If you want to write about food, read this now

As you know by now, I’m a bit obsessed with food, and I love cookbooks (both selling them and using them). There have been a couple of recent articles published about food writing that have caused quite a stir in the business, so I thought I’d talk about them.

The first was published last month by Food 52 founder Amanda Hesser, and it talked about the ways in which the food writing business has changed, and resulted in an inability for an aspiring food writer to make a living the old fashioned way writing about food in newspapers and magazines. It also gave some smart advice on how aspiring food writers can rethink their options.

Then last week Wiley editor Justin Schwartz’s blog post came out about publishing a cookbook. His piece offers very straightforward and specific advice on what not to do when you’re putting together a book proposal.

The articles are very different, but it’s worth reading both to get two experienced perspectives on a broadly similar topic.

The thing that’s great about Justin and his post is that he says it like it is. No sugar coating, no nonsense, no b.s., just clear and very detailed advice. He could start a consulting business and charge money for this stuff, but instead he shares it for free so those of you interested in writing cookbooks can learn what to do, and what not to do.

It’s funny because I had not one but two cookbook clients send me revised proposals this week, and both had read Justin’s post and included things that weren’t there before, like an author photo. And it definitely made for a better package to present. Sometimes the simplest advice is the most effective.

Amanda’s piece is more of a big picture view, and while it might on the surface feel depressing, it offers valuable takeaway suggestions about how to rethink a career in the food industry. Traditional writing jobs are out, but there are other ways to build up a successful brand, like some of the bloggers she mentions including Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen and Simply Recipes.

If you are interested in learning more about this area, take a look and let us know what you think of Justin and Amanda’s advice. And if you have any other tips of your own for getting a cookbook published, or trying to make a career as a food writer, please share them.

2 Responses to If you want to write about food, read this now

  1. Intriguing posts, Stacey. I agree with you on Jason’s consultant potential and appreciated both writers’ honesty.

    As a side note, I’d love to hear your take on the cookbook industry, if you ever feel like sharing. 😉 (Fiction seems so much easier! Or maybe it’s simply more important to do what we love, and not worry so much about the toughness…)

  2. Elizabeth Ann Wade says:

    I’ve been dreaming about becoming a food writer and my new year’s resolution this year was to make it happen. Step one was reading about becoming a food writer. I read all the books (the best one has got to be: How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger by S.J. Sebellin-Ross). Step two was talking to editors. Six months later and step three was getting my very first article accepted. Dreams to come true!

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