In episode 416, Megan chats to Amanda Polick about how to write your cookbook and intentionally build your platform without getting overwhelmed.
We cover information about why you should tell stories beyond the recipes you write, think about your book proposal as a business plan for your cookbook, figure out how to stand out in a saturated market, and learn to write through the resistance when you are feeling blocked.
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Bio Amanda Polick is a cookbook and food memoir coach. Through their work together, clients have landed Big 5 publishing deals and secured media clips for publications including Food 52 and The Los Angeles Times.
Her work has been featured by Cooking Light, Time, Southern Living, and Food & Wine, and she’s a proud member of the Cherry Bombe community. Amanda lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but a piece of her will be in California forever.
- Figure out how to make disappointments into a new success story.
- Tune into and follow your intuition and internal nudges.
- Your intuition doesn’t have to make sense to others, just to you as you follow your path in business and your personal life.
- Writing a cookbook is a process.
- It takes emotional capital in sharing your cookbook.
- Kick things off by creating a book proposal. Start with your why and know it’s your business plan for the cookbook.
- Share a sense of urgency in your book proposal and why it’s needed now. How are you being in service of others?
- Own your voice and don’t worry about how it’s the same or different from others.
- Use your email newsletter to share your writing and voice in a no-pressure environment.
- Write regularly and the things that you think are mediocre are going to resonate with someone.
- Build a community to support you.
Amy Porterfield: What’s Your Next Big Marketing Move
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Jane Friedman for all things publishing + resources on how to craft attention-catching book proposals
Click for full script.
EBT416 – Amanda Polick
Intro: Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help them to achieve their freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
I have a slight confession about this episode. About three-quarters of the way through, I kind of forgot I was recording an interview. I’m not lying. This does not happen often, but it’s usually a sign of just being really in the moment and enjoying the conversation. Yeah, just being really immersed in our topic. So Amanda Polick joins me and she is from amandapolick.com. She is a cookbook and food memoir coach. Oh, my gosh, she has such an extensive history of just being creative and writing and all kinds of fun things. You guys are going to love her story. She gives us some really good tips about how to either create a cookbook or maybe write a book proposal and how to approach a project like this without being overwhelmed. Her tips are a little bit unconventional and things I’ve never heard before. They’re probably things that you aren’t going to expect, which is why I really think you should tune into this episode from start to finish.
Amanda has so many great thoughts about how to tune into your unique voice and your emotion to get a publishing deal or write a book proposal or just land on a topic of a book that you feel like you really need to put out into the world. You’re going to love this episode. It is number 416 and it is sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five-star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now on to the episode.
Megan Porta: Amanda Polick is a cookbook and food memoir coach. Through their work together, clients have landed big five publishing deals and secured media clips for publications including Food 52 and the Los Angeles Times. Her work has been featured by Cooking Light, Time, Southern Living, and Food and Wine, and she’s a proud member of the Cherry Bomb community. Amanda lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but a piece of her will always be in California.
Hey, Amanda. How are you today? Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.
Amanda Polick: Hey, Megan. I’m so good. Thank you for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this for a really long time.
Megan Porta: Oh, good. I’m so happy to have you here. I’m excited about this conversation and talking about cookbooks and the positive good feelings associated with it. But first, the rest of us and I would love to hear if you have a fun fact to share.
Amanda Polick: Yes. I own the entire series of The Golden Girls on DVD.
Megan Porta: Okay, that has never been brought up here, but I love the Golden Girls. They’re the best.
Amanda Polick: They are the best. I’ll meet you in the Lanai after this.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Why don’t shows exist like that anymore? It was just the funniest, most perfect idea for a show ever.
Amanda Polick: I basically have just wanted to be a Golden Girl my whole life. I also feel like saying that I have it on DVD, it’s you’re a particular kind of.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s hilarious. You’re pigeonholing yourself. I think that’s good. It could be so much worse. You could say I watch the Rambo series every day or something like that. I would go with Golden Girls.
Amanda Polick: That way my other fun fact.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Sorry, I ruined it for everyone. Oh, gosh. That is amazing. I love you even more now.
Amanda Polick: Yay!
Megan Porta: Yay! Let’s talk about cookbooks and creating cookbooks without being overwhelmed or sad. I talk about this often on here, but I actually went through a great depression when I created my cookbook. So I associate those two things with one another, which I hate. So I feel like I need to create another cookbook just to separate those in my mind. So I’m hoping that our conversation today will maybe influence that because It’s pretty bad. When I think about it, I just get Oh. So I would like to back up a little bit because you have a backstory and how all of your experiences came together. So let’s just talk about that first. Tell us about your backstory.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. Also, I just want to say that, we all have like creative bummers, things that we’re disappointed with. If anyone also heard that and was like, I also feel the same, you’re not alone. I think sometimes it’s just figuring out how we can make those disappointments into our new success story, which is what I ended up having to do. Originally, I always wanted to be an actor. So I moved to LA When I was really young, I was an improviser, and sketch comedian, and it was roughly around 2008, and 2009 that I ended up losing one of my jobs. So if anyone was like doing things during that time, it was a really great time for the economy.
