when is a cookbook deal too good to be true?

cookbook pile

Ever since I was on a panel with my buddies Shauna and Nancy at Blogher Food 2010 about publishing cookbooks, I’ve been getting a lot of questions and emails about how to get a cookbook deal. Simply put, it’s complicated. I could probably write ten posts about the subject, but one thing is coming up more and more often. What do you do when someone approaches you (a blogger) about writing a cookbook? Sounds pretty good, right? And yet there is no easy answer. Here is how the questions usually go:

1. I was contacted by an editor at a book publisher (or e-content company) I’ve never heard of, and they want me to write a book. What do you think? Check a site like Compete.com and look at your site stats. I know it’s far from accurate when compared with your Google Analytics stats, but then look up the stats for a major blogger who you know has book deal with a big publisher like Random House or Harper Collins. If your stats look pretty low in comparison, ask yourself why this publisher is contacting you now? Do they simply believe in you, or are they possibly taking advantage of you? Publishers love bloggers because they are awesome self-promoters. Small publishers tend to have no publicity staff, and they want you to do all the work for them. (I work for a large publisher, so of course I’m ridiculously biased — do not listen to anything I say.)

2. The advance is low (or there is no advance), but I make my real income from my day job, so why should I be worried about the money? This is a tough call, and ultimately I can’t tell you what’s fair. But do make sure they are offering you an advance against future royalties. And then make sure you’re being offered royalties on every copy sold. Don’t accept work-for-hire (one-time payment) deals unless you put no value on your ideas. If the publisher makes money from your book, so should you.

3. They want the manuscript in 8 weeks. Is that normal? No. I bet they’re promising to publish the book in 5 or 6 months too. Will they even edit your book? Sorry everyone, but I’ve never met a blogger who doesn’t need heavy editing. Books are different than blogs. If you’ve got high standards, then make sure your publisher and editor do too. Rush jobs are risky, and you’re putting your reputation on the line. You should want to partner with someone who will push you to do better work.

4. Since the publisher approached me directly, why do I need an agent? I could write a book about this. Yes, it seems weird to give an agent 15% of everything you make. But a good agent isn’t just there to take your money. They will help you negotiate a fair (or better) deal. They will help you negotiate your next deal. They will help you when things gone wrong. A good agent is an investment.

5. I heard I have to write a 50-page proposal to sell a cookbook, but this publisher says it’s not required. Doesn’t that sounds a little too good to be true? Look at the above questions again? Are they paying you almost nothing to write a book on a crash schedule and advising you not to get a literary agent? Those all sound like red flags to me. I ask prospective authors for written proposals because I figure if they can’t write me 10, 20, or even 50 pages, then how are they going to write an entire cookbook manuscript on a deadline. Keep in mind that a good literary agent will help you write a book proposal. You don’t have to do this alone.

6. You’re being kind of negative. Isn’t this deal my “foot in the door?” Yes and no. Is the publisher going to do anything to promote your book? Do they have the financial resources to get your book into stores where people will be able find it? Those cookbooks you see on display tables in the store didn’t get there by accident. Someone paid for that placement. (Remember, I work for a big publisher, so I’m terribly biased and cannot be trusted.) Will they print enough copies to keep the book in stock? Do they have publicity and marketing staff to promote the book?

7. I have 10,000 Twitter followers, so why does any of this matter? Because if your first book is a flop, getting a second book deal is going to be difficult. In fact there may be no second book. Other publishers have access to your sales data. It’s sort of like transferring colleges. You went to a state school but you have your sights set on something better. After your first year, your GPA is just okay at the state school, and then you try to transfer. But you can’t hide your grades, and they still know what you scored on the SAT in high school. The fancy university of your dreams may not think you’re living up to your potential. Sure, you’ve got a whole list of excuses, but it’s too late. You’ve already done the damage. Your record (or reputation) is tarnished.

