I’m reading a great and helpful book to get me revved up to write my cookbook. It’s called “The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook” by Kimberly Yorio, who has been Jamie Oliver’s, Julia Child’s, and Emeril Lagasse’s publicist. She has seen thousands of cookbook proposals, and her book has helped me hone my craft a little, while taking some of the incredibly valuable lessons I learned in my Social Media workshop with Tom Trimbath. In a nutshell, I want to ask a poignant question to cooks, readers, food enthusiasts, and people who like to eat- “What if we poached eggs instead of rhinos?”
It sounds like a ridiculous question, but delving into what my cookbook actually discusses, it really isn’t. Of course most reasonable people will be against poaching rhinos. But our ignorance in our consumer actions, believe it or not, tells conservationists a different story. It’s not just poaching rhinos. It’s orphaning orangutans, slaughtering endangered marine animals, destroying homes of sloths, tigers, gorillas, and so many other animals. And my book actually discusses all of these conflicts, and provides ways we can make a difference, by EATING!!! How awesome is THAT?!?!
“The Joy of Writing a Great Cookbook” offers some somber advice. There are thousands of cookbooks out there. Why should a publisher print yours? What makes your book so special or different? It delves into some ideas of what will catch a publisher’s eye, and what could likely be tossed aside without much of a second glance. Just reading about “building your platform” and “defining your brand” was uplifting, because I know I have a great idea that I feel compelled to share with the world. But how should I convey that?
I recalled some of the “lessons” Tom taught me and Kay during the Twitter workshop. I discovered that most of the topics I want to cover in “Poach Eggs, Not Rhinos” could be answers to curious questions. “What if your breakfast could help save the rainforest?” “What if eating seasonally and locally produced foods not only tasted better, but were better for you?” “What if your eating habits could help save the lives and cut carbon emissions?” “What if eating fish could help save fish?” “What if your dinner also provided a farmer a better life for giving you better food?” “What if a barbecue could help protect the world’s large carnivores?” “What if eating dessert could save Asian wildlife?”
It’s a lot of questions. Some have been answered in various cookbooks (Vegan cookbooks, Locavore cookbooks, Seafood cookbooks), but never have I seen one tackle ALL the issues, nor have I seen any touch on rainforest issues or palm oil. I’ve never read a cookbook that demonstrated to the reader how their consumer choices and eating habits could impact the world. This is what makes “Poach Eggs, Not Rhinos” unique.
I know I’m on Whidbey Island, and that everyone living on the South end are part of the same tribe as me, so sometimes it’s difficult to gage how well the “regular” public will accept my proposal, when every single person I talk to about my books says they are incredibly interested in the subject and can’t wait to hear more. It does encourage me tremendously, though. And I have found the perfect group to help encourage and motivate me to write my cookbook that much faster. The Thursday afternoon writing critique group meets every other week, and reads 1000 words (or less) of their work. The group critiques it, and the author has more knowledge of how people will respond to their work, they can take the suggestions or leave them. One thousand words isn’t a whole lot to work with. I’m already at 510 words for this blog. So, it might be cumbersome to bring your epic novel into the group little bit by little bit. BUT, with my cookbook, which is going to be filled with short blurbs with conservation facts that relate to food or cooking, and have somewhat short introductions to each section, this might just be THE perfect group to critique my writing!
I feel excited about my projects. I know I have good “stories” to tell, and I’m relieved I’m finally at a place that will help hone, tone, and perfect my work so it’s ready for the big time.