Book Giveaway: Will Write For Food

by Sarah Henry on August 30, 2010 · 52 comments

in food book giveaways,food books

About two years ago, I decided to switch gears in my professional writing life. I wanted to take a risk and reinvent. In 20-plus years as a journalist, I’ve tried my hand at many different things.

I worked for an investigative reporting shop for close to a decade. I’ve been a staff writer for a national health magazine. I’ve survived and succeeded (mostly) for many years as a freelance writer.

I’ve also contributed to books, ghost written a book, and taught writing to college students, who expect to land an assignment with Vanity Fair the minute they get a degree. Good luck with that.

Somewhere along the way I picked up a lot of gigs cranking copy for a range of health outlets on the web. These contract jobs paid the bills and gave me the chance to work part time and hang with my son when he was young, for which I will always be grateful.

But, to be honest, this line of work did not feed me. I wanted to get back to doing creative work that combined my professional writing background with my personal passion for food, with an emphasis on covering the growing food movement and the social justice aspects of feeding people well.

I landed in Berkeley, started volunteering at the Edible Schoolyard, and shortly after began teaching afterschool cooking classes to kids at my boy’s school. All this made me very happy.

So why not write about it? When I started taking baby steps towards telling food stories one of the first people I approached was Dianne Jacob. If you’re an established food writer, Dianne needs no introduction. If you’re not familiar with this editor, coach, and cookbook author, and you have any interest in writing about food, click on over to her blog Will Write for Food, once you’ve finished reading this post, where you’ll find pithy snippets with a food-writing focus that frequently elicit vigorous debate in the comment section.

I was briefly a client of Dianne’s. She helped me figure out a game plan for my new beat. We started our blogs about the same time, some 18 months ago. She gave thoughtful feedback on the manuscript I was ghost writing of the self-published memoir (just out!) of the co-creator of Rice-A-Roni. I found Dianne to be the real deal: A pro with a deep understanding of the food-writing biz.

Dianne’s advice for food writers everywhere: 1. Start a blog. 2. Take a writing class. 3. Find a niche.

To find out more about all three, you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of her book.

Dianne’s also one of the most generous people I know. We’ve become pals, and, since we live in the same area, go to food-related events together. (If you want to catch her at one of her book signings this fall, check out her event appearances here.) She wrote the sweetest note to me in my copy of the first edition of her book Will Write for Food, which I think of as a bible for food scribes. (For Sarah, A star writer who doesn’t know it.) Just the self-confidence boost when I needed it. If she wrote exactly the same thing in YOUR first edition, please, please don’t tell me.

And, ego check: She has, um, strong opinions and no problem telling it how it is. If she thinks I need a boot up the bum, or if something doesn’t work writing wise, she’ll let me know, kindly but clearly. She questions some of my assignment choices and hassles me to meet deadlines, so it’s not all a warm and fuzzy love fest here. But for me, that’s the mark of a good editor-coach.

You need more endorsements? Check out what has to say about the second edition of Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More (Da Capo Press). “Mandatory reading for food writers,” says it all, really. Just yesterday Molly Wizenberg (anyone heard of her?) offered similar praise at the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle.

The latest edition of WWFF includes major updates on the food writing landscape — which is changing so quickly — and an entire new chapter on the business of blogging and social networking. All this and advice from a bevy of big shots in the food writing world.

I’ve just returned from the weekend-long blogger bash thrown by Foodista and somewhere during the course of the conference someone said there are five million food bloggers. Is that true? If you want to find a way to distinguish what you do, this book is for you.

On a publishing panel at the very same conference Victoria von Biel, the executive editor of Bon Appetit, talked up the absolute necessity for food writers to have a presence in the social media world. She joked that her hubbie, Benedict Carey, who has a new book, is resistant, like many old-school writers, to such moves. (In the small world department, I spent a year working at a magazine where the wildly talented and very funny Ben was also on staff. A New York Times reporter, he’s just penned a book about math for middle schoolers — who knew? — perfect for my son who starts school this week.)

