I count myself lucky to be on a project for which a traditional publisher was willing to pay a decent advance. But I’m not the author. I’m the co-author or writer (depending on who you ask). The ideas belong to the author, Top Chef finalist, Antonia Lofaso, and it’s my job to communicate those ideas in a fashion that will appeal to readers.
I wrote the 85-page proposal for the cookbook, and did the marketing research. I rewrote the proposal, as needed on several occasions. And that was all done before I received any payment. I was willing to put in all that work, because I had faith that Antonia, who already had a literary agent when we started, would get the book sold. It took years for that to happen, but last spring, she reached an agreement with Penguin.
Then the serious work started. By this time, I’d relocated to the East Coast, while Antonia was still back in Los Angeles. We did all of our work by conference call–writing the introductory material, her three-page biography, her short biography, over 100 recipes, tips, and suggestions for home cooks.She’s incredibly knowledgeable about her field and we tried to share as much of that knowledge as was reasonable. If you think writing a cookbook is as simple as slapping some ingredients on the page, you’re misguided, dear writer.
The editor and copy editor were both incredibly professional and offered helpful suggestions.There were some points on which Antonia wasn’t willing to make changes, and that was her battle to fight. Though I shared ideas and offered suggestions, as the project facilitator, I pretty much followed her orders.
The first pass of the manuscript pages was due back to the publisher on Tuesday. Antonia and I conferenced on her changes, which I did by hand on the pages. There were a lot of them, but they were fairly minor. The layout has already been created, and significant changes would throw that off. We sent the pages back today. Honestly, I don’t think we hit one deadline in this process. Hey, the woman’s working 3 jobs and raising a daughter.
As this writing project comes to a close, I’m counting my blessings. I got to work with some incredible people and had some amazing food in the process. The Busy Mom’s Cookbook will be published in the fall of 2012, and I’m looking forward to writing the next one.
Go write something!
P.S. Questions about my experience? Ask me in the comments, and I’ll respond as soon as possible.