Yesterday I wrote my first “fan mail” letter to a famous food blogger: Molly Wizenberg of Orangette.
I do not often write “fan mail.” In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done so in the past. My letters have gone to an eclectic list of people, including a game show host, a child star, and a writer.
My first letter went to Bob Barker, former host of The Price is Right. I watched that show all the time as a kid, especially over the summers when my brother and I sometimes stayed at my grandparents’ house. Dziadzi, my grandfather, always watched it, so I started watching with him. Over time I got increasingly annoyed that the contestants had to be at least 18. So I wrote Bob Barker a letter suggesting he start a similar game show for kids. A few weeks later I received two black-and-white photographs in return, one of Barker and one of “Barker’s Beauties,” the three women who showcased the show’s prizes.
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“When so many recipes are available on the internet, recipes alone don’t make a cookbook,” wrote Holly Hughes, editor of the Best American Food Writing series, explaining that she’s looking for other material that sets a cookbook apart. “I’m focused on the words, not the photos, beautiful as they may be, and the quality of the prose, not the authenticity or originality of the recipes.”
Hughes’ quote comes from a handout provided by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) at their annual conference last week. (As an aside, I highly recommend this conference to both build skills and network with other writers.)
I didn’t attend “A Dash of Cookbook Writing,” the panel in which Hughes spoke, but this handout got me thinking about the role of voice in cookbooks, and – to take it one step further – what actually makes us buy cookbooks today.
Continue Reading “The role of voice in cookbook writing (and what makes you want to buy a cookbook?)”
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