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Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More

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Will Write for Food is for food lovers who want to express themselves, guiding them from their earliest creative impulses to successful article writing, restaurant reviewing, and cookbook writing. Dianne Jacob—journalist and food-writing instructor and coach—offers interviews with award-winning writers such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Molly O'Neill, and Deborah Will Write for Food is for food lovers who want to express themselves, guiding them from their earliest creative impulses to successful article writing, restaurant reviewing, and cookbook writing. Dianne Jacob—journalist and food-writing instructor and coach—offers interviews with award-winning writers such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Molly O'Neill, and Deborah Madison, plus well-known book and magazine editors and literary agents, give readers the tools to get started and the confidence to follow through. Comprehensive yet accessible chapters range from restaurant reviewing to cookbooks to memoirs. Focused exercises at the end of chapters stimulate creativity, help organize thought, and build practical skills. Will Write for Food is the first and ultimate ins and outs guidebook to the incredibly popular world of food writing.


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Will Write for Food is for food lovers who want to express themselves, guiding them from their earliest creative impulses to successful article writing, restaurant reviewing, and cookbook writing. Dianne Jacob—journalist and food-writing instructor and coach—offers interviews with award-winning writers such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Molly O'Neill, and Deborah Will Write for Food is for food lovers who want to express themselves, guiding them from their earliest creative impulses to successful article writing, restaurant reviewing, and cookbook writing. Dianne Jacob—journalist and food-writing instructor and coach—offers interviews with award-winning writers such as Jeffrey Steingarten, Calvin Trillin, Molly O'Neill, and Deborah Madison, plus well-known book and magazine editors and literary agents, give readers the tools to get started and the confidence to follow through. Comprehensive yet accessible chapters range from restaurant reviewing to cookbooks to memoirs. Focused exercises at the end of chapters stimulate creativity, help organize thought, and build practical skills. Will Write for Food is the first and ultimate ins and outs guidebook to the incredibly popular world of food writing.

30 review for Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    A great how-to guide and resource for aspiring writers. Jacob offers the same advice I'm finding in many of the writing books I'm reading - write every day, use the active voice, read, learn, etc - but she also adds lots of online and print resources ... not only for selling material, but for self-education as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    For anyone thinking of writing food pieces in any medium, this book is a must have. The field is extremely competitive, but determination and work will result in publication, even if that publication will be developing a strong personal blog. Some food bloggers are making a living and have started major trends in writing. The most famous of these is food52.com, led by Amanda Hesser, editor of The New York Times Cookbook and regular NYT contributer. The Pioneer Woman, while not a pro, has an extr For anyone thinking of writing food pieces in any medium, this book is a must have. The field is extremely competitive, but determination and work will result in publication, even if that publication will be developing a strong personal blog. Some food bloggers are making a living and have started major trends in writing. The most famous of these is food52.com, led by Amanda Hesser, editor of The New York Times Cookbook and regular NYT contributer. The Pioneer Woman, while not a pro, has an extremely successful blog, too. Other places for publishing food writing include newspapers, travel magazines and dedicated food periodicals, cookbooks, memoirs such as those of the inimitable MFK Fisher's, and others. Will Write For Food addresses each of these, as well as teaches the reader how to do it well. While there's no substitute for actually writing pieces, nor even a hardcore class on food writing, this book is an invaluable addition to the writer's skill set. I strongly suggest that food writers add it to their libraries and consult it regularly.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Good advice on good writing. Everyone I've ever read and respected makes an appearance, from MFK Fisher to Hemingway to Deborah Madison to the author of that Jewish cookbook Katie gave me for Hanukkah to the guy from Gourmet whose blog I just started reading. And, best of all, everyone I haven't read yet! My to-read list is now overflowing with gems of food writing. Oh, yeah, and there's all kinds of industry advice here that seems indispensably helpful if you're actually trying to get published Good advice on good writing. Everyone I've ever read and respected makes an appearance, from MFK Fisher to Hemingway to Deborah Madison to the author of that Jewish cookbook Katie gave me for Hanukkah to the guy from Gourmet whose blog I just started reading. And, best of all, everyone I haven't read yet! My to-read list is now overflowing with gems of food writing. Oh, yeah, and there's all kinds of industry advice here that seems indispensably helpful if you're actually trying to get published, and mildly intriguing in a behind-the-scenes way if you're not. (Hint: you better plan on doing it for the love, not the money.) Try to find the forthcoming new edition which is supposed to deal more seriously with writing online. Or, you know, avoid it since she's sure to point you towards more arresting food blogs than you could read in a lifetime.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cory Van Horn

