Jun 112013
 

It seems like a million years ago that Julie Powell started her career-changing food blog, The Julie/Julia Project, in 2002, about a government drone who makes every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking over a year.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t read it. I didn’t even know about it. Eleven years ago, I scoffed at the idea that writing not found in print could be worthwhile or change the course of published writing in America. I was a journalist, after all, with a career only in print.

Then Powell got a book deal. The book Julie & Julia, based on the blog, came out three years later. I never read that either. It was 2005, the same year the first edition of Will Write for Food came out, where I didn’t even mention blogging.

In 2009, the movie adaptation hit the big screen. I saw the movie and wrote a post about it because I had Continue reading »

May 282013
 

Travel writer and food blogger Amy Sherman (middle) with a translator and guide (left) and Chef Amina (right) at a cooking class in Marrakech.

Soon after San Francisco’s Amy Sherman started her food blog Cooking with Amy in 2003, she wrote about vacations, which — being a food obsessed person like the rest of us — focused on eating the local specialties. That led to writing travel stories for websites, publications, and blogs, and now Amy goes on trips once or twice a month. (Here’s a list of recent stories she’s written for Fodor’s, CitySearch and others, using clipping.me, a free website that showcases writers’ work.)

I asked Amy about who invites her on trips, how to be taken seriously, and how to make travel writing work as part of a food writing career:

Q. You’ve been comped to take some amazing trips, like a food truck festival in San Antonio and cooking classes in Morocco. How do trips like this come about?

People contact me, especially the convention and visitor’s bureaus. Sometimes I’m invited on trips because I’m a food blogger, like going to Continue reading »

Apr 232013
 

Anthony Bourdain says he never tried to write for readers.

While paging through my copy of Kitchen Confidential recently, a quote from Anthony Bourdain struck me. Here it is, in an interview at the back of the book:

“I don’t get it. When I wrote Kitchen Confidential, my busines model was, ‘I Don’t Give a Shit,’ and I’m trying very hard to keep that as my operating business model. I never, ever think, what will they like, what do they expect, what should I do next.”

Now, I adore Bourdain’s writing. I could argue that he did give readers what they wanted: passionate, colorful stories written with fierceness and humor. Who wouldn’t like that?

But he was writing memoir, not “service writing.” That’s mostly what I do. It’s probably mostly what you do too. This type of writing tells readers how to do something, like Continue reading »

Apr 172013
 

Food writers, bloggers and emerging writers at Canada’s first conference, networking and schmoozing during a break. That’s Alison Fryer on the right, owner of Toronto’s 30-year old bookstore, The Cookbook Store. She moderated many of the sessions with wit and a stopwatch.

Gotta love those Canucks, eh? After years of attending food blogging conferences in the States and elsewhere, they’ve finally created their own.

The first annual conference was held at a gorgeous venue, the Hockley Valley Resort outside Toronto. There were excellent meals, wine, and snacks; tons of enviable giveaways; and most importantly, an outstanding group of Canadian speakers. Topics included writing as a skill and career, best practices for working with brands, and how people became successful as food bloggers, cookbook authors and freelancers.

Food Bloggers of Canada organizers Mardi Michels, Melissa Hartfiel and Ethan Adeland invited me to talk about getting comments on blogs and on how to get published. Speaking of that topic, I heard lots of buzz about this article on the Toronto Star Cookbook, an honest look (including advance numbers) about how hard it was to land a deal and write the book.

I had an additional qualification as a speaker: I’m Canadian, born in Vancouver (I moved to California in my 20s). Don’t get me started about how cool it was to be back in Canada, where people are polite and friendly and Nanaimo bars are on the menu. Plus, I got to stock up on Smarties, because my stash was running out from my trip to Ireland and London last year.

Keynote speaker David Leite tasted his first Nanaimo Bar.

During the sessions and over meals, it was satisfying to hear about the lightbulbs that went off in attendees’ heads as they listened to speakers give background and tips on writing, blogging, and career paths. I caught up with my buddy David Leite, the conference’s keynoter, who charmed the crowd with stories about his writing, for which he has won many national awards in the US. I too learned from talented speakers who were self-deprecating, generous about how they do their craft, and unfailingly nice. I hope to hear more from them on social media. Now, where are those Smarties?

To read more about the conference, see these early posts:

 

Apr 022013
 

A group of food bloggers on Google+ has formed a group called PIPO, for Protect Intellectual Property Online, to inform each other of pages they’ve found that scrape recipes and photos. Susan Powers of Rawmazing wrote this guest post about the situation:

“Something ugly is happening on Facebook, and as a food blogger, I am not only disturbed, I am alarmed.

People are starting Facebook pages that copy photos and recipes from food blogs and repost them on their page, either without attribution or improper attribution. Some even go as far as to claim the photos and recipes are theirs. And some are actually threatening the food bloggers who contact them.

Typically, these page administrators create recipe collectives and post photos (even watermarked ones!) and complete recipes without permission. This is a copyright violation and violates Facebook’s Terms Of Service.

If this wasn’t bad enough, administrators of these Facebook pages encourage followers to “share” the recipe, which engages Facebook’s Edge Rank and throws their pages to Continue reading »

Mar 122013
 

Now in his ninth year as a food blogger, Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet shows no sign of slowing. A witty and charming writer, he posts several times a week on restaurant meals, cooking a new dish, hosting dinner parties, and other adventures and experiments. He’s also good at coming up with attention-grabbing posts that go viral.

I met Roberts for the second time at Food Blog South, where he delivered a valuable talk on 10 Food Blog Posts That ‘ll Get You Traffic. He likes to write advice posts to food bloggers, whom he considers a main part of his Amateur Gourmet audience. I’ve listed those posts below. Consider them gold, because they’re like insider information on how to succeed as a Continue reading »

Feb 262013
 

Snagging a literary agent for your book proposal takes nerves of steel. You might have to send a query out to many agents, while telling yourself that it only takes one who’s excited about your book.

Most agents accept only one or two percent of the queries and book proposals they read. They spend a lot of time saying no. The problem is that they don’t have time to tell you why they don’t like your book idea or you, and often their responses don’t shed any light. On top of that, you’re not supposed to ask for clarification when you do get a response, because once they’ve said no, it’s no.

Possibly the most stressful thing of all is how long literary agents take to answer. Many take a month to six weeks to write two sentences back about Continue reading »