Have you always wondered what it's like to create a cookbook? Author Meghan Telpner takes us behind the scenes of writing her second book, The Undiet Cookbook.
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Blogging is something I have done for over a decade, never expecting that what was once a hobby would become an incredible avenue to inspire others to live a healthy and awesome life. I definitely didn’t think a cookbook was in the cards. When I started my nutrition blog in 2008 (then under the name Making Love In The Kitchen), I didn’t even really know how to cook.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it was the blogging community that inspired me to cook my way to health. I saw it being done, was connecting with others and ultimately, as food and lifestyle changes enabled me to heal from this incurable disease, I was inspired to do this for a living. I went back to school to become a nutritionist.
I could never have predicted that the part of my business that I loved the most — being in my kitchen, teaching myself how to cook, creating beautiful, health-inspired recipes, and then writing about them — would reach so many people around the world. I definitely didn’t anticipate that the reach of my blog would land me as the resident nutritionist on a national TV show, which would subsequently grab the attention of an editor at Random House, who called me up one day in March 2011 to talk about what my book would be about.
UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health, my first book, is the lifestyle guide my readers had been asking for. It’s my best nutrition info, tips, guidelines and recipes all in one place. I still dreamed, however, of creating a photo-rich, mouthwatering delicious, awesome recipe-packed cookbook.
After writing The UnDiet Cookbook, now available in-stores and online, I have an even deeper appreciation and awe for the books I call my favorites. From every recipe title and blurb, to the selection of the spoon off in the corner of the image, every detail is considered. Bringing all of those pieces together to make a beautiful package, a book in your hands, is what I call magic!
I’m sure that, like me, as a food blogger you devour recipes, love reading others’ sites and perhaps have a small (or large) hoard of cookbooks. I find the work of so many others to be inspirational and aspirational, but had never really asked the question, “How’d they do that?”
6 Tips for Creating A Super Awesome Cookbook
Step 1. The Proposal
The book proposal is the blueprint and the first impression of you and your book when it’s looked at by an agent or a publisher. Follow the guidelines but don’t hold back. The best proposals are going to be the ones that are you, through and through!
And it’s much easier to do a dozen revisions of a proposal than a dozen revisions of an 80,000-word manuscript.
Whether you’re seeking a publisher or not, get that proposal written! One of my favourite parts of creating my proposal was the tear sheet: a grouping of images that represented what I wanted my book to look and feel like.
These details will help you tremendously as you begin writing and ensure you stay true to your vision. Writing a blog post is one, stand-alone piece in a collection of stand-alone pieces. A book of recipes needs to work cohesively together as a unit and this plan will help you achieve this.
Step 2. Before You Write: Plan
If you’re working with a publisher, you’ll be sent a timeline of key milestones which you can build your schedule around (knowing dates will likely change).
You can’t sit down and write a book as you can a blog post. For this reason, in addition to having big milestones, set up tangible goals on a daily or weekly basis to keep yourself on track.
I set up a timeline that included the writing and reviewing of each chapter, testing recipes, sourcing recipe testers, reviewing testers’ comments, researching photographers and stylists, doing searches for photo styles and props I loved, coordinating prep crews for shoot days, a chapter breakdown for the various rounds of edits ... all the way through to a launch plan.
I found the best time for me to write was on the weekends, when I wouldn’t be distracted by other work obligations and when email and social media tends to be a little quieter. I would set aside full days to write in long stretches. Other authors I know have found that blocking off a couple of hours each day works for them. Set aside that time as the most important non-negotiable appointment in your week. Get the writing done!
4. Your Dream Team
There are loads of food bloggers in this community who are clearly incredibly talented at writing, photography and styling. Photography and styling are not my forte. I know my area of brilliance and I wanted to work with people who shone bright in theirs, and I’m grateful I did. Find the people that can help make you/your book shine brighter. When it comes to cookbooks, the photos are what people see first!
5. There Will Be Hiccups Along The Way
A recipe will be forgotten. Typos will be found once books go to print. It’s guaranteed to happen and it’s okay. No one will care about this book as much as you do. That also means that no one will care, or likely even notice, any minor mishap that seems to be glaring at you with flashing lights. It’s okay. Perfect is overrated and boring anyway
6. Celebrate The Awesomeness
Writing a book is no small thing. It’s important to recognize the awesomeness that has been achieved and to celebrate it as far and wide as your heart desires. You’ve put your heart and soul into this creative project and it’s now time for the world to eat it up — literally!
Be ready to celebrate the book. Reach out to other bloggers in the community who might like to help support you, invite your audience to get your book and perhaps incentivize them with some extra little purchase bonuses. Go out in your community and participate in events. And if you are amongst the one percent of authors who end up with your book in a bricks and mortar bookstore, proudly sign those copies every chance you get.
The day that my book The UnDiet Cookbook made itself known to the world I was so excited for everyone to dive in.
Here is one of my favourite recipes from the book for a Rawmazing Key Lime Pie.
- 1 cup dried dates
- ½ cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup whole pecans, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups cashews
- ¾ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp matcha powder (optional for color only)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 6 key limes, sliced (optional)
- Put all the crust ingredients into a food processor, and process until the ingredients can just stick together. You shouldn’t have a gooey mess. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed. Press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9inch glass pie dish.
- Place all the filling ingredients in your high-speed blender or food processor and blend until the filling is completely smooth and creamy.
- Pour the filling evenly over the pie crust, smooth with a spatula. Place the pie in the freezer covered to set for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.
- Let the pie sit at room temperature for 10 minutes and garnish with key limes before serving.
Recipe excerpted from The UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life by Meghan Telpner. Copyright © 2015 Meghan Telpner. Photography Copyright © 2015 Maya Visnyei and Catherine Farquharson. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
You can read more of Meghan's writing here on FBC!
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- 5 Key Strategies to Take Your Blog To The Next Level
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Toronto-based author and nutritionist Meghan Telpner, brings her healthy and awesome life inspiration to fans across the globe. As founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition and author of the bestselling UnDiet: Eat You Way to Vibrant Health and The UnDiet Cookbook, she is fast creating a revolution in health and wellbeing. Inspiration is waiting at MeghanTelpner.com and follow her daily #UndietLife adventures on Instagram @meghantelpner.
Find out more about Meghan's Academy of Culinary Nutrition