    I was so excited with I first bought the book. Since it had won an award for great writing, I figured with would provide me with new insights into the food writing world. Sadly, the book was so boring I had to retire it to the “will read later pile” after finishing the second chapter. The author seems switch between her own narrative and quotes from other books almost every other paragraph. This causes the book to take on a textbook feel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    If you are interested in writing a book about food or filled with recipes, I would definitely suggest you read this book. Very interesting and full of information, plus the author interviewed several authors who are actually writing in this genre to find out what they had to say. Each chapter has writing activity suggestions to help you put into effect what she has taught you. Just one warning: Be prepared to take a lot of notes. :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is a great reference chocked full of practical information, frank advice, and examples of how to work intelligently. I am impressed that the author got so many famous food writers to share their personal stories, too!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Great for anyone beginning to think about writing professionally. Good tips on crafting and refining. I enjoyed all of the stories from well known food writers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Willow A.

    I applaud this book on being incredibly thorough. You'll find reasonably detailed information on virtually every aspect of food related writing you can think of here, from blogging and cookbook writing to freelancing and fiction – including various ways people make money with each, and plenty of grounded reminders of the amount of time, work, and sometimes luck involved for those who do it successfully. Whatever kind of food writing you want to do, you are likely to find some useful advice in thi I applaud this book on being incredibly thorough. You'll find reasonably detailed information on virtually every aspect of food related writing you can think of here, from blogging and cookbook writing to freelancing and fiction – including various ways people make money with each, and plenty of grounded reminders of the amount of time, work, and sometimes luck involved for those who do it successfully. Whatever kind of food writing you want to do, you are likely to find some useful advice in this book. However, there will most likely be a lot of parts that don't interest you, too, and if you make yourself read them anyway, in the hopes you might glean something useful, you'll probably be disappointed. At least that's how I felt reading the chapters that didn't pertain to my specific interests. Fortunately, the book is well organized, so skipping the parts that don't benefit you is easy enough to do. (For some reason I was determined to read every word... how could I say I'd “read the book” if I only actually read half? So I stuck with it even when it bored me. That said, I'd rather have too much information than not enough, and when it comes to covering a wide range of topics, this book does a great job.) My only real complaint is one thing this book completely failed to deliver on: as a book that's all about writing, I kiiiind of expected it would be written really well. I went into it hoping for... I don't know, personality? Whimsy? To be entertained while I was educated. For the most part (aside from some of the areas where the author quotes other food writers) the information is delivered so dryly, it was hard to choke down (pardon the pun). I started reading in January and had to set the book down for several months before picking it up again. I'm glad I finished it (the last chapter in the updated edition is especially useful to bloggers like myself) but it seems like the author took a somewhat textbooky approach to writing this book. Perhaps in a sincere effort to be as informative and clear as possible, which is commendable, but it certainly effected my enjoyment. Hence, 3 stars. I'd still recommend this to anyone wanting to learn about various ways food writing can be implemented, how the publishing industry works, or how to make money writing, but skim for the parts that are most valid to you.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy Seitz

    4.5 out of 5 stars This book was assigned for a food writing class at my university. So I read most of it at the beginning of 2016 however I wanted to finish it because this book is really well done and jam packed with information about writing with food. Overall seriously enjoyed it

