My recipe organization spreadsheet

There are few things I like better than taking a massive, overwhelming project and breaking it down into small, bite-sized pieces. This is probably why I found a great groove while writing my cookbook, which I just handed in this week. Phew! I still have tons of work to do–plenty of editing and recipe re-testing and re-testing, but it feels great to have a first draft off my desk and on someone else’s.

Here is how I approached the project, and yes, Microsoft Excel played a huge role.

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Writing a cookbook is something I’ve always wanted to do. But for years, I just didn’t feel ready. Sure, I had zillions of ideas but I still felt like I had tons to learn. About food. About recipe development. About marketing. (Because, hey, it turns out, writing cookbooks, like any craft, is also business!)

I’ve been lucky enough to have a literary agent for years, which I know, sounds fancy. In truth, he’s my friend who just happens to be a literary agent and we happened to meet as he was transitioning from selling fiction to selling food books. As an editor at Food & Wine, I sounded fancy, too, so he added me to his client list even though we had no projects in the work. Every once in a while, I’d float a book idea by him, and his response was often akin to meh. 
Last fall, I told him about how, ever since my daughter had been born 18 months prior, it was hard to throw dinner parties. I said, I need to have more potlucks. And man, there’s a genre of food that needs updating. *bing* The Modern Potluck, he said. Write the proposal. 

Oh, ok. I’ll do that, in the middle of trying to create a freelance buy modafinil pharmacy career, build a business and raise a kid. No problem.

In February, he checked in. How’s the proposal.


I’m a big to-do list maker. If it goes on the list, it has to get done. So I put it on the list for March. Every day, I worked on it for an hour or so. By the end of the month, I had a draft of a proper proposal, with sample recipes as well. We polished it for a couple of weeks and then my agent sent it to publishers. And then we waited. Several bites came. He set up meetings. I got my hair blown out and put on make-up. I brought some food and some lip balm, because who doesn’t love snacks and swag?

In the end, we decided to work with Clarkson Potter and I’m thrilled. So now I’m in the midst of writing my first cookbook. It’s a bird-by-bird process and I’m loving every second of it but more on that later because now, I’ve got to get back to it!