Is Your Cooking Blog Ready for a Book?

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Shhh.... don't tell anyone... but we at Wise Ink LOVE publishing cookbooks. Why? Well, it's not just because we love to eat, though WE DO. It's because cookbooks are super easy to market.

Firstly, cookbooks are always among the highest selling book genres, consistently. Secondly, cookbook authors have an easy way to market their books for years beyond their launch-- all they need to do is host a cooking demo event! And thirdly, probably MOST importantly, cooking bloggers have a consistently engaged audience and large platform. Win, win, win.

Cookbooks are a great way to give a cooking blogger legitimacy and a way of taking a part time passion into a full time brand. Here we talk with Wise Ink author Tonja Engen, author of Tonja's Table (based on her awesome blog!) about how she made the leap from cooking blogger to cookbook author:

Q1: Tell us a little about your blogging journey. How long did you have your blog before publishing your cookbook?

I started my blog in 2012 in response to my friends and families recipe inquiries on what to make for various occasions and events.  I thought sending a recipe out once a week would be fun and a great way to connect. I maybe sent this out to 25 people at the time.  It started to grow organically so in 2014 I decided to get a “real website” (I think we were using constant contact at the time) and added some different features to my blog.  It was 2 years after that I started writing my cookbook which published in 2016.

Q2: Going from a blog to a book is a huge step. How did you know your blog was ready for a book?

I didn’t!  I just loved providing recipes and solutions to everyone's cooking dilemas (weeknight cooking, entertaining, potlucks, etc.) and thought it would be another great vehicle for sharing recipes and my passion for cooking.

Q3: You have been very vocal about the importance of organizing your cookbook in a way that makes sense for you. What are some tips you have for recipe bloggers who might be interested in developing a cookbook?

I feel that every cookbook author has a unique story to tell.  Finding your cookbook niche is the first step. What are you trying to accomplish with your book?  What solutions are you providing? Maybe it’s just to entertain your reader, but that is still a niche.  Ask those hard questions up front and the process with be much smoother. In my case, the recipes were very occasion-based and I wrote to my reader with their lifestyle in mind (cabin cooking in the summer, holidays, dinner parties, feeding the team, etc.).  So I organized the book by menus to make it easy to know what to make. My ultimate goal was to get people back in the kitchen again without fear.

Q4: Who are some of your cookbook author inspirations, and why?

Julia Child!  I have all her cookbooks and biographies. I studied in Nice where she had a summer home and I have such an affinity for French cooking.   Her culinary passion is matched by few and she was fearless. I really admire that about her.

Ina Garten transformed how a lot of us cook and entertain now.  She simplified things with exact details which is very hard to do. I have all of her books and have made almost all of her recipes.

Chrissy Tiegen came out with “Cravings” while I was writing my book (sort of like when your pregnancy follows a movie star).  She’s hilarious and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She also has really tasty food and I hate skimping on flavor so I really enjoy her book and think we would have fun in the kitchen together.

Q5: What’s been the best part about having a book to go along with your website and brand?

It opens doors and creates so many opportunities I could have never imagined.  I have done everything from book signings, holiday events, markets, cooking classes to Twin Cities Live cooking demos, and recently starting a Tonja’s Table Cooking Club.  

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Do you have a cooking blog and are ready to take it to the next level? Drop us a line!

Project Inkpossible 2018: Brianna's Voice

Ever since Wise Ink was a fledgling blog, co-founders Dara Beevas and Amy Quale have wanted to use their publishing expertise to help young authors’ voices be heard. Project Inkpossible, Wise Ink's yearly initiative to publish the stories of young writers, is proud to be publishing the work of Timiya Reese, eighth grader at Robbinsdale Middle School, and  author of Brianna’s Voice.

When asked about her inspiration behind the story, Timiya admits that writing it was challenging. “At first it was hard to find ideas, but then I thought about (using an idea from) MY life.” She thought about the complexities of school bullying, and how “people come off harsh when they don’t mean to.” Brianna, the protagonist in her story, has to navigate being bullied herself as well as how to handle seeing bullying happen to others.

