Monday, May 17, 2010

The Perils & Panic of Writing a Cookbook

You read that right my friends - I'm writing a cookbook.

Correction: I've written a proposal to try to convince someone to hire me to write a cookbook.


Nah, I don't really mean that. In fact, I'm super excited to have even gotten this far. I thought it might be fun (i.e.: cathartic) to write it all down and put it all out there so that you can see what the process is like and lend me a hand through it because peeps, I don't think this is going to be easy.

Two years ago, I came to the realization that I am really, really good at teaching teens & tweens how to cook. I figured that the best way to get my skills out to the masses (because good heavens, someone has to teach these kids to cook!) was through a cookbook. I'm a little old-school and it seemed like the best plan of attack. So I started doing some research on how the process works.

Step One: Write a detailed proposal (approximately 50-100 pages-holy cow!) detailing the concept, your credentials, testimonials, outline, recipes to be included, sample chapter, & sample recipes.

I started the proposal just shy of two years ago.

For real.

Last spring, I took a class at the local community college on proposal writing - THAT was interesting. Truthfully, I stalled a bit on the proposal and didn't really get going in earnest until late fall 2009. In November, I took a class (specifically on cookbook proposal writing) that was absolutely amazing and extremely helpful. From there, I started pushing things into high gear.

I finished the first draft and hired an editor to take a look so that I could be sure to send out my best work. The editor was friendly and knowledgeable, but had a few unexpected delays. *sigh*

I started to get antsy. After attending a great lecture at BlogHer Food in September, I remembered a real pro on the panel and hired her to take a look ($$$) and give me her opinion on my work.

Ah hem - My voice is good, but I don't have a national platform. Without a national platform, it's impossible to get a contact.


What to do, what to do...

In my life, I've had one motto, thanks to my sister-in-law Mo: "What's a cup of water when you're drowning."

I got in touch with the amazing author who taught the class I took in the fall and asked her opinion. Bear in mind, this is a woman with mucho experience, but with no billion-visits blog, tv show, or the like. Just someone who is excellent at what she does and put out an admirable cookbook. And she said not to be afraid (I'm paraphrasing). She said to go for it.

So I did.

Step Two: Try to land an agent, because that's definitely the best approach to getting in with a publisher.

I mailed my first copy of my 63-page proposal to my first agent, and now sit, with fingers, toes, and spleen all crossed, waiting for the next 4 to 6 weeks to see if she thinks I have potential. Because that's really all I need - someone to see that I have the potential to write a great book to teach this audience that will sell. A lot.

I'm hoping I have the stomach to make it through my foray into the publishing world. And I'll let you know how it goes: good, bad, or ugly.


Cathy B. said...

Good luck, Chris! I'm glad you're going for it. Somebody has to write/create these things, right?

BTW, I agree with you. You are really, really, good at teaching tweens and teens to cook. Excited to hear how things go for you.

Also, congrats on the Frederick magazine cover story. You look fab!

Barbara Palermo said...

Good luck, Chris!

jessememan said...

Hi Christine...stumbled on your blog. I am Melissa, a Frederick jewelry designer. Look forward to reading more posts!

Chef Christine said...

Great to meet you Melissa - Thanks for checking me out!