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Writing a book - Part 3 of 4 choosing a photographer, writing and photo shoots.

Part 3 of 4 – getting the book deal - 

Photo of "Population" friends salon in SF
Continued from part 2 of 4 where I explain getting my dream agent, Kitty Cowles!...
The project is mostly now in Kitty's hands.  She is pitching the book to different publishers that she thinks would be a good fit.  She gives me the details of how this publisher already has a preserves book coming out in summer of 2019 and that publisher is talking to so and so…It all seems so strategic.  I just pray at my altar in the mornings that Kitty is going to find the right fit for my book.  It is out of my hands now.  I have done the best job I could in letting everyone know who I am.  Then I get that call that a publisher is interested.  I find it interesting that Kitty always does these important meetings over the phone and not through email.  It is something that I really appreciate about her.  The agent does a great job getting your proposal ready to share with publishers.  We initially met in May and it was not until September that Kitty let me know that Chronicle Books in San Francisco was interested.  Things moved pretty quickly from there.

Again, I was very nervous to meet with the Publishers for the first time and I decided to do something bold for the meeting and get bangs!  I went to my friends salon, Population, to see if they can fit me it.  Population is a great confidence booster before such a meeting because it has such a cutting edge vibe that is super positive.  I walked out with my bangs short and my head held high!  Kitty and I met with Sarah Billingsly of Chronicle books for lunch one day.  I brought photographs, writings and lots of books that I was inspired by for my book.  It was such a fun meeting sharing my vision with professionals who could actually make it a reality!  Soon after that meeting a contract was carved out and deadlines were set!  Chronicle books was going to be the publisher of my first book and I could not be happier. 

Within two months, my first chapter was due with a complete outline including all of the recipes.  This is when it dawned on me that this book was going to be a collection of everything I had learned and taught over the years.  It would be filled with recipes that I had designed up to this date in time.  It felt so final and yet, I became comfortable knowing that I would always grow beyond the time of this book, but that it would be a good marker of my journey with fruit.  We decided the title would be “It Starts with Fruit” because it does!  I worked hard with Kitty and my private editors to come up with the final chapters and recipes and a single chapter that would represent the organization of the book.  It was so exciting to finally be working on the book.  This was the winter of 2018 and we were also buying our first property at the same time out in Carmel Valley!  It was a very busy winter.

During this time we started the process of choosing a photographer.  Kitty has her favorites and Chronicle has photographers that they work with and so this was a very collaborative process.  There is a lot that goes into finding the right fit and a lot of it beyond talent is scheduling!  We needed to find someone who could shoot with the schedule of the book and the schedule of the seasons – due to the fact that the content of the book was so local and seasonal!  My stars were aligned and we signed on with Erin Scott.  Erin has amazing talent and a gorgeous studio right in Berkeley, Ca so it was very commutable for me.  It was so great working with a local woman and the whole project felt so collaborative!

The very first photo shoot we did was at Live Earth Farm.  I was of course super nervous for the shoot, but I felt like I was on my home turf.  I was comfortable at Live Earth Farm and happy to share with the team the greatest joys of my work.  A few days before the shoot I asked if it would be appropriate to bring my family to the shoot as they are such an important part of my life – both personal and work life.  My husband co owns the company with me and our kids have grown up on the farms, at farmer’s markets and in the kitchen.  I really wanted this book to show the authentic life of Happy Girl and our culture.  And it is all about having fun every step of the way with friends and family…while you are procuring food, making food and enjoying a meal together!  Erin got it.

 The first photo shoot in Berkeley was an entirely different story.  I was not in my comfort zone and I was on my own with all these amazing professionals.  For every shoot there is the photographer, her assistant, the food stylist and her assistant, the designer of the book and me.  That is a lot of creative energy in one room!  Erin’s studio is GORGEOUS and cozy and she cooked amazing breakfasts and we just had a blast!  I have to admit that the photo shoots quickly became one of my favorite parts of writing the book.  Working with that many amazing women (yes they were all women) made me want to work on another book!
Stay tuned for part 4 of 4 to see the final steps!

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