Timiya's teachers, Matt Pletcher and Jason Vogel, know a thing or two about the joys and challenges of teaching creativity to kids. They encourage other teachers to focus on the teaching of structure- the hero’s journey for example. The key, they say, is to “teach kids that they HAVE experience (to draw upon for creative writing). And their experiences and ideas are valid.”

Project Inkpossible's goal is to get young people inspired by the publishing process itself, from editing to interior design, to cover art. “The learning opportunities in this go far beyond simply writing a story,” says former teacher and Wise Ink Marketing Director, Roseanne Cheng. “Project Inkpossible teaches young people about the many important pieces that go into the creative process.”

This week, Timiya got a glimpse of the first sketches of her book cover, and she’s beginning to envision what the end product of Brianna’s Voice is going to look like.

“Strive to do your best,” she encourages other young authors. “Don’t depends on other people to hold your hand (during the writing process). Just push through and finish.”

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Meet the Wise Ink Freshman Class of 2018

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As a new year approached, Jennifer Bonner embraced college life and flourished as a visual artist. Childhood heart problems rarely clouded her thoughts. Then, unusual fatigue led to terrifying news. Without a heart transplant she would die soon. As she put it, ''The bomb dropped today.''

While she waited most of 1988 for a new heart, she lived. And as she relished each day, she wrote. Her diary entries frankly address love, sex, friendship, art, and mortality, and reveal a young woman determined to thrive.

Poignant, irreverent, and bold, The Wait is Jen's diary, framed by the stories of her remarkable family and heart surgery advances. Steady medical progress brought her two decades of life and hope for decades more. But Jen's continued survival depended on chance events that she and her doctors couldn't control.

For fifteen years, Mike Rognlien has learned from some of the best (and some of the . . . not best) leaders in the corporate world. His tenure at Facebook, Microsoft, and numerous other companies taught him valuable lessons in responsibility, accountability, and the fine art of T-shirt printing. And now, with a mix of wisdom and rueful humor, he’s sharing his accumulated life lessons with you. Yes, you.

Because if you want your company to be the best it can be, that’s how you have to start thinking of it: as your company. You have to fully understand the role you play, the impact your performance has on your fellow employees, and the unconscious biases that can control your thoughts and decisions. You have to be sure that this is what makes you happy, and prepared to fail spectacularly badly.

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“Take these poems in and let them break something wild open in you.” —from the foreword by Danez Smith, author of Don’t Call Us Dead and finalist for the National Book Award

The Bold, Untold North is a collection of writing by fifth-grade students from John A. Johnson Elementary, who spent months crafting these original poems with guidance from the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. Six hours of lesson plans are included, allowing other classrooms to craft their own wild, wonderful verses.
From lady slippers to flying squirrels to lynx to wolves, The Bold, Untold North captures the wildlife of Minnesota from the unique, joyful perspectives of these budding young writers.

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A snake teaches a raccoon the value of cooperation. A swallow and an oak tree share a friendship across distance and time. An opossum and the moon tell each other stories through the night. Within this book are tales of birds and beasts, sun and
moon, plants and fish—all with wisdom to share and lessons to impart.

Whether you’re young or old, these tales—printed in both Spanish and English—will stir your imagination and feed your soul. Inspired by the stories Graycloud’s (Mixtli’s) grandmother told him when he was just a boy, they’re given a new voice here for the next generation.

 

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“You are pregnant.”
 
With those three words, eighteen-year- old Chris Bauer was faced with one of life’s most agonizing decisions—how to handle an unplanned pregnancy.  Should she become a mother, terminate her pregnancy, or give her baby up for adoption?  She ultimately chose the latter course, entrusting her newborn daughter to another family. But life wasn’t done with them.
 
Those Three Words tells the story of how Chris and her daughter reconnected after eighteen years, rekindling their relationship and bond despite time and distance. This is a bittersweet book full of struggle and overwhelming love. The bond of family can overcome any obstacle, no matter how big, and this story of birth mother and daughter is a beautiful, moving confirmation of that fact.
Those Three Words is a powerful testament to parental love in all its forms.

