Surprise! There's writing in cookbooks
Some hopefuls are dismayed by this idea.
During the pandemic, I’ve been teaching Zoom classes to people who want to write a cookbook. They anticipate spending hours in their happy place, creating recipes for spicy noodle soups or cheesecakes. They visualize all the gorgeous shots of their finished dishes gathered into a beautiful book.
And yes, sure. That’s a fun part of the cookbook planning process. But what about the writing part? I’ve found that some don’t imagine that.
Many of my students have super impressive cooking and teaching credentials. Then I point out that in addition, publishers want books written by…writers. Preferably those who have already written on the subject of their proposed cookbook.
Hmm. That stumps people. They thought cookbooks were about…cooking. And that’s true. But they’re also about writing. Because they are books!
Publishers want cookbook proposals from established writers. If you’re hoping to write a cookbook, publishers want to see your recipes in national newspapers, Food52, Food & Wine and other prestigious outlets. They’re less interested in any other kind of writing you’ve done, because they want you to be a published expert on your cookbook topic.
So what if you want to write a cookbook and you haven’t written those pieces yet? Don’t send out the proposal. Get some recipes published first.
If you don’t know how to do that, I will show you how. And if you’ve always wanted to break into writing for newspapers, magazines and websites, that’s another reason to take a new Zoom class on How to Write for Food Publications and Websites, March 30, 4-5:30 p.m. PST, through the prestigious 92nd Street Y in New York. The cost is $65.
If you can’t join me, read the chapter on freelance writing in Will Write for Food. Also review the free content on freelance writing on my blog.
I started writing articles in my early 20s, after attending journalism school. My first piece appeared in my town’s daily paper. But it’s never too late to get started. All these outlets need constant content. They might be looking for you.
What I’m eating:
I grew up loving this soupy stew with stuffed dumplings.
On My Blog
Create More Content for Your Food Blog in 2022. Food Blogger Pro’s Alexa Peduzzi suggests ways to increase your productivity. (I am an affiliate.)
Classes and Events
I’m not going, but if you’re there in person, you’ll see me virtually for this panel discussion.
New! An Introduction to Food Writing
March 23, 2022
Online/92nd Street Y
Learn the main kinds of food writing and decide which is right for you, based on your existing skills or skills you want to learn.
New! How to Write for Food Publications and Websites
March 30, 2022
Online/92nd Street Y
There’s a strategy to getting an editor interested in the story you’d like to see published. Learn how the system works.
Special offer: Subscribe to both these classes and save $10.
Jumpstart Your Cookbook Proposal
April 12, 19 and 26, 2022
Civic Kitchen Zoom: Three 3-hour classes
13 students maximum
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.
I’ll provide practical, strategic advice and moral support. I'll cover how the publishing industry works and what editors and agents look for in a proposal. You will write first drafts of several sections in class. At the end of three weeks, you'll have the start of a proposal, with the knowledge of how to make it irresistible to an agent or editor.
Bonus: It's difficult to see someone’s successful cookbook proposal, but I'll share one of mine, which led to a beautiful cookbook by Rizzoli.
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
In conversation with Adrian Miller. Author Adrian Miller’s path to writing books, including who supported him, the resistance he faced, and how he does extensive research.
How I Got My Job: Creating Weeknight Recipe Faves for Top Publications and Writing a Cookbook. Ali Slagle freelances fulltime and didn’t have to go to culinary school to succeed.
When Food Blogs Became Newsletters. Two long-time food bloggers (Adam Roberts and David Lebovitz) discuss their switch to newsletters and why on this Lunch Therapy podcast.
Top 10 cooks in fiction. A novelist chooses her favorites.
The rebirth of the Ebony test kitchen, a home for Black cuisine. Jessica Harris calls it the Black Julia Child’s kitchen.
In praise of Anissa Helou, one of my culinary heroes. The Los Angeles Time’s Bill Addison profiles the cookbook author.
Some Recipe Dealbreakers. A short, humorous look at instructions that make us pause, from The New Yorker.
National Cuisine Is a Useful Illusion. Reem Kassis writes about “What writing cookbooks has taught me about the wonderfully muddled provenance of food.” I coached her on her first book proposal in 2015.
What We Write About When We Write About Food. Ligaya Mishan gets us up to date on European and American food writing, starting with the Greeks.
My next newsletter
For paid subscribers, I’ll discuss how recipes have changed in the last 50 years. It might be a bit of a rant.
It costs only $30 per year to get my exclusive content.
News About Clients and Students
(I like to brag about food writing accomplishments here. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Viola Buitoni’s first cookbook, Italy by Ingredient — Traditional Italian Foodcrafts for the Modern Home Cook, will be published in Fall 2023 by Rizzoli.
Nico Vera wrote The Underground Story of Slow Cooking for Taste.
Esquire featured Sharon Wong’s Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook in The 15 Best Cookbooks of 2022 Will Have You Cheffing It Up In No Time.
Thanks for Reading
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Editor, Writer and Coach
Office: (510) 923-1770
Disclosures: I am an affiliate of Food Blogger Pro, Amazon and Bookshop.org. Photo by Visual Stories by Michelle on Unsplash.