Pen Your Passion

Have you been into a bookstore lately? If you’re anything like me, you would have gazed around in awe at the selection of cookbooks, filled with distinctive recipes and photography so good, the dishes all but leap out from the page.

There’s a big market for cookbooks by those who know what they are doing. Have you thought about putting your name out there?

As I write this, I am eagerly awaiting the launch of my second book, Chocolate. By the time you read this, it will almost be out! This book has been a labour of love – it’s been almost two years since I met with my publisher at Murdoch Books to start the process of Chocolate.

I thought I would share with you my journey of writing a cookbook. This is my second book, however, I opted to self-publish my first book, Chocolate to Savour. Self-publishing is an extremely costly process, with a huge risk involved if the book doesn’t sell.

I found it very rewarding to publish my own book and control every aspect, but there are many pitfalls to consider. It is difficult to market and sell the book without a network of bookshops and distributors behind you, as is the case with many self-published authors. The biggest problem I found was all of the stock was held in Australia, so if I had an international buyer the cost of the freight was often higher than the cost of the book.

Although Chocolate to Savour has been a great success, I imagine how much more successful it could have been with a publishing house behind me. Unless you are a television celebrity or already have multiple outlets to sell your book, self-publishing can be a challenge.

When writing a cookbook, the process starts with a lot of planning; what is the theme of your book, who is your target audience, how many recipes will there be and what chapters you will include? I decided to focus every product around the central ingredient of chocolate (surely not a surprise). I wanted to create a book that had phenomenal recipes with foolproof instructions and step-by-step images for the tricky elements.

Once you have decided on a theme and target audience, the next step is to develop the recipes. As I own a chocolate and patisserie school, all the recipes I have developed to date have already been published and printed, so I had to start from scratch. This is a true passion of mine, developing outstanding products from simple ingredients and I always strive for perfection.

Some of the recipes I tested up to 25-times to obtain a final product I was satisfied with! Once I was happy with a recipe I then typed up all the changes and adjustments that were hand scrawled all over the original recipe, along with a detailed method. When the full manuscript of recipes is completed it is placed in the hands of the publisher for editing and to smooth out any blemishes.

With my recipes finalised one of the most stressful parts of the progress for me began – the photography. I chose Greg Elms as my photographer as I have worked with him for more than 15 years. Greg is a specialised food photographer and his work is consistently flawless. For Chocolate, he teamed with food stylist, Georgia Young, to showcase my products in the most delectable way possible.

To keep on track with the publishing timeline we had to photograph at least 10 products a day for eight days. I know this sounds simple, but timing is crucial with a lot of products, particularly those that can melt under photography lighting. Once all the completed products are finalised we photographed all the step-by-step processes.

Meanwhile, the editing continued for months, with editors, proof readers and myself re-reading the recipes and clarifying points to create a faultless book.

Photos complete, the designers then create page designs and front cover options to agonise over. For me the hardest part of the design was choosing a front cover. Given multiple options from the publishers I couldn’t decide on my favourite so I opted for a voting system. I surveyed 12 people and with an 80 per cent vote I chose my front cover.

After waiting anxiously, I have now received the first copy of Chocolate, and I am extremely happy with the final result.

Although this is a long process that requires a large investment of your time, it is extremely rewarding to share your concepts, recipes and passion for what you do.

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