Writing and Selling a Winning Book Proposal - Diane Morgan


Published on

Writing and Selling a Winning Book Proposal
In the competitive marketplace of cookbook publishing, a tightly written and compelling book proposal is the link that sells a book idea. What does a winning book proposal look like? What are the components of the proposal? And how does one get the proposal in the hands of a discerning cookbook editor. In this session, award-winning cookbook author Diane Morgan explains the fundamentals and gives you all the tools for writing cookbook proposals that get noticed.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Writing and Selling a Winning Book Proposal - Diane Morgan

  2. 2. dianemorgancooks.com Keys to a Good Proposal Proposals vary from project to project and in length from a few pages to 60 or more. The key is to show the editor your voice at every step and convince her that the market needs your book. Your proposal is the blueprint for your book and establishes your credibility. Never hand in a proposal that hasn’t been read by at least 2 other people.
  3. 3. dianemorgancooks.com Title PageProposalDate Title Subtitle Author’s name Address Phone  E-Mail Agent’s name Address Phone  E-Mail
  4. 4. dianemorgancooks.com Table of Contents Overview Page 3 Why This Book/Audience Page 4 Existing Literature Page 5 Publicity, Marketing, and Online Presence Page 7 Deliverables Page 8 Proposed Table of Contents Page 9 List of Recipes by Chapter Page 10 Sample Chapter Page 17 Author’s Biography Page 33
  5. 5. dianemorgancooks.com Book Overview A synopsis of the book, with persuasive points about why it should be published. Describe special features, use of quotes, sidebars, tip boxes, glossaries, provenance of recipes (if coming from other sources), resource and buying guide, etc. Describe illustrations or photography (see above) only if that is essential to the book, otherwise do not make suggestions on how you want it to look. Limit to 2 pages.
  6. 6. dianemorgancooks.com Why This Book / This Audience? Audience For This Book—who will read it? Do you have a built-in audience? (e.g., are you a chef, cooking teacher, TV show host, professional golfer, past president of large organization) Do you have a built-in audience for the topic (seafood, low-carb, other trends)? Include statistical data from reliable sources that will help establish the market, e.g.,  “5 million people visit the Napa Valley annually,”  “Bon Appetit magazine indicates that 92% of respondents say “casual is their favorite way to entertain.”
  7. 7. dianemorgancooks.com Existing Literature One has to go back to 1996 to find a book dedicated to root vegetables. I found two earlier books as well, but all are out of print (see below). Only Georgeanne Brennan’s book has color photography, and none are a complete reference guide to all root vegetables.  Down to Earth: Great Recipes for Root Vegetables by Georgeanne Brennan, published by Chronicle Books in 1996. (out of print)  The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook by Sally and Martin Stone, published by Clarkson Potter in 1991. (out of print)  Roots & Tubers: A Vegetable Cookbook by Kyle D. Fulwiler, published by Pacific Search Press in 1982. (out of print)
  8. 8. dianemorgancooks.com Existing Literature There are impressively many books on vegetables that include root vegetables. The following act more as reference guides rather than cookbooks:  Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference by Elizabeth Schneider, published by HarperCollins in 2001. (Does not include all root vegetables, few recipes.)  Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide by Elizabeth Schneider, published by Harper & Row in 1986. (Does not include common root vegetables, no photos.)  ...  Melissa’s Great Book of Produce by Cathy Thomas, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2006. (Excludes many common and uncommon root vegetables and includes few recipes for each.)  Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka, published by Artisan in 2005. (Lots of recipes and useful information, only small black and white photos.)
  9. 9. dianemorgancooks.com Existing Literature Consider the following scenarios …  Suppose you’ve just returned from the farmers’ market with a few heads of celery root. Wouldn’t you love to pull a book off the shelf to tell you not only how to store and prepare celery root but also to give you an enticing selection of recipes to consider and get excited about?  Consider that the increasing numbers who participate in CSAs, and receive boxes with unusual vegetables such as salsify or rutabagas, might not know what these roots are, let alone how to cook them in an interesting way.
  10. 10. dianemorgancooks.com Existing Literature My goal is to bring comprehensive reference material together with a terrific selection of recipes. Cooks, gardeners, and those who combine these passions, are looking for inventive ways to prepare their bounty and take advantage of seasonal vegetables—whether they are coming from their backyard garden, a CSA box, or a trip to the farmers’ market. Roots, organized alphabetically by the common name of each root vegetable, will  be packed with history and lore  provide information on availability, selection, and storage  detail the different varieties of roots in the marketplace, and  provide nutritional information. In addition, and most importantly, there will be lots of great recipes.
