Allergy-free Author Cybele Pascal Talks About the How-Tos of Cookbook Publishing in Video Interview

January 29, 2013

allergy free and easy cookingCybele Pascal is the Allergy-Friendly Cook. She's a cookbook author, mom, food allergic person, Ambassador Who Cares for Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, baker of allergy-friendly cookies, working to make the world a safer and more delicious place for eaters everywhere, one recipe at a time.

In this video (part 2 of 2) she continues her talk with co-founder Barnaby Dorfman about her newest book Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking (her 3rd book), and gives insight into both the content creation and editorial processes of creating a cookbook. This video is a must-see for anyone interested in writing and publishing a cookbook.
Click here to see part 1 of this interview.

So the next thing I wanted to ask you about is a lot of our readers are aspiring cookbook authors and this is your third cookbook.  Maybe you could tell us a little bit about kind of your writing process and what you’ve learned as you’ve gone from book one to book three, how has that changed, and any sort of tips you can share with our readers.

Well my process has certainly changed.  My first book, I wrote the book and then I went out and tried to get somebody to publish it, which is kind of what you have to do with a first cookbook.  You have to prove that you’re able to do a complete cookbook, a comprehensive cookbook.  So I think when you’re starting out, I think the best thing to do is to write the whole book, essentially on spec and then either try to sell it or publish it yourself.  And I think more and more people are publishing their own cookbooks now.  There’s a great benefit to that, there’s also a problem with that, the great benefit is that you then keep all the proceeds so you don’t have to basically give out royalties and a cut of everything along the way, but the good thing I think about going with a publisher is then you have the expert eyes of your editor and marketing team.  And I’ve had a really good experience with my editor on these past two books.  It’s been the same person, it tends to be Melissa Moore.  So I don’t know, pros and cons, so in terms of the difference between the first book, second book and third book, again I think it’s that experience of (a) I sold a concept for the second and third book, so I wrote just a chapter, a handful of recipes and then had to deliver by a deadline which was interesting because you’re forced to be cooking sometimes, you know, six recipes a day just to test them again just to make sure you get it on deadline.

But I personally really love working with an editor.  So for me, I really enjoyed the last two books and having that input from somebody else.  She doesn’t do a tremendous amount of rewriting, she just says, “You know what, you might want to move this into a different chapter or we’re missing this kind of recipe here”, that kind of thing, which is nice.

Right, gotcha.  And how do photography … I mean the book has wonderful photography.  I don’t know how well it will show on the screen  here, but who did the photography and did you cook all the dishes and then they photographed as you were doing recipe development or was it all one kind of shoot down later, what was that process like?

I lost you for a minute, are you still there?

Yeah, I’m here, see me now?

Yes.  No, it’s both.  Again Barnaby, thank you for mentioning the cook and amino acids and thank you for showing the gnocchi picture, because that photograph is one of my favorites in the book and actually it’s interesting because it wasn’t going to be my favorite, we had a really hard time with that shot, really hard time trying to make it look the way we wanted it to and then we added some red pepper flakes to it and all of a sudden that photograph was transformed and became beautiful.  My photographer is brilliant, his name is Chugrad McAndrews, and he did my last book as well.  And I just … I worked with the exact same team on Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking that I worked on with the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook because we all had really, really good alchemy and chemistry together.  So I just put the same team together.  He, as I said, I think is fantastic, he’s up in Seattle, now has a full-time job at Amazon which is a little heartbreaking for me because I would like to work with him more.  No, I didn’t not make all the food myself, I was there for all of the cooking and the styling but Karen Shinto who is a genius food stylist, did all the cooking and I supervised and she’ll come to me and say, “Does this look right, or am I reducing the sauce enough or is this the right color?”  And so I’m there sort of to, you know, coach her but she did it and then Leigh Noe did all the prop styling and she’s just also, I think, brilliant.  She gives the look of the book with her props and again I used her for the last book so there is a real continuity between the two in terms of the aesthetic.

Great.  Well, it really shows, it’s a wonderful package, and the whole thing, the book, the photography, the recipes, I don’t have any food allergies but I learned a lot and definitely can see myself cooking some of these just because they look delicious.

Well I hope you do and they’ll save you time because they’re 30-minutes meals!

Great.  Well thank you so much for spending time with us and everybody out there please go out and pick up this book, I think you’ll enjoy it, again, whether you have food allergies or family members who have food allergies or not.

I didn’t mention one thing, which is that it’s also a gluten-free cookbook, we never mentioned that.  Okay.

Thanks again.

Thank you Barnaby.