May 5, 2022 • 48M

Publishing experts demystify how a cookbook gets published

Behind the Spine Part 4 with food writing coach Dianne Jacob and literary agents Rica Allannic and Monika Woods.

 
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Brian Hogan Stewart
We tell the compelling stories behind cookbooks you won't get anywhere else. Featuring interviews with leading authors, we explore the art and craft of cookbooks, looking at both new and vintage cookbooks and the inspirations behind them … the compelling people who create them … and their impact on home cooks and the culinary world.
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"People ask me, 'What's something that's changed a lot in publishing, or what's the most important or hopeful part about publishing?' And my answer is that authors have more control now than they ever have had, but that also means they also have more work to do than they've ever had before." —Monika Woods, literary agent

This is the final episode in our four-part series, Behind the Spine. Over the last four weeks, we've shifted our focus away from the authors to learn more about some of the other talented folks who work behind the scenes on the cookbooks we all love.

You’ve already heard from the recipe testers, the photographers, and the designers—in today’s episode, we’ll talk to the people who make cookbooks possible: the agents and the experts. 

Today, you’ll hear from food writing coach Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More, and two literary agents, Rica Allannic and Monika Woods

Each of our guests sat down with our producer, Clea Wurster, for a one-on-one interview to get to the bottom of our question: How exactly does a cookbook get published? From proposal to negotiations over the cover design, these experts break it down for us. We’ll learn about the process of actually writing the book and pitching it to an agent or publisher, and our experts will share with us what they think makes for a successful proposal.

Dianne Jacob shared with us the ins and outs of actually sitting down and writing, from breaking up the workload to making the initial decision to writing the cookbook. She says it isn’t for the faint of heart: it’s a lot of work. But, like us, she’s a cookbook lover and has devoted her professional career to helping cookbooks get agents and publishers. Dianne will break down the process of getting published, give advice to authors, and share insights into how the publishing industry has been shifting over the last few years.

Monika Woods is a food writing lover and the founder of Triangle House literary magazine who also works as a literary agent. She shared with us how she views herself in relation to the projects she’s working on, how the agent’s role has shifted with the rise of social media, and the role it’s played in diversifying the publishing landscape. 

Rica Allannic, who has also spent time in professional kitchens, worked as an editor at Clarkson Potter until five years ago when she made the decision to become a literary agent. As an agent, Rica says she has more of an influence on the types of cookbooks that get published. Rica talks with us about the three things a good cookbook pitch needs, advocating for her clients, and the financial realities of publishing deals.

We’ve got a wonderful episode for you today packed with information all about publishing a cookbook, so whether you’re a passionate reader and home cook like us or you’d someday like to publish your own cookbook, this episode has something for you. 

Let’s #TalkCookbooks.