  10. 5 out of 5

    FreshGrads .Sg

    Especially in foodie-haven Singapore, food writing is everywhere – in magazines, newspapers and most prevalently on the world wide web. If you are an aspiring food blogger or simply a foodie looking for extra sources of income to supplement your guilty indulgences through writing, this is the book for you. Will Write for Food is based on the author Dianne Jacob's own experiences as a blogger, cookbook author, freelance writer and former magazine editor. The comprehensive book covers, in individua Especially in foodie-haven Singapore, food writing is everywhere – in magazines, newspapers and most prevalently on the world wide web. If you are an aspiring food blogger or simply a foodie looking for extra sources of income to supplement your guilty indulgences through writing, this is the book for you. Will Write for Food is based on the author Dianne Jacob's own experiences as a blogger, cookbook author, freelance writer and former magazine editor. The comprehensive book covers, in individual chapters, several popular aspects of food writing, including how to become a freelance food writer, on starting with your own cookbook, and getting published with a food blog. And for those researching the world of food writers, the book further illustrates with interviews with 75 of the world's most successful and award-winning food writers, literary agents, cookbook editors and recipe developers such as Molly O'Neill and Jeffrey Steingarten, on top of a foreword by David Lebovitz. Praise for Will Write for Food “Will Write for Food is a concise, illustrative and eminently useful guide to the nuts and bolts of professional food writing. Dianne Jacob gets right to the heart of what it takes not just to write—but to write well— about food. And she’s managed to wrangle a remarkable group of veterans to share their experiences and examples.” – Anthony Bourdain, author of the New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential For more book reviews, visit FreshGrads Reads. We also do reviews on food, movies and more in Singapore. Check us out here!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    According to Goodreads, I’ve been reading this book since April 24, and it is now November 17. It’s time to admit that it’s likely I won’t finish it right now, and to put it back on the shelf. How ironic that I got stuck in the chapter “Memoir and Nonfiction Food Writing,” since this is the closest chapter to what my food blog, Seasonal Eating is about. IMHO the best way to read this book is to go right to the chapters that are about the kind of food writing that you do or aspire to do and read According to Goodreads, I’ve been reading this book since April 24, and it is now November 17. It’s time to admit that it’s likely I won’t finish it right now, and to put it back on the shelf. How ironic that I got stuck in the chapter “Memoir and Nonfiction Food Writing,” since this is the closest chapter to what my food blog, Seasonal Eating is about. IMHO the best way to read this book is to go right to the chapters that are about the kind of food writing that you do or aspire to do and read them first. Each chapter is powerful and targeted and stands on its own. Ms. Jacob states that she prefers the reader proceed with the chapters in order, but says that it’s not necessary. The fact that each chapter is dense with information and most contain writing exercises can dilute your initial enthusiasm if you must wade through many food topics before coming to your target. This is especially true if you’re already doing some food writing and must sneak in your reading time between deadlines. Dianne Jacob is probably the best-known food author, editor, and food writing coach in the US. She IS the source. Her book is a wonderful reference for food writers, and I’m sure it will be off my shelf again in no time. Topics include blogging, freelancing, restaurant reviewing, cookbooks, food in fiction and nonfiction, and even how to write a recipe. Plus there’s a bonus chapter on how to get your book published. If you’re thinking about being a food writer, or beginning to write about food, definitely read this book. You might also want to follow the author’s food writing blog.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    When I saw ‘Will Write for Food’ on a bookshelf in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, I was surprised and excited that a book existed for such a narrow topic. I don’t usually do this, but in this case, I bought it immediately without even browsing the chapters and rolled the dice that the author (Dianne Jacob) had done her homework. As I was walking home, I realized how easily a book like this could be slapped together and sold to people like me, who just started a food blog (WithoutTakeout.co When I saw ‘Will Write for Food’ on a bookshelf in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, I was surprised and excited that a book existed for such a narrow topic. I don’t usually do this, but in this case, I bought it immediately without even browsing the chapters and rolled the dice that the author (Dianne Jacob) had done her homework. As I was walking home, I realized how easily a book like this could be slapped together and sold to people like me, who just started a food blog (WithoutTakeout.com). I shouldn’t have been worried. ‘Will Write for Food’ is smartly organized and offers a wide range of advice for all types of food writers. The author also included opinions from several established food writers, which was particularly helpful. For example, the chapter on restaurant reviewing had advice from all the major food reviewers that I’ve read over the years (Frank Bruni, Michael Bauer, etc.). This book has already been incredibly useful and should be a resource for me as I look to expand my food writing. (Disclaimer: I’ve only ready about 75% of this book, only the chapters that apply to me) Buy 'Will Write for Food' from Amazon.com

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    A bible for all things food-writing, I highly recommend this for anyone that has any interest in the area at all. Written in a tone that seems like you are having a conversation with a friend, this is a must-read that you won't want to put down. Chapters include information on writing a food blog, developing a cookbook, the art of memoir, fiction that includes food, freelancing, writing restaurant reviews and getting published. Jacob not only provides a wealth of information for the aspiring writ A bible for all things food-writing, I highly recommend this for anyone that has any interest in the area at all. Written in a tone that seems like you are having a conversation with a friend, this is a must-read that you won't want to put down. Chapters include information on writing a food blog, developing a cookbook, the art of memoir, fiction that includes food, freelancing, writing restaurant reviews and getting published. Jacob not only provides a wealth of information for the aspiring writer, she also includes writing exercises and book suggestions at the end of each chapter. Additionally, she interviewed many well-known foodies for the book and the advice and stories of people like Anthony Bourdain, Ree Drummond, Ruth Reichl, Julia Child, MFK Fisher, David Lebovitz, Molly Wizenberg and more appear scattered throughout the book. There isn't a single question I could think of that isn't addressed somewhere in the book. One word of warning: reading this book will make you want to quit your job so that you can divide your time between creating in the kitchen and writing up a storm on the computer!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Murissa

