Will Write for Food

A Q&A with food writer and blogger Dianne Jacob

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: September 11, 2012

Will Write for Food

Dream of being paid to write restaurant reviews? Wonder how to actually make money off your food blog? Have a batch of recipes you're itching to publish as a bona fide cookbook? Look no further than Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob.

Written with the authority only experience confers combined with the sensibility of a beloved teacher, Dianne offers exhaustively detailed advice on all aspects of food writing, from how to conduct interviews for articles to how to take good photos for your blog. In addition, she includes tips from seasoned experts such as Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl, and Ree Drummond, as well as leading cookbook agents and editors. The appendix alone, which features a list of magazines that take freelance writers, is worth the price of the book.

To learn more, read this month's Q&A with Dianne Jacob.


Dianne Jacob is the author of Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More, which won the Cordon D'Or International award for Best Literary Food Reference Book and the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for best book in the USA. She has written feature articles for Salon.com, Gastronomica, and Writer's Digest as well as taught classes on food writing at the Smithsonian Institute and UCLA's Journalism Department. In addition, she edits cookbooks for national publishers and individuals and coaches writers on writing and publishing books, freelance articles, and blogs. For more information, visit http://www.diannej.com/ and http://diannej.com/blog/

Q: How did you get started as a food writer?

A: My second job out of journalism school was as editor of a city restaurant magazine. I wrote lots of interviews with chefs and features about dining in fine restaurants.

Q: If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?

A: I had no idea how to write a recipe, which I often included when I interviewed chefs. In those days, there were no books on the subject, but today writers have my book as a reference tool, plus my blog for lots of discussion on the subject.

Q: What three mistakes should newbie food writers avoid?

A: Using generic words to describe food, such as delicious and tasty. Thinking that describing the food well is the goal of the article. The goals of the article are: to tell a good story, entertain readers, and teach them something. If they are using a recipe from another published source, such as a cookbook or blog, they need permission to use the recipe verbatim.

Q: Alternatively, what are three signs of a top-notch food writer?

A: A top-notch food writer is a top-notch writer. The only extra credential is if that person specializes in recipe writing. He or she should be an incredible storyteller who uses food as a way to express culture, history, politics, or a sense of place.

Q: Who is your agent and how did you meet him/her? If you don't have an agent, how did you come to be published by Da Capo Lifelong Books?

A: My agent is Carole Bidnick. I met her because I coached a writer on a proposal, and Carole was impressed by the quality of the work. She submitted my proposal to the publisher of Marlowe & Company, who bought the book. That publishing house was acquired and is now Da Capo.

Q: Aside from your genuinely helpful book, Will Write for Food, what resources would you recommend to writers who want to learn more about food writing?

A: They should subscribe to my blog, Will Write for Food, at http://www.diannej.com/blog/ What makes it fun and valuable is the discussion among other food writers. I learn so much from the comments. It's a dynamic living, breathing thing, which makes it very different from my book.

Q: Do you have upcoming projects that my readers should have on their radar?

A: I love to travel and teach. Here is my events page: http://www.diannej.com/Events.shtml Plus, I am collaborating on two exciting cookbooks. I'm still working on the proposal for one, and the other is being circulated by my co-author's agent.

Excerpted from Latinidad?« ?® 2003 by Marcela Landres

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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