Kirsty Melville, president of the book division of publisher Andrews McMeel and a cookbook czar, seconded that advice. More small world stuff: Dianne served as an editor and mentor on My Nepenthe, the beautiful cookbook and mash note to Big Sur by Romney (Nani) Steele that Melville published and raved about at yesterday’s session.

Enough with the praise. You’re itching to get your hands on this guide, right?

Here’s how to win a signed copy of Will Write for Food:

1. Join Lettuce Eat Kale via Feedburner by clicking this link, entering your email address, and then clicking the confirmation link that you’ll receive via email. Or subscribe via email.

2. If you’re already a subscriber (thank you), then please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

3. If you subscribe and follow (x2) a big thank you, then please post the following tweet on your Twitter feed: Win a copy of @diannej’s Will Write for Food @lettuceeatkale …

Once you’ve done one — or all of these things, why not? — please leave me a comment on this post to let me know you’ve joined the mailing list, started following me via Twitter or Facebook, and/or posted the tweet. And if you’re new to Lettuce Eat Kale, please tell me a little about yourself. It’s always nice to meet my readers and fellow food bloggers.

Entries must be received by Monday September 6 at 10 p.m. PT. A winner will be chosen at random. You’ll have a week to claim your prize.

Update: Congrats to Paula Thomas, a copy of Will Write for Food is on its way to you. Thanks to all for playing and check back later this month for a cookbook giveaway.

[Credit where credit it is due: Thanks to Stephanie Stiavetti of Wasabimon, from whom I shamelessly cribbed the idea for this kind of contest, a departure for me.]

[Photo of Dianne Jacob: Pamela Zacharias.]

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well August 30, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’ve been following you on Twitter for awhile now but don’t know how I hadn’t gotten around to subscribing! Thanks for the reminder. :) Anyway, I’ve retweeted, will tweet (aggressively) again, and hope for the best! Poor Girl could definitely use that book!

Thanks for the contest!
Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well´s last [type] ..IFBC Pt I – Greetings from Seattle!


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

Hi Kimberley,
Great to see you here and may I say that your tweets from #ifbc were very amusing!
Only sorry we didn’t get to meet in person among the sea of 250-300 folks. Next time.


Angela August 30, 2010 at 10:39 am


I’d love to win this book! It would be a great help to a newer bloggette. I’ve re-tweeted and am now a follower! Thanks to Dianne J, I’ve found your blog!



Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Hi Angela & welcome. I look forward to reading your blog posts too.


Giovanna August 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

I’m already on your mailing list, but just started following you on facebook (I’m looking forward to updates!), and reposted the tweet.
Giovanna´s last [type] ..Sitka and Spruce


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Howdy Giovanna, great to have you here. I see we both like Humphrey Slocombe ice cream. Look forward to finding out what else we have in common.


Paula Thomas August 30, 2010 at 10:52 am

Hello, I’m new here. Found out about you through one of my twitter foodie friends. I attended IFBC on Saturday and heard Diane speak. The book sounds awesome. I have been blogging for several years but only started getting into food photography and blogging in the last year. I’m now following you on twitter and have spread the news about the contest.

Paula Thomas´s last [type] ..Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Welcome to another ice cream fan. Congrats on taking the leap on the food photo front. Wasn’t Penny De Los Santos inspiring on Saturday?


Paula Thomas August 31, 2010 at 8:26 am

I didn’t get to hear her in person since I only attended Saturday but I did see the presentation online and also took her photography class last year. She’s very inspiring. I’m jealous of all the places she’s been able to travel to.
Paula Thomas´s last [type] ..Grape and Rosemary Sorbet


Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi August 30, 2010 at 10:54 am

Not sure if the contest is open to internationals, but I’ve spread the word with a tweet any way!
Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi´s last [type] ..The Big Winner


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Thanks, my dear, though I’ve run into trouble sending giveaway books overseas (a hardcover cookbook, returned from Italy) this paperback is easy to mail abroad.


