From Culinary Blog to Cookbook: an interview with Jeanine M. Reed

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Jeanine Reed Self-published Cookbook

It’s not the size that counts – it’s how you eat it. Jeanine M. Reed loves to write. She loves to cook. And she loves to write about cooking. So, she self-published a cookbook!

Over the past year, Jeanine M. Reed has detailed her confectionery adventures in daily blog posts on her website Small Indulgences. It features recipes, photos, and personal anecdotes that would appeal to any sweet-toothed reader. But she didn’t stop there. Recently, Jeanine compiled her most popular recipes and posts into a kind of greatest-hits cookbook called Small Indulgences.

She was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the process of taking a passion for food and writing from the blogosphere to a finished book.

When did you start writing?

J: I was 10 years old when I first realized I wanted to write. We had a creative writing project in school where we had to write a story about a polar bear. We each had to read our story in front of the class, and I was amazed at just how fully engrossed the class was with my story, and they actually laughed! It felt great to make others smile with my writing, and I knew from then on, I wanted to keep doing it.

When you were younger, what challenges did you face as a writer?

J: I used to have a huge problem finishing a book. I had a million ideas, and I would always start off big, and then just fizzle out. I blame it on the subject matter. It wasn’t until I found something I really loved writing about that I was able to keep the momentum going.

Does the blog format give you some added pressure to actually get work done?

J: Oh yes – the blog gives me that extra push to write more often. You should write at least one post a day, or you’ll lose your readers. People have much shorter attention spans these days and there’s so much competition out there in the blogosphere. I’ve always been very competitive by nature, so this is exactly what I need to keep me motivated and to keep my writing fresh.

Could you tell us how your cookbook came about?

J: Well, in the summer of 2010, I went back to school – pastry school. I was learning how to make all these new and wonderful things, and I was posting pictures of them all on Facebook, to which they were garnering a huge positive response from friends.  This prompted me to start a blog, where I could explain each dessert in more detail, and promote my idea of “Small Indulgences” – mini desserts with maximum variety and flavor. Realizing I had finally found a subject to write on that I was truly passionate about, and the content just kept flowing, I decided a cookbook would be the next logical step. I turned to BookBaby, who did an absolutely fantastic job with design and layout – they made my vision a reality, and it’s received nothing but positive feedback!

What was your experience like actually releasing this book to the world?

J: Releasing my cookbook and actually seeing that people wanted to purchase it was probably the most exciting experience of my life. When I started the blog, I was writing for me – because I had something to say and I wanted to put it out there. When people actually started reading it – commenting on posts or to me in person – well, it was awesome, in the true sense of the word. I felt like I had found what I was meant to be doing, and that gosh darn it, people like me!

What did you do for promotion?

J: I promoted the cookbook on my blog before it was even released! I made sure that all of my facebook fans and twitter followers also knew it was in the works, and when it would be released. When it finally was available for sale, I immediately let everyone know, and since that time, I periodically post or tweet about it, and I run specials for my fans and followers (free shipping, 20% off, etc). I’ll also be promoting the book in person at a few upcoming book festivals this fall.

How do you interact with your readers?

J: I try to make each blog post engaging and interactive, first of all. I solicit comments or ask questions to prompt my readers to respond, and to make them a part of process. I post plenty of pictures and recipes, not only on the blog but on facebook and twitter too, and remind my fans that there’s more of that in the book so be sure and get a copy.

Where do you see your writing taking you in 5 years time?

J: For the first time in my life, I have so much viable content, I can write at least 2 more cookbooks right now! I see this becoming a permanent fixture over the next 5 years, and through constant promotion and a passion for what I’m writing about, I feel it can be a very successful undertaking, and continue to grow to be even more so.

Will you create a very special recipe for peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies called “Chris Robleys?”

J: I have. Keep an eye out for a special delivery over the next couple weeks. ;)

For more information about Jeanine, her book, her blog, her recipes, and her cat Gandalf the Gray, check out:

Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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