8. So am I supposed to give up just because the big-shot NYC publishers (and agents) won’t pay me any attention? Of course not, but ask yourself if this is the right time. Be patient and invest in yourself. If you really want a book deal, make sure you have a faithfully maintained blog, growing site traffic that compares to other bloggers with book deals from prominent publishers, loyal commenters, growing Facebook fans and Twitter followers, possibly some financial sponsorship, and preferably some visibility beyond just the internet (you know, in the real world). Make sure you’re saying something different, because there’s an awful lot of competition out there. And keep it personal because a good publisher wants to invest in you, not a machine or a clone.

9. So there is hope? What else? Make sure you’re writing about something that sells books. I can’t tell you all the tips and tricks, but if you want to know what people are buying, just look at the Amazon top-100 cookbook list every now and then. You probably won’t find any cookbooks about Minnesota-style cooking there.  Maybe you’re thinking, “There’s nothing else about Minnesota cooking yet, so my book will be unique and sell like crazy!” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  Sometimes being unique is a bad idea. And don’t slice-and-dice. Just because you eat organic, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and nut-free, that doesn’t mean there is a huge, untapped market for your cookbook on the subject. Finally keep in mind that some book categories are just too crowded. How many desserts cookbooks are published every single year? Too many.

10. I mentioned I have 10,000 Twitter followers, right? Remember, there is a world beyond blogging. Get out and meet real people because even if 20% of those Twitter followers buy your book (even though they’re getting your content for free on your blog), that’s still not enough sales to make any book publisher happy and get you second deal. You’re going to have to reach way beyond your fans on the web. Go to food conferences and events. Start small if you have to and write for even obscure, local magazines at first, just for the experience. Write for other more popular hub web sites to grow beyond your normal audience. Teach a class — again, start small if you have to. Organize events with local foodies like a restaurant or neighborhood crawl. Enjoy yourself. And keep blogging.

Sorry if this seems a bit negative. I’ve just been hearing this kind of story a lot lately, and I thought maybe this could help a few people. But the reality is, no single blog post is going to answer all of your questions. So my last bit of advice is just to be careful. If your gut instinct tells you something might be wrong, listen to it. Ask around. Do some research. And don’t sign away your creativity without understanding what you’re getting into.

About justcooknyc

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100 Responses to when is a cookbook deal too good to be true?

  1. Jennifer says:

    Tell me the truth—you wrote this post just for me, right? We’ve been over this a lot lately, and I don’t think is a negative post at all. It’s just very truthful and realistic. You also make a great statement about getting off to a good start with your first book—perfect analogy, and makes it seem all the more clear and sensible.

  2. Justin, this is a great post. So much useful info, though I am not totally negative on all small houses–some do a good job and are a more realistic place to start than the major, major houses for an author without a gigantic personal following or platform already. Some smaller houses also do pay fairly, based on their own more modest resources and expectations.

    About agents: I’ve found that good agents negotiate and look after their authors well enough that they actually earn that 15 percent over and above what the author would have gotten for him/herself. So the author isn’t losing the 15 percent at all. Plus, they give the author the opportunity to focus on the book and not worry about the business aspects.

    About work for hire: It’s an abomination. Paying a small, flat fee, and giving the actual creator NO share in a work’s profits via royalties just seems wrong, though I know deals like this are often offered and, sometimes, accepted.

  3. Lana says:

    Thanks for such a detailed and informative post. I do appreciate your sense of humor:) In this climate, keeping a smile on your face and a sense of humor as your defense is invaluable.
    I am gearing myself for research on writing a proposal after an agent has shown some interest in my writing. My glasses are not colored pink, as I understand that the dreaded proposal is a marketing tool, so completely different from emotional, nostalgic, and often melodramatic essays I write on my site.
    I hope I see the publishing world in its correct light. Your Q&A with a future cookbook author has illuminated a couple of more darkened corners for me. Thanks!

