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How to best locate cookbook authors?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Greetings, chefs!

Hey, can you help a newbie like me better understand how to best locate cookbook authors, literary agents and/or publishers that have photo-filled cookbooks in electronic-rights-ready form?

As background, we've just published a very nice recipe software engine, rated 5/5 stars in each of its first seven independent reviews, which among many other things allows us to work with cookbook authors to publish their cookbooks in sellable, electronic form.

We're now looking to partner with cookbook authors and/or publishers in getting some digital cookbooks out for sale. We do all the work in converting the cookbook into electronic form, and of course, support the software that consumers can use to navigate the cookbook.

Where we're stuck is locating the best sources of content. Where do high-quality cookbook authors/publishers congregate? Can you help me understand the best resources to locate cookbook authors and/or publishers that might be interested in this? For more information, see www.bigoven.com.

Thanks!
post #2 of 17

Some suggestions...

You have to research them out.

Check Amazon or Google and see what the results are. If you find them, contact the publishers and let them know you would like to contact that author (if the information isn't listed through them already). They may not always let you do that, but it's worth a shot.

Beyond that, I am not aware of any list that strictly pertains to cookbook authors.

Eric
RestaurantEdge.com
post #3 of 17
One other question,

I just went by your site and saw that you had some reviews there. Why aren't any of them from cooking, chef, restaurant, or industry related people?

All your reviews are from technology people or the like.

I guess what concerns me is that you have never considered a review from people who make the biggest impact. Which is those of us who work in, around, and on top of food.

Having a 5/5 software program rating means nothing if I type in "Blueberry Pie," and the recipe is generic. A 5/5 technology rating isn't the same as having a 5/5 rating from chefs. Chef's don't work that way.

You asked the right question, but why you implement a new product without testing it on professionals first is something to think about, right?

Eric
www.RestaurantEdge.com
post #4 of 17
Your situation is really no different than anyone else with the age-old question of how to find customers. The answer is advertising. Where? In cooking magazines, web sites, or anywhere else food people congregate. If you are hoping to find a message board or a single location where you have a captive audience of recipe writers, I very much doubt you will find that.

Of course, if your software is really of value to cookbook authors, why not pitch it to the publishers of cookbooks for inclusion with their books? But don't expect them to eagerly supply a contact list of their authors!

One last comment. OK, call me a cynic, but was this topic posted as a cleverly disguised question just to sell your software? I couldn't help but notice that you ony have two post to ChefTalk, and both of them are identical. Sorry, I had to ask.
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
post #5 of 17
Well I have a coupla things to say about the bigoven software. I downloaded it and I'm looing through some of the recipes. It's definitely not meant for the professional.

The recipes aren't written in standard recipe format. For example, in "Easy Scalloped Potatoes," one of the ingredients is "4 medium Peeled and scliced potatoes." It should read "4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced."

Better yet, the instructions read...

In a 2-1/2 quart glass buttered casserole, arrange sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with flour, salt and onion and mix lightly. Stir in milk and dot with butter. Cook covered 15 - 18 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. Rest covered 5 minutes. Garnish with paprika or parsley. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top after cooking. Posted to Bakery-Shoppe Digest by "CD" on Apr 5, 1998

COOK IN WHAT? OVEN?!? STOVETOP?!?!? You gonna put your buttered casserole on the stovetop? You better hope you don't get sued. Stovetop? 15-18 minutes? Try 60-90 minutes at 425F in the oven.



Here's a good one...

Cuisine: American
Main Ing: Strawberries

12 large Strawberries with stalks on
1 cup Dark chocolate melted; or
1 cup Milk chocolate melted; or
1 cup White chocolate melted

Chocolate in what form, chips, block, couverture?

Cover an oven tray with foil or baking paper. Wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly on paper towels.

Why is it important to dry the strawberries?

Melt the Dark, Milk or White Melts according to instructions on the packet.

What packet?

(You can melt chocolate in the microwave, or on the stove top).

No you can't without a double boiler.

Holding the strawberries by the stalk, dip them into the melted chocolate. Place on the tray. Leave to set. Use immediately, or refrigerate and use within 4 hours.

