Mar 192013
 

Should writers write for free, for exposure, or for fun? Or maybe all three? Everybody has an opinion, sometimes heated.

An argument about getting paid for online work erupted recently, when a respected journalist blogged about an Atlantic Wire editor who asked to repost a long article online for free.

What’s unbelievable is that just a few years ago, the Atlantic magazine offered him $21,000 per article for original reporting, and now they’re offering him nothing in exchange for “exposure.”

Here’s the scoop from Reuters blogger Felix Salmon:

“The exchange has particular added poignancy because it’s not so many years since Continue reading »

Share Button
Feb 192013
 

The web has made us impatient about our writing. We think that if we start a blog, it should take a few months to impact thousands, or if we write a book, we should finish it within a year.

I have often wondered how long it takes to create something of lasting value. Now I have a definitive answer from the late Steve Jobs, who knows a thing or two about making an impact: It takes seven or eight years.

Here’s what he told author Brent Schlender, who interviewed him countless times: “I have been trained to think in units of time that are measured in several years. With what I’ve chosen to do with my life, you know, even a small thing takes a few years. To do anything of magnitude takes Continue reading »

Share Button
Jan 152013
 


Last week, I took part in a Google+ hangout: A free 1.5-hour panel on How to Be a Better Food Blogger with

And it was a blast! This was my second public Hangout on Google+. It was a huge success, with close to 200 participants and more than 400 comments and questions about the session.

If you haven’t seen this video, I hope you’ll watch or put it on in the background while you’re cooking. Typically you’d only have access to a session like this during a conference — for which you would have paid beaucoup bucks — so please take advantage of a freebie. The panelists discuss best practices for bloggers, writing craftsmanship, structuring posts, writing killer titles, and we take lots of questions from the crowd.

I’m still learning how to use Google+, and I don’t have many followers yet. Google hopes it will eclipse Facebook and Twitter as a way of sharing information. What’s different about it is the access to free video. You appear live on a Hangout that’s automatically recorded to appear on YouTube (unless you are charging for it, and if so, you can turn off that feature), and you can invite others to join you.

While it’s fun to do free hangouts and have yet another channel to share content, I’d like to see this medium evolve as a way to make money. I know. I’m so crass. But God knows, we already have lots of opportunities to share our content for free.

Some people are already trying to making money. A pioneering group, ChefHangout, charges for cooking classes. Chef Dennis joined in September 2011, originally one of 24 chefs. To be expected, it has been slow going and some teachers have dropped out.

Dennis’ first class was almost a year ago. His most successful one so far was on paella, with seven people paying $45 each. “It took me a little over an hour to do it. Not a lot of money, but I never left home, and my wife and enjoyed a wonderful dinner afterward,” he concludes. He has another one-on-one class that lets students choose what they want to learn to make. “Those classes can go up to $150 but still are a great value for what they’re getting.”

For me, this medium comes down to video and whether there’s a way to charge for it. Are you active on Google+? If not, why not? If so, do you use it to share content, or do you think there’s a way to make money? If so, what are the possibilities? Let’s brainstorm.

* * *

You might also like:

 

 

 

Share Button
Dec 112012
 

I know. If we’re going to talk about books, you want cookbooks, preferably with luscious photography. Fine. Here are two lists of favorite cookbooks of 2012 from The Washington Post and The Kitchn.

Now that you’ve got that out of your system, we can get on with today’s post. In the past few weeks I’ve paged through and marked up six how-to books sent to me, at my request, by inquiring publishers. I’m here to report on how or whether they’ll help you improve your writing, freelancing, photography, book promotion and public speaking.

Despite reading an essay on how writers don’t need to read how-to books and attend conferences, I am a big fan of how-to books (and conferences). Whenever I read one, I find something valuable I can immediately use to improve myself. Besides, people learn and progress in different ways. Some read books and practice with exercises. Some take classes and attend workshops. And some just stumble through, learning by doing. That’s what writers always say in interviews, right? “If you want to be a writer, write.” I’ve heard it a hundred times.