    I am a food and travel blogger and I have been wanting to write a novel with a food focus. I also have been writing food and travel articles for free and was thinking about getting my work published. I bought this book to help me in all aspects of my writing. I graduated university with a major in creative writing and found myself out of my element when it came to writing articles about restaurants, food history etc. so I looked to this book for help and direction. I definitely found every chapt I am a food and travel blogger and I have been wanting to write a novel with a food focus. I also have been writing food and travel articles for free and was thinking about getting my work published. I bought this book to help me in all aspects of my writing. I graduated university with a major in creative writing and found myself out of my element when it came to writing articles about restaurants, food history etc. so I looked to this book for help and direction. I definitely found every chapter helpful and the writing exercises are great for when you feel stumped. She gives various perspectives within the industry besides her own and is encouraging yet realistic about the difficulties you'll encounter with getting published. It is an invaluable reference book that gives you a long list of other books to read for help or pleasure. I would recommend it to anyone starting out with a blog or anyone wanting to write about food in any genre really.

  15. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Blogs must not have been big in 2005, when this book was published, because otherwise I'd be shocked at their almost complete lack of existence in this book about food writing. A food blog is why I picked up this book, to get some helpful ideas for writing my own recipes, critiquing other peoples' recipes, reviewing restaurants and the like. Will Write for Food takes a comprehensive look at the food writing "industry" and informs readers how to hone their food writing skills in many ways, and no Blogs must not have been big in 2005, when this book was published, because otherwise I'd be shocked at their almost complete lack of existence in this book about food writing. A food blog is why I picked up this book, to get some helpful ideas for writing my own recipes, critiquing other peoples' recipes, reviewing restaurants and the like. Will Write for Food takes a comprehensive look at the food writing "industry" and informs readers how to hone their food writing skills in many ways, and not just with the nuts and bolts of writing with ones senses. This book covers how to write food fiction, food memoirs, restaurant reviews, cookbooks, how to get published as a freelancer or author, and includes relevant tips from insiders. Overall I'd say it's still helpful for food bloggers, as the sections on how to write better, and the writing exercises, give some good starting points for working on writing skills, with a particular focus on food.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    Jacob did complete the goal the back of the book promised, just not very well. She seems obsessed with food blogs and cookbooks, focusing on them over what I really came for: how to write about food and write food fiction/journalism. The book is too focused on certain aspects that don't apply to me or anyone, really. A lot of the book felt like Hell to get through, just dry, bad writing. She makes a lot of statements I had to highlight and add a massive "?" to because they were so ridiculous. Wh Jacob did complete the goal the back of the book promised, just not very well. She seems obsessed with food blogs and cookbooks, focusing on them over what I really came for: how to write about food and write food fiction/journalism. The book is too focused on certain aspects that don't apply to me or anyone, really. A lot of the book felt like Hell to get through, just dry, bad writing. She makes a lot of statements I had to highlight and add a massive "?" to because they were so ridiculous. Why would you think that!? Why would you ignore such a good counter argument!? I learned a lot with this book, not really not enough, and I learned it in the poorest way possible. Really hope the rest of my food books are better than this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jes

    Will Write for Food is a pleasant overview of various forms in which food writing can manifest. Dianne Jacob's voice is largely one of encouragement to follow your dreams of food writing, with an underlying and persistent parental tone reminding the reader that your journey is going to be less glamorous than anticipated, filled with hard work in writing and other unexpected tasks, and peppered with frequent disappointment. As a 'complete' guide to food writing Will Write for Food certainly can b Will Write for Food is a pleasant overview of various forms in which food writing can manifest. Dianne Jacob's voice is largely one of encouragement to follow your dreams of food writing, with an underlying and persistent parental tone reminding the reader that your journey is going to be less glamorous than anticipated, filled with hard work in writing and other unexpected tasks, and peppered with frequent disappointment. As a 'complete' guide to food writing Will Write for Food certainly can be considered a foundation for inspiration, practical considerations, and starting exercises for novice food writers.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Excellent reference work on writing about food - it's a style guide that's customized for food writing. Jacob offers comments and insights from well known and much loved writers along with her own perspectives gained from her experience and her blog by the same name. A nice feature are the writing exercises that are included at the end of each chapter. Great for beginning writers and wanna bees with good content for the experienced writer. And no recipes to detract from the writing! Well deserve Excellent reference work on writing about food - it's a style guide that's customized for food writing. Jacob offers comments and insights from well known and much loved writers along with her own perspectives gained from her experience and her blog by the same name. A nice feature are the writing exercises that are included at the end of each chapter. Great for beginning writers and wanna bees with good content for the experienced writer. And no recipes to detract from the writing! Well deserved winner of the 2005 Cordon d'Or Literary Reference Award. Continue the experience by following Jacob on her blog. --Ashland Mystery