  11. 11. dianemorgancooks.comPublicity, Marketing, and Online Presence  Based on the information above, how can you reach that audience?  Mention special markets that you feel are pertinent (cheese stores for a cheese book, hardware stores for a barbecue book, wineries for a Napa Valley food guide), but do not state the obvious (cookware stores, bookstore chains).  If you have strong connections in the food world, drop names (especially if there is potential for a famous person to write a book blurb).  Detail what YOU can do to market the book: teach cooking classes around the country, post daily links on an important website, write a tie-in article for a well-read publication, make a TV appearance.
  12. 12. dianemorgancooks.com Deliverables While long-standing tradition has been to deliver a fully executed manuscript with tested recipes, head notes, front material, etc., I have the ability to also provide digital images ready for web-quality content. This would include images of the fresh root vegetables as well as the finished dishes. I am doing this for my website and will plan to do this for Roots. In addition, I can, with advance planning, shoot web-quality videos that detail the basic preparation of root vegetables and enticing recipes to go with them. For instance, a short video on preparing beets could include the simple steps required to roast beets and, at the same time, educate the viewer as to the benefits of saving the beet greens and coarsely chopping them for an easy, nutritious sautéed side dish.
  13. 13. dianemorgancooks.com Deliverables My website allows me to build an audience in advance of the release of an upcoming book. With Facebook and Twitter feeds, plus uploading my videos to video sites, I have a growing network of readers and viewers beyond those directly receiving e-blasts from my site. All this content, in the form of print, digital photography, and video, makes Roots: The Definitive Underground Guide to Root Vegetables With More Than 250 Savory and Sweet Recipes a dynamic cookbook project that reaches well beyond the walls of traditional book stores and gift markets.
  14. 14. dianemorgancooks.comProposed Table of ContentsForewordIntroductionRoots, Tubers, Rhizomes, CormsThe Root CellarAndean TubersArrowhead...YucaOther RootsSelected BibliographySourcesIndexAcknowledgments
  15. 15. dianemorgancooks.com List of Recipes by ChapterBeets • Roasted Beets: Simple, Thyme-Infused, and Aromatic • Sautéed Beet Greens • Star Anise and Cinnamon-Spiced Pickled Beets • Beet Salsa with Avocado and Blood Oranges • Raw Beet Slaw with Fresh Fennel, Tart Apple, and Parsley • Chioggia Beet Carpaccio with Arugula and Panko-Crusted Pan-Fried Goat Cheese • Frisée Salad with Golden Beets, Poached Eggs, and Bacon-Sherry Vinaigrette • Beets, Prosciutto-Wrapped Persimmons, and Bitter Greens with Creamy Blue Cheese • Chilled Beet Soup with Dill and Crème Fraîche • Hot Beef Borscht • Golden Beet Risotto with Crumbled Ricotta Salata and Sautéed Beet Greens • Beet Hash with Spicy Chicken Sausage and Poached Eggs • Red Velvet Cupcakes with Orange ButtercreamBurdock Root • Spicy Japanese Pickled Burdock • Burdock Fritters • Grilled Beef-Wrapped Burdock Root • Braised Burdock Root with Caraway and Bitter Greens • Steamed Mussels with Burdock, Leeks, and Cream • Beef, Burdock, and Barley Soup • Chicken and Burdock Hot Pot
  16. 16. dianemorgancooks.com Sample Chapter / Sample Recipes Complete Sample Chapter with Recipes Depends on the book and how in-depth chapters will be. What you are giving here is a sample of the actual writing in the book. Sample recipes—6 to10 well-written, perfectly edited, tested recipes, including title, headnote, ingredient list, method, yield and any special features: tip box, side bar, wine suggestions, menu ideas, etc.
  17. 17. dianemorgancooks.com Sample ChapterBeets(Beta vulgaris)History and LoreVarietiesNutritionAvailability and SelectionStorageBasic Use and PreparationYieldsRecipes Roasted Beets: Simple, Thyme-Infused, and Aromatic Sautéed Beet Greens Star Anise and Cinnamon-Spiced Pickled Beets Beet Salsa with Avocado and Blood Oranges Frisée Salad with Golden Beets, Poached Eggs, and Bacon-Sherry Vinaigrette ...
  18. 18. dianemorgancooks.com Sample Chapter(These detailed sections should be just a taste of what will be included, they are not fully completed.)History and Lore A member of the Goosefoot family, or Chenopodiaceae, it is believed that beets, in one form or another, were consumed in prehistoric times. Origins of this plant can be traced back to Western Europe and the Mediterranean, specifically Northern Africa. It has been documented that the Romans were the first to cultivate beetroot for consumption. Prior to that, beets were exclusively grown for their leaves, until spinach cultivation drastically reduced beet greens’ popularity. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the garden or table beet, in the color and form that we know it today, was cultivated and consumed in Europe. In the 19th century, beets were harvested in the U.S. Within the last decade or so, beets have transformed from a rather utilitarian winter crop for canning and pickling to a shining star on the menu of many fine dining restaurants.