Megan Porta: I remember.
Amanda Polick: So one of the things that I was trying to do was just finding a job. It was so hard just to find my bridge job again and I don’t know, it was about 18 months of me really just struggling and not knowing, should I stay in LA? Should I go somewhere else? I had this epiphany that I needed to go to college because I didn’t go to school right after high school. Mostly that was like one because, even like a temp job, if there are any actors out there who used to do temp work, you could get a day job answering phones at a car dealership and you don’t really need a lot of experience to do that. But during the Great Recession, it was, you need, a bachelor’s and two years of executive assistant experience. So just all roads were leading to I probably needed to go to school just to have an opportunity to put food on the table. But like around that time, I was just really thinking of what I really wanted to do and feeling like a lot of my friends had started making really big strides in acting and comedy. I just felt really left behind. We’re all on a different path, but it is hard when you see most of your friends making big jumps. Anyway, I had this random idea that I wanted to work at a national magazine. I don’t know where that came from. I’ve always been a writer, but that was just like a brand-new thought. So school was the way that I had to do that, because, for every magazine internship, you had to have a college degree. So long story short with that, ended up going to school, love school. If I could just be at school for the rest of my life, just walking around with a coffee, going to class. I love it.
Megan Porta: Isn’t that funny how you look back and you’re like, oh, I wish I had that back? But when I was in school, I was like, this sucks. I want to get a job. The grass is always greener.
Amanda Polick: Always greener. I think too that since I didn’t go to school right after high school, I had this different appreciation for it, which I don’t think I would have had, had I gone earlier.
Megan Porta: Totally can see that.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. But then I actually ended up, so I was going to school in LA. I ended up transferring to a college in Northern California where I’m from and they had a magazine writing program. So it was so small, it was just one professor who headed up the entire program and she was really my mentor. I went to college specifically to work at a national magazine. Graduated, and ended up with a one-year fellowship at Cooking Light in Birmingham, Alabama. Wild how that came together.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s amazing. How did you like that once you got in?
Amanda Polick: Oh my goodness, Megan. That would be another thing, where I’m like, can I just go back and relive that year? Because that’d be so much fun.
Megan Porta: Oh, I’d love to hear that. I’m glad you’re not saying that it was just a nightmare or anything.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. No. The only experience that I had also with what it might be to work at a magazine was probably watching The Devil Wears Prada.
Megan Porta: Oh yeah, not a good experience there.
Amanda Polick: Not a good experience. But it was super cool. So I know that since then, I think the program might have changed some. So when I was there, it was the Time Inc fellowship. So Time Inc used to own Cooking Light. They owned Time Magazine, Food and Wine, and a bunch of brands. So they had started this fellowship program where you would get placed at either Cooking Light, Southern Living, Coastal Living, My Recipes, or Oxmoor House, which did all of the cookbooks. So you would get placed on the editorial team, the digital team, in the test kitchen, or also on the art team. So I got assigned to the editorial team at Cooking Light. The cool thing about Birmingham and that I’m actually really glad that I ended up there, as opposed to maybe New York or there were also a couple of sister brand fellowships in California, but Birmingham, it’s like this underdog. Nobody really thinks of the brands that are there. So when I was there, they created the Time Inc Food Studios. So it’s this huge photo hub food and photo hub, but we had, I think if I’m getting the numbers right, 28 test kitchens, 13 photo bays and we did photography development and styling for, I think 11 lifestyle brands. We also had two full, big studio kitchens. So they really wanted you to choose your own adventure. So if you wanted to spend the day in the test kitchen, you’re an editorial fellow. They would set that up. You can help with the digital team. You could help with the video. So I was able to step into this new thing. I could just really choose my own adventure and I think that kind of set me up for that year of just getting the best experience possible.
Megan Porta: That sounds like a dream. That sounds amazing. Oh, yeah, to have all of that at your fingertips, and then you can basically choose your way and you’re a creative individual. So it’s oh my gosh, yeah, you can test it all out, right? So then after that. Sounds amazing. You went into the cookbook realm and now you’re a food memoir coach. How did that go from that to where you’re at now?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. So after Cooking Light, I did a quick stop. I was hired out of my fellowship and I was the first dedicated segment producer of Facebook Live for the company. So it was right when Facebook Live had just launched and they were really pushing to media companies to utilize. Facebook live and so it was honestly a kind of a melding after that where I really saw, Oh I actually ended up getting the job because I was the only person who knew how to do live.
Megan Porta: All right.
Amanda Polick: So everyone else is terrified They were like, I don’t want to be live on camera. I don’t want to do any of that. So I had to develop talent. I was booking talent. I was just figuring out ways to also help people overcome their fear. So a lot of those things ended up, it was a mixture of that, even my work as an editor after I left Cooking Light that kind of melded into the book coaching, which I’m doing now. Which I get asked all the time. They’re like how did you become that? I did it.
