I attended "Selling and Publishing Your Book" at The Loft today, and I have to tell you, words can't begin to describe how incredible it was. I learned so much about the publishing industry, everything from the huge changes that have been happening in the industry over the last couple of years, to the appropriate size box in which one should submit a manuscript. Just amazing. I walked out of the workshop with a 96-page handout, 8 pages of notes, and my instructor's business card -- he said we could call him any time with any questions, and if they took more than ten minutes to answer, he would offer his consulting services at a "pittance fee."
I feel so empowered. It's incredible. I walked into the workshop knowing nothing about the publishing industry, and I walked out with a beginning but thorough understanding of what I need to do to get my cookbook published. (Also, a thorough understanding of how crazy everything is, and how it could take me a long, long time to publish this thing.)
My instructor mentioned that if you have the manuscript ready, submit the manuscript -- don't fuss around with a proposal. Since my manuscript is nearly ready, or at least I think it is, I am going to go this route. I will spend an exorbitant amout of money on boxes, paper, and postage by the end of the summer, I think.
Here's my plan: I'm going to power through the rest of the manuscript for the next six weeks, and will hopefully have it finished by the middle to the end of August. When my nannying family goes out of town for two and a half weeks and I have a week and a half off and paid, I'm going to devote this time to writing the cover letter and marketing bits, researching potential editors/publishing houses, and then printing, boxing up, and shipping out 15 to 20 copies of my manuscript.
Here's one catch to my plan: I'm starting to waffle a little bit about whether I have enough recipes. I counted them up tonight, and I currently have a total of 85 recipes, most of which I've tested and have had others test for me. I'm currently at 117 pages total, which includes table of contents/chapter pages, recipes, and text. I need to write a conclusion and the "Important questions, answered" section,(including "What in the heck is . . . " "How do I . . . " "Where can I get . . . " and "What to do with leftover . . . " I would also like to pull out what specific ingredients I would like included in the "glossary of major ingredients." (I also want an index of recipes by title at the end, but I think that will be the publisher's job.) I also have a handfull of recipes still to add, maybe less than ten, but I think with all of these changes, it will bring me up well over 150 pages.
Just as a measurement tool, Vegan with a Vengeance has a total of 135 recipes and 258 pages, and that feels like a "smallish" cookbook to me -- not your giant "World Vegetarian" or VT Complete Cookbook or Vegan Planet. I don't want to write a ginormo, but I don't want people left wanting more, either.
But, I also don't want to pad the cookbook with filler recipes just because I think it's too small. Waffle, waffle, waffle.
Too bad I don't own a waffle iron, because waffles sound kind of good right now.
But I digress. :)
I think I'm just going to go for what I have, plus my additions. If I get rejection letters that say "not enough recipes," well, we'll know the answer to this conundrum, now won't we?
I also need to make a decision about photos. I really, really, really, really want a photo of each recipe included in the cookbook, which would increase its size by about fifty percent, and also increase the cost of the finished product to my readers. I want to do a paperback (maybe spiral-bound, so it lays flat,) but the photos could push the book price into the $30-$50 range, which would almost price me out of my niche market (young, probably broke, single people -- college students, young professionals, etc.) Here's the other thing about the photos -- I don't want them "styled." I want photos of the real thing, which I'm not sure a book marketer will go for. I have this idea of "food candids" in my head -- things with crumbs, things with bites out of them, bowls of soup with a splash over the rim and a dribble on the table, not-quite-perfect shots. Pictures of normal-looking young people eating my food. Kind of like the (probably really expensively orchestrated) incredible photography in Jamie Oliver cookbooks.
I bought Isa's book mostly because I had heard so many wonderful things about it, but partly because it was less than twenty bucks, and I can afford that.
I have to quit thinking about this now, or I'll never be able to sleep tonight. Off to watch a movie and clear my head!
P.S. any thoughts you have on the subject matter are more than welcome. :)