So far there has been a lot of advice about planning and promoting your book. It’s time to start scribbling that first crummy draft.
And, yet again, I am going to ask you to think back to the makeup of your audience. This will impact on how you write and what you include, especially if you have chosen non-fiction as the modality you will work with.
I am reminded of an experience my sisters and I had a few years ago.
The younger set of nieces and nephews were starting to get married. We decided to put together a Parkinson Family cookbook. Each of us (there were five of us) had some of the recipes that had been passed down from previous generations. We also contributed recipes that our current families had enjoyed over the years, many of which were quick and easy to prepare, good resources for a newly married couple.
One of our grandmothers was a fantastic baker. We were thrilled when my sister Pat found a copy of Grandma P’s recipe for Brownstone Cake, our dad’s very favorite cake. She had given it to Pat at her wedding shower over fifty years prior.
When Pat started to put the recipe into the template we had developed for the cookbook, she discovered that some critical information was missing.
All she found on her recipe card was
- A list of ingredients
- A pan size, temperature, and time
When Grandma P learned to cook and bake, everyone baked from scratch. They all knew:
- That you started by creaming the butter and sugar until light.
- That you then added the eggs and beat some more.
- That you sifted all the dry ingredients together.
- That you alternated adding the dry and liquid ingredients until all were mixed in.
- That you beat the batter just enough but not too much.
- That you put the pans on the middle shelf in the oven so the top and bottom baked evenly.
- And that you could tell it was done by the way the top of each layer looked and how it bounced back just a little when you lightly touched the top in the middle.
My grandmother and her friends didn’t need to have any of these steps written out to bake a light and delicious cake. My sisters and I had to dig out The Joy of Cooking and look for similar cakes baked from scratch and create our own set of instructions to go with the ingredients. Then we could bake the cake ourselves and share the recipe with our children.
Think about your topic and what you can realistically expect your readers to already know about it. Keep this in mind as you write.
This is one of the areas where an editor can be really helpful. When you start writing about a topic you are an expert on, it easy to leave out information that is critical for a newbie to understand and enjoy your book. Your editor serves as a stand-in for your reader and can ask questions as you go along so you know where to add clarity to your presentation.
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Ready to learn more about working with an editor? Let me partner with you as your Book Enchantress and we can quickly get you on your way.
Give me a call at 843-593-0045 or use this link to schedule a call to talk about what is involved.
Brownstone Front Cake
Grandma Alfreda Parkinson
1 ½ cups sugar 1 t baking powder
½ cup butter 1 t baking soda
2 eggs 1 t vanilla
1 cup buttermilk 1 ½ squares baking chocolate, melted
2 cups flour
Cream sugar with softened butter. Add yolks of eggs and melted chocolate. Mix flour, baking powder and soda. Add buttermilk and flour alternately to butter/sugar mixture, starting and ending with flour. Add vanilla and beaten whites of eggs last.
Bake in two 9″ cake pans at 350° for 25-30 minutes.