Cindy Waffles August 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hi Sarah!
I follow you on Twitter!
I started my blog during the early years of graduate school and I’m still blogging and enjoying it. Glad to hear you had fun at IFBC. Too bad I couldn’t attend.
Cindy Waffles´s last [type] ..NY JapanTown Healty Food and Green Festival


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Hi Cindy, Maybe next year you’ll get a chance to check out IFBC. Nice to see you here.


HNLMark(Honolulu Mark) August 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

I met Dianne Jacobs when I attended her workshop in Seattle earlier this year, started following her on Twitter and that lead me here. I am so glad to have met and gotten great advice from her. As to her three-step advice above, I’ve done the first two and working on the third. Looking forward to reading you from now on.
HNLMark(Honolulu Mark)´s last [type] ..Local island veggies make tasty tacos


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Hi Mark, Lovely to have a new follower from off the mainland. Glad to hear you’re following Dianne’s sound advice and I’m keen to check out your island veggie tacos for my lunch.


Grant August 30, 2010 at 11:19 am

Subscribed, liked on Facebook and tweeted @GKNL. Glad I found you via Diane’s twitter!


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Welcome Grant and thanks for all the social media networking. Want to tell me/us a little something about your own food writing life?


Grant August 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I’m a filmmaker looking to do more food-oriented videos, cooking demos, food people features, etc. My food writing so far has been confined to certain internet forums, but I am working on a cookbook that I started this summer because I wanted to buy one on the subject and was amazed there isn’t one. So far, I’m pleased with the recipes which include a couple of things I haven’t seen anywhere else before. This is the fun part though. I took a food writing class many years ago so I have a good idea of what to do, but of course the hard part is doing it. I’m definitely one of those “hate to write but love having written” people.


Jackie Baisa August 30, 2010 at 11:24 am

I’ve signed up AND tweeted for the cause! Would love the new edition to her book! THANK YOU.


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Great, Jackie, much appreciated. And nice site, by the way. Look at all those happy snaps from the IFBC event.


Alexandra August 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Whoa, 5 million food bloggers? You have to find a way to unite these folks against Big Agribusiness, in favor of local farmers’ markets, and against genetically-modified foods. They have the clout to influence readers who will contact legislators. Did you hear about the bill that will make it difficult for the small farmer to survive?
Alexandra´s last [type] ..Who Will Be Cape Cod’s Next State Senator


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

You make a good point, Sandy. Bloggers — whether it’s food or another subject — have growing clout. Putting it to good use is key, for me at least.


Robin (Hippo Flambe) August 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Hi Sarah, My name is Robin Berger and my blog is titled Hippo Flambe. I blog about what I feed my family, including the canning I do. Starting September 1st my youngest starts kindergarten and I start a job as “Healthy Food Coordinator” for a local parent child center.

Robin (Hippo Flambe)´s last [type] ..Canning 101- An Article- Two Workshops and FAQ


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Welcome Robin, lovely to have you here. We have kids & food in common, so I look forward to reading your posts. Catchy blog title, too.


Sheryl August 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I am not a food blogger – however – this book sounds like it could teach me a thing or two, anyway. But, come to think of it, if I heavily promote it via Twitter, then doesn’t that dilute my chances of winning? :) Happy to help, Sarah!


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Thanks, Sheryl. And it’s true, much of Dianne’s advice holds true for writing in general.


Rachelino August 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Thanks! And, I note, yet another ice cream lover. Nice.


Amber G August 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I suscribe by email now!


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Good to know, Amber G. Are you a food enthusiast too?


Ruth Pennebaker August 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Like Sandy, I’m dumbstruck to hear there are five million food bloggers.

