A guest post by Clotilde Dusoulier
Recently I made a key decision: to hire an intern to help me with my new cookbook, Tasting Paris. It’s my fifth book in 11 years, and releases this month. I am proud to say this is the one that finally made me feel I had “turned pro,” in the words of Steven Pressfield (see his book Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work).
Hiring an intern helped me in more ways than I had anticipated. I want to encourage you to do the same, especially if you also blog.
Here are five reasons to hire an intern for your next cookbook:
1. You can keep blogging.
Writing a cookbook consumes time, energy, and inspiration. With my previous books, I had to slow things down on my food blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. I posted once every two weeks instead of weekly, and shared recipes only when I could. It felt frustrating and counter-productive since a blog is, in large part, what helps sell the cookbook.
This time, having someone help me with both the blog and the cookbook meant I could maintain my regular editorial schedule on Chocolate & Zucchini.
2. You will stay focused on what you do best.
In writing a cookbook, my job as an author is to:
- Maintain the overall vision for the book
- Develop rock-solid recipes
- Write the recipes with clarity
- Compose eloquent headnotes.
But there are many more tasks that can be successfully delegated to someone else, such as:
- Grocery shopping and dish-washing on recipe testing days
- Coordinating a team of recipe testers and compiling their feedback, or
- Gathering research material to write cultural or historical sections.
I progressed much faster by having my intern handle those tasks. My intern also alleviated my blogging workload by:
- Handling my social media schedule
- Coordinating guest posts and giveaways
- Putting together round-up posts, and
- Taking care of tasks that are necessary and useful but don’t need to be uniquely handled by me.
3. You’ll be super efficient and organized.
Working as a two-person team required me to be proactive, organized, and on-schedule. For example, if my assistant was to grocery shop in the morning on testing day, I had to make a list the day before, or I would waste her valuable time, and mine. This made me more efficient than self-imposed deadlines ever did, and indeed, we stayed on track throughout the process.
4. You’ll love the company.
Writing a cookbook can feel solitary and daunting. Not so with an assistant. If I had doubts, a hard decision to make, or dilemmas or difficulties, I could discuss them with my intern and solutions emerged quickly. Any successes and wins along the way, we celebrated together. I was fortunate also to find an intern who shares my sense of humor, so we kept things light and had fun.
5. It is money well spent.
I hired my intern part-time (15 hours per week) for a limited duration, following French regulations. Check your local labour laws to see what possibilities exist.
It wasn’t a huge investment to hire an intern, and so worthwhile because it made the process of writing a cookbook more efficient. It also freed up my time to pursue other higher-paying opportunities. And, I believe that having help increased the quality of my book and my confidence in it, which will result in higher chance of success.
Working with my intern (her name was Anne) transformed my book-writing experience so completely that I dedicated Tasting Paris to her! It felt good to provide recognition for her hard work and dedication. So if you have a cookbook or other big project coming up, I hope I have convinced you to hire an intern.
Now, have you ever worked with an intern or assistant on your book or other projects? What’s been your experience?
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Clotilde Dusoulier is a French food writer based in Paris. She runs the award-winning food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, in which she shares her passion for all things edible. She is the author of The French Market Cookbook, a book of French vegetarian recipes, and the upcoming Tasting Paris, a cookbook that conveys the flavors of Paris through 100 recipes. (If you pre-order the book, you will receive a free audio walking tour along her favorite market streets in Montmartre. Claim it here with pre-order receipt.)