Some Thoughts on Book Writing and Starting a Food Blog

The Guardian Word of Mouth published a piece today on bloggers that write books, or blogs that become books, including a mention of mine, and it prompted some interesting conversation. I find that I am talking to people about this topic more and more when they meet me now, especially when they hear that I have written a book. There is a always a lot of questions, somehow people want to understand how this phenomenon or trend has been taken seriously by publishers, also why the hell do I write a food blog so obsessively in the first place? So, why not a few words on that?

Firstly, starting a food blog (in the UK) in 2007, was a very different thing to starting one now. There was no expectation of anything coming of it. There were a few pioneers, but there simply wasn’t a culture of blogging about food particularly, certainly not in the way there is now. There seems to be far more food blogs than any other type of blog in the UK at the moment. Nor were there any success stories, book deals or expectations of free things to review like meals or products as there is now (if bloggers choose to accept them, I am not getting into that argument now!).

Instead, it was a raw, and I believe, honest pursuit. I am not for a second suggesting it is dishonest now, but new bloggers are in a far different environment. Paths have been beaten to journalistic careers and publishers doors, and there is now the possibility of a trajectory and of success in a food related sphere.

Starting a blog for me back then was little more that creating a trough for obsession and dissatisfaction with current pursuits. For me, I was very unhappy in my job and felt unhappy when I looked at where I was and where I was going to be, but I loved food, loved to cook, loved to create recipes, and I also loved to write. It was a natural, if unexplored path for me to follow, and from when I started, I enjoyed every minute and just wanted to get better at it. People responded well to the recipes which was incredibly encouraging, and I started to enjoy it more and more. It started to define my everyday existence.

Over the years publishers started to get in touch about doing a book, but the timing always seemed to be appalling for me. The last few years have been peppered with dramas which I won`t go into here and now. Writing a book has aways been a dream of mine (I realise it is for a lot of people), so I took it very seriously as I wanted to do it properly, and so I held off until I felt that I was in a place where I had something concrete that I wanted to write about in a book format. I think where people make the greatest assumption is the next bit, that a publisher will publish any blogger with an audience. That is simply not the case.

Before any publisher would take me seriously, even if they were the ones that made the first move by getting in touch, I had to have a concrete book proposal with a hook, something that defined it and made it stand out. For me that also meant something that made it very much me. My proposal was almost 30 pages of overview, book structure, recipes, feedback, table of contents and all other pertinent things. I met publishers to discuss it, defended my concept, took their feedback on, and when I found the publisher that was right for me – Quadrille – I signed with them.

Writing a book itself, is more difficult than I imagined. Writing full time for weeks and weeks, running into months and months is challenging (if still the best job that I have ever had). Recipe testing over and over begins to feel inhumane (but essential). At the end of it, I am left with my first book – Comfort & Spice, published this September by Quadrille – which I am very proud of, and I hope that you like it too.

And that is it. My story so far. Who knows what comes next, but I am not thinking like that. I am still enjoying this for what it is, and still loving writing about it all, every single minute.

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Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.