Well yes. But some of us need help, encouragement and inspiration. We need to learn from people who have been there or done that. We need new skills, like how to write literary narrative, photograph food, promote books, and pitch articles. So if you’re the type who learns by reading, here’s a handful of books that came across my desk recently:

1. Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling, by Helene Dujardin of Tartlette. Shame on me for not recommending this book as soon as it came out. Dozens of luscious photographs will lure you into understanding how Dujardin works her magic, and how you can do it too. This is a full-color book full of photos that teach you how to set up a shot, find the light, diffuse it, understand non-automatic camera settings, be an effective food stylist and other subjects valuable to food bloggers.

2. Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More, by Patricia Fry. Finally, someone had the courage to join the two topics writers dread most: promoting their books and public speaking. Fry, the author of Continue reading »

Share Button
Oct 162012
 

Hey, cause for celebration, possibly. I just found out the Kindle version of my book, Will Write for Food, is the 16,620th Most Highlighted Book of All Time on Kindle — just a few points below The Qur’An and Start a Cupcake Business Today.

Is this good news? I have no idea.

But it’s info I didn’t have before, and potentially helpful. Now I can look up what people highlighted and see that they tweeted quotes from my book. (That’s how I found out about this phenomenon. Someone included @diannej in the tweet).

Kindle users sign an agreement granting Amazon permission to store information, including the Continue reading »

Share Button
Oct 022012
 

Lunch at BrookLodge in County Wicklow, where we feasted on roast pig and dined in an apple orchard.

I’m just back from a fabulous trip to Ireland and England, where I taught two food writing workshops. They were in the planning stages for a long time, and I can’t say enough about my hosts.

I’m pushing through jet lag to tell you how it went and show you a few photos. The main part of the trip was to Ireland. Like me, you probably knew about the rolling green farmland, the charming towns and pubs, and the narrow country roads. But did you know about the how friendly the locals are, and how proud they are of their excellent Irish food? That’s what I discovered.

Dorcas Barry and me. (Photo by Owen Rubin.)

Chef and blogger Dorcas Barry was a generous host. She arranged for sponsorship by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board; and Failte Ireland, which promotes Irish tourism. She also hosted my husband and me for dinner, making a traditional Irish meal of ham, cabbage, potatoes and parsley sauce.

My class took place in County Wicklow at BrookLodge, a hotel complex built around an organic restaurant, The Strawberry Tree. The night before, a group of us attended a private farm-to-table wild and organic dinner that included Continue reading »

Share Button
Sep 042012
 

Peter Reinhart is a baking instructor and faculty member at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Peter Reinhart has authored eight cookbooks, including the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, winner of two national awards. That cookbook alone has sold more than 100,000 copies.

You’d think he’d have an ego, but during our interview Reinhart came across humbly, talking about the value of working with a team and not burning bridges.

I caught up with him as he taught baking classes in California to promote his latest book, The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, co-authored with Denene Wallace. It’s his first book on low-carb breads, pastries, cookies, and cake for those sensitive to gluten, diabetics, or those who need to reduce carbs to prevent weight gain. The focus is on baking with nut and seed flours and non-sugar sweeteners.

In this interview, he talks about the value of sticking with the same publisher, learning a new subject, and why you need a thick skin to grow as a writer:

Q. Why did you decide to write a gluten-free, sugar-free baking book? You are a bread and pizza guy.

A. Ten Speed asked if I wanted to do a gluten-free book, and I said only if we cover new territory. They told me gluten-free and allergen-free was the hottest new category. It was nice to be asked. I felt like I had arrived.

Q. You’ve been with Ten Speed for a long time.

A. It’s common to jump around to publishing houses, but it feels traditional to be with a publishing house where you feel like they’re part of your family. There’s a comfort level there and a trust level there. I’ve been with them for 12 years.

I got lucky when Random House bought Ten Speed because they got bigger distribution but they kept the same team. My former editor, Aaron (Wehner, publisher), is a great idea man. He stays engaged and I have access to him. Melissa (Moore, Food Editor) is the new Aaron, very collaborative. This is our third book together.

In the old days you read about Judith Jones and Julia Child, where people were together for years. I feel like I’m in the stable with thoroughbreds. And if I want to do a non-food book I can stay within the Random House family and go with an imprint.

Q. What makes an award-winning cookbook?

A. Writing a book is not a solo effort. Sometimes the magic is just there with the editor, the publisher, the design, the photography — it’s like putting a movie together. Everybody contributed something. Having great recipe testers has been invaluable too.

From the writer’s standpoint, it’s important to appreciate that process. I know a few writers who have fought the process, to their Continue reading »

Share Button