Megan Porta: It just happened.
Amanda Polick: I just woke up. No, I had heard a lot of personal development coaches talk about hiring book coaches to write their books for quite a few years. Just one day I heard it in an interview and it just clicked. I was like, Oh, it seems like something I should look into. So there was this program, this woman who had written a few books and she was actually a book coach. She created this program to teach people how to start a book coaching business. So I went through that program and one of the things that I learned was, I did know a lot, a lot more than you think. It just gave me the permission to do that and from there, I just started reaching out to people who I knew wanted to write books. Slowly but surely more and more people found me and now I’m here.
Megan Porta: That is your story. The rest is history, as they say, right? So cool. I love how your story has evolved and I love how this is the case with every human. You hear their story and you’re like, oh, that’s so cool. But a theme that I’ve noticed about you is that you listen to those little intuition nudges that you were like, I don’t know why I want to go work for a magazine. Those things you seem to really tune into and just follow, which I think a lot of people don’t do. So there’s something to that.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. One, thank you because sometimes I think you forget that you’re doing a bit better than you think. There was a period, though, where I felt like I was asking everyone else what do you think I should do? What do you think I’m really good at? There are always like these lulls, I think, and even if you have decided the career or the path that you’re going to go down, there’s always a point where you’re like, am I even doing the right thing? There was a period where I was asking other people for their opinions on what I should do. I had a real moment with myself. And I was like, your intuition’s pretty good. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else, it just has to make sense to you.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, I can so relate to that. There are so many times, whether it’s about something really minuscule or something big in my life where I’m like, for whatever reason, I think I need to go ask everyone what they think about it. Then I’m like, all caught up and confused, and wait, they thought this and there’s conflict and everything is confusing. Yeah, you just need to remind yourself sometimes that your intuition is there for a reason. It serves you and guides you and there’s no harm in asking trusted people what they think. But to go around like I used to and just what do you think? What do you think? What do you think? That doesn’t serve you.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. I think too, we have to remember that someone may be giving you advice, but they’re coming at it with their history and their stories.
Megan Porta: Yes. So true.
Amanda Polick: It’s a hard thing to remember. It doesn’t matter if it’s your career, life, or relationships. I think we’ve all been there, where someone’s giving you advice.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Something seems off. Yes. Okay. So now today you are helping people just guiding them through the process of writing cookbooks. So I imagine you work with some food bloggers. So talk to us about this because as we’ve both alluded to, it can be a project that can create overwhelm. So what do we need to know if we are considering this as a project?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. One, I would say just know that it is a process. A lot of times people will come to me and, they probably started just creating content or they wanted to get into the food creation space because they wanted to leave a full-time job or, there’s a deep passion for it. I think sometimes, actually I know, when we start in the process, they just didn’t understand that it would take a lot of emotional capital. So we’re not just looking at your recipes as Oh, you make 20-minute meals. Perfect. You are so much more than that I’m really passionate about telling more than just a recipe. We’re telling stories beyond just that because you most likely did get into this for an emotional reason or there’s something deeper there. So that’s something that people will come back with a lot of, I didn’t realize you were going to ask me so many questions about myself.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s great. I love that. Yeah. It goes deeper than people think, I’m sure.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. Another big piece, when I first start to work with people, typically we start with the book proposal. So your book proposal is your business plan for your cookbook. So this really just maps out how you came up with this idea, who this book is for, why you’re the person to write it, and your target audience. Your promotional plan, and chapter summaries. It sounds overwhelming when I start to list all those things, but it all goes together. So I think once you first start with your why, and your emotional why. Why you’re really writing this book, that’s actually going to be the thing that I point people back to over and over. Because there’s going to be times where you’re like, why am I doing this? I don’t understand what I’m even showing up here for. Do people even care? But once you figure out your why, I also want people to dig into marketing, figuring out the emotional reason why people are going to pick up their book. Why is it that a book like yours hasn’t hit the shelves? Why is it that people need that? So we do that in a couple of ways. But I really love emotions and we’re emotional people. But that’s how people are triggered to buy. So it’s stepping into that a little bit more than just, a cut and dry, Oh, I’m going to submit you pages and you’re going to put a bunch of red marks.
Megan Porta: I love that you dig deep with people just to connect them with yeah, why they’re doing this. What would you say if somebody creates a cookbook and they aren’t super connected to their why? They’re really not sure, they just wanted to do this and then finish the project. What are your thoughts about that?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. So is it after they completed the book?
Megan Porta: Sure. Yeah.