  4. Ashley says:

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write such a realistic and informative post. So many questions have been answered. Much to think about. Thanks.

  5. Krista says:

    Thank you for posting this! A cookbook is on my “someday” list. I can appreciate your observation of “I’ve never met a blogger who doesn’t need heavy editing.” I recently was hired as the food columnist for a local news publication. I’ve found that writing the column is such a different format from my everyday, sometimes rambling blog style. I have to do a ton of self-editing to make my column news worthy.

    Thanks for the suggestion (#10) on getting out there too. I’m entering my second year of teaching community cooking classes and doing guest speaking spots. It’s good to hear that in the event that I do get the opportunity to make a cookbook someday, I’m on the right path.

  6. Eliana says:

    Thanks for this detailed information Justin. This day in age, this is such a tough industry to break into and more of your type of honesty is needed.

  7. Congrats on getting your new website!!!! .. It looks amazing!!! Really interesting tips and comments to have in mind!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for the sage advice. Book deals are terribly exciting but it is not for the faint of heart. A blogger pal did a book that took everything out of her and in the end, she felt it was more trouble than it was worth and that even with book tours… they didn’t advertise it enough and it sold 50,000 or so.

    What I hadn’t thought of is the low first sales kind of put the kabosh on 2nd deals… it’s not a free trial but a tragic trial if it’s a flop. good to know.

    I don’t know about stats for the big blogs… what traffic do they get… a million a day??

  9. David says:

    Usually when I tell people that one of my book proposals was 150 pages long, and another one took me 8 months to write, that kind of scares off a few…

    • justcooknyc says:

      right, you REALLY understand. thanks so much for visiting my blog and posting this on Facebook. i can’t believe how high my traffic is for the past few hours, and i mostly have you to thank.

  10. justin-
    excellent post. i mean the depth and details of this are perfect–very informative.
    i’m sure this took a while to write.
    and yes, stats are a BIG thing, i learned that first off the bat when i talked to a publisher.

  11. Great advice, and not to negative. It’s realistic, the field is crowded and very competitive. I love # 10. Start small and look into writing for a small obscure local magazine and reach beyond just the internet. I’ve never thought about that – Good stuff!

  12. cindy ensley says:

    wise words Justin.

    are most food bloggers that you talk to after a book deal? or expect one within short periods of time? I’m just curious b/c the blogs that I have followed for years (literally) that have book deals seem to have worked hard, improved upon their craft and skills, and their blogs have evolved…which to me, makes sense.

    • justcooknyc says:

      everybody is different, so that’s a tough question. but i agree with the notion that the ones who have worked really hard are a lot more likely to do well with a cookbook. it takes time and commitment.

  13. Pingback: When is a cookbook deal too good to be true? | Kathleen Flinn

  14. mollie bryan says:

    Bravo! It always amazes me how people think it’s just so easy to get a cookbook published.

  15. robin says:

    Very good advice, knowledge is power. Finding your place in the world of food writing is an ongoing effort, one that never really ends.

  16. The Souper says:

    Hi Justin,
    Thank you for this post “When is a cookbook deal too good to be true?” Advice from the real world is appreciated by this novice foodblogger. Enjoying my hobby and picking up tips from others to improve content and pictures. Guidance from those willing to share is truly helpful.
    The Souper

  17. peabody says:

    Not negative at all. I think too many people come into food blogging nowadays with the idea that they will, by starting a food blog, get a cookbook. Or better yet, become the next Pioneer Woman. That simply isn’t going to happen. Yes some people, like Bakerella, explode over night, but that is the exception.
    Back when I started my food blog 5 1/2 years ago no one even thought about getting a book deal. We just cooked/baked and wrote about it to share with others, end of story.
    And while I wouldn’t mind writing a cookbook, I am one of the bloggers who have basically unknown publishers wanting to publish me, that come to me. And like you mention above, basically want to offer me nothing for a whole lot of work. Which I turn down, because I am worth more than that.

