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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are common questions about agents and the proposal process:

  1. I have an idea for a cookbook that seems new and interesting, but I’m not sure how to pursue it.
  2. I have a workable cookbook idea that seems worthy of publication. Do I really need an agent? And, if so, how do I find one?
  3. What exactly is a proposal, and how do I create one?
  4. I’ve made all of my recipes before. Do I really have to test them?
  5. What is the average amount of time it takes to go from proposal to finished cookbook?

  1. I have an idea for a cookbook that seems new and interesting, but I’m not sure how to pursue it.
    Crafting the core idea for your book is of monumental importance. Without a thorough understanding of what you hope to accomplish and who you want to reach with your cookbook, your ability to research, examine, and evaluate your competition will be hindered.Your concept needs to clearly convey: a) your passion for and knowledge of your topic, and b) your unique voice and view, and c) your point of differentiation (POD). With that said, write what you know and truly care about — not about what is currently hot in the marketplace. Keep in mind that your writing style and recipe style should be tailored to the audience you want to attract.Once you form a clear concept that declares your intentions and the purpose of your cookbook (similar to a mission statement), you must begin researching the cookbook marketplace. Is there another book that covers the same topic? If so, do not be discouraged. Think about how you can shape your book differently.  And, if you want to cover a well-worn topic that is still timely, put a new spin on it. Ask yourself (and be able to clearly answer), “What is my point of differentiation?” Consider how competing books have sold. Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com are great resources for this, as they provide a ranking for each book.If you do not find anything on the market similar to your idea, great! But, you still must effectively convey what makes your book or idea distinctive and, ultimately, worth publishing.»return to top
  2. I have a workable cookbook idea that seems worthy of publication. Do I really need an agent? And, if so, how do I find one?
    Today, competition in the publishing arena is fierce, and most publishers will not review submissions without agent representation. So, yes, you probably do need an agent.Representing new and seasoned authors alike, agents negotiate the best terms available and typically earn a 15 percent commission on an author’s advance and royalties for the life of the project.If finding an agent seems like an ominous task, here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Congratulate yourself for taking a first step and visiting our website.
    • Since many authors wish to publicly thank their agents, pick a cookbook you particularly enjoy and read the acknowledgements to find the agent’s name.
    • The Literary Marketplace is an invaluable resource that can be found online or in a local library. Another suggestion is to go to the Preditors and Editors website (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/).
    • Review the Helpful Resources section of our website.

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  3. What exactly is a proposal, and how do I create one?
    Your proposal is the presentation of your concept with supporting background on you, your qualifications, your audience, and sample writing and recipes, that shows your prospective agent (and subsequent publishers) exactly what kind of cookbook you plan to write. It should be thorough, yet concise.To see what we look for in a proposal, read our Proposal Guidelines.»return to top
  4. I’ve made all of my recipes before. Do I really have to test them?
    Yes! It is your responsibility to thoroughly test each recipe, using exact ingredient amounts and making sure the recipe comes out as intended, in terms of taste, appearance, and yield. Note: Chefs especially need to ensure their recipes are downsized for home kitchens and tested on non-commercial equipment.As for who should test your recipes, just ask yourself this question: Who do I want to buy this book? Who is my target audience? Once you have answered these questions, it makes sense to then find a person in that demographic who is willing to spend a few hours in the kitchen on your behalf. Or, depending on the scope of your book, you might investigate professional resources for recipe development and testing. It is your responsibility and your cost to test all recipes.»return to top
  5. What is the average amount of time it takes to go from proposal to finished cookbook?
    You can expect to spend anywhere from six months to one year working with your agent to refine and submit your proposal. Then, assuming your proposal is “sold” to a publisher (usually a 2-4 month process), you should plan to spend an additional six to twelve months completing your book or manuscript. The publisher is likely to spend another year editing, designing and, last but not least, printing your cookbook. So, overall, you can save yourself frustration by expecting to spend anywhere from one to three years in this lengthy, but exciting process!»return to top