Amanda Polick: I think that. One, sometimes we do just create things because we just want to get something out. into the world. Maybe other people said, Oh, you should really write a book and you didn’t really know what you were doing. That totally happens. But I think one of the things that I’ve noticed is, that I like to use examples of when someone’s I don’t know what my why is. Or I’m not really sure what that emotional component would be. I’m like what are the books that you really love? What are the books that you come back to over and over again? Tell me why. She’s not a food blogger, but Julia Child. I’ve never met someone who talked about her books and didn’t have an emotional reaction to them. A lot of the language they use is, she taught me how to cook. She gave me this freedom to, step into the kitchen with stuff that’s just at the grocery store and have this elevated experience. But if you’ve already written a book that you didn’t feel super connected to, I think it’s all just feedback, honestly. It’s something that I really have to remind clients of a lot. This is even because I’m also a writer. That nothing’s really lost. I think sometimes we put stuff out there and if it didn’t hit initially or, if maybe that first book or, you have a full manuscript of a cookbook and, people aren’t super excited about it, it can be a real hit to your ego. You’re afraid of, putting things out there. But I think that one, it’s just always okay, so if I don’t feel super good about something, there’s probably something off. Going back to intuition.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Amanda Polick: I don’t know, Megan have there been times where something just felt off and you’re like, Oh, I knew it?
Megan Porta: Yes. Oh, all the time. All the time.
Amanda Polick: No one can really tell you what that feels like, but you know what it was.
Megan Porta: You wish you could go back in the past and make a new decision.
Amanda Polick: Yes, but sometimes you have the thing in front of you. I think that one thing that I’ve heard from a lot of people and even agents who I talked to is that sometimes a book proposal will land on their desk and they don’t know why the person is writing the book because it seems like everyone else told them that this is the thing you should write about and they could feel that the writer wasn’t really into it.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s interesting that other people can catch that vibe. So do you have any tips for getting in front of a publisher and letting them know that this comes from a place of, I really need to or want to write this book and it needs to be out? How do we make sure that we get the yes from a publishing deal?
Amanda Polick: Yeah, so I do this in a couple of ways. So one, you’re going to hear a lot that your platform is an essential part of getting a publishing deal or just even getting the attention of an agent or a publisher. So with that, sometimes when I say platform, people think, I have to have a million followers. I actually did speak with someone the other day who was told that, and I was like, it’s not quite true. It’s really just where are the places that you’re showing up so that people could buy your book. The strength of your network, the people who you know. So that’s why everything that I do is like with marketing and a little bit of publicity in mind. So I like to start people with this idea that every book idea is inside of a magazine pitch. So going back to my Cooking Light days. I think that one, it starts you out in a place of service. So you’re thinking of the person on the other side of how is this story going to actually help them and their audience? How is it going to fill their content needs? Then your book idea, it just has to be super concise. Two to three sentences. Also, what’s the benefit for people? This is actually one of the. The most favorite assignments that clients have, come back to me just saying Oh, I’ve been working on my pitch and my article and I sent it to, some of them have been picked up by Food 52 or some of the edible communities. It’s just a boost to see, okay, so my book idea is a tangible thing. One, it’s not just this thing I’ve been dreaming about, but also two, people are responding to it. And so you’re building your clips, you’re building your portfolio beyond just whatever it is that you’re doing now, which I think is really helpful. Because, again, it’s overwhelming to think about writing.
Megan Porta: It is. An entire book. Yeah. Can I interrupt you just quickly and ask you a question? Are you saying that the idea for your book is different from a proposal or pitch? You don’t have to write an entire book proposal before you start talking to people.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s a great question. So how I do it is it’s hand in hand. So the idea behind your book ideas in a magazine pitch is let’s just say for example, that maybe you’re not ready for a book coach. Maybe you just still feel like you need some time to explore what your idea is. If you have a few ideas that you’re floating between, I think that submitting a magazine pitch or, if it’s just for a website, it’s a really great way just to see if the idea is there. That’s something that I do work on with people and I find that through our process together, people are able to just hone in on what their one idea is because, typically, it’s a lot of very general things and that’s totally fine. But this just centers it around also like a sense of urgency, which then you do need in your book proposal as far as this is why you need my book now.
Megan Porta: Okay. Gotcha. Sorry for the interruption. Just wanted to clarify.
Amanda Polick: No. If you have that question, other people probably have that question.
Megan Porta: I try to always ask if I have even a small inkling just in case anyone else is thinking that too. So yeah, you were talking about getting a publishing deal and the kind of ways you looked through that.
Amanda Polick: The big thing that I would say is agents and publishers, what I hear from them over and over again, is how much they’re really looking for yes, the platform, but also someone who is bringing a unique voice. So I think sometimes we get a little bit caught up in whatever industry we’re in and just looking at what everyone else is doing and thinking, Oh, this is the way that everyone talks about food, or this is the way that everyone’s doing their recipes. But I’ve been in quite a few conversations lately where Agents and publishers are absolutely looking for people. They’re on Instagram. They are listening to podcasts. They go to conferences. They are looking for people. I think a way that you can also stand out in such a saturated market is, just creative and owning your voice. One of the things that I really encourage people to do. So this goes hand in hand with just improving your writing, but also growing your network and your audience, but it is using your email newsletter. I really think that is key because it’s a platform that you own. You have a direct line of communication with people. Also, agents and publishers may sign up for your newsletter and they can see your writing in a different context than anywhere else.
