Friday, January 8, 2010

What's cooking?

I have a brief query regarding submission of my cookbook manuscript to potential agents in Australia, as having read through the archives of your blog (and read various other online sources and agency submission guidelines), I'm a bit unsure of something.

Being that my (partially complete) manuscript is non-fiction, and a large portion of the text is made up of recipes, would it be wise to submit just the general premise of the book and a few sample recipes? Or is it best with this genre to still submit a portion of the manuscript including the non-recipe text? The non-recipe text is reasonably descriptive/lengthy in cookbook terms and also forms the introductions to the various chapters, which do not run in traditional 'entree, main, dessert' format but rather are grouped by how they relate to the points I make in the preceding text.

I have a small amount of published food journalism and styling work, and write a regular blog dedicated to food. I am also currently taking on more journalism and food styling work, however I am not 'famous' by any stretch and have no illusions that my related line of work will necessarily help me get agented/published.

Regardless of the best way to submit, I will still aim for completion and some rewriting before submitting to anyone, so am just trying to figure out the 'usual' for food book submission (if there is a usual!).

Most of the cookery publishing in this country is done by famous folks - chefs, in the main. And they often don't write a word before they get a publishing contract, because the book will be sold on their name rather than their content (up to a point).

So you're wading into some difficult waters: how, amongst a sea of Donna Hays and Bill Grangers, will you make yourself stand out? The decision about what to put in your submission to agents, or publishers, needs to flow from that. Whatever your point of difference is, choose your submission material accordingly. If you don't have a point of difference, find one. Your point of difference may be that you're young and beautiful - in an image-driven world, that's not insignificant. Maybe you grew up on the Nullarbor Plain - that's an interesting personal story that a publicist could make something of. Find something.

And don't undersell your food journalism and styling work. Donna Hay started out as a food stylist. Just make sure you're confident of your material before you send anything to anyone.

1 comment:

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Sydney,

Is it OK if I send you the manuscript I haven't yet written? Failing that could you advise me what agent I should contact or send my non-existent work to?

Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,Shane

PS: most agents ask for work tobe 'double spaced'... do they mean two spaces between each letter? Wouldn't that be unreadable? You're th professionals I suppose...

PPS: My mate John's here (though he's a little worse for wear) and he asks me to ask you if he can also send you his cookery book?