1 family. friendly food. » “Will Write For Food” by Dianne Jacob: Book review

If I had to summarize my review of this book, Will Write For Food”, to one sentence, I’d say: Dianne Jacob has done a very thorough job researching and sharing all the information her readers need to succeed in the world of food writing.

And if I had only two sentences, I’d add: This is an amazing book—a must read to all aspiring food writers and bloggers!

And why do I tell you about this book?

1. A friend asked me if I would like to get a free copy from the publisher and write a review and I immediately said “yes” because I wanted to buy it and read it anyway.

2. I knew I’d want to tell you about it just as I share other things I learn about blogging. (Like my food photography tips).

I first heard about Dianne Jacob about two years ago during a Foodista food bloggers conference. Her name was mentioned again and again by quite a few presenters who recommended her book (The first edition) as a must read to any wannabe food writer. Since then I’ve heard food people refer to Dianne Jacob as the most professional resource to learn about food writing. A few months ago the second edition of “Will write for food” hit the stores with an additional big, fat chapter dedicated to food blogging.

The chapters in the new edition include:

Chapter 1: What, Exactly, Is Food Writing?
Chapter 2: Characteristics of a Food Writer
Chapter 3: Getting Started
Chapter 4: Get Published with a Food Blog
Chapter 5: Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer
Chapter 6: Secrets of Restaurant Reviewing
Chapter 7: The Cookbook You’ve Always Wanted to Write
Chapter 8: The Art of Recipe Writing
Chapter 9: Memoir and Nonfiction Food Writing
Chapter 10: Writing About Food in Fiction
Chapter 11: How to Get Your Book Published

There’s tons of information in each chapter, no stone was left untouched, no detail left out in this very, very comprehensive guidebook to the world of food writing. You will not only learn about food writing but about writing in general. For example, take this tip on page 84 where Dianne demonstrates how to write a serious book review (which really applies to all types and topics of writing):

“If you loved the book, explain why with a “show not tell.” Show readers why with examples, rather than just writing “I loved it.”

In my review I will focus on the new added chapter that discusses blogging. You can read general reviews about the book—all of them 4 to 5 stars—on Amazon’s web site and/or the one by Rebekah Denn, including an interview, in The Christian Science Monitor.

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In the food blogging chapter, “Get published with a food blog”, Dianne compiles tons of knowledge based on interviews with the most successful and popular food bloggers who turned blogging into a career and a source of income. In one extremely informative chapter she collected words of advice from Ree Drummond, David Lebowitz, Shauna Ahern James, Elise Bauer, Michael Ruhlman, Molly Wizenberg, and others. (If you have never heard about even one of those names before…. Get the book! Now.)

As she writes:

“Part of being a blogger is taking charge of all the parts: you’re the publisher, the writer, the photographer, the marketer, and the technical support person.”

For this reason Dianne covers everything blog-related from the technical and creative aspects of food writing to the business side of it. She provides all the information and tools you need to make it happen.

From starting and choosing a software service to writing a great “About”page, how to decided what will be the focus of your blog, how to make readers care about what you write, deciding how personal you should get in your posts, developing your voice, many, many tips about writing a post, how to write recipes and book reviews, accepting free products and reviewing them and forming a policy, how to get your blog noticed, etc etc… to making money out of blogging, and taking the leap from blog to book, to words of encouragement and writing exercises—did she leave anything out?—Dianne covers all aspects of food blogging.

Tip: “Get your own domain and name as soon as you start.”

Tip: “The best bloggers know how to make you identify with them.”

Tip: “Post often, at least twice a week.”

Tip: “Good photos of food are critical on a food blog.”

I admit that I was surprised at first to see a section about food photography in this book since this is a book about writing (and Dianne is not a professional photographer) but food blogs are heavily visual. The quality of the photos can make a huge difference between a good blog and an awesome blog so it was a must to include this topic even if it is not her field of expertise. However, in this section too, Dianne turned to the best food photographers/bloggers for advice: Matt Armendariz, Nicole Stich, Heidi Swanson, Deb Perelman, and others. So, this area is covered too. As I have already said, she is thorough.

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My conclusion: If you are serious about food blogging and are interested in turning it into a career, you will find this book to be your best friend. The friend who tells you the truth (even when it’s unpleasant), holds your hand, keeps you grounded but lets you fly, and shares all their secrets and inside information with you. A friend who even talks about money and how they make it.

In the book, Dianne Jacob portrays the reality of the food world industry—it’s a tough world out there and it’s getting tougher—but she shows you the way, she gives you the nuts and bolts, she inspires, motivates, and provides all the know-how so you can go out there prepared and knowledgeable.

You should also visit Dianne’s web site and blog for more tips, news, trends, and advice, and be sure sign up to get her newsletter.

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Categories : Food books & Cookbooks



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