Megan Porta: A no-pressure environment. Wow. That’s powerful. I’ve never thought of that. I just assume that every single human in my email newsletter, every subscriber, is a food blogger wanting food blogging information. But that, of course, doesn’t have to be the case.
Amanda Polick: That’s also a totally fair assumption because you know the people who you’re serving, right? So when they are opting into your newsletter, you already have an idea of what they’re looking for. I think that this probably comes to me a little bit more just because having worked in media, I also know that there are a lot of entry-level assistants who follow people. So there could be people who work at a publishing house who are on your email list and you don’t even know. Those people talk to their bosses a lot. Like I always see the connections with things like that. I think sometimes when I talk to clients about their email list, it seems like this thing that they don’t like at all. They just do it because they know they have to. I really want to change that for people.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’ve just had a super aha moment when you were talking. You never know who’s on the other side. You have no idea. It could be anyone, right? So show up as your best, most unique, and authentic self all the time, no matter where you’re at.
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Amanda Polick: When I was acting and I was doing improv, I remember just having this sense that, Oh, all of the decision-makers are sitting up really high in these high rises corner offices. I’m never going to know those people. They would never be able to help me. But then even when I worked at Cooking Light and I was an editorial fellow, I was the person that our editor in chief, not like that I was the only person, but they love hearing, Oh, what are you reading? What are you listening to? I would pitch them stuff all the time and you have a lot of leverage. So that’s just something too, that I want to say is that especially people whose careers are on the rise, those are a lot of the people who may sign up for your newsletter, are the people who may be following you. They can suggest you. It might not be that this agent is following you, but hey, maybe one of their assistants is. So yeah, you’re right. You never know who’s going to be opening that email. So I think you can show a really beautiful part of yourself that you don’t get to show on Instagram or whatever. Maybe it’s because you’re nervous or overwhelmed. I don’t know. There are a lot of reasons why we don’t show up, right?
Megan Porta: Yeah. I think like for platforms like Instagram, it’s really easy to get just so overwhelmed because of the perfectionism thing. I have to be perfect X and X appear. So it’s hard to show up there authentically. But in an email newsletter, oh my gosh, I’m like, that is the place where I’m super real, just myself completely there.
Amanda Polick: That’s what people like to connect with, right? Do you find that you like email more because of that?
Megan Porta: Definitely. Because I am myself in email, I get a lot of responses. People engage with me. I have a very high open rate, I think a lot higher than most. If I say hey, hit reply and let me know how your weekend was or something like that, so many people do it. I love it and I reply back to them and that’s, that is fulfilling for me and I think they appreciate that I’m asking them that. So I really enjoy writing those emails because of that. I know people are actually opening them and reading them. So yeah, for me, it’s fulfilling. It’s fun. Instagram, not so much. I don’t enjoy writing on Instagram.
Amanda Polick: The thing that I love, too, about what you just said,is so that’s actually one thing that I really encourage clients to do as we’re working on their book proposal. Because you’re knowing who your target audience is really important. Something I find is that sometimes we’re just not talking to people enough. In your email newsletter, though, you can send surveys. The reply button, I think sometimes people feel like it’s this exclusive thing, right? We’re just having this really cool one on one conversation. I’m sure that also too, people probably share things in there that, I don’t know that they would really share in a reply on a caption.
Megan Porta: Oh, for sure. Yeah. Nothing that you would reply to on Instagram. If you hit reply on an email, it’s totally different it seems.
Amanda Polick: Yeah. I think that it’s really good information, too, for where people are at. What they’re really looking for, what their struggles are. I think the more that we can use something that, is not only just going to help us create a sustainable career, I am all about just helping people create their own stamp in the ground so that they don’t have to rely on everyone else to build their platform. Or because now just the way social is, it could be banned. You could have to pay for a subscription service.
Megan Porta: You just never know.
Amanda Polick: You have no idea. So I really love that you’ve had that experience and I hope that other people will be curious about building their own and creating that conversation. Because also it’s just really good practice for writing.
Megan Porta: Yes, that’s a good point too. If you do a weekly or even multi-weekly email, that’s a lot of writing. This is such good food for thought. So it gives food bloggers some things to think about as they’re maybe contemplating creating a cookbook and getting a publishing deal, getting a proposal put together. These are preliminary thoughts in my opinion. So what happens if we actually do all of this and successfully get a publishing deal that we’re in love with, that aligns with our passions and our emotions? Do you have any tips from that point?
