How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger

So you want to be a food writer? Here you go! How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger tells you how to break in, even if you’ve never written before (with — and this is the best part — email addresses of publications and cookbook publishers you can write for today). How to get paid. How to find your perfect voice. And tons more. There’s an excerpt from How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger after the jump.

The excerpt, below, is from the section in How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger on how to become a cookbook author.

How to find a great agent
The first question, actually, isn’t how to find an agent, but if you should find an agent. One good reason is many of the major publishing houses will not accept unagented submissions. And, the ones that do, let them languish in what is called a slush pile, only looking at them after they have looked at all the agented submissions. Long after.

But your agent does more than merely sell your work to domestic publishers. Your agent also represents your interests to foreign publishers. And film producers. In fact, they can represent your interests in everything from a TV deal to an audio book deal.

And when you do get that publishing deal, your agent acts as your advocate, negotiating your contract; advising you on your rights and obligations; even running interference, if needed, with the publisher. This is why many writers retain the services of an agent.

What does your agent get in return? A percentage of your income. Traditionally 15% for domestic rights and 20% for foreign. And, do note, agents get paid by selling your work; not by charging you fees. An agent that charges you a reading fee, an editing fee, or any other fee is an agent to walk away from.

Of course, you are not required to have an agent. I have a literary agent now, but I didn’t when I sold my first book to McGraw-Hill. So you certainly can manage without one, if you prefer. However, if you do want an agent, here are some good resources to help you find one:

* Writer’s Market – book or website

* Literary Market Place (it is a seriously big and seriously expensive book; look for it at your library)

* Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents

* www.agentquery.com

* Association of Authors’ Representatives (aaronline.org)

Also, check the acknowledgement section of cookbooks you admire to get the name of their agent. Meet agents at writers’ conferences and book fairs, such as BookExpo America (www.bookexpoamerica.com). And ask other writers what agents they recommend.

As you search, focus on agents who are accepting authors and who represent cookbooks. Check their websites for their submission guidelines (such as if they prefer their queries to be sent via email or snail mail; most prefer email), then write and send them a query letter (don’t know how; no worries, the next chapter will tell you everything you need to know). Then wait. And wait. And wait. Then, once several weeks have gone by, you can follow up. Keep it brief and cheerful and professional. Refer to your original query. And wait some more. If they are interested, great. If not, this is not the agent for you. Send your query to another one.

(Excerpt courtesy of How to Write about Food: How to Become a Published Restaurant Critic, Food Journalist, Cookbook Author, and Food Blogger.)