“You should write a book,” they say. “They,” of course, have never written a book so forgive them, for they know not what they say.
I have, and it’s a ton of work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered. My gourmet smoothies are pretty awesome. And the truth is, writing the book is the fun part. Turns out it’s the easy part, too. It’s the rest that isn’t as much fun.
If you have a publisher, you don’t have to worry about things like book design and layout. You don’t have to worry about the cover design either. In fact, those things are rarely your choice. You might have input but since you are not paying for the book, you are not the decision maker. You also don’t have to worry about securing an ISBN number and Library of Congress number, both critical for selling books. You don’t have to worry about printing costs and warehousing the books. You don’t have to worry about establishing relationships with distributors.
So what do you have to worry about? You do have to worry about marketing and selling the book, whether you have a traditional publisher or self-publish.
It’s called stumping and I hate it.
You have to hit the road (whether that means locally or regionally or even nationally). Set up book signings, cooking classes, demonstrations… anything that will put you in front of potential buyers. You have to do media releases and online review site outreach to get publicity for your book. Alec Baldwin said it in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross:” ABC: Always Be Closing. Make a connection with a potential buyer. Get them to buy your book.
It’s not for me, that book flogging. Been there, done that. Sold 35,000 books (save a few gratis books for reviews and marketing purposes). Most cookbooks don’t make any serious money (unless you’re The Pioneer Woman or The Barefoot Contessa). Books do help establish credibility. A book is a marketing tool for the other skills you sell. Cooking up a viable culinary career means finding multiple streams of income. Books can be a piece of that (but more likely, you’ll have spent your paltry advance on groceries for recipe testing and perhaps on photography). Publishers love to find potential authors who already have a big following and who can take their own photography (that’s why there are tons of blogger books on the market).
So no. I shouldn’t write a smoothie book, E-book or printed. Or create an app. For one thing, the market is saturated – literally drowning in smoothie books. Google “smoothie cookbook” and you’ll get 696,000 hits. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for 696,001, but it means it would take a Herculean effort to break through the noise. And I don’t think I have the stomach for it.
Are my smoothies unique? Yes. I aim for flavor first and foremost. But I can’t create a sustainable competitive advantage over flavorful smoothie making. Others can write a book just like mine. So I prefer to sticking to making smoothies for fun. That is why I post them on Instagram with just the ingredients: to inspire you to make your own. So please, don’t tell me I should write a book. I volley it back to you and say, “you should go into the kitchen and make your own, and if you use my idea, that is my reward.”
To get you started, here is the recipe for one of my recent favorites:
Gourmet Smoothie no. 349: Blackberry + Bee Pollen + Chinese 5-Spice.
Why I never put blackberry and pineapple together before is beyond me. They were made for each other. Enjoy.
Blackberry + Bee Pollen + Chinese 5-Spice Smoothie
I sound like a broken record, but I never put ice in my smoothies. I think it dilutes the flavor. Instead, I use frozen fruit or I freeze juices in ice cube trays (think watermelon). This particular smoothie is one of the most explosive flavored smoothies I’ve ever made. Blackberry and pineapple love each other, and bee pollen is an interesting twist, but if you don’t have any, you can just add a touch of honey. What really makes this pop is the Chinese 5-Spice and Sichuan peppercorns. They add an exotic element that will leave your taste buds in ecstasy — and a little numb, thanks to the peppercorns. About the flax seeds… I’ve been trying to sneak some extra nutrition into my smoothies, but not at the expense of the flavor. The other flavors in this smoothie are strong enough to mask the flax seed taste, so you don’t notice it.
- Yield: 2 servings
- Category: Smoothies
- 1-1/2 cups coconut water
- 1 cup (4-1/2 oz) frozen blackberries
- 1 cup (4-1/2 oz) frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground flax seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon bee pollen (plus extra for garnish) (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
- Place all the ingredients, in the order lists, beginning with the coconut water, in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and garnish with bee pollen, if using. Serve immediately.
Other smoothie posts on Pen & Fork: