Depending on who you ask, “Millennials” are generally thought of as the people who were born between 1981 and 1997. This generation went from cassette tapes and VHS to MP3 and Blu Ray. They are pre-smartphone, and for some, pre-internet. Despite their less than technological beginnings, millennials are the driving force behind many innovations from virtual reality to avocado toast.
We’ve come a long way since the very first cooking show aired in 1946. A self-taught home cook named Philip Harben graced the airways for 10 minutes, dazzling viewers with a recipe for Lobster vol-au-vents. There is a shift in our culture in the way we view food. Food isn’t only for sustenance it is to be experienced.
In fact, according to a recent Business.com article, “over a third of tourist spending is devoted to food,” and “the percentage of people specifically traveling for unique dining experiences rose from 40% to 50%.” In addition, there has been an increase in attendance at food festivals around the globe, as well as travel to rural areas, for those who seek a more farm-to-table experience.
People are not only travelling to satiate their taste buds, more and more millennials are taking their culinary adventures to their own kitchens. According to a study done by Cambell’s, “between 2016 and 2021, e-commerce sales of food and beverage will reach $66 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 38%.” Meal kit delivery services are on the rise. Millennials not only want to learn how to cook healthy meals, they want to create post worthy plates.
Speaking of posting on social media, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very entity that likely had a hand in aiding millennials in creating this gigantic culinary monster. According to the aforementioned Business.com article, social media sites like Instagram have fueled food tourism. When the article was posted in February of 2017, there were 76,239,441 posts using #foodporn and today that number has grown to 142,721,723 posts. That is nearly 23,000 posts a day just for that hashtag alone. Websites like Tastey share their binge-worthy short recipe videos on Facebook that make healthy cooking look simple to even the most novice home chef. Pinterest allows people to view, share and pin recipes which can heavily influence the popularity of a particular dish or even an ingredient. Sriracha anyone?
So what does this all mean? I can only guess, but to me, this means there is a positive shift happening. A rise in home delivery meal kits means more family dinners. A rise in “foodie tourism” means we as a society are more open to learning about other cultures. The rise in interest of where our food comes from means that sustainability will become more important to us. All of these things add up to what seems to be most important to the millennial generation…to eat well, and live well.
Have the latest food trends on social media influenced millennials or have millennials influenced food trends? It is much like the age old chicken and egg question. Only this egg is poached and tops a ramen noodle bowl.
What you are about to read may seem like a rambling post. I know this. However, I am learning more and more about this self-publishing journey as I go, and I want to share my experience.
First and foremost, I want to say that if you don’t put the work in, your book will go nowhere. It might be easier those who have a socially relevant concept or a really neat idea, but unless you take the time to do the research, plan and execute a marketing plan, your book will be buried. Social media will only take you so far.
However, social media is a great way to network with other authors and get to know the ropes. I personally am a part of multiple Facebook groups for independently published authors and they have been a great resource. I will EMPHATICALLY state though the information from these groups is by no way a replacement for doing your own research. If you haven’t done so already go out and buy Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. (ß Affiliate Link)This book is a great place to start and will give you a great foundation so you know the right questions to ask that will yield better information for you.
In past posts, I spoke about taking myself seriously. I tried. I really reeeeeeeeally did. However, I tend to get discouraged very easily. If this is you, you need to ask yourself some hard questions about getting into this industry. I could take into account that I have 19, five star reviews on Amazon. I have received compliments from tons of people ranging from friends of friends, to old high school class mates, to the people I trust the most. I could take all that good and have it give me the confidence to approach more stores and libraries and to query more publishing companies and agents, but I haven’t.
You know those people on Shark Tank or American Idol who have given all they have to achieve their dreams? The ones who unfortunately have a poor business idea or a less than steller singing voice? THOSE people have family and friends cheering them on. THOSE people look defiantly into the camera and say ‘This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me!’ Well what if I am one of them? Why only 19 reviews when you have way more sales than that? Why did that lady at that book fair pick up my book and then sheepishly put it down? Am I a fool for continuing this journey? What if my next book isn’t as good as my first? Will people buy my next one? I.NEED.TO.STOP.DOING.THIS.TO.MYSELF. I need to. It doesn’t mean that none of those things are untrue and I am going to start believing in myself all of a sudden, it means that I am going to turn down this ‘noise’ that is keeping me from trying.
If you want to give yourself a good kick in the tukas about going for your dreams I highly recommend reading A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, by Bethany Frankel.(ß Affiliate Link). She talks a lot about the ‘Noise’ in our heads that get in the way. The book is even better in Audio version. She has such a commanding voice it’s like she is telling you what to do. I liked it. Now fair warning, this book was before her divorce and she talks about how happy she is, and so that is a bit sad. HOWEVER, if you’ve seen the way she has bounced back, you know that she is still following the guidelines of this book.
