The Blissful Chef ® is the creation of Christy Morgan. I am a vegan macrobiotic chef and cooking instructor. My business includes things like healthy cooking classes, lectures, private instruction in people's homes, consulting and corporate team building. My first cookbook Blissful Bites came out in September and I'm so excited to share it with you!
Christy contributes wellness tips and healthy recipes for various websites like One Green Planet, Elephant Journal, Happy Cow, Christina Cooks, and PracticalYoga.tv.
Tell us a little bit about your journey from the beginning of your blogging career to holding your cookbook in your hands...
I was teaching cooking classes and doing personal chef services for about five years in Los Angeles. Blogging had become really popular at that time and I felt like I had something to share. So I gave it a shot. Around the same time I got on Twitter and started connecting with others across the globe. I'm a big fan of many cookbook authors. Having a cookbook felt like a natural extension of my blog and gave me an opportunity to connect with even more people on a deeper level.
Was your path to publication of your cookbook serendipitous or calculated? Give us some of the highlights or sweet moves you made.
Getting a cookbook published was calculated for me and the whole process was a lot of work. I spent many months working on the proposal, which is needed to send to potential publishers. After sending it out and not getting a book deal I went back to the drawing board to make my proposal more polished. Turns out I really had two books on my hands and had to split them up. Also I needed to make it more marketable. After many more months of work I had a great proposal that I started sending to literary agents. I found one I connected with and had a book deal within a month. Then the publishing process took another year to have the book in my hands. It was a long, hard road but one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
What writing experience do you have? What is your food background? Did you ever dream of being published?
My writing experience was very little before I started blogging, but I've been an avid reader since I was a child. I knew the kind of writing that I loved although I wasn't very confident that I could produce that kind of writing. I'm still self-conscious of my writing and have a long way to go! Regular blogging helped me gain more experience. When I first started I joined a month long world wide group blogging event called Vegan Month of Food. The goal is to write at least 5 times per week about all things food. This seemed like the perfect thing for a vegan chef to do. It was a wonderful experience.
I worked with a writing coach while I was working on my book proposal. That was crucial to my growth as a writer. She helped me polish my book proposal, which included sample chapters of the book. Blissful Bites is not just a cookbook with recipes. It is full of information and is meant to be read almost like a novel, front to back one time before you start cooking from it. Once I started working on this book I knew it would be published. I created a few ebooks before BB to test the waters and those were well received.
Share some of the most difficult aspects of crafting a cookbook? Did any of those surprise you?
Writing a cookbook is a lot of fun! Creating in the kitchen and feeding others is one of my favorite things to do. I had been teaching classes for years and had an extensive recipe collection already started. So the recipe writing was the easy part.
The editing process was the most challenging thing. Cooking is like a science and things have to be fairly exact. Only a chef can edit recipes and be on the look out for things that don't seem right within a recipe. I had many people editing the book for grammatical errors, but I had to do the hard editing. I will have another chef help edit my next cookbook because when you are looking at the same content over and over again for months on end things will likely be missed. Thankfully there aren't too many errors in BB! Lets just say the next one will be a lot easier to write and edit. I've learned so much from this experience.
What have you had the most fun with since embarking on this journey?
The most fun for me is connecting with people and being able to help them on their journey to healthier, happier lives. It warms my heart to know that my blog, cooking videos, cooking classes, and cookbook have played a part in transforming peoples' health. And eating all the delicious test recipes is always fun.
What advice would you give the blog/book naive Chef Christy if you were coaching her on her cookbook or blog adventure?
Be prepared to be married to your work and don't expect to make lots of money. Being a blogger and author rarely can financial support you so you must have another way to make money. Always have fun and don't lose your sense of wonder and desire to help others.
If someone is thinking about writing a cookbook what are the three things they better know before they start?
You must have an established audience and a good target market to get a book deal and sell books. I started blogging as a way to build up my audience. Social media is crucial for all authors to build your fan base.
Never take shortcuts, be accurate in your recipe writing, and have others test test test your recipes. If you are blogging these recipes tell a story and always post photos of the recipe. People want to see the finished product.
Obviously you need a unique idea or angle. The cookbook market is very saturated and it's becoming harder and harder to get a book deal. Be open to self-publishing your first book to get it out there.
What are the three marketing ideas that you are glad you pursued?
Creating a brand that is catchy and lasting, but is a true expression of myself.
Getting really good at social media and take time every day to connect to my audience. Follow people on Twitter that you admire and see how they are successful in connecting with their audience.
Doing a book tour where I could meet people face to face. Book tours have become sort of obsolete but I love connecting with people in real life, doing cooking demos and talks and sharing samples from Blissful Bites. Once people try the food they usually get the book. :)
What marketing ideas ended up being a waste of time or resources?
I don't feel like print advertising is worth the cost. After trying it once I never did it again. With the Internet there is not as much need to spend money on advertising. In the six years I've been in business I've spent very little money in this area. You can do things like write articles for other websites, be a guest blogger, make cooking videos, do lectures and cooking demos, and use social media for marketing yourself. All these things are free but do take time out of your day. But I love this kind of stuff!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to have written many more cookbooks and continue to write for many other publications. Teaching is my passion so I will be teaching across the globe. I want to start doing cooking classes for low-income families and dispel the myth that a vegan diet is one of privilege. I want to continue touring, meeting people in person and showing them how easy and delicious a plant-based diet is on many levels.
In the spirit of the new year and all those resolutions we tend to make, Christy is sharing a recipe with Novel Rocket readers.
Makes 1 dozen
I seriously could eat cornbread every day. I love it that much. This is a breakfast cornbread muffin that is to die for when topped with Earth Balance and served with a cup of Earl Grey tea. These are wheat-free, but not gluten-free.
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup barley flour (or other whole-grain flour)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup unsweetened rice, almond, or soy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 can (14 ounces) crushed pineapple in its own juice (or pineapple chunks)
Oil spray, for pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with oil or line with cupcake liners. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, then fold in pineapple. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon into muffin tin until almost full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.