Amanda Polick: Yeah, one. Remember, it’s a process. So I think that just aligning expectations and just presuming positive intent will help so much. Because the publishing process is long and everyone’s journey is different. So I did a Q&A with a client a couple of months ago and people were asking about her experience. It was A very different experience for a lot of people. She actually sold her cookbook directly to the publisher and it was in Canada where they just had their email on their website. She just submitted to them, but she has lunch with her editors and she has this really lovely experience. Afterward, then she was like, yeah, sometimes I don’t like to share that with people because I know that everyone’s experience is going to be different. I know a couple of people right now who were supposed to have books come out this summer and they don’t even have photos for their books yet. They’re not even sure where it is. So the only thing I want to say to people is, whatever your journey looks like, that’s what your journey is supposed to look like. It doesn’t mean anything about you or your worth, or, what your story is. There are really no guarantees with that, but I think that just remembering that you are definitely not alone. If you have had this experience, someone else has had a similar experience. There’s always something to learn. That’s why it’s really good too, especially when you’re pitching to agents, to find someone who gets you, who understands you who can help you through all of those lulls. They’re really going to be your champion. Also though to have a good community surround yourself with people who can just get it and you don’t necessarily have to explain yourself away because there’s going to be a point where all of your nonfood friends or family, just don’t get it. You’re going to feel like such a failure and that’s not the truth. So I think just have a little bit of perspective on that. Because there’s an idea that like, once you get the book deal, then, everything is just perfect. Where I find that people get really disappointed is once they have the book deal and then they feel lonely writing or the pub date got pushed back. So just be easy on yourself. Whatever part of this that you are in, you’re exactly where you need to be. I would also just trust that you will attract the people who you need, who will help you get to the next step.
Megan Porta: Oh, that was beautiful. Oh my gosh, that was the best thing that you could have possibly said about it. I loved those words. You’re talking to food bloggers. So as you were saying some of those things, I was like, we already feel like we’re a little different, talking to our families about having food blogging as a profession. Not many people understand that. So I think a lot of us are already like, I’m already misunderstood, so this will probably just be no big deal. It’s so true. There’s not a single food blogger I talk to about this topic that’s oh yeah, my family just totally understands exactly what I do. It’s just not a thing yet. People generally don’t get it, even still today in 2023. I almost think writing a cookbook is even more understood because that at least is a concept people can grasp. Oh, you put recipes in a cookbook, but food blogging is not.
Amanda Polick: Also too, I think that people like have their own ideas about what it is. So then you’re just constantly, you’re like, no, that’s not what it is.
Megan Porta: That’s not it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I get this all the time. Just the other day, someone said this to me. I have my logo on our RV, and sometimes at RV parks, people will be like what are Pip and Ebby? I actually avoid it. I used to go and explain. My husband, bless his heart, was like, he does it now. So he’ll go over and be like, oh, it’s my wife’s website. She is a food blogger. I heard this woman say, Oh, like a restaurant critic? I get that all the time. I’m like, oh! I’m just so tired of trying to explain. I’m just the jerk in the corner not wanting to talk about it anymore.
Amanda Polick: Yes, you’re not alone. It’s funny because that was me for so many years when my family extended family, they’re like, what are you doing now? I don’t know. Do you want to tell me? When I was doing comedy and people were like, oh, Yeah. You do stand up. I was like, no, it’s like a different type of, can we just stop talking about this? No, I don’t want to.
Megan Porta: It’s exactly how I feel. I’m just over it. I’d rather be seen as just the person who doesn’t want to talk about it than try to explain. It’s been so many years of just I’m never going to make this person in five minutes understand exactly what I do. Sorry, I got off-topic there.
Amanda Polick: You’re definitely not alone and I think sometimes too, I’ll just say that I wonder With people when I’m working with them as some of getting to your emotional why or the stuff deep down is because maybe there’s just been a misunderstanding for so long. You’re like, ugh! I’m imagining you as I give you an assignment. You’re like, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.
Megan Porta: Yes, it’s so true. I’m the stubborn child who refuses to. That’s funny. There is probably some emotion behind there that I need to unravel and figure out. Maybe I should turn that energy into a book or something.
Amanda Polick: It’s funny the number of things that are just buried for all of us, even if you’re not writing a book. I just find that often the stuff that really annoys us is like actually where a lot of the gold is.
Megan Porta: It’s so true. With anything in life, I feel like the people who annoy me, there’s something there with me that I need to figure out. Like anything that annoys me, there’s something to dig into more.
Amanda Polick: Yes. That’s actually when people get stuck, I tell them I don’t really believe in writer’s block and maybe that’s just me being a masochist. But I tell them, write through your resistance. So if it was, I don’t want to explain to you how I started my food blog. Cool. Write that. Write why you don’t want to do that or why you’re stuck on a particular part. Then mostly like you get to work out those things and it’s okay to have those feelings. I suggest that all the time. People don’t always do it, but I think it’s a really powerful exercise just to name why you’re struggling with a particular thing. Especially with writing because we love to talk about writing.
Megan Porta: I don’t know that everyone probably agrees with me on this, but writing for me has always brought clarity. If I have something in my mind, even if it’s not a project, it’s just like an issue or something that’s come up and in my mind, I cannot get it straight, if I start writing it, I’m like, oh my gosh, it’s so clear. So I try to do that now whenever I have anything come up that is just jumbled in my head, write it out. I can usually just see the clarity immediately. It’s really amazing.
