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Ask the Agony Editor: on fine-tuning your personal brand

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If you want to be the next Martha, start fine-tuning your personal brand

Brian-Francis-FinalDear Agony Editor,

I just started a food blog and am receiving some exciting feedback from readers. I’m looking into the possibility of turning my blog into a cookbook. What’s the inside scoop on going from a blog to a book?

Signed,
Future Martha

Dear Future Martha,
As someone who had a food blog (and dreams of a small-appliance line at Sears), I can tell you that turning your hobby into a multimillion-dollar empire doesn’t happen overnight. If I were you, I’d spend time honing your blog as much as possible before pitching it to any publishers. While the recipes might be what first attracted people to your blog, it’s your personality that will keep them coming back. So give yourself plenty of time to fine-tune your voice. It took me at least a year of weekly blog posts before I got into the swing of things.

As far as the cookbook, I spoke to an editor who works in the field. First, he recommends that you be thoughtful in your approach and pitch editors who have edited cookbooks similar to yours. You should also consider how a cookbook would differ from your blog. Think about content you’re not already giving away for free. When it comes to chops (that’s writing, not pork), it helps if you’ve got some. But having a good editor behind you is more important.

Lastly, get comfortable in front of a camera. Start up a YouTube channel and build your audience through social media. The editor I spoke to said food is like fashion: all it takes is a new twist on something familiar for it to suddenly come into vogue. (Think cake pops. What the hell was that all about?) If you’re lucky, you might tap into something that everyone wants a piece – and bite – of.

Brian Francis is the author of Natural Order and Fruit. He teaches creative writing­ as part of the International Festival of Authors.

Have a question for Brian? Email info@quillandquire.com.