    • justcooknyc says:

      phew, glad it’s not too negative. it’s just like anything, such as a great college basketball player who wants to be the next Michael Jordan in his first year in the NBA. it sounds like you’ve taken a good, common-sense approach so far, so congratulations.

  18. I was hoping you’d put all this great information out there for a larger audience!

  19. shauna says:

    I’m working on my third book (and I’m honored to say that it’s my second book with Justin) and I can tell you that this is one of the best piece for wanting-to-be-published writers that I have ever read.

    Justin, it’s not negative. It’s honest. As you know, I’ve learned a lot in the past three years. It’s because writing and publicizing cookbooks is such scouring work that I love it. Other than raising our toddler, this work is the hardest I have ever done. And I love it.

    One thing you were too humble to write about is the grace of having a great editor. You are write — most beginning cookbook authors, whether they are bloggers or not, just aren’t ready to go to print. Without your help? Oh my, those recipes would have been a mess.

    Having a team you trust, both in editorial and publicity, is beyond any enticing advance. We are thrilled to bits to be working with one of the best again. It’s really about building relationships to do good work.

  20. Britt says:

    This post was so helpful and informative. For me it read far from negative–I found it inspirational, really. Such a great reality check and very insightful. Thank you.

  21. Sarah says:

    What about when much of these warning signs are true (trade 8 weeks for 12 and a book out 3-months later), and the publishers are friends of yours? Great piece, and really important information — I wish I read this four years ago, before signing on (and eventually asking to be released from the contract, which thankfully I was).

  22. Laura Levy says:

    This is outstanding Justin. It’s direct and honest – not negative at all. A great book on writing book proposals is The Art of the Book Proposal. I’ve enjoyed it just to sharpen my marketing chops as well as zero in on book concepts.

    For someone new to the publishing world, I think a great lit. agent is not just helpful but necessary. I actually engaged Lisa Etkus just for a few hours to help me with my initial game plan (pre-book proposal) … worth every penny. It’s valuable to know if a concept is on track… or a proposal outline is heading in the right direction. I want to know that at the beginning, not after receiving a rejected proposal. As you said, it’s an investment. I’d rather have a “partner” with some incentive to help me succeed.

    Thanks so much for writing this and I hope 2011 is a great year for you and everyone at that big bad publishing house (which shall remain nameless ;-)

    Laura

  23. Laura Levy says:

    PS… I have everyone of those books pictured (except Glory of Southern Cooking)… I have an addiction to cookbooks!

  24. Tara says:

    Justin, this is a great piece. So informative, and while maybe not exactly timely for me, it certainly gives me lots of insight into a field I have wondered about trying to enter. And not negative at all. Honest and straightforward – just the way I like advice! Thanks for taking the time to write this!

  25. msihua says:

    What a great post! And no no you’re not sounding bias at all! Us this only true for the American market though? I know most points are transferable across the globe..,

  26. This is a great post. Very informative and not negative, but practical. I am on my third draft of my book proposal right now and while it’s not even complete, I know it’s progressed by leaps and bounds since I began working with an agent. For me, the negotiation part is just the tip of the iceberg – their industrial knowledge is priceless and the advice and suggestions they have given me to strengthen the proposal so I can eventually get a higher advance…worth the 15% alone.

    Another thought I have….and NOW I am going to be the one who is negative….I think it was Nancy who mentioned the word “abomination” and I think that the real abomination is that every food blogger and their grandmother wants to write a cookbook. The reason I think this is problematic is because some food bloggers take wonderful photographs, cook delicious food and have wonderful senses of humor…but are not WRITERS. I know that a big part of being signed by a publisher is your platform, but as someone who has wanted to be a writer since I was 11 [I know! I'm a cliche!], it makes me uncomfortable when non-writers suddenly have book deals because they’re “big on the internet.” I still support them but it makes me wonder what effect blogs will have on the overall publishing industry in 10 years…5 years…even 2 years.

