared on our local news station Good Morning Arizona doing a live cooking demo, recently won a contest hosted by Paula Deen and the Real Women of Philadelphia and will be guest speaking in front of over 100 women during the month of December. I also have two children under the age of two who I care for each day and although at times I would rather be working on promotions verses being spit up on or changing diapers, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am by no means trying to toot-my-own-horn, I am just expressing to all those aspiring cookbook authors out there – your book is your baby, babies develop into strong, successful adults through the attention we give them when they are young.
One other bit of advice that I just have to mention: When asked what you do for a living, introduce yourself as a published author – because you are!