What goes into making a cookbook

The Adventures of Fat RiceOn this blog we’ve previously discussed bits and pieces of the cookbook publishing process. We’ve spoken to editors, writers, ghostwriters, and others about their roles in the lifespan of a cookbook. Now, in a series on Plate online, the authors of The Adventures of Fat Rice – Abe Conlon, Adrienne Lo and Hugh Amano – tell us, from start to finish, how a cookbook is made

When the pair first decided to write a cookbook, they had many questions about the process. “How does it happen? What are the steps? Do you need an agent? Can you write it yourself? Who pays the photographer? How much money does the chef make? When does all the fame and fortune happen?” Plate and the authors outline each step of the process in a nine-part series. 

In addition to outlining the various hurdles that must be overcome to get a cookbook made, this series introduces us to the people who made it happen for Conlon, Lo, and co-author Hugh Amano. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the mysterious (to outsiders) world of publishing. One of the people we get to meet is Amy Collins of Squid Ink Publishing, the authors’ agent, who champions the book.

We also learn about  Aaron Wehner, senior vice president of Random House, who oversees Clarkson Potter, Ten Speed Press and Harmony Books. Wehner loves cookbooks, and has a long history in the culinary publishing sphere: he has been with Ten Speed Press since 1997. Bon Appetit recently called Wehner “one of the seven people who hold in their hands the future of food.” 

Even if you already regard cookbook writers in high esteem, reading the series may give you a new level of respect for the authors, agents, editors, and publishers who work to put together the thousands of cookbooks that are published each year. The fascinating insights of the behind-the-scenes efforts puts the process into perspective. 

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