Liz Garnett writes … Ah it all seemed so easy … the idea of writing a cookery book.
How hard could it be? It would just be a matter of compiling a series of recipes. Stop that thought right there! The idea, the vision is the easy part. My latest cookery book has been years’ in the planning and my research tells me that I am not alone in the amount of time it has taken to compile it.
The concept was to put together a second cookery book for the English speaking holiday maker on a camping or self-catering holiday in France. One friend had complained that cookery books needed too many ingredients that ended up languishing in the back of his cupboard. Another friend refuses point blank to consider a recipe with too many ingredients. I certainly don’t like buying lots of basic ingredients in France that only get half used and then end up being transported back to the UK.
Thus the idea for the latest book was born. It was going to rely on a basic number of store cupboard ingredients and the rest of the food for recipes could be sourced from local markets or shops. This sounds easy but has resulted in a lot of time developing recipes and drawing on my knowledge of French markets and supermarkets.
Once the book had started to develop it then needed to be left to rest while my brain whirred away in the background thinking about how everything would fit together. How would the chapters be set out; what additional information would I add to the “miscellaneous” section? Over the years more French words were added to the appendix which had started life in my first book. Numerous recipes were found, edited and adapted. Then once the draft book was full to bursting it was time to let it rest for a month or two before going through and culling recipes that didn’t quite fit. Time and again recipes were tested and adapted where necessary.
Then comes the arduous task of proof reading. At times it has felt like having my teeth pulled and at others the final weeks of proof reading seemed more like the final month of pregnancy with the inability to sit still for five minutes and the need to get up and move around at regular intervals. Just when I think that I have made all the necessary corrections and I do “one final” read through I find another correction.
Then it is time to send it off to the printers. Not a quick press of a button but an hour or more double checking formatting and making sure all the publishing information was correct. It felt like giving birth and once the final button had been pressed to send it on its way felt very much like the last push to deliver a baby. Afterwards I felt drained and in need of a rest.
Sadly, like having a baby, this is where the hard work starts. The marketing machine starts to work overtime. When the book is printed it is then time to show it off like a new born baby. Woe betide the person who says “my goodness isn’t it ugly?” or “it looks just like a baby pig!”
I am not alone in my experience of creating a cookery book. Many established writers talk of the importance of getting out the first draft and then putting the book down and leaving it for a few months before returning to it and making the first set of changes. This allows them to see the book with fresh eyes when they pick it up again. It is then a matter of coming back to the book time and again, checking facts, making alterations, proof reading and so on before the book is ready for printing.
As Gwen, Deborah and I sit down on a Thursday morning to chat with our guests who are authors it is fascinating to discover the journey they have travelled on to create their latest book. Like a new born baby, each one is different and who knows which one will be winning awards in the future. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to chat with these authors and find out more about how they came to write their book.
French Holiday Cookery – Camping Lite will be published on 3 July 2017. For updates and offers sign up to the mailing list for details: eepurl.com/0YJbD . Catch Deborah, Gwen and Liz on Girls do Coffee on Expat Radio every Thursday morning between 11am and 1pm French time.
Liz Garnett – www.lizgarnett.com