When LaBelle Nambangi immigrated to America from Cameroon, one thing remained a constant among the vast cultural changes she experienced: the patriarchy. She was dismayed by the ingrained sexism present in both countries, but also inspired by the women she met on either side of the Atlantic who defied their cultures and succeeded despite the societal biases that attempted to hold them down.

Women Who Soar shares the stories of these inspirational figures—leaders, entrepreneurs, visionaries, mothers, sisters—and their fight against patriarchal culture.  No matter the country, no matter the society, the battle of breaking the patriarchy is far from over. But
when women band together, there’s no height they can’t reach.

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In the summer of ‘81, Jack has graduated from high school and is headed out
on one last road trip with his friends Curtis and Bruce. He can’t imagine how out of
control things are about to get.

When Curtis shoots an old man who catches the boys trespassing, Bruce decides to go home and face the music—but even though Jack knows he may be throwing his life away, he can’t bring himself to abandon his best friend. He and Curtis flee north, directionless and hopeless . . . until the ghost of Elvis appears in Jack’s dreams, and things take a turn for the bizarre.

If the two boys head to Graceland, promises the King, all will be made right for them. And so, in one last quest for salvation, Jack and Curtis turn toward Memphis— leaving cops, preachers, and all manner of strangeness in their wake.

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Meet Charley and Otis, two lovable bulldogs with two very different personalities!

Even in their dreams, Charley and Otis are different!

Otis just likes having fun, but Charley wants her dreams to make a difference. She pictures herself as a pilot, a doctor, a business owner. Otis may scoff, but Charley knows that with hard work and enthusiasm, even the most daring of dreams are possible!

 

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An anthem for working mothers everywhere, My Favorite Job Is You takes you on a mother's journey in finding her balance between motherhood and a career. This light-hearted poem serves as encouragement to all mothers rocking their babies to sleep at night and waking up before the sun to do it all over again. Ashley Flynn writes the perfect story to communicate no matter what job Mom does when they’re away, being home is their favorite job!

4 Reasons Wise Ink Cares About Trees

Here at Wise Ink, we take a holistic approach to publishing. That means we care deeply about every aspect of the book making process, from the authors who envision them to the community of engaged readers that fuels them. But one publishing aspect that often gets overlooked is the
book itself—not the design and the words inside, but the pages and the cover that contain them. The material for these largely comes from (you guessed it) trees! That’s why Wise Ink has partnered with Neighborhood Forest and the Arbor Day Fund to help offset our environmental footprint and fight climate change by replanting nearly 4,000 trees in the last year in our local neighborhoods and our nation’s most endangered forests.
It’s been been a bad year for trees in general. Wildfires and hurricanes have devastated swaths of forested land domestically and worldwide. This isn’t just bad for books, it’s bad for everyone. Trees are environmental superheroes. Here’s why we’re making sure there’s more of them:


1. Trees Filter Our Air


Forests filter CO2 emissions out of our air by separating and storing away the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into our atmosphere. According to the Arbor Day Fund, a mature tree will absorb over 48 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere. That may not seem like much, but an acre of trees can offset the emissions of a car driven 26,000 miles. Talk about power in numbers!

 

2. Trees Give Us Clean Water


Forests are a cheap means of protecting the watersheds that provide us with clean drinking water. By filtering rainwater through the soil and shoring up riverbanks, trees help protect and preserve the water that flows out of our taps every day and reduce the need for expensive filtration plants . . . and according to the New York Department of Environmental Protection, it’s tastier!

 

3. Trees Save Energy


Trees placed strategically in our neighborhoods can cool our houses and save energy. According to the U.S. Forest Service, tree shade can reduce the energy needed to air condition a home by up to 56%. Trees also block the wind, keeping us warm and saving money on our heating bills through the winter months.

 

4. Trees Make Books


According to a study by the Green Press Initiative, the book industry produces a carbon footprint of 12.4 metric tons of carbon per year. The largest contributor to this footprint? The loss of carbon storage through trees. Bookmaking is by no means the largest contributor to CO2 emissions, but in the fight against climate change every reduction—big and small—matters.