Now that I have spilled my guts out, let’s move on to how I am going to proceed. Step one: Stop the noise – Check. Step two: Go for it – Semi check. Below is the one sheet I created to promote ‘Sam Likes Jam’.(ß affiliate link) I plan to send it out to the local schools and libraries in hopes they will carry my book. I am still working on two more books, I have another one edited and ready to go and a novel in the works. I don’t have the time to participate in NANOWRIMO, but I am wishing all of my fellow writers the best of luck!!
Until Next Time!
p.s. I am trying out the Amazon affiliate program. I will be up front and clearly mark any affiliate links accordingly. ❤
In case you missed it, earlier this week I announced on my Instagram page that I FINALLY have a release date for the hardcover version of ‘Sam Likes Jam’! Sam will be available on 9/1/2017 on Barnes and Noble.com! While I am ultimately very pleased with the final product, it was a long journey working with a new company. The silver lining is, I now have all of this knowledge behind me for the next one! I realize there are still many lessons to learn, and I will be happy to share them along the way!
This brings me to the real reason, I am writing – one of the realizations I came to this week, was that I wasn’t taking myself seriously. Here I was putting in hundreds of hours into writing, editing, illustrating, formatting and promoting my book, but I wasn’t taking myself seriously. I wrote another book, paid to have it edited, started illustrating and I even submitted it to a publisher and an agent, wrote a press release and I STILL was not taking myself seriously. I know it sounds like I was, but I wasn’t.
For example on the very base level, I became embarrassed and even felt undeserving when I was congratulated on my book. “It’s not like I was chosen to be published, I did it myself.” I would think to myself. Little by little though, those last four words began to resonate with me. “I-did-it-myself.” This was a huge endeavor and I am still at it. I created my website, came up with some clever albeit unsuccessful marketing strategies, I am writing more books, and I am illustrating my books. I can now say with PRIDE that I am a published author of a children’s picture book.
I know what you may be thinking, it certainly sounds like I was taking myself seriously, but I wasn’t. So then what DOES it look like then? Accepting that I am an author was step 1. Step 2 was identifying the type of author I was. I never fully immersed myself in children’s literature. I read to my kids often and my husband reads to them nightly, but I really don’t know who or what I align with. I was having a hard time deciding what genre I fit in, and what exactly my message was. These are very important things to know, especially if you are trying to find an agent or be published traditionally. These are all things I need to (and will) figure out. I have a new mission statement and have found the common thread all of my books have. I am going to share these things with you in the coming weeks. I’ve also joined Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators which has a plethora of reliable information. This was step 3 for me. I plan to meet-up with my local chapter, attend workshops and conferences. There is a ton of misinformation out there on the web. If you are thinking about publishing your book, or you already have, I highly recommend that you join.
I hope all of you are enjoying the last few weeks of summer! I can’t wait to fill you in on the things I have in store.
Til Next Time,
I hope you are enjoying your summer! My garden is in full swing, and our beach chairs are always ready to go. When I get a spare moment (Ha ha) I continue to work on the hardcover version of ‘Sam Likes Jam’. I still don’t have a release date yet. I am patiently awaiting the revised copy. My experience working with Ingram Spark has been a bit more challenging than with Createspace, but IG has hardcover options and accepts returns. If I ever want to break into the bigger stores (or any stores) it’s important to be able to accept returns.
In other news, I’ve finalized my second manuscript and the editors sent it back all polished and pretty. Today I took the leap and sent it out to a publisher, and a literary agent!!! Now the wait begins… Honestly, I believe in miracles, and I have faith in myself, but I am not expecting to hear anything back. I am going to keep myself busy by working on illustrations for ‘Go Play’ and get my ducks in a row to submit to more agents and publishers at the end of the 10-week wait. That’s all for now! Now I might go do something crazy and have coffee at 5 PM!!
Til Next Time!
Aside from promoting my books, one of the reasons I am keeping this blog is to document the self-publishing (hopefully one-day traditional publishing) journey. I am still learning. I still have lots to learn, but rest assured everything I do learn, I will share with you.
It is without further adieu I present to you lesson #347689-1 PLAN YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT.
I had plans of grandeur. I was going to reach out to all of the local libraries, little gift shops, arrange readings at schools, and planned to do a big advertising push during strawberry season. Well, only some of those things happened.
Things I have done:
I admit, I became discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm from my library and the complete halt in sales despite all of the positive feedback and numerous 5-star reviews. I am toughening up, learning from my mistakes and pressing on. I may have missed out on Strawberry season in NJ, but thanks to the grocery store, strawberry season is all year long!
Look at me over here turning lemons into lemonade, words into books, strawberries into JAM!
Until Next Time!
(Be sure to follow my Instagram for previews of my next book ‘Go Play!’)
Buy your very own copy of ‘Sam Likes Jam’ here.
I have a lot of updates to share with you so I am just going to get right into it. I’ve been busy planting my vegetable garden, clearing out flower beds, and working on illustrations for my second book. Also (