Who rated your software anyway?

Kuan
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks

Thanks for the responses.

A few answers to the questions:

1) The program is literally less than 90 days out on the market, and we have not begun to market it. Thus, the only reviews so far are from technology sites, USAToday.com, SoftPick, Tucows, etc.

2) Now that the basic platform and infrastructure are out there, we are looking to approach several cookbook publishers... but ideally, we would like to invite multiple ones at once.

We did not want to do so until we were quite confident that the data format was stable and the platform was out there and well-received. Thus, the current content is quite mainstream and "blueberry pie", as you note.

That's in fact the very purpose of my post -- we are looking to expand beyond this mainstream base.

3) My posts were just as stated. I'm not trying to advertise; I'm trying to find a good way to locate multiple cookbook publishers at once (if there were such a forum). It's rather surprising to me that the answer so far is as I expected -- that they do not, in fact, seem to have a central resource on the net where they tend to congregate. (I was asking on the off-chance that the media business had some kind of meeting grounds to swap ideas, vet authors, etc. Maybe another business opportunity? :-))

Thanks very much everyone... much appreciated
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your response...

BigOven is not targeted primarily at professional chefs, but as our tagline states, everyday cooks.

We are looking to expand our professional content considerably, thus my original post here. The initial content we do have comes primarily from recipes that has been previously posted to various public newsgroups. Where the source is known, we do post it. We're essentially providing an archive and a place for people to find and swap recipes.

Thanks
post #8 of 17
How is it possible to be surprised by what you expected?

The bottom line here is that "writers do not congregate and discuss stuff". What would we discuss? We are independent by nature, are protective of our sources, and even more protective of our publishing deals. There is nothing to talk about.

Good luck with your project but the answer to your question is that there is no easy way out. You're going to have to do a little hard work to find what you want.
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
post #9 of 17
All the more reason the recipes should be better written. There are many, MANY, fundamental cooking techniques which pros take for granted. Everyday cooks need more guidance, such as converting grams of flour (in the Samosa recipe) to cups. Some of the recipes are Metric, some Imperial, some a combination of both systems.

You need to get the recipes right and make sure they work.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks Joe and others

Very good and appropriate advice...

Again, I want to be clear that we fully recognize the recipe content needs to be culled through; we have a user comment and star-rating system that over time will help separate the wheat from the chaff. With over 100,000 searchable recipes hosted on our server farm, we admit that the posted content runs the gamut from truly dreadful to delightful. We took an approach of comprehensiveness, but also want to add a parallel approach of selected, extremely high-quality editorial, and thus my original post asking the true professionals whether you knew of any gathering ground.

I was hoping for the best -- i.e., that there might be some cookbook publisher gathering ground I hadn't heard of before --but expecting the worst (i.e., that it's just like any other challenge, as you and others noted).

Cheers. All the best and thanks for the comments.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks; just a note on this. BigOven has a built-in metric-Imperial converter and can of course convert recipe ingredients from imperial to metric and vice versa with a single click.

(But of course, as with most other recipe software does, it does not alter the instructions text, and gives the user a warning to go through the instruction text and alter that if necessary.)
post #12 of 17
Where and how did you gather your recipes for your software? And what would be your ideal candidate for submitting more?

There's a huge difference between Martha Stewart types and Morimoto types..... Some people need to know how to boil water, too.

From a marketing perspective, I'm sticking by my stance as saying that you need some professional reviews if your going to market to professionals. Like I said, a 5/5 "technology" rating means zero to a professional chef. That was the VERY FIRST THING I READ WHEN I WENT TO YOUR SITE.......

I'm not trying to beat you up here (and I don't think anyone else is either), however you're asking for professional opinions and we're certainly offering them to you. Cooking and serving people is what we do for a living, myself for 24 years.

Further, what is your ideal audience with BigOven? :confused:

Eric
www.RestaurantEdge.com
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Audience

Thanks for your comments Eric.

