Book Deal News: The Once Upon a Chef Cookbook by Jenn Segal

jenn segal once upon a chef book proposal

Here it is, the first announcement day of 2016! This time congratulations are in order to Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, who will be publishing a beautiful cookbook with Chronicle Books. Here’s the official deal listing from Publisher’s Marketplace:

publisher's lunch book deal jenn segal once upon a chef

I’m so excited about this book for two reasons (well, actually it’s more like two trillion reasons, but I’ll spare you the exhaustive list):

Reason #1.

Jenn is such a success story and a great inspiration for anyone who’s on the journey of building their platform. Jenn’s big dream was always to write a cookbook. After graduating from college, she went to culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and began working in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants like the L’Auberge Chez Francois. But, as she wrote in her proposal:

“Not only was I the only woman in a hot kitchen full of big, sweaty men, but I was also not at all right-sized for the massive equipment that surrounded us. At 5 foot, 2 inches, I had to get lifts on my shoes just to reach the plates. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cook in a restaurant kitchen, just imagine trying to juggle multiple orders in your head and cooking on four different burners with food in the oven at the same time. Plus flames, sharp knives, hot pans, and an incessant stream of orders. It was terrifying!”

I love this story because it shows how not every food job is the right fit for everyone, no matter how passionate you are about food. I’m 5 foot, 2 inches, too, and I can tell you that the restaurant world is just NOT designed for the slight of stature. But you know where height doesn’t matter? In the writing and blogging world.

So when Jenn gave birth to her son and decided to stay home with him, she hung up her chef’s whites, picked up her apron, and went back to that cookbook dream. The problem was, she needed a platform.

And a platform she built. Over many years—one recipe and one blog post at a time—Jenn built a wonderful, engaged, and highly active community at Once Upon a Chef. She now has over 4 million page views, an email list of over 100,000, and a real connection to the people she’s helping. That right there—a close sense of knowing your readers and being dedicated to serving them—is the real purpose behind platform-building.

Lucky for us, Jenn has graciously agreed to share a few bits of advice about what it was like building the platform that got her the cookbook deal of her dreams:

What one thing worked best for you to grow your audience and increase traffic?

In the beginning, contributing to larger blogs, like HuffPost, Parade and Serious Eats, exposed me to a broader audience and drove lots of traffic to my site. (Reach out to the editors; sometimes it’s not as hard as you think to become a contributor). More recently, I moved away from the typical blog format/design and invested in a custom site redesign, which increased my numbers dramatically.

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Book Deal Announcement: The Add a Pinch Cookbook by Robyn Stone

Add a Pinch Balsamic Beef recipe
Photo via Robyn Stone,

You know what’s fun? Announcement Day.

Announcement Day is the day that an author finally gets to announce to her readers that she’s been brewing up a book behind the scenes. It’s definitely one of the 6 moments to celebrate on a publishing journey.

We usually try to keep the book-brewing process (can I call it that? I’ve decided yes) under wraps until the publishing contract is signed. But since everything in publishing works at a slower pace, this can mean months of pent-up excitement with nary a soul to gush to. So, let the gushing finally begin! As Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch wrote in her announcement post:

I am writing a cookbook.

Lord have mercy, just typing those words thrills me and makes me a nervous wreck all at the same time!

The cookbook, being published by Clarkson Potter, is based on the blog and will be filled with brand-spanking new recipes (and a few favorites) that I think y’all are absolutely going to love!

Lord have mercy is right! Robyn and I had so much fun cooking up this book proposal, and I know this cookbook is going to be really special. Not only because it will have Robyn’s great stories throughout (you can practically hear the Southern twang when you read her writing!,) but also because her food is just so darn good.

So, as always, let’s talk about the food.

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Deal News: DAMN DELICIOUS by Chungah Rhee

damn delicious book deal chung ah rhee

I realized this weekend that I’ve been doing a terrible job of announcing The Good Stuff. I’m always so focused on trying to help writers improve their craft and their platforms, but in reality, The Good Stuff can be just as inspiring as any practical advice. After all, the dream of getting a book deal is what makes all the long days and hard work of platform-building worth it.

So one of my goals for 2015 will be to share all The Good Stuff that’s happening behind the scenes of my day-to-day work. And today I’m excited to officially announce a deal that’s been long in the works: Damn Delicious by Chungah Rhee, to be published by Oxmoor House in Fall 2016!  Here’s the official Publishers Marketplace announcement:

Damn Delicious Book Deal

The book will be a gorgeous collection of the quickest, easiest recipes that have won Damn Delicious its huge readership. It will be published in association with Cooking Light, which means every recipe will include handy nutritional stats and be rigorously tested by the experts at the Cooking Light test kitchen.

I’m especially excited about this project because, while working with Chungah on the proposal and deal, I became completely addicted to her food. Seriously. Her recipes keep us fed around here. And yes, maybe I am not the most unbiased person to be raving about this, but I really am continually blown away by how easy, flavorful, and fun her recipes are. Here are a few favorites that have become part of our weekday rotation:

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Zen Habits–How To Make Yourself Work

how to write more and be prolific

One of my all-time favorite blogs is Zen Habits by Leo Babauta. It’s amazing because it’s different–just look at the main page, and you’re instantly struck by how it looks nothing like anything else on the internet. No ads, no images, no lists of posts, very few links, and no social media icons. It’s just one post on a blank page, with a few links that lead you to years and years of archived posts. It’s quiet in a noisy world. As much as I always tell my authors about the importance of design, this is the perfect example that website design doesn’t have to be cookie cutter–it just has to be impactful.

Lucky for us, the writing on Zen Habits is just as impactful. Leo’s such a master of condensing so much knowledge and inspiration into just a few short sentences. Makes my long-winded self jealous! And I also think his approach to writing as a profession, particularly writing on the internet, is incredible. He went the traditional route for a while, running a blog with ads and writing a book with a traditional publisher, then decided the whole thing just wasn’t jibing with his minimalist values. So he uncopyrighted his blog posts (more on this here), pulled all his ads, and refocused on helping his readers in a more direct way. He moved his business model to one of building value with his readers, so that now they directly support his business by signing up for his great e-courses and buying his ebooks, instead of having third parties, like advertisers, support the business. It’s both a radical idea and a simple idea–not too different from a business model like that of NPR, where the emphasis is on serving the public, and then inspiring the public to support you back.

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