I am pleased to introduce Sandy Nissenberg, M.S, R.D, Editorial Director for Cooking Magazines at Publications International, Ltd. Sandy is fellow R.D. (Registered Dietitian). She helped me personally more than one time because she steps forward when I ask a question on our e-mail listserv for dietitians who own their own businesses. Once again, and consistent with her previous willingness, Sandy graciously volunteered when I put out a call for this interview series.
Tell us about your book writing experience?
I have 13 books to my credit, one which was Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents, beginning in 1989 and continuing through the last few years. It seemed as though I hit on an area that worked for me and then I was approached to write additional books along the way–some my ideas, others from the publisher.
Can you tell us how you were offered a contract for your cookbooks? Was a blog a part of any contract?
I was called by the publisher to present ideas for my cookbook contract, then after I agreed to the terms, the publisher mailed the actual paperwork. The title was finalized by the publisher. Although, I provided suggestions, it usually came down to them deciding on it. I did not have blogs attached to any of my book agreements.
Do aspiring cookbook authors need food blogs?
I’ve been doing this for awhile, blogs were not part of the “deal,” although I can see the benefit. I don’t know if they are always necessary, but they couldn’t hurt.
What compelled you to write a cookbook?
I had left a full-time position to raise my family and wanted to stay involved in the field. Plus, since I write primarily about childhood nutrition, I felt I was in the midst of it while feeding my kids, getting to know other parents, and being active in the schools.
Do you find the publishing industry daunting in any way?
Sometimes I felt like I would like to have had more “say” in what the final outcome would be, but overall I had to put myself in their position and do what was best in the long haul. With my experience, I paved the way into the publishing world as an employee for a publisher, I can see why certain things were done at the time.
What are your thoughts about non-Food TV network stars writing their own cookbooks?
Basically anyone can write a book today, so we just need to create our path and niche into the marketplace as not just providing cookbooks, but information to eat healthfully as well.
What is your advice for an aspiring cookbook writer who is reading this interview?
I constantly spend time with RDs and aspiring writers seeking to break into the writing world. I can say that it may be even easier to get into the world of writing today as one can create a blog or even write a digital cookbook. Printing on demand also helps save costs for some. I still feel that new ideas are always on the horizon, so if there’s a “hook” you want to explore, go for it. Aspiring writers just need to know that it might not come easy and it will likely take a lot of work, but hang in there.
What will be the biggest challenge in completing your manuscript?
When presented with deadlines, I always worked harder knowing they needed to be in at a certain time, no procrastination possible. I wrote in small chapters, following an outline, then putting it all together at some point. I also wrote, put copy away, then reviewed it weeks later with a fresh point of view. This helped with editing. I shared copy with fellow RDs and we reacted to each others work.
What is one recommendation about writing a cookbook?
If you are thinking of writing a cookbook, save ideas on edit copy and recipes. Put them into a folder to explore once writing begins. You will be amazed at how much you can contribute along the way. Even if a book isn’t on the horizon, save whatever appeals to you. You never know when you will need this information down the line.
If you had a crystal ball: where is the cookbook industry going with the advent of digital media?
I still feel like physical cookbooks will be around for a long time to come given that people love to hold the actual book, and give them as gifts. But, there will be a large contribution through digital media. I have to say that now that I work for a publisher, I can see how digital creations can save money and appeal to many people. Videos will also be a part of the works with how-to ideas, etc. There are so many ways to approach cooking in the future. RDs–keep those thinking caps on!