Amanda Polick: I love that. I’m just curious. Do you find that you do post-it notes or what’s your creative process or is it just like pen, paper, write it out?
Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s either journal writing or I think I’m most effective just with my computer because then I can go back and nope, that’s not right. I’m going to reorder that so I can easily reorder things. Even when I was a kid, I would do that. I would write out if I was mad at my mom, I’d be like, I don’t know why I’m mad at her, but I’m going to write it out. Then it was just super clear. And then I would give, I started giving my family members and friends letters. Then once email came around, I would start emailing instead of having conversations. They were always like, why do you send an email? Why don’t you just talk to me? I’m like, it’s so much easier for me to communicate this way. So I don’t know if anyone else can relate to that, but that’s been my life experience with writing.
Amanda Polick: Megan, did we just become best friends? I did that with my parents.
Megan Porta: Really?
Amanda Polick: I’m gonna tell you what is what and you hurt my feelings. Oh, that’s funny. I would peek out and see if they were reading, and like they would, but I was like, you’re supposed to write me back. This is how this works.
Megan Porta: Yes. I would always get mad. Why am I not getting the letter back?
Amanda Polick: I was like, excuse me. This is the whole point of me writing you this. We’re supposed to have a response. Thanks a lot. But same. It’s so much easier to just write it out. So then I think also, so you can just see what’s what for yourself. When you were talking about the, everything’s jumbled, I think that happens to so many of us and we just let it sit there. It’s not really going to do anything just as we ruminate on it. So I like to, do bullet points or, even sometimes I’ll grab my phone and do a voice memo.
Megan Porta: That’s a great idea.
Amanda Polick: I always just love to know how people process that cause they also think it’s helpful for other people just know that we’re just over here, right?
Megan Porta: I know. If you’re listening and you’re like, I’ve never tried that, then give it a try because maybe, maybe it won’t work, but maybe it will. Maybe it will give you clarity about how to handle it, whether it’s a book that you are thinking about or a project or human interactions, or relationships, maybe it will help. I don’t know. Just something to throw out there. But for me, it’s been amazing.
Amanda Polick: Maybe they’ll get a response.
Megan Porta: Maybe they’ll actually get a letter back. So I have a question for you, a personal one. So you talked a lot about using emotion, which I love that because I always say that too. There’s so much power in emotion and figuring out just what’s there. There’s energy there with emotion. So I’ve had this idea about a cookbook slash memoir to write that my dad came up with a couple of years ago just out of the blue. He was like you should write and then threw out this idea and I was like, oh my gosh. When I heard him say it, I immediately got teary in a good way. This is perfect, but I don’t know and I think it is a good idea but there’s nothing else like it out there that I know of. So how do I go about working through that process to see if it’s even, maybe in my mind it’s a good idea and in my dad’s mind, but maybe for everyone else it would be a terrible idea? So what do I need to do, Amanda? Help.
Amanda Polick: I love this, just knowing those little bits. So typically there, there probably is, and this would go within comp titles, like for your book proposal. So what that section does is really it shows that there’s a market for this book. So even if there isn’t a book that you feel fully encompasses your idea, that’s okay. Jane Freedman is a publishing expert. I love her stuff, and she has some really great articles on her site about how to find comp titles. So the first thing that you would want to do is, I just love Googling. So if, I just have that little bit of information, a cookbook about emotions. Very broad. But things are going to come up on Amazon or reviews, just get super curious there. Even just thinking about this emotional thing, I know that there are a couple of baking books that are talking about baking through emotion and something that you can do with this idea because you’re just seeing if it’s a tangible thing. So one, I would say if you felt like there was a website or someplace that that idea would be a good place to experiment. That could be a cool way to see if people latch on to that. But then also, with those books, something that’s really helpful is, I love to tell people to look in like the comments on Goodreads or Amazon or wherever you’re doing your kind of book research and seeing what it is that people resonated with about those books. Some comments are not going to be helpful.
Megan Porta: Yeah. As always, right?
Amanda Polick: Some are just not going to be, but from there, I think it can be really helpful to start to figure out what you think a structure or just an overall arching view would be for that book. Do you get excited about it?
Megan Porta: Are you asking me right now? Or am I supposed to ask myself later?
Amanda Polick: You can ask yourself later or you can share, but when you said you got excited about it, I was excited for you.
Megan Porta: Yeah, and yeah, that was years ago and I’m still like, there’s something to what he said. The fact that it stirred up so much inside of me. My dad does not have creative ideas. So that came from somewhere. So I’m like, Ooh, this is exciting.
