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Editor’s Note: Allison Robicelli returns with a rant on the blood-boiling frustration that comes with trying to land a cookbook deal – with her trying to land a cookbook deal, anyway. The fact that just about everyone she knows in the food business seems to have a book deal doesn’t help. The recent news that the cartoon stars of smartphone gaming sensation Angry Birds will be publishing a book of egg recipes puts her over the edge.

Note: These are ACTUAL cookbooks.

by Allison Robicelli

In case you didn’t know, every single chef and “food artisan” in Brooklyn either has a book deal, or is in the process of signing a book deal.  Everyone except, of course, me.  Yet another one of my good friends got one yesterday, in the same exact fashion as at least a half dozen of my friends have:

“Oh by the way, I got a deal with Random House today! Yeah, some guy just called me out of the blue and said they wanted us to do a cookbook.  I don’t even have an agent! They just asked me to do a quick proposal, so I just wrote some ideas on the back of a napkin and they signed me right then and there! Awesome, right?”

Then today, I see that the earth will soon have a cookbook from the greatest culinary mind of all time.  That’s right, folks, we are getting a cookbook from the Angry Birds. No wonder no one is calling me – once that’s released, surely no one will ever have the need for another cookbook!  Once again, Angry Birds ruins my life!

Since my phone isn’t ringing off the hook, I’ve been doing a little prodding and networking on my own, trying to make a deal happen. Agents tell me that cupcakes are over, and I need to be writing about pie (even though I’ve been told pie is now over, as is toast and cake pops, and the next big thing is artisan baked potatoes). Publishers tell me that since I have no experience as a cookbook author, they have to pass until the day I am able to publish a bestselling cookbook on my own, and then they’ll consider me to redistribute it under their label. I went to my magical money tree and asked him for a few thousand dollars to do that, but he just started laughing at me.  That tree is a real effing jerk sometimes.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that unlike every other food person in New York City, the only way I’m going to get a cookbook is by either sleeping with everyone, which to be honest I am just way too tired to do, or to write the book proposal to end all proposals! I’ve learned from Google that a proposal is just a simple report that answers serious questions the publishing industry needs to know about your niche, and has even given me a handy dandy template to make the writing process completely pain-free. So without further ado, may I present:

THE OFFICIAL* ROBICELLI’S BOOK PROPOSAL!

*Unless no one likes it- in which case I didn’t write this.  It was my kid.

PART ONE – OVERVIEW: Tell us what the book will be about.  Why will it be unique?

The book will be about how to bake cupcakes, with pictures of cupcakes that will look really super good and make people want to eat them.  Then they can bake the cupcakes because I will give them a recipe.  Or they will not want to bake the recipe because maybe they have a really small kitchen, or because it’s really hot where they live and they just don’t want to bake, but the pictures will make them want to buy our cupcakes.  Then they can put the pictures on the Internet and send them to their Facebook friends with messages like “OMG this totally made me think of you LOLZ! Chicken and Waffles CUPCAKES!!! ROTFLOLOLZ!!! NOM NOM NOM!”  This is what is called “going viral.”

The book could also have little stories about the kitchen, being married and how food shaped our marriage, balancing a family and an artisan business, techniques and science to understand how to create recipes, how we were inspired to create some of these flavors without being under the influence of tremendous amounts of weed, etc.  I’d like to call it either “Robicellis: A Love Story-with Cupcakes,” or “Robicelli’s: Bake Your Own Goddamn Cupcakes.”

Why will this book be unique to all the other cookbooks out there?  Two words, folks: MOTHERFUCKING HOLOGRAMS.

PART TWO: Explain your product. Why is it popular?

Cupcakes are like cakes, except they are very very little.  In fact, they can be as small as teacups, which is how they get the name “cup”cakes.  Or maybe it’s because you measure the ingredients in cups.  Or because maybe the cavemen used to bake cakes in little tiny cups.  Honestly, this is a mystery as old as time itself, and we may never know the truth.

The Internet says that cupcakes are popular because they were on Sex and the City once, and many women aspire to be shallow and materialistic people who give lots of blowjobs. So if you publish the Robicelli’s cookbook, it stands to reason that the amount of blowjobs given in America will increase exponentially, and many of these blowjobs could potentially benefit the people at your publishing house!  Don’t you love blowjobs, Publishers of America? I would if I were a dude!

I think people also like cupcakes because they’re delicious, but then again, so are artisan baked potatoes.  We can write about those too if you want.  I know lots of stuff about potatoes.

