Will Write For Food


If you’re a food blogger, then you probably know Dianne Jacob. If you’re a food writer and/or a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), you probably know her as well. IF you are either of the two and don’t know her,  get with the program {smile}. She wrote this gem of a book 5 years ago called, “Will Write For Food“, an invaluable resource on food writing. A good number of food writers will probably tell you that hers was the first book they read on the subject.

I edited the photo of the book for Blogathon 2009.

I was a bit late into the scene, being a cooking hobbyist and a food blogger. The first edition (on the right) came to my attention early least year. Admittedly, I battled with it a few times because of the writing exercises, which taunted the defiant student within me. I approached Dianne several months later at BlogHer Food ’09 and said something like, “It made me cry/suffer (because of said exercises),” the dramatic Leo coming out. [Goodness, yes, I said that. We’re still friends, right?] What I should’ve blurted out was, “But what about blogs, Ms. Jacob, can you give food writing advice to blogs?” It was more of a wish than a question.

That wish was granted this summer with the release of the 2nd edition, the digital coming of age version, where what used to be the lowly food blog  had earned its own chapter. In fact, Dianne herself started a blog in 2009, signaling her own immersion in the blogging world. And of course, the Internet embraced it, with her thought-provoking posts on food writing.

I recently met Dianne again during the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle and she mentioned she’ll be in town, a treat for those of us across the border —

If you are in Vancouver, Canada Dianne Jacob will be at Barbara-Jo’s tomorrow,
September 14, 2010 6:00pm

1740 West 2nd Avenue (half a block east of Burrard)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6J 1H6

Tel #604-688-6755

Now onto the book!

Here are the chapters of the 2nd edition and some highlights I noted:

1 What, Exactly, is Food Writing?
– writing with the senses, passion in writing, writing voice, writers describing their own voices

2 Characteristics of a Food Writer
traits based on interviews with food writers and editors

3 Getting Started
a day in the life of several writers, how food writers got their start, an excellent reading list for those wanting to expand their knowledge

4 Get Published with a Food Blog
[New chapter in the revised and updated edition]
–  includes suggestions on what kind of posts to write, photography, book and product reviews, ethics, SEO and online exposure, going from blog to book, classes and references (that new bloggers may not have heard of)

As a regular reader of Dianne’s blog, I can tell that this chapter drew upon her own experience online and the wealth of information from various food bloggers. It was interesting to see hot blogging topics, such as product reviews, being included.

5 Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer
– story ideas, positioning and targeting your story, finding markets, crafting a query letter, writing and editing your work, ways to make decent money

6 Secrets of Restaurant Reviewing
– how-to, restaurant checklist, good and negative reviews, describing food, education, getting started and paid

7 The Cookbook You’ve Always Wanted to Write
– what makes a good cookbook idea, different kinds of cookbooks

8 The Art of Recipe Writing
– recipe development, philosophy of recipe writing, parts of a recipe and how to write them, attribution and copyright

9 Memoir and Nonfiction Food Writing
– food-based memoirs, food history, cultural anthropology and philosophy, guidebooks, biographies, food and health books, kitchen science, adventures, journalism and essays

10 Writing About Food in Fiction
I barely glossed over this section, but for your benefit, it includes mysteries, characters plucked out of the food business, classic literature, and children’s books

11 How To Get Your Book Published
This is another section I skipped, but it includes a guide for writing book proposals, main issues to negotiate in a publishing contract, and avenues for self-publishing.

The updated Selected  Web Sites section itself is worth checking out, with lists of magazines and web sites that take freelance writing, food writing classes, and food studies.

The question is:  Should you get the new “Will Write For Food“?

For the new and veteran food bloggers and writers: Yes! Whether you are doing this for fun, trying your chance at–or carving–a new career, this book will provide you with information and tools to improve your writing,. The exercises after each chapter (except for the last) are great starting points or refreshers. The lists of online and offline resources that Ms. Jacob provides are treasures themselves.

For those who already own the first edition: If you want to stay relevant with food writing in the digital age, yes. The 4th chapter on publishing a food blog is not the only update to this book, just so you know. Having read both, poring over the new edition felt like finally engaging with someone who knows that the Internet provides a viable avenue for food writing. Here’s a book that knows new media, our  medium –blogs.

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  • September 14, 2010 6:36 pm

    Hi Joy, thank you so much for this post. I am so sorry about the suffering. I hope it was short-lived. Certainly that should not be a part of food writing!

    Yes, I wrote 17,000+ words about food blogging in the new edition. Now I think I should have also written about apps and e-books. Maybe I’ll have a third edition for that.

    Look forward to seeing you tonight at Barbara-Jo’s.

    p.s. That is not a photo of my first edition. It is definitely cuter than my book cover, thought.

    • joy
      September 16, 2010 7:15 am

      You’re welcome, Dianne! Haha, yes, it was short-lived after I decided to chill out. :) I’m enjoying it more these days.

      Now there’s an idea. Since it’s apps and e-books change so fast, you might want to consider e-books as the medium for your next book. By the way, someone wanted to get the new edition of Will Write For Food on Kindle but it’s not available — is that in the works?

      I’m so sorry to miss that! I am glad there was a great turnout, thought!

      P.S. My cat loved your book that she kept on sprawling on it when I read it. ;-)

  • September 15, 2010 4:52 am

    Great write-up Joy! And after having read the first edition over and over again I did indeed buy the second edition and it is great! I am also a regular reader of Dianne’s blog and it is informative and helpful. In my opinion, both her new book and her blog are absolutely must-reads for any food blogger or writer hoping to write a better blog or take their writing beyond their blog! Love it!

    • joy
      September 16, 2010 7:17 am

      Thank you, doll! I completely agree, both on the blog and the books. I’ve seen several blogging books out there, but they don’t focus so much on the writing, which is just sad!

  • September 15, 2010 3:46 pm

    The book sounds like it would be a good read for any blogger! I only very occasionally write about food, and when I do, I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing. Thanks for clueing me into this book and Dianne’s blog – even though I don’t write a food blog, I’m addicted to reading them!

    • joy
      September 16, 2010 7:20 am

      Amy, it is, definitely a good read even for non-food bloggers. Its focus is on food blogs, but the writing advice and the exercises could certainly help anyone wanting to improve.

  • September 17, 2010 8:49 pm

    Sounds like this is a must-read for hobbyist food bloggers and aspiring professionals. Thanks for sharing such a valuable resource! I’m gonna check it out, and Dianne’s blog.

    • joy
      September 19, 2010 10:16 pm

      It is, and so is her blog. You’re welcome, Miri. :)

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