Wise Ink still has a way to go before we are completely carbon neutral. But by contributing to the replanting of 4,000 trees, combined with the energy use saved by strategic tree replanting in our neighborhoods, we at Wise Ink are proud to have helped offset over 180,000 pounds of
CO2 . . . the equivalent of 20,000 books!

Obviously, books aren’t bad. As any reader knows, books play an important role in informing and inspiring us. Some have inspired nationwide movements in the fight against climate change. By producing books that push genres in new directions and seek to make a difference in the world, we at Wise Ink want to do our part to fuel positive change in the world.

Meet the Staff: Patrick Maloney

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Each week get to know one of our amazing staff members as they talk about their writing heroes, advice to writers, and what book is currently sitting on their nightstand.

This week, meet Patrick Maloney!

Wise Ink: Describe your role at Wise Ink in two sentences or less.

Patrick Maloney: I handle the production of our books—copyediting, design, and printing. I am also the office DJ.

WI: What is your day at Wise Ink normally look like?

PM: My favorite part of my job is that each day can be so radically different. Last week I was tweaking the colors in a children’s book, and this week I’m proofreading a memoir for a radio personality.  

WI: What types of books are your favorites to publish, and why?

PM: I love working on books with our nonprofits partners, who help promote literacy and community awareness.

WI: Who are some of your writing heroes?

PM: I’m particularly fond of Malcolm Gladwell because he can write about pretty much anything. I just read a riveting essay of his on the ketchup industry.

WI: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would you say?

PM: To quote the late George Michael: “If you’re gonna do it, do it right.”

WI: What are you currently reading?

PM: I’m always reading two or three books at a time—right now it’s The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson, an art criticism text; The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jameson, an essay collection; and The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird, a craft book for writing fiction.

Whoa, Nelly!

Most of our books are in stores. Many are also in libraries. Some have made it to the desks of elected officials. But, until now, no Wise Ink book had ever been on the Facebook page of the R&B singer Nelly.

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Donn Sorensen wrote Big-Hearted Leadership about the most important quality a leader can have—compassion. Nelly wrote "Hot in Herre" about a room so warm that it only made sense to remove all of your clothing. Although the two come from two very different industries, they are apparently, to our surprise and delight here at the office, friends. Congrats, Donn!

Meet the Staff: Laura Zats

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Get to know one of our amazing staff members as they talk about their writing heroes, advice to writers, and what book is currently sitting on their nightstand.

This week, meet Laura Zats!

Wise Ink: Describe your role at Wise Ink in two sentences or less.

Laura Zats: I meet with prospective authors and then move new authors through the process of turning a manuscript or idea into a physical book.

WI: What is your day at Wise Ink normally look like?

LZ: Oh boy! There’s no such thing. The bulk of it is balanced between monitoring my email to push books along the publication process (sending a book to editing, checking on a cover from a designer, etc.) and meetings. My two favorite types of meetings are the first one, where we lay the groundwork for the entire process, and the final meeting there we choose paper and other print options for a book.

WI: What types of books are your favorites to publish, and why?

LZ: All books! But I have a really special place in my heart for YA. There’s something about the teenager that makes them the perfect reader. YA books, more so than any other type, have the ability to change the lives of their audience. I love seeing these books shape future generations.

WI: Who are some of your writing heroes?

LZ: Honestly, I’m constantly in awe of James Patterson. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The views expressed here are those of Ms. Zats and do not represent or reflect the views of Wise Ink Creative Publishing or its other employees.) He’s figured out a way to build what is essentially a self-publishing empire within the traditional system, and he is a constant idea-generator he makes his own rules, which is why he’s been so successful.

WI: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would you say?

LZ: Always keep writing. There are a lot of parts to being and author and publishing a book that take you out of the creative process, and it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. But if you’re always writing, you can always feel like you’re moving ahead in your career.

WI: What are you currently reading?

LZ: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis