Meet my friend and fellow food writer and photographer, Amanda Simpson. She started off like many of us, just blogging about really good food she cooked and ate. A few years and three websites later, Amanda runs What We’re Eating and Food Porn Daily, and just published her first cookbook, Food Porn Daily: The Cookbook. If you like eating food or looking at food, first off, check out her website, which posts a new photo of food porn daily, and secondly, buy this book! I spoke with her about what it was like to go through the process of publishing a cookbook.
Answers to my questions and more after the jump.
1.How did you get the cookbook deal?
I was really really lucky as far as getting the cookbook deal was concerned. I didn’t have to write and submit a book proposal the way almost all book deals are typically gotten. Fortunately for me, one of the cover designers at my publishing company, Cedar Fort, “Stumbled Upon” FoodPornDaily and thought the content would make an excellent cookbook. She talked to the company then shot me an email and the rest, as they say, was history.
2.What were the basic steps you took to write this cookbook? Like, did you first right one chapter, then an outline, then fill it in? then test recipes?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted the cookbook sectioned off into seasons so that was the main thing that guided me through the writing process. I determined that I wanted a certain number of openers, main dishes, desserts, and even a breakfast item and a drink per season. Once I had that figured out I just let my creative side take over and dream up the porniest items my brain could conjure.
From there I would develop the recipes and test, test, test! You can imagine how sick you can get of eating multiple renditions of the same dish. Then again, I’m pretty sure I “tested” the mango-pineapple-tarragon daiquiri recipes waaaaaay more times than necessary. Mmmmm I may need to go retest that recipe as soon as I’m done with this interview!
3. What was the best thing about writing a cookbook? The worst thing?
The best thing, hands down, about writing this cookbook was that it really forced me to focus on the making the tastiest food I could imagjne. I would sit around and think to myself, “hmmm what are the most porny foods every?” I seriously have notepads filled with just basic dishes that I considered porny. I would then get to think about how I could make that food different from it’s classic original version to elevate it to the highest level of food porn.
At the end of the day, I am a cook. It’s what I do… it’s what I love and what is in my heart. I am not a writer or a photographer – I just do those things because it’s how I can make money from doing the thing that I love most. Shiiiiit – I won’t even say that what I do is photography – I proclaim myself to be a food PORNOGRAPHER and nothing more. In food porn, the photos just have to make you salivate – the artistic nature of the photos are sometimes in question and that’s OKAY.
The worst thing for me about writing the book was the time constraints with the editing process. I didn’t receive the manuscript to edit until reeeeeeaaaally close to the deadline of when it needed to be sent off to the presses. Due to the huge file size, the manuscript was given to me in sections over the course of several days. It wasn’t until I came across some missing ingredients in the last section (less than 24 hours before the book needed to be finalized) that I realized my editor had not cut and pasted my recipes from the documents I sent directly into the book.
I don’t know if this is common practice but apparently she had retyped the entire book into the new manuscript so that it fit the company’s format. When I found this out I got soooooooooo nervous because retyping can lead to SO many human errors. It seems a bit like playing telephone – you remember that game from when you were a kid? The initial message was always pretty far removed from the final version. With time constraints, I didn’t have time to go back and verify that every recipe matched the ones that I sent. To this day, this makes me super super nervous! I LOVE my editor and she did a fabulous job and is a great woman – I just question the practice of retyping!
4. How did you motivate yourself to keep going when times got tough?
This is an easy one! I signed a contract that said I would give the company a completed manuscript by a certain day. I may be the worlds biggest procrastinator but I’m nothing if not punctual! That deadline hanging over my head was enough to motivate me in even the worst times. There were certainly days when I wanted nothing to do with the cookbook.
Hell, there are still days where I want to forget about food porn and take some time off but when you are running a daily site, you don’t really get that option too frequently! (I work on all major hoidays and every single weekend – but for the record I LOVE my job more than words can express and am SO blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love!!)
5. How did you feel when you first saw the finished product?
That’s how I felt when I first saw the book!!! I have pretty much devoted the entire last year of my life to this and it’s like my baby! I couldn’t be a more proud mother. I’m pretty sure I was quite literally bouncing around the room right after I finished flipping through the book! My roommate calls me Tigger, actually, ’cause this ho’s been known to bounce.
Sure there are things about the book that I would like to change and that could be improved, but it is what it is! Now comes the fun part! This fall I get to travel around the country visiting 25 cities and meeting people to talk about food porn and sign books! Hopefully it won’t just be me sitting at a bookstore lonely for 2 hours! I would love to see and meet as many people as I can! Check out FoodPornDaily for a full list of tour dates!
Thanks to Amanda for taking the time to share her story. Go rock that book tour!