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  • Writer's pictureHayley Marcus

The Road to Becoming a Published Cookbook Author

Now that we have successfully put 2021 behind us, lets take a look back at the longest journey I took over the last 12 months....

Many of you know from knowing me personally or from reading this very blog that I am HUGE into food. If you google the word "foodie" my picture would be front and center. Over the years I have grown to love many Youtube chefs and watched them grow into superstars. One day when I got a notification from Youtube that a video of one of my favorite chefs announcing their cookbook was uploaded, a light bulb went off in my head. I turned to Brian and said "I think I want to write my own cookbook". After telling him this monumental decision, I texted a few close family members and friends the same thought. To my shock....I did not get a single person giving me push-back and was floored at all of the support I was shown.

I hit the ground running and jumped into researching how I could possible get this done since I'm just your regular home chef with no notoriety (yet). I have been taking great food pictures from my phone for years, but I needed to elevate my game. I researched cameras and lighting equipment. I shopped for new serving plates, bowls, and decor. The next task to tackle was where was I possibly selling this book? My absolute dream was to have it be on Amazon for sale because how insane would it be to say my cookbook is being sold on the largest online retailer in the world?! I sent an email just to say I tried....and the response had me dancing in our living room. The cookbook was set to be sold on Amazon.

I spent many hours in the black holes of social media to see what recipes went viral. I looked into my own recipes that were favorites in my house and tried to think of how I could make them better. It was more work than just making food that tasted good. I wanted to know why certain flavors go together well, and I turned to watching videos of food scientists explaining the science behind it all. With each video I watched, I noticed that even when I went out to dinner I could pinpoint what I felt was missing or what could make the dish even better. I came up with the concept of the book, decided what look I was going for, and got to cooking. I would make about 3-4 recipes a week to try and hit the lofty goal of getting this book out in the world within the same calendar year.

I would send my parents and sister the pictures of the food as I made it to get their thoughts. This became probably the most exciting part of creating the recipes because they always were blown away of what I came up with. I had a trip in November to visit my Dad and family in Georgia coming up so I saved a bunch of recipes to make/shoot for when I was there so they could taste the food they have been seeing for months in pictures. Two days before we were set to hop on the plane to Georgia, my entire life came crashing down. We woke up and our patriarch was gone.

Everyone has always said how horrible the grieving process is, but I could never begin to explain just how horrible it is. It's more than just mourning the loss of someone meaningful to you. It meant mourning my childhood memories. It meant mourning the loss of future memories. It meant mourning certain dreams I've had since I was a kid. It meant mourning a part of myself. The hardest part was finding that drive that I once had. I was ready to throw in the towel on the book because I felt that life shouldn't be moving in any exciting direction without dad here. Life was supposed to stop at that moment. After almost hitting delete on the file with everything I had worked on, it hit me. Dad would never want this to stop my dream from coming true and if anyone was the most excited about this was Dad. The motivation to get the book out in the world was lit on fire and I had a new purpose. This book would be released by Christmas and there was no other option because this now for him.

I went into overdrive and made about 5-6 recipes a week. I stayed up into the late hours of the night designing the book and seeing what was working and what wasn't. I had many crying fits of stress and many crying fits of pride. I fought through the pain of losing Dad so I could make it to the finish line. The last 3-4 weeks of recipe creating and book designing were some of the hardest weeks of my life. The insecurity of the unknown crept in, making me wake up in the middle of the night wondering if this was even worth it. The sadness of having this HUGE moment in my life happening and not being able to share it physically with Dad was debilitating at moments; but the thought of launching the book and being able to say I actually accomplished it outweighed the doubt.

I remember sitting at my dining room table submitting the book to Amazon and how nervous I was. I think I may have slept a total of 2 hours that night. Over 24 hours of back and forth feedback with even more hours of editing the formatting issues, I hit the final submit button and had a moment of relief; knowing that was the final time. We left for a family Christmas party and I checked my email neurotically all night. It wasn't until we were in the middle of playing LCR games with the entire family that I checked my email for a final time and saw the email telling me my book was live for sale on Amazon. I broke down in tears and just kept saying "I can't believe I actually did it". That moment was the most difficult moment and the most rewarding moment all the same. I actually created a cookbook that I had so much pride in but the first person I would call to share the news wasn't on the other end of the line. So Dad, I hope you're smiling up there and I hope I'm making you proud.

I think I stared at my phone screen for hours in shock that there was an actual book in the world that I wrote. My recipes were out there for family's to enjoy, and that concept on its own blows my mind. Was it easy to get to this point? No way in hell. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Yes, so stay tuned!!

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