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A Few Suggestions for Your Writing
Based on the three errors I find most often
You know what I found out in my last paid newsletter, when I asked what readers are working on? It’s writing projects. This newsletter is for those who like or aspire to write. That’s exactly the response I wanted.
Thanks to everyone who participated. That newsletter had an extremely high open rate, which is awesome.
So let me focus on what can help you improve.
Here’s something on the craft of writing:
Recently I line edited work by an experienced, published writer. Then I edited the work of a newer writer. Both had the same three problems with their writing. Not coincidentally, these three problems are what I fix most as an editor.
Here they are, with suggestions for improvement:
Passive voice. It’s rampant. I wrote a post about it here. Passive voice deadens your writing. What makes writing come alive is action, otherwise known as verbs. So look for phrases like “had been, “ “can be eaten,” and “am reminded.” Recast your sentences by starting with the person who does the action. Usually that person is missing from your text.
Bloated sentences. When you revise, tighten, tighten, and tighten some more. Make every word count. Cut down lists of adjectives that precede a noun, particularly. Food writers are notorious for that.
Long sentences and long paragraphs. Either and worst of all, both, create a deadly combination that exhausts your readers. Readers like variety. Chop up your sentences and paragraphs. Make some short, some long, and some medium. Doing so creates rhythm and interest. And if you’re writing for online publication, make your paragraphs short. Online readers skim. It’s easier to do so with short paragraphs.
That’s it. If you want to see your writing improve immediately, find these three things in your work and fix them.
P.S. For those of you who asked, I’m finally upright and walking, albeit with the help of a walker and crutches. I’m slow, but it feels good.
What I’m eating:
Do you know how grapefruits got to America? I did not.
On My Blog
Alice Medrich, the queen of award-winning cookbooks, penned this wry guest post: What to Expect When You Finish Writing A Cookbook.
Classes and Events
Jumpstart Your Cookbook Proposal
February 8, 15 and 22, 2021
Civic Kitchen Zoom: Three 3-hour classes
13 students maximum
$399 online SOLD OUT WITH WAITLIST
If you're procrastinating about writing your cookbook proposal, you're not sure what to write, or you need accountability and support, take this class.
Book proposals have a low success rate, so it's critical to learn all you can before sending out your proposal.
It's difficult to see someone’s successful cookbook proposal. I'll share one of mine, which led to a beautiful cookbook by Rizzoli.
In person event: An interview with Faith Kramer
Author of 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen
February 6, 3 p.m. PT
Omnivore Books, San Francisco
Join me as I interview Faith, a food columnist and recipe writer for the J, the Jewish News of Northern California. She’s also a former student. I’ve had the pleasure of dining at her table, and eating her flavorful global dishes.
This panel discussion features published authors Mary Cressler, Kathy Hester and me, moderated by author Sean Martin. Mary and Kathy will discuss how they landed their cookbook deals, and I’ll talk about the landscape and strategies.
One-hour consult: $250
For years I've had a five-hour minimum for consulting. But now, through Delicious Experiences, we can do a Zoom call for just one hour or more. If you’ve wanted to start on your dream cookbook, get your book published, or get better freelance assignments, let’s move you forward with your goals. Writers at all levels have booked me to discuss a variety of topics.
What I'm Reading
Entire Shipment of Cookbooks Sinks to the Bottom of the Ocean Causing Release Date Delays. Melissa Clark and other authors lost their books.
Sticklers, Improvisers, and “Following” Recipes. A terrific essay from Stained Page News about how specific to be when writing recipes. If you’re not a subscriber, you should be!
Pinterest Predicts 2022 groups more than 175 trends that the company anticipates will be big on its platform this year, including food trends. Also read 11 Content Ideas for Food Bloggers Inspired by Pinterest Predicts 2022, from Food Blogger Pro.
How the Air Fryer Crisped Its Way Into America’s Heart. A terrific piece about food writers with big audiences. They make all kinds of things with this appliance, like cheesecake.
Announcing a special opportunity for food writers. Applications open February 4 for Substack’s Food Writers Intensive.
The Top 7 Ways to Make Money with Social Media. Creative new ways reach past sponsored posts.
Selling Non-fiction In The Age of Free Information. A short but useful post about marketing strategies for your new book.
How Jam Sanitchat Raised $65,000 To Publish Her New Cookbook. She did it in 45 days!
Over Fried Fish, I Said Goodbye to My Wife—And to a Version of Myself. I don’t usually include personal essays, but this one is gorgeous and it shows a possible change of direction for Bon Appetit.
How to Sell More Books Using The Global Reading Habits of 2021. A fascinating info chart about who reads books, what they read, and other stats.
How To Get Followers On Twitter: What To Do Today. Smart and doable suggestions if you still love Twitter. I do.
Library of Congress Acquires Kitchen Sisters’ Audio Archive. If you haven’t listened before, the article has the links.
From Cooking to Cash: How to Earn Money as a Food Blogger. A tutorial from Wordpress.
Gastro Obscura’s Favorite Cookbook Stories of 2021. Recipe collections and the communities that produced them.
How to Plan and Host Worthwhile Online Book Events. If you need to promote an upcoming book, here’s how to do it well.
My next newsletter
For paid subscribers, I talk about recipe development with Susan Spungen, who cooked and styled the food on the two Julia movies and more. It costs only $30 per year to get exclusive content like this.
News About Clients and Students
In advance of the Lunar New Year, Oaklandside published Anna Mindess’s feature How a mother and daughter reinvented Oakland’s 65-year-old Fortune Factory.
Rockridge Press published Sharon Wong’s new cookbook, Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook.
(I like to brag about food writing accomplishments here. Just send me an email: email@example.com.)
Thanks for Reading
Did you like what you read here? Forward it to a few people on email or share on social media. It really helps! New subscribers can sign up here. Thank you.
Editor, Writer and Coach
Office: (510) 923-1770
Disclosures: I am an affiliate of Food Blogger Pro, Amazon and Bookshop.org. Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash.