Feb 052013
 

Your book just came out, and it needs reviews on Amazon. Not just any kind of review, but positive ones.

Do you rally your supporters on social media? Ask friends and family to post (implied glowing) reviews? Email anyone who’s ever complimented you and ask them to post?

According to Amazon, all of the above methods lead to “manipulated reviews.” The company is deleting thousands of them, says this story in The New York Times.

If you’ve already employed these strategies, don’t worry about it too much. Most of the time, Amazon is not looking for small fry like us, but for authors with huge followings who can incite people to write reviews on the first day of publication, sometimes without reading the book. But even so, we smaller authors are not immune. The article includes Continue reading »

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Jan 292013
 

Lori Lange of Recipe Girl is in her 4th year of writing sponsored posts. (Photo by Amy Boring)

Lori Lange‘s food blog, Recipe Girl, made last year’s list of one of the top food blogs in the US, according to The Daily Meal. Upbeat and energetic, Lori never seems to run out of easy meal ideas.

One of the things that interests me about her blog is the way Lori works with food companies. As you know, I’m a hard nut to crack on the subject of sponsored posts. I’m no longer opposed to writing them, but I get frustrated by how few food bloggers write about products well.

Lori takes a professional approach, writing directly to potential clients in a “Work with Me” page, and creating straightforward, non-advertorial posts that always disclose she’s been Continue reading »

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Jan 222013
 

In advance of my talk on ethics for Food Blog South this weekend, I’ve been researching product posts and thinking about what motivates people to write them.

I’ve been trying not to get annoyed when I see so many problematic posts, but it’s not working. So I thought I’d get this subject off my chest.

Of course YOU don’t make dumb decisions like this. But I bet you’ve read lots of posts that make you shake your head. What were these people thinking? I bet I know:

1. This came in my email. I’m so humbled and honored to be chosen! This explains why a food blogger raves about a car, or frozen peas when her blog is about candy.

2. A company gave me this for free. I owe them so much! Other than a polite reply and a responsible discussion, bloggers don’t owe Continue reading »

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Oct 232012
 

While preparing for my trip to Australia for Eat.Drink.Blog next month (I know! So lucky.), I came across this article in the daily paper there. It portrays food bloggers as naive amateurs willing to flog products, people, and restaurants.

A PR firm invited a handful of Australian bloggers to a demo of dried soup stock by Chef Marco Pierre White. The author of the article ridiculed food bloggers for writing about the event and endorsing the product, as did several others he quoted. A sample:

“Do you know how many newspapers ran [news] stories on Marco Pierre White during his visit?” asks Ed Charles, a prominent Melbourne blogger and freelance journalist (who did not attend the event). “None. Firstly, because most people under 40 haven’t heard of Marco Pierre White, given he hasn’t cooked in a commercial kitchen since 1999. And secondly, because what PR people have realised is that bloggers are a nicer audience to deal with than journalists. Very few bloggers are critical and if you give them something to write about they will just publish it.”

Ouch.

But then, I say the same thing when I speak at food blogger conferences. I am tired of Continue reading »

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May 232012
 

Mark Scarbrough (Photo by Lucy Schaeffer)

I’ve been on a career counseling jag lately. With bloggers asking me how they can “monetize” their blogs at every turn, and established food writers lamenting the lack of work, I’m looking for ways to generate income on all food writers’ behalf.

Ever wanted to become a spokesperson, to supplement your writing? Lots of food writers do it, and some have been very successful. Here’s an interview with two writers who have taken that path.

Mark Scarbrough, with partner Bruce Weinstein, has published 21 cookbooks at six publishing houses with over three-quarters of a million copies in print. They have been national spokespeople and developed recipes for The U. S. Potato Board, JIF, Smucker’s, The National Honey Board, and Bacardi. In 2010, the California Milk Advisory Board sent them on a two-week, ten-city tour to promote their book Real Food Has Curves: How to Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You Eat.

Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer and recipe developer. The publisher of the award-winning food blog Cooking with Amy, she has also blogged for Epicurious, Glam and writes frequently for Cheers and Gastronomica magazines. She is the author of Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers and WinePassport: Portugal. Amy has been a spokesperson three times for two brands.

1. Let’s start with a definition. What is spokesperson work?

Mark: Bruce and I consider ourselves to be spokespersons whenever we Continue reading »

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Feb 282012
 

Food Network fired star Anne Thornton for adapting recipes a little too closely. (Photo: Food Network)

Yes, one of my favorite subjects was in the news again recently: the perils of adapting recipes. Here are two recent developments that affected a cooking show host and a food blogger:

1. Show cancelled because of adapting recipes. The Food Network cancelled the show of TV Chef Anne Thornton because she adapted recipes based on making small tweaks to the recipes of others, apparently.

Media outlets went crazy when the news hit that her show, Dessert First, was not renewed because many of her recipes were “plagiarized” from Martha Stewart and Ina Garten, specifically a German chocolate frosting and lemon bars.

“You take what you learn from them and then you riff on that,”she said in her defense in a story in the UK Daily Mail. “As for lemon squares, there’s only so many ways you can make them, so of course there will be similarities.”

Her comment sounds similar to those I’ve received on this blog. And I don’t necessarily disagree with Continue reading »

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Jan 312012
 

Increasingly, recipe writers are finding their own content appearing somewhere else.

Part of the problem is how ridiculously simple it is to lift work verbatim. On the net, just copy and paste. Some online companies write code that does it. In print, just retype a recipe verbatim, and present it as yours.

Here’s what Gwen from Bunky Cooks said in the comments of a previous post here in Will Write for Food:

“I was amazed at the number of people who came up to me after I spoke on a panel on ethics at IFBC in New Orleans last year. They said they had no idea that there were ethics they should be adhering to when writing their blogs.

“Isn’t some of this just common sense? Aren’t we responsible for our words and actions just as you would be in a job or at school? Why do some people think the internet is a place where everything is free and anything is yours just for the taking?”

Good questions. At least she and I got the opportunity to educate. I also spoke on an ethics panel for IFBC last year, and talked for 50 minutes on the subject last weekend at Food Blog South in Birmingham, AL.

Here are some new developments from last week where both individuals and companies are involved:

1. Recipes ripped off as an e-book. Elise Bauer got Amazon to shut down a page where someone in Bangkok scraped the content of Simply Recipes into an e-book and sold it on Kindle. A reader of her site Continue reading »

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