My thoughts about “Will Write for Food” by Dianne Jacob
This book reveals a very thoughtful, informative and comprehensive journey through the challenges and opportunities available to inspired food writers. Jacob is a seasoned coach, willing to share her experiences and expertise, as well as the same from many professionals in this extraordinary field. There are limited Canadian examples and I would appreciate more of this content. The chapters read well, flow logically, and are cross referenced when needed. The writing exercises at the end of each chapter are an ideal tool to hard-wire her recommendations as well as help you take your ideas to the next level. The bibliography, themed resources and index are welcomed content.
Jacob defines the depth and breadth of food writing and uses many examples to illustrate how food writers use their voice to help readers realize their passion. The 15 personal attributes of a food writer, and allows the potential food writer to evaluate his or her skill set, and develop action plans. The book discusses career options: food blogger, freelancer writer, syndicated writer, cookbook author, menu consultant, recipe developer, restaurant reviewer and newspaper writer. Food writers that are successful, have rich food and food related experiences, complimentary education (life-long learners), supportive partnerships and ongoing networking opportunities.
Jacob shares her recommendations and strategies for successful food blogging, and sees it as the most exciting area of food writing today, with many advantages for the new and experienced writer. In the chapter on freelance writing, I found the following quote from Knickerbocker insightful: “To be a good journalist, take the profession seriously, get the facts right, and present something new and fresh. Combine accuracy with creativity and passion.” I also enjoyed Jacob’s characteristics of a restaurant reviewer: “Great reviewers have passion, knowledge, authority, a great writing style and stamina. They write intelligently, from a frame of reference established through years of loving food.”
Jacob walks you through a 14 point evaluation of your potential cookbook idea, as well as the top ten most popular cook book types and structures. Mastering the art of recipe writing included a very detailed process from creating a suitable title to critical recipe and product evaluation. I felt this discussion would have been clearer with a sample recipe format or a visual anatomy of a recipe. The chapter on getting your book published, details the content required in a book proposal, the benefits or using an agent, as well as the publishing experience.
I found the chapter on crafting memoir and nonfiction most interesting as I enjoy researching food history along with family history, and plan to investigate the suggested resources. I loved the food analogy in the title of the final chapter and found that Jacob provides a very broad and honest evaluation of the financial rewards and challenges that are possible from food writing. Jacob’s suggestions are very creative and should appeal to a broad range of food writers.
Thank you for this opportunity, I found this book to be great food for thought and plan to make use of it in my “pretirement” plans.