    • justcooknyc says:

      thanks, Maris. you clearly know the value of a good agent. i will say this in defense of bloggers — long before blogging, i was always getting proposals from people who weren’t ready to write a book or who didn’t have a real marketing platform. in the past, maybe someone would have written an article or two for a local paper and thought they could write a whole book. or maybe they had a bunch of their grandma’s recipes and thought they should be published. the trouble with blogging, if it’s any different, is that some people are getting a lot of really positive feedback, often from total strangers. that’s great of course. but it doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be able to get a great book deal. you still have to be realistic. and hopefully people won’t take the first deal that comes along and rush it.

  27. Jim Eber says:

    Is guess this the part where I feel compelled to suck up too… Okay fine, seriously: Abandon all hope anyone who thinks this is a negative post. It is also good reminder for any of us advising/working with the talented talented people of any walk who aspire to break into this world (and even those who already have). Even if it is from someone as horribly biased as Justin. I might only add that in addition to being taken seriously by publishers and agents (whether they buy in to your idea or not), half the work to creating a good book — at least — is done when you assemble a kick tushy proposal. If you can’t assemble your book idea into a smart package that sells the concept, market, marketing, your ability to deliver on your idea’s promise on paper, etc why would you expect an agent or publisher to buy it? And don’t listen to your family and friends, they’ll lie to you and are more biased than Justin! Just like anyone who opens a restaurant because everyone likes their chili and says they should open one, you should not think you have a book for the same reason… Nice words, Justin!

  28. Thank you SO much for writing this. You have no idea how much your honest take on the whole publishing biz is needed. Quite frankly, I have friends who tell me “oh so and so got a book deal” and think that no work was done to get said deal. It’s much like the recording industry – there are shysters and there are legits and you have to go into this with your eyes WIDE open and double-check everything. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Also, nothing happens overnight – and the ones that “do” explode on the scene often have a backstory that isn’t always evident (sorry – it’s the recovering publicist side of me that tends to be skeptical – I have seen too many of my former clients deal with record labels and the end result isn’t always pretty). All in all, this is a post that EVERY food writer/blogger should read and take to heart. Wise counsel, Justin – very wise! So glad I came across your blog today!

  29. Stacey Glick says:

    As a literary agent who does a lot of business with Justin, I want to say for the record that he’s one of the best cookbook editors out there. In a market that is changing every day, he’s able to stay on top of it all because food is his true life passion, and it spills over into everything he does. Great advice from a true pro!

  30. This is a great post, Justin. Thanks for your candor. I especially agree with your advice about going to events and conferences–getting out there and meeting people. My first book deal came out of the Food Writers Symposium at the Greenbrier. I had no agent at that time. But I met a cookbook editor who was a speaker, struck up a conversation (this was not easy for me), and sent him my proposal. Personal connections make a huge difference. I do have an agent now, and I am glad for that. I am NOT good at dealing with the financial side of this, and she has more than earned her 15 percent.

    BTW, I just put up a blog post on getting and staying motivated, in which I interviewed your author Nancy Baggett. She had some great insights. (And I love her books).

    Cheers,
    Domenica

    • justcooknyc says:

      great story about making connections at Greenbrier. of course your story is not the norm, but it’s a great example of getting out there in the real world. and i’m glad to hear you agree about agents. i’ll look for that interview with Nancy Baggett.

  31. Thank You for all this advice and not a negative stitch in there – just sharing of knowledge

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  33. Okay, I’m piping up here again. Have loved reading what everyone has had to say. First, to the negative comment on ONLY selling 50,000 cookbooks! I can tell you that many, many authors and publishers would be very happy indeed with that number. True, it matters some whether it is trade paper or hard cover or featured in a full direct mail campaign. But many would do handsprings over 50,000!