PART THREE:  Who is your target audience?

AWESOME people, that’s who!

PART FOUR:  Tell us about the author.

We are a husband and wife cooking team that has received international attention for our cupcakes, been published in such forums as Eater and, ahem, NonaBrooklyn, mentioned in the NY Times and Food & Wine, profiled in Tasting Table, Food Curated and more, been written up by just about every food blog and NY newspaper we can think of, etc etc etc.  Yet every person who has started an artisan herring operation out of the back of a bar has a cookbook deal and we don’t, so here’s the deal we’re going to make:

Between Matt and myself, we’ve got four healthy kidneys.  Two of them can be yours if you play your cards right.  You may just want to keep that offer in your pocket for the future, Publishers of America.

PART FIVE:  Are there competitive titles?

Answer: Yes. Go to amazon.com and type in “cupcake cookbook” and you get 330 results. BUT type in “cupcake cookbook HOLOGRAMS” and you get nothing.  So I guess the REAL answer is ‘no,’ isn’t it?

PART SIX:  What is the marketing plan for this book?  How will you actively promote this book for the publisher? What are the magazines and media outlets your audience pays attention to? Where should the publisher work to get the book reviewed? Can you provide blurbs from well-respected sources for the book jacket?

Whoa whoa whoa – first I’ve got to write an entire book, and NOW I need to be your entire marketing department as well?!?!?!  I’ve got a business of my own to run over here, Publishers of America – I can’t be running your company, too!  Besides, if you really want one of my kidneys, I expect you guys to work a little harder.  We stay well hydrated over here – this is quality product we’re talking about.

You want blurbs?  I’ve got a laundry list of people who would be willing to provide blurbs and review the book. Want to know? You’re going to have to call me and maybe buy me a dinner for me to give it up – I’m just not that kind of girl.  Possible restaurants include Le Bernadin, Peter Luger’s, or if those don’t work for your budget, Applebee’s.  But I’m getting dessert!

PART SIX “A”:  Are you qualified to do media and speaking appearances? Do you have any idea what the fuck you’re talking about?

Matt and I are classically trained chefs with nearly 20 combined years in the food business, so I really hope so at this point.  I better go ask Matt some technique questions just to make sure – he said he graduated at the top of his class at French Culinary, but then again, anyone could have easily forged that diploma, and I’ve never verified that that’s really Andres Soltner in the pictures of him from his days at Lutece and not a Muppet.

As for speaking appearances, I once gave a business class hosted by Cupcakes Take the Cake that was called “The Most Profanity Riddled Cupcake Event In History,” an accomplishment I am extremely proud of.  I am tired of not seeing enough smart, edgy, funny women being represented in food so that we can make more room for the perky ones!  For every Rachel, Sandra and Giada, I’d like to see one girl who’s witty and interesting, or at least 2/3rds of one.  I tweet, blog and meet these sorts of girls at events all the time, and they’re an amazing demographic, one that I’m very honored to have following us.

PART SIX “B”:  Can this be serialized?

Will it be serialized?  The Robicelli’s cookbook ends with a twist ending and a cliffhanger! You may need all new underwear after reading it!

So there you have it, Publishers of America.  You can reach me at allison@robicellis.com. I’ll be sitting in the dark staring at my computer screen all week, waiting to hear from you. And absolutely not looking at your in your offices on Google Earth.

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32 Responses to Some Reservations: Why The F#@% Won’t You Publish My Cookbook?

  1. Pingback: » The Week: July 22, 2011 » The Everywhereist

  2. Elissa says:

    Laughed my ASS off. Can I say that on television?

    Seriously, speaking both as author and editor, you’re missing a few things: 1) Platform. Is your perceived (perceived by the publisher, not by you. You know how visible and fabulous you are!) big enough to NET 60,000 copies of your book? By net, I mean will the BOOKSTORES OF AMERICA buy 100,000 copies of your book and then have 40,000 of them come back to the warehouse or wind up remaindered? If so, hot stuff! You’re in. But if you can’t net 60,000 without the help of the so-called publicity and marketing departments, you’re sunk like the Titanic.

    2) Do you garden in a dress, like Annie Novack? Just wondering. If not, you may be similarly screwed.

    Just sayin.