I’m assuming Benedict Carey is the NYTimes writer. If so — as we continue our small world theme — he’s interviewed my husband a couple of times.
Ruth Pennebaker´s last [type] ..Be Funny and Die


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Too funny, and yes, one and the same. I should have put Ben’s current (and impressive credential) in this piece. He is indeed a Times staffer.

So, Ruth, given Ben’s beat, I’m wondering if your hubbie is a shrink, scientist, or some such.


Alisa Bowman August 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I usually don’t like play-on-word book titles because you have to think a bit to get them. Will Write for Food though is perfect. A play on words that needs no explanation.
Alisa Bowman´s last [type] ..13 Communication Tips from Writers


Sarah Henry August 30, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Agreed, Alisa. Plus it’s got an insider edge: Food writing is notoriously underpaid; sometimes food writers feel like they’re working uber-hard to get a meal on the table.


Sheila Callahan August 31, 2010 at 6:36 am

Will tweet and would love to win Will Write for Food.


Sarah Henry August 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Hi Sheila, Thanks for entering and feel free to tell me/us a little about your interest in food, writing, or both.


debp August 31, 2010 at 7:55 am

I am an email subscriber. I have been a foodie since I was 8 years old. I used to go to my aunt’s house and copy recipes for my mother to try. Unfortunately, she was horrid at cooking. So I started cooking for the family when I was 11. I don’t have a blog, but I am seriously thinking about starting one. I would really like to read this book.


Sarah Henry August 31, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Hi Deb & welcome, sounds like you learned quickly — and very young — how to get food on the table. If you started a blog, what would your focus be?


debp September 1, 2010 at 7:55 am

I would have it be a mix of what I love. I don’t know if I could limit it to one thing. I know cooking and reading would be a large part of it. But I have an usual hobby- following pandemics and the flu, so that would be a part of it, too. I guess I could say it would be truly unique.


Rosemary August 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

I was a devotee of Dianne’s first WWFF and shared with many people. I know Dianne’s revision is equally honest, clear and practical – another must read!


Sarah Henry August 31, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Hi Rosemary, Lovely to see a Dianne devotee here. Thanks for adding your own opinions on her book into the mix.


Erica August 31, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I signed up for your newsletter. Just came across your blog and it looks great!


Sarah Henry August 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Why thank you, Erica, it’s nice to see you here.


donna August 31, 2010 at 4:38 pm

love cook books


Sarah Henry August 31, 2010 at 9:05 pm

don’t we all, donna.


Andrew Wilder August 31, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hi Sarah,

I write about my three Eating Rules that I believe will be a simple way for people to eat and live healthier. I also review restaurant menus for best/worst choices, offer up a recipe each week, and branch out into other healthy/foodie musings as the mood strikes me — such as my latest project: Making October a month of unprocessed foods (check out my latest post).

Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet this weekend… I’m wishing I had been even more outgoing. Next year!

I’m following you on Twitter and you’re now in my RSS reader, and would love a copy of the book. :)

PS – I love kale!


Sarah Henry September 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Hi Andrew, Nice to see you on the site and I look forward to learning more about your three eating rules. And anyone who loves kale is a good egg in my book!


Jennifer Margulis September 2, 2010 at 10:31 am

Tweeted! Pick me! Pick me! I tried to win this book on Stephanie’s blog, and met the author at BlogHer. No luck. So far. Trying again!
Jennifer Margulis´s last [type] ..Read Beth Terry’s Recap of BlogHer2010


Sarah Henry September 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

Maybe you’ll get lucky this time around, Jennifer. It’s all in the hands of the Gods.


Susan Billie Taylor September 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I signed up for your newsletter, and am now following you on Facebook . I don’t tweet yet. I would really like to win this book. I have been trying to take Dianne’s class at Book Passage in Corte Madera, but the times just haven’t worked out for me. I am independently publishing a cookbook called “Cooking as a Meditation.” Should be going to the printer soon. If I started a blog, it probably would have to do with mindful cooking. Every meal we prepare and share is what life is all about. Creating memories with friends and family is what is important in life.


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