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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.