How to make a book part 1
"Use what feels right, throw away the rest"
Welcome to our new blog series: “How to make a book”. The cook book market has been a successful one here in The Netherlands for a while now. I think everyone has at least one book by Jamie Oliver or Yotam Ottolenghi on their bookshelf at home. And for all the Dutchies, a good book by Yvette van Boven has almost become obligatory to own. But how exactly do you write such a book?
We are lucky to be making our second book at this very moment, which will be called “Andere Koek” (which roughly translates to “A Different Cookie”, a Dutch expression meaning “a different story”). It’ll be a book filled with recipes for pies, cakes and cookies for everyone no matter their dietary wishes or food intolerances. It’s an amazing project, in which we’ll also be sharing more information about photography, styling, and my horrendous Instagram addiction. Whenever you first get started on a new book, you are full of great ideas and energy, and you bury yourself completely in the subject you’re writing about, while at the same time you’re terrified and have so many burning questions. What do people like? Do they also prefer to read a cook book and then adjust the recipe themselves (which is generally how we cook, but just as a warning, with vegan and gluten free baking this barely ever works), can this particular recipe still be improved, or perhaps can the picture be better?
We’ll be sharing our experiences during this process with you and if you have any questions regarding anything, I would love to hear them! The job of influencer (sounds a little like we’ve started a cult…) is very new and I would love to explore this new business together with you.
Photo we made for cookbook 'Mijn Syrische keuken'.
For us, making a cook book is kind of chaotic and goes by in a haze. It doesn’t sound very fun perhaps, and sometimes it really isn’t. You can’t just spontaneously start on something and do a photoshoot, because everything you do at that point is for the book. Where we usually come up with an idea of what we’d like to do on the day itself, we now have to pick something from a previously made up list, because otherwise it’s a waste. Of course, we still bake our own favourite recipes in between shoots to keep sane, but now everything we do is for “Andere Koek”.
Our way of working entails:
1. Creating a concept with a synopsis and preferably also some pictures and a concept for the overarching design, so that the publisher can picture what the book will look right immediately. It also can’t hurt to first do some research on other books that are similar to yours. For example, I am utterly sick of books with the word “healthy” in the title, but on the other hand, it does sell. And I understand the desire for a six-pack (not that I will ever get one, the world has too much good chocolate in it). Also make sure to research your target audience. Perhaps people without a six-pack would be a good one?
2. Meeting with the Publisher. My meeting with our publisher was… erm, well… confusing. I thought I was an hour late, but instead it turned out I was an hour early. I still don’t understand the maths on that one. The first cake we made was complete disaster, even though we had practised it about 30 times before, and I had gotten up early that morning to bake a fresh one. However, when I went up to get dressed, our cat Lola had already started on the cake and was enjoying it immensely. When we arrived, we were completely soaked through because of the rain, and I must have repeated the sentences “I’m so excited about this book” I don’t know how many times. Naturally, I made the impression of a highly intelligent and creative person with great and original ideas… not. Thankfully, Claire saw straight through all of this, and the cake for our second meeting was successful and I was on time.
And then the real work starts. Next time, I’ll be explaining more about planning, concepts, and creating recipes. Do you have any questions? Please let us know! However, if you’re going to ask us how to get a six-pack, I’m afraid I can already say we won’t be able to help you with that. The best way to shout abuse at cat Lola, however, that I can do!