Amanda Polick: I also think Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in Big Magic, which I love that book, but that sometimes there’s going to be this idea and she talks about capturing it, but there’s going to be things that just hit you. Maybe it’s the quote-unquote wrong time, but the things that are really meant for you, I think that they stick with you. Maybe it’s just been ruminating for so long and then now you have to maybe spend a little bit of time figuring out what that is. Especially if you haven’t forgotten about it, those ones that stick.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, you have to pay attention to those, right? Okay, so I’ll give that more thought and energy.
Amanda Polick: Was that helpful?
Megan Porta: That was helpful. I actually feel validated. I’ve mentioned this to a few other people and they’re like, oh, that’s a weird idea. Then I’m just like, like what you were saying earlier about how you feel misunderstood so you don’t necessarily want to have the conversation. But I think I’ve been maybe talking to the wrong people because everyone I mention it too, they give me a look like, that’s weird, or, huh, you should maybe drop that idea. My husband says that’s a great idea. But of course, he’s going to say that, right?
Amanda Polick: I also think too that something that can be helpful. Even if it’s not necessarily just like a food book, sometimes, and I’ll just say that Chronicle books are one that I think of a lot. They do some really like experimental, fun trade books, a lot of amazing cookbooks. But even just look at like similar or different industries, but just where there’s a book that’s just different. You can take from that the structure, maybe the author’s background. There are all kinds of ways to take that and say, yeah, so this book exists and it doesn’t even have to necessarily be a food book, but if you could make the argument like in a book proposal that it’s comparable, it’s a competitive title. There are all kinds of fun, weird structures. I love weird stuff. Not to say that your book is weird, I just think that sometimes people don’t, if they haven’t seen it before, it’s really hard for them to imagine what that could be. I don’t think that means that it’s not worth pursuing.
Megan Porta: Aren’t you glad that I used this interview as a personal coaching call, Amanda?
Amanda Polick: I’m obsessed.
Megan Porta: I just had to remind myself a minute ago that I was actually recording us. I was like, Oh crap. Okay. So we should probably thank you so much for all of that. So I really appreciate it. I’m going to give this some thought and felt that kind of emotion stir back up. So, so appreciate your feedback on that. So if someone else feels that about an idea, what’s their next step?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. One, when you were talking about the emotion and stuff if you were sharing that with your list, that’s just a neat way to see if people are super engaged with that. So I do have a video series, writing gold. It’s five days to kickstart your cookbook writing and grow your audience of raving fans. But it really is just how to connect those two pieces and to figure out through what the story that you really want to tell is. So this isn’t what anyone else is talking about or what people are telling you to write about. But I think regular writing practice, because like you said, Megan, that is where the clarity is going to come from. It’s not going to come from talking about it. Just start talking to people regularly, and I think email is a great way to do that because it also takes away some of the just overall pressure that can come from maybe putting something on your blog or Instagram. Then two, I would just honestly start to build a community of people who are going to be supportive. I think that’s a really important thing. So that’s why podcasts like this and all this stuff that you’re doing is really important. I hope that people just feel a little bit less alone. I think that is ultimately the goal of things like this. So yeah, I would just start writing regularly and don’t judge it. Because, most of the time, the thing that you think isn’t going to be great, is actually the thing that people connect with.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, there’s been so much gold here. I feel like I could keep talking to you for hours, Amanda, but I suppose we should probably start wrapping this up. I’m really sad to say goodbye.
Amanda Polick: Me too! I’ll write you a letter.
Megan Porta: Please, oh my gosh, I know you’ll actually write me back. So I’m totally going to write you a letter. Here are my thoughts today and feelings. Oh, you’ll be like, who is this woman? I invited her into my life and now I just want her to go away. Do you have any just last little tips before we start saying goodbye, Amanda?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. So it goes back to what I was just saying when you’re afraid that no one’s really going to care about what it is that you’re putting out. So I think of this Dale Carnegie quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People, all the time, but to be interesting, you have to be interested. The more that you’re interested in how other people are experiencing food, what their traditions are, or you’re just even curious about the people in your own life, I think that it will help that fear to dissipate because people are automatically more inclined to listen to someone who it feels like that person already wants to listen to them. Where you’re listening not to respond, but you’re listening to understand.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s powerful too. Amazing. Thank you so much and thank you for your time today and just everything that you’ve delivered. I think this is such good inspiration and just food for thought for food bloggers, whether it’s cookbook writing or just connecting and blog writing. I think that If cookbook writing is not on your agenda, it’s still a great episode to just dig into and get inspiration from. So thank you. Thank you.
Amanda Polick: Thank you. This was so awesome. I hope it was helpful for people because I definitely understand what it feels like when you feel like you’re all alone and you definitely are not.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Oh, that’s so true. Yep. All right, Amanda, we’re going to put together a show notes page for you. If anyone wants to go peek at those, head to eatblogtalk.com/AmandaPolick. P O L I C K is how you spell Polick. Why don’t you tell everyone where they can find you, Amanda?
Amanda Polick: Yeah. So you can find me at amandapollock.com or also on Instagram at amandapolick. That’s Amanda P O L I C K.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Go check her out. And thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.
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