    Re David Lebovitz’s proposal writing comments: I, too, have written, revised, and suffered over some of my cookbook proposals for many months, one for several years. It is difficult to really envision an entire book before you’ve written it, but you have to do it and clearly convey that vision to get an editor excited. And your recipes and text have to be top notch. As Justin said, if the quality of a proposal is poor, the editor will be worried that given the normal deadline pressures, the final manuscript might be much worse! And editors don’t usually like to gamble!

    Justin, re your saying self-editing is difficult for you: Maybe because your time is mostly spent evaluating/improving other people’s work, you don’t do much self-editing. But your final results always seem quite literate, so maybe the pearls just drop from your pen (or more precisely, keyboard) without needing much reworking. I think that self-editing is a valuable skill for most aspiring writers to learn though. After all these years, my stuff is still not really readable until I’ve pruned and smoothed and wrestled my ideas to the ground.

    • justcooknyc says:

      Nancy, i love that you checked back to see the comments. i’m still shocked by the comment about selling 50,000 copies. who wouldn’t be thrilled with that? thanks for your comments about proposals. i’m hearing a lot of stories about bloggers not being asked to write them, and then i see lengthy proposals coming from veteran writers. it’s a weird time in publishing. about self-editing, Jen used to proofread my posts for me. now i have to be extra careful. i read them aloud to myself. and this post was reworked very heavily from its original form. i always say it’s better to take your time. but you’re a pro, so you know that already.

  34. Irvin says:

    Thank you SO much for this post. I’m coming late in the game commenting, and there isn’t much that I can say that others haven’t said, but I do believe that every blogger out there that is looking for a book proposal (and nowadays, I feel like that is EVERY blogger I meet or talk to) should read your sage advice.

    I think one of the hardest parts as a blogger is understanding that the publishing world is vastly different from the internet. The instant gratification one can get from blogging doesn’t translates to the publishing world. If you want to make a long career out of it, you have to take the long term perspective. Thank you SO MUCH for pointing that out.

    And yes, I need to work on the “self-editing” aspect of my writing. That’s an ongoing process for me!

  35. Amber says:

    Ah, once again patience proves to be a virtue! Thank you for this grounding and helpful post.

  36. Love your post. I am blogging for fun with future aspirations of course :) I love how you are keeping me grounded and focused. I am doing the long hours of blogging and working very hard on marketing it and I keep telling myself slow and steady wins the race. I love the ideas of going to foodie events and such. I do teach cooking classes through my community ed classes where I combine my roles as a professional organizer and home cook with my class called “Meal Planning For Busy Families”. I will focus on expanding even more! PS….I hate editing too!

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  38. Great article. There’s very little “new” out there, so I agree with throwing in the personal element. Funny thing is that this often takes more time and creativity – learning how to filter through our experiences for ones that will help others move forward.

  39. Thank you, so much, for writing this. I’ve been working on a cookbook with the idea in mind to self-publish. I think I’ve realized (thanks to your post) that I really need to build up my blog first and develop an outstanding reputation for awesome recipes before going forward. I needed to hear the truth from someone, thank you for really making me take a good honest look at where I was going.

  40. Thanks for the info! I knew that book publishing was hard (ever since I found you through the Fluff cookbook), but a 150-page proposal is news to me. Now whenever someone says I should just write a cookbook, I’ll point them to your page.

  41. Cheri Sicard says:

    Thank you for this article. I am constantly asked my wanna be writers how to break in. I know I have turned off many people because they think I am being negative or discouraging when I am only telling the truth. This will be a great place to send them.

  42. Savvy Baker says:

    Thanks for the info, Justin. Depressing, yes, but you just provided me with a helpful dose of reality. – Liesl

    • justcooknyc says:

      oh, i didn’t want it to seem depressing. i wanted to help prevent people from getting trapped into bad deals!