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    #66 - 2010 Not sure why I picked this up except that, flipping through, I noticed there were nuggets of insight offered by many big food writing names. Reading books about writing can be interesting even if you do not plan on writing, as reading On Writing by Stephen King proved to me. I skimmed some sections, such as those on writing recipes or writing cookbooks, but read all the others. Probably only people somewhat familiar with the food writing world would be interested in reading this if the #66 - 2010 Not sure why I picked this up except that, flipping through, I noticed there were nuggets of insight offered by many big food writing names. Reading books about writing can be interesting even if you do not plan on writing, as reading On Writing by Stephen King proved to me. I skimmed some sections, such as those on writing recipes or writing cookbooks, but read all the others. Probably only people somewhat familiar with the food writing world would be interested in reading this if they weren't planning on writing something food related but I found it quite enjoyable and added a few books to my "to read" list because of authors she quoted.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mightyko Jackson

    This book is so important if you are interested in any kind of food writing-- books, blogs, news... It gives a lot of background to the food writing industry, techniques on improving yourself as a food writer, as well as insight on good writers' lives and beliefs about writing. This book also helped me to focus in on what my purpose is as a writer and whether I wanted to be more serious/realistic about it. Dianne's blog is also wonderful for issues in food writing. I encourage you to follow it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Itisme

    A library loan. It is informative and in many respects dull. Such is life. I don't doubt for a second that this author was anything but thorough in her explanations about the industry of food writing. The chapter on writing cookbooks bored me to tears but the memoir section was good. Again it was useful as probably the most truthful information about getting published and self-publishing. Worth my time to get it out of the library a second time when I was ready to read it. What a difference a year A library loan. It is informative and in many respects dull. Such is life. I don't doubt for a second that this author was anything but thorough in her explanations about the industry of food writing. The chapter on writing cookbooks bored me to tears but the memoir section was good. Again it was useful as probably the most truthful information about getting published and self-publishing. Worth my time to get it out of the library a second time when I was ready to read it. What a difference a year can make.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    pretty interesting and this author talked to everyone who is anyone. my opinion is i really didn't think the author's writing was that good. as a result, the book was lackluster and could have been huge. i did learn some things. my favorite sentence was "Who are these people who like muffins?" i was amazed with the story of Judy Kancigor's family cookbook turned Melting Pot Memories. pretty awesome though i can't find it's still in print.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    Great resource for anyone interested in writing about food. While I don't personally have that goal, I do read a lot of food memoirs and cookbooks and thought this would have good behind-the-scenes insights, which it did. I read the 2005 version, which did not cover the rise of food blogs (they had not yet risen) or even how food memoir has grown even more popular in the intervening years. This appears to be included in a revised version.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    If you are a writer, or read a few books on writing/getting published, you might not get anything new from the “how to” parts of this book. But, I enjoyed the stories by established food writers about how they got started & what inspires them. She interviewed some of the best in the field, although in spots I felt she was just name dropping. The bibliography itself was worth the walk to the library to pick it up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Serge Pierro

    Dianne Jacob's book on food writing is probably the best source of information on the subject currently available. However, the book does lack a certain "spark" and seems to be more of a gathering of anecdotes, than an original source of instruction. Lots of topics are covered, and for the neophyte, lots of foundational information. But for the food writer with any previous experience, the material is somewhat pedestrian.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fee

    Practical, basic and complete. Some good advice, writing exercises and background stories from other food writers. However, I could have done with less background and name dropping and definitely less references throughout the text. A list in the back with other recommended books for instance would have been fine with me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This was an excellent book on food writing in lots of ways. I read the updated version that is not on Goodreads which includes a ton of information on food blogging. I learned lots of things that I am putting towards my own blog and I can see an improvement in my own writing already. This is a must read for anyone who wants to be a food writer in any capacity. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    N.

    The Bible for anyone that wants to be involved in the Food business: whether it be cookbook writer, food writer, or food blogger, you need to own this book now. Jacob puts everything on the table in a clear and concise way so you know what you're getting into and how to improve your chances on getting published. Excellent.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela Boyle

    This book read like a conversation with the author. She has such a friendly style and she includes so much useful information. I can't recommend it enough. I think you could even apply the information in this book to other types of niche writing, like knitting. There are many examples that would not apply specifically but will still get the point across.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin Nudi

    An essential guide for anyone who is currently involved in, or wants to be involved with, food writing. Everything is covered from food blogs to writing cookbooks to restaurant reviews - even food writing in fiction is briefly delved into. Definitely a book I will be referring back to frequently.

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