  19. 19. dianemorgancooks.com Sample ChapterVarieties Beets are cultivated in several species, but table beets are the common garden variety. The vibrant red, yellow, and orange hues are due to the pigment betacyanin. As an anthocyanin, this pigment is water soluble and leaks or “bleeds” when it is cooked, bruised, or pierced. RED  Red Ace, the principal variety of beet found in the United States, typical for its bright red root and red-veined green foliage.  Detroit Dark Red, with relatively low concentrations of geosmin, and is therefore a popular commercial cultivar in the United States.  India Beet is not as sweet as Western beet. However India beet is more nutritious than Western beet.  Lutz Greenleaf, a variety with a red root and green leaves, maintains its quality well in storage.
  20. 20. dianemorgancooks.com Sample ChapterNutrition Beets are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on earth and they are low in calories. A dieter’s delight. The roots are an excellent source of folate, fiber, and beta-carotene. Betalain, the pigment group found in all colored beets, adds phytonutrients and antioxidants. The greens are a very good source of dietary fiber, high in calcium and iron, and packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.Availability and Selection Though beets are available in most supermarkets year-round, they are typically planted in the spring and summer and harvested in late summer through fall. Beets vary in color and shape based on variety, but all should be firm with smooth skins and no sign of bruising. As a general rule: the larger the beet, the more fibrous and woody the texture. Medium-sized beets are ideal for most uses since they have a silky texture and are easy to peel. Purchase beets of uniform size for even cooking. If the greens are attached, they should be bright green and fresh if they are to be consumed …
  21. 21. dianemorgancooks.com Include 5 to 10 RecipesSautéed Beet GreensIt’s like getting a bonus prize, a twofer, when you buy fresh beets with their lovelybeet greens attached. Not only do you have the rosy subterranean beauties, thebeetroots, to enjoy, but you have the striking green tops with their bold red veins tosavor as well. I find the simplicity of a sauté the best way to cook these greens.Serves 21 bunch of beets, including the bushy fresh-looking green tops (about 4 beets)1 tablespoon olive oil1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced1 teaspoon fresh lemon juiceKosher or sea saltFreshly ground pepperTrim off the beet greens leaving 1 inch of stem attached to the beetroot. Reservethe beetroots for another use. Trim and discard the thick, fibrous stems from thegreens and remove any wilted or spotted leaves. Stack the greens on top of oneanother and slice down the middle through the center vein …
  22. 22. dianemorgancooks.com Author’s BiographyDiane Morgan is an award-winning cookbook author, freelance food writer, culinary instructor, andrestaurant consultant. She is the author of fourteen cookbooks including The Christmas Table, The NewThanksgiving Table, Grill Every Day, Salmon, Pizza, Delicious Dips, The Thanksgiving Table, MidnightMunchies, Cooking For The Week, The Basic Gourmet, The Basic Gourmet Entertains, and Dressed ToGrill: Savvy Recipes for Girls who Play with Fire, all from Chronicle Books. Forthcoming for fall 2010,Diane will have two new cookbooks released: Skinny Dips from Chronicle Books and Gifts Cooks Love,a collaborative project with Sur La Table published by Andrews McMeel.Diane has been involved in the world of food for more than 25 years. She spent six years in Chicago asa caterer and chef for an executive dining room. Leaving behind Chicago’s blustery, frigid winters,Diane moved to the Pacific Northwest, settling in Portland, Oregon. Her focus shifted to teachingcooking classes and pursuing a career in food writing, Her first cookbook, Entertaining People: Menusfrom a Pacific Northwest Cooking School won an IACP/Seagram’s cookbook award and was followedby Very Entertaining: Menus for Special Occasions.Diane’s newest cookbook, The New Thanksgiving Table is featured in the November issue of Healthmagazine and her other holiday cookbook, The Christmas Table, is featured in the December 2009issue of Better Homes & Gardens. In the December 2008, Oprah’s “O” magazine featured herChristmas cookbook with six-pages of glorious photographs highlighting food gifts from the kitchen, allcreated by Diane. In addition, her decadent recipe for Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes was on the coverof December 2008’s issue of Cooking Light magazine.Diane has been a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times food section and has written for BonAppetit, Fine Cooking, Cooking Light, The Oregonian, Northwest Palate, and Edible Portland. She hasappeared on the Today Show, ABC World News Now, CBS Early Show, The Food Network, SmartSolutions on HGTV, Seasonings on PBS, and Good Day Oregon. In addition, for the past four years,Diane has consulted on the core menu, promotional seasonal menus and recipes for a Northwestchain of family dining restaurants.