      • Savvy Baker says:

        Depressing was perhaps too strong a word. Your post just let me know that I need to spend significantly more time building up an audience before assembling a book proposal. Overall, it was definitely helpful. (BTW, I love that both Dianne Jacob and David Lebovitz weighed in on this. Kudos!)

  43. Dianne Jacob says:

    Hi Justin,

    I found out about this link from David Lebovitz’s newsletter. I think he has 14,000 subscribers so no wonder you got a lot of hits! I also put it on Facebook and Twitter. I will put a link to this post in my upcoming newsletter as well.

    All really good points. The only thing I wonder about is your comment on avoiding a work-for-hire. If, as Lisa Ekus said when I interviewed her for my blog, that most deals occur when she matches writers with what publishers want, the deal may end up being a work for hire.

    Why is it a bad idea? I imagine that the work-for-hire money is often as much as an advance. Since most books do not earn out, it seems like it might be a wash.

    • justcooknyc says:

      I understand your point, Dianne, and thank you very much for the support. But I could introduce you to plenty of writers who took work-for-hire jobs and then realized the publisher made a lot more money on the book than expected, while the writer never saw another penny for their work. Maybe it’s not the norm, but I have plenty of authors who have earned out their advances. Heck, even I get royalty checks for one of my books. So ask one of them how they would feel about taking a work-for-hire job instead. If you take a flat fee, then you’re giving away your content forever. I think that’s a mistake. We’re not just talking about books — same thing applies to music, movies, TV, photography. In fact, in the photography world, if someone wants to buy you out, they generally have to pay more than the normal rate. But for some reason, most work-for-hire book writing jobs I’ve heard about pay less than the normal rate. I could go on and on, but just ask any author who has ever earned out there advance how they would feel if they’d taken a work-for-hire deal. I think you already know the answer.

      • Dianne Jacob says:

        I guess it’s a question of a sure thing vs. the unknown.

        Also some people may not care about the content. In the case of the work for hire I did, the content belonged to the chef and not to me, which was fine with me.

        My work for hire job paid well, and the book earned out. The chef is getting the royalties. But since he paid me almost all of his advance, I feel good about it.

        I guess it depends on the situation.

  44. alliedow says:

    Having just read this today, I have to say it’s quite useful and helpful advice. Back in fancy schmancy culinary school, I took food writing courses to really understand what I wanted to do in life. And I loved it! We learned how to write proposals, and more importantly where to send em’. I thought graduating and becoming a pro pastry chef with a concentration in writing would mean that I would have the upper hand in publishing a cookbook one day. I was wrong.

    The world of food bloggers is intensely humongous. And anyone can do it, and do it awesomely. I’m overwhelmed and finding my dreams harder to achieve than imagined. So no, your post is not negative at all- it’s good ole’ sage advice that people like me need in order to gain a bit of perspective. Thank you!!

  45. This is ALL great information! Thank you! I was wondering if you happen to have any details regarding a standard advance ($) for a cookbook. Without an agent it’s hard to negotiate a fair book contract.

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  47. Great post! Time is precious. I value my job(s) and especially quality of life. I get pitches from smaller publishers frequently ~ I cannot sell out to their small advances and half baked ideas. When the right opportunity comes up I will then decide if a book is for me.

  48. bettyannq says:

    Justin, what a fantastic post. Your write-up has been highly recommended by other friends in the food world — writers, bloggers, cookbook authors and all. Thank goodness for well-meaning friends. You have such deep insights here and very valuable information. I’ve also read the comments thread and everyone’s opinion has been helpful. Thanks for your candor, advice and thoughts on this topic. I’m definitely bookmarking this post – it’s a classic!

  49. Thanks for the honest advice!

  50. I’m very late on the commenting but I just read this today. Great tips and advice. Thank you very much for putting this info out there!

  51. cococakeland says:

    hi justin! this really came at the right time. i laughed out loud a few times – but i love the reality check and the honest advice! hope you’re doing well. ^__^ (ps i recently moved blogs to http://www.cococakeland.com)

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