  3. Excellent piece of satire, however I hate to be the one to inform you that my new book “Cooking with Vaginas” has holograms. The crazy thing is, I’ve never even cooked with a vagina – Random House just called me up and said “do you have one?” I said “YUP” and they slapped 100K at my door and told me I was an expert and that I’d been cooking with one my WHOLE FUCKING LIFE!

    Keep your chin up.

  4. Joyce Pinson says:

    Well, I just spewed tea all over the monitor screen. I hope you are proud of yourself! Giggles Wishing you all the best with a cookbook deal.

  5. Laugh out loud funny. Having said that, I am sure the authors who wrote those cookbooks “featured” at the top had some of your moments – although perhaps not documented quite so wittily – and were happy to get create a mutually beneficial partnership with the Agent Right for Them and sell their books, too. It seems the world has an unquenchable desire for hard copy cookbooks even in the age of Kindle and Nook. Bon chance. VA

  6. Liz Lemon says:

    Allison,

    Please check out the cooking show, Bitchin’ Kitchen. It’s right up your alley. They actually have to use the bleep button on her because she curses in a Sicillian while she’s cooking. Wednesday nights on The Cooking Channel.

    Best,
    Liz.

    • I love that show. One of the only reasons I miss giving up cable. And of course, it took another Sicilian girl to do it. We’re good stock, us Sicilians.

    • Jay says:

      Jasmine,I hope that next time you visit your dad & Grandma Nina you have some time to come down to San Jose and take our family ptrroait. God has blessed you with a gift your work is beautiful; we would be honored.Sincerely,Irma Archut

  7. Hate to bring it up but…there is the painful option of self publishing. I used Booksurge, owned by Amazon. Pretty easy process and they pay well. They do some marketing at the launch. You are a great writer so once its on the shelves, it should be a knock out best seller!
    Good luck! In the meantime, I will continue to eat your cupcakes in support of the cause.

  8. Megan Paska says:

    I cannot tell you how helpful it is to have an agent. Have you spoken to any or have any of your soon-to-be-published friends hooked you up with any?

    • No agent, but quite a few rejections! That line about pie wasn’t a joke.

      I’ve got a few friends with agents, but right now all my focus is on the immediate projects: getting the new shop open at DeKalb Market, and supporting the new stores we are going to debuting in (we’ve already shown up at Battery Market downtown). And full disclosure: I have been taking meetings with some publishers and other behind the scenes people in the book world, but nothing final has happened yet.

      Before I go hardcore on round 2 of Agentsearch, I’ve been sketching out the outline for the book; I want it to be a LOT more than just a collection of recipes- it should be a fun read even if you never attempt to cook a single thing (which is key, since some of our recipes are more on the expert level of baking). Plus, you can get recipes off the internet, so if you’re going to plunk down the cash for the book, it better be special. Hence the holograms. Also thinking about asking Lisa Frank to illustrate.

  9. Helena says:

    This isn’t going to compete with my Blowjobs-with-Holograms book deal, is it???

  10. Jen R. says:

    You’re fucking awesome.

  11. suzyO says:

    I absolutely, positively LOVE YOU.

  12. danielle says:

    Blowjobs AND holograms? It sounds like this cookbook is exactly what America has been waiting for.

    • Rutger says:

      Hi JenniferThank you again for doing such a great job and working so well with all the kids to get thourgh all the group shots we wanted, quickly and professionally. Your mommy skills came in handy and the kids all had a great time with the photo shoot (adults too) and the pictures show it.Thanks againWanda & Jamie Wilson

  13. Fuck cookbooks. You should write a parenting book. (Or perhaps a parenting-with-cupcakes book?) No, seriously, with your voice you can write whatever you want. Aim bigger.

    • I thought I was aiming bigger just hoping to get a book published! Satire aside- I have been working my ass off on this project, and know it will happen for me eventually. Just need to keep pushing…..

      And I doubt I’ll be writing a parenting book anytime soon. I’ve only been a mom for four years, so I am so far from becoming any sort of any sort of expert on the subject. Plus, I don’t know what I’m doing and am totally making this crap up as I go along.

      • Hmmm, maybe we should talk. I might be able to help. (My kid’s not yet 5 & my cookbook for parents is coming out from HarperCollins next year… Think big!)

      • Amanda says:

        You know what never gets told to mothers? That EVERYONE is making it up as they go along.

        As silly as it is to take parenting advice from Modern Family, there was a scene where they had to take Lily to the doctor. The doctor said “babies are designed for new parents.”

        I am totally waiting on your cookbook, and you better damn well sign it!

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