Quick Bites: Dianne Jacob

Dianne Jacob coaches food writers and bloggers on how to get a cookbook published and how to improve the quality and effectiveness of their writing. She specializes in book proposals, which have a 1 percent acceptance rate. Dianne is the author of a multiple award-winning book on food writing, Will Write for Food: Pursue Your Passion and Bring Home the Dough Writing Recipes, Cookbooks, Blogs and More. She co-authored two cookbooks with chef Craig Priebe and has judged cookbooks for the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Previously a newspaper, magazine and publishing company editor-in-chief, she has a blog and free newsletter aimed at food writers and bloggers. See more at Dianne’s website.

Q: What first triggered your interest in cooking? Can you tell us about your first cooking memory?

A: Self-preservation, really. I moved into my own apartment at 20 and had to figure it out. My mum did all the cooking at home and didn’t really want my sister or me in the kitchen. It was her happy place.

I remember making something very foreign: trout stuffed with shrimp. It was to impress a date, a recipe I tore out of the newspaper.

Q: If you had to describe your cooking style, what would it be?

A: My starting point comes from whatever is at the farmer’s market here in Oakland. I usually cook something Cal-Med, Cal-Mex, Middle Eastern or Cal-Asian. That means lots of produce-forward salads, sides, soups, tacos, dips and stir-fries.

Q: Are you a cookbook collector?

I used to be a collector but now I tend to buy cookbooks and then pass them on. I keep my collection of Iraqi-Jewish cookbooks and a Bombay-Baghdadi cookbook around (yes that is a real thing) because of my background.  And Chinese cookbooks for the same reason.

I keep classic cookbooks in my office for my work, like those of Julia Child, and the Joy of Cooking. And, of course, I keep cookbooks by friends, colleagues, and clients with whom I have worked to make their cookbook a success.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

The best part is the people I meet through my work as a food writing coach – all the authors and writers I admire, the aspiring ones who hire me to help them move forward, and even the successful ones who still hire me when they move from blog or Instagram to a book.

Q: What is your go-to for a quick dinner?

A frittata with leftover vegetables, fresh herbs and cheese.

Q: Tell us about Will Write for Food and what projects you are working on.

Will Write for Food is now in its fourth edition. It’s been fun to see all the changes over the years. Restaurant criticism used to be what people aspired to; now it’s running a recipe website while raking in big money from advertisers. The current edition has a chapter on the value of a strong voice, as a way to stand out from the crowd. And there’s more about the cookbook writing process, self-publishing, and how to make a decent income as a full-time recipe website boss/cookbook author/social media maven/brand collaborator.

I’ve been teaching food writing on Zoom for the past year. My class is called So You Want to Write a Cookbook? and it has been popular. Soon I will plan in-person writing workshops for 2022. I do them in Italy and France and had one planned in Ireland that I had to cancel due to COVID.  Meanwhile I write a free newsletter for those interested in food writing trends and best practices. All my events and classes appear there first.  

Dianne has a few events scheduled to celebrate the new edition of her book (including a free event on June 25th). Dianne’s Learn to be a Food Writer personal consultation service is also detailed on her website.

The Kindle version of Will Write for Food is currently on sale at Amazon in the US, Canada and the UK.

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