I’m back from a packed schedule of classes, meetings, cooking demos, expos and parties at the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference, held in New York.
I taught at a class beforehand, zoomed around the city, saw friends and colleagues, met new people, learned about our industry, ate too much, and laughed with my roomies. Here are my seven takeaways:
1. Yes, you can make money as a food blogger. While the panelists refused to say how much, public relations people and marketing folks said they hire food bloggers and cookbook writers as brand ambassadors, recipe developers, event planners — and to write sponsored posts, hold focus groups, and star in videos.
2. It helps to have a plan. You know how writers are. We aren’t always good at this stuff. Attendees raved about Ari Weinzwig‘s session on visioning. Figure out where you want to be in 10 years, write it down, and start behaving like it’s going to happen, he said.
3. Getting a story published in Saveur is hard — and could be painful. During a tour of the magazine’s offices, Food Editor Todd Coleman revealed that the staff writes 70 percent of each issue and plans stories for a year, which constantly shift. If your piece is accepted, it might not run for a few years, and then the editors might tweak it more before paying upon publication.
4. Radio and television appearances drive book sales. According to Kirsty Melville, president and publisher of Andrews McMeel Publishing, broadcast media trumps retail promotion and social media for book sales. If you’re working on your book proposal or your book’s coming out soon, review your plan for these two mediums.
5. The tide might finally be turning to metrics in recipes. That’s the word from Tina Ujlaki, food editor of Food & Wine.
6. Ruth Reichl rocks in real life too. I took a tour hosted by Reichl mostly because I wanted to get closer to a writer and editor whose work I’ve admired for years. When we visited a Lower East Side deli, Russ & Daughters, she spoke about going there as a little girl, and about her relatives leaving Germany who sold their gold fillings to meet ends meet during WWII. She was approachable and let us all take photos with her.
7. Networking is still king. Yes, we’re all virtual now, but meeting in person is still a pleasure and can lead to all kinds of surprises. Several food writers told me they were meeting with magazine editors, marketers at companies, and book publishers. Plus there’s the serendipity of finding someone famous in the hallway or sitting next to someone who might want to hire you, has a similar passion, or becomes a new friend.
There are several levels of membership at IACP, so see if any are right for you. Next year the conference is in San Francisco — that’s my backyard. Each year IACP features lots of classes for food writers, whether on recipe writing, photography, blogging, social media, freelance writing, cookbook trends, or cooking classes.
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