While we do have a few dozen chefs and catering professionals among registered users, but the vast majority of the users are cooking for themselves and their own families and significant others home. Beyond the content, BigOven does not include many features professional chefs will be looking for... including menu costing, pricing, and other basic features.

The ideal audience is the home chef who is looking to organize their own recipe collection, get nutrition information for their recipes (perhaps improve upon the nutritional content), discover new recipes from others, and share their favorites quickly easily with friends, family, cooking clubs, etc.

I appreciate everyone's input, and don't want to sound defensive. This thread has become a bit circular, because my original intent in posting here was to help us in the first step in solving the very problems you have already identified... nowhere do we claim that this is the product you should use as professional chefs. Not yet, at least. We've gathered our 100,000+ recipes from various public postings and publicly available forums on the web (usenet, etc.). Like the net itself, we do not claim that these 100,000+ recipes have been edited or tested. So, scattered throughout that content is everything from the absolutely atrocious to the absolutely wonderful. We have provided comment and rating facilities (and even editing and recipe resubmission features) for users to comment upon and continually improve recipes.

We could have shipped yet another recipe software system that ships with 20-50 tested recipes, but we wanted to deliver a system that allowed people to share and discover recipes through an associated shared database on the back-end. That is, we decided not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good; we neither author nor test the recipe content ourselves. We provide a means for the community to do so, submit new recipes, etc.

And we want to add additional, for-purchase electronic cookbooks that people can plug into the system, which it presently supports.

Thanks for everyone's help and input on this!

Steve, for the BigOven team.
post #14 of 17
Thanks Steve!

Here's a suggestion from someone who has taught others, and continues to educate professionals:

If you really want a software program that knocks them out, separating your product vs. others that are available, you may consider this:

Add an ingredient database: i.e. load descriptions of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, etc. so people know what ingredients to use when cooking. Images are important.

Seek a license from LaRousse Gastronomique, this is the culinary bible. There is none better than LG.

Provide "basic" information on cooking techniques. Wayne Gislen's "Professional Cooking" is used widely in culinary schools.

Insert information on cooking tools, equipment, and other important items, with instructions on how to use them correctly. Again, images are important. Your customers, (ordinary housewives), may not know what a "zester" or a "garlic press" is.

Have professionals use and test your product, and make changes to any errors you may have, such as the recipe that Kuan pointed out.

These are the things that are going to put your product out front. Otherwise another recipe program will fall into the fray of all your competition.

Chefs never get worse, they only get better. (or at least, in my own personal case I hope I'm getting better), which pushes us into a continual learning process. Personally, there are many recipe programs to choose from. Why be just another? Why not be the best?

Eric
www.RestaurantEdge.com
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Excellent input Eric

Thanks very much Eric.

Very insightful suggestions... we will look into addressing them over the coming months as we further build out the program and associated network.

Currently, our major area of differentiation is in the internet-enabled recipe-sharing, rating, and importing process.

We're definitely getting feedback from current users that is quite consistent with your suggestions, that basic technique and ingredient information (e.g., descriptions of spices, ingredients, and common combinations, ingredient information -- how to choose an avocado, etc., even wine pairings)... would be very helpful. We're listening, and very much appreciate the feedback.
post #16 of 17
But that is really nothing special at all. There are dozens of web sites that already offer all of that, and they are free.

Quite honestly, with all of the free web recipe resources, I can't see why anyone would build another such software program, but since you have already gone that route, pay attention to some of the advice here and make it different--really different.

Here is another thought. For years, professionals have used weights instead of volume measurements for non-liquids, e.g. measure flour in grams or ounces instead of cups. It much more accurate. It is time that someone took the lead and taught the public the value of this approach.
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
Joe
Exec. Chef, mon bistro à la maison
---------------------------------------
I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.
Reply
post #17 of 17
Steve,

I have much experience with contacting cookbook publshers and authors. For the most part you can search out the publisher on the internet and then contact their publicity department. Once you have a particular author in mind they are usually pretty good about putting people in touch with the authors. If you have an specific questions send me a private message.

I hope you software does well this is a tough market especially with so many recipe options available on the net. Take care.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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