Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writing a Cookbook

Old family friend Hazel Wimmer's recipe for Vinegar Pie
And, here we go again. Yeah, it's been five years since I wrote my first cookbook with Ten Speed Press, and I'm happy to report that the book did well. I even made *ahem* a bit of cash by the time the smoked cleared if you can believe that, and I don't even have a show on the Cooking Channel.

White Trash Gatherings had a solid run, and in today's seriously over saturated cooking/culinary market, I can say that I am happy with the overall experience (couple this with awesome editors and a great small press). I've been wanting to start this second book for a really long time, and unlike WTG, this cookbook will not be part of the Ernie Mickler White Trash series. This baby is all mine. The subject matter is very close to my heart, and it seems that the culinary landscape has shifted in such a way that the proposed topic will be both meaningful and timely, or so I hope (and no, I am not disclosing anything until I sign on the dotted line).
Won't have a tomato sandwich recipe in the book, although I do love them
In the meantime, I hope to blog a bit about the entire cookbook writing process from start to finish as things progress. As it stands, I am currently in the proposal writing stage, a thankless, laborious process involving crafting a rough sketch for the entire book with table of contents, sample chapters, tested recipes, the works. The nice thing about a cookbook proposal is that it will help me narrow down my topic and consequently dig deep into the "meat" of the project before a single word is written on contract. The crappy part is that your essentially writing on spec. Maybe you'll get a book deal after the 200 hours you spent on the proposal? Maybe you won't.

I do have one, very valuable asset working with my favor, however: I know my publisher is interested in working with me on the particular topic, so I've already gotten the heads up. This is a much better place to be than starting at square one with an agent who shops your book around to several publishers with the hopes that one will eventually bite, especially since I am once again doing this sans agent.

Once I complete the proposal, it will be pitched to my publisher (often a group of execs who vote yeah or neigh). All of this will be done with the help of my editor who is super seasoned and knows her cookbook stuff, and if everything works out and I get a yeah, we'll sign off on the contracts and I will officially go to work. Man, that would be one heck of a Christmas present....

Fingers, toes and all that good stuff officially crossed. Whatever happens, you'll hear about it here first, that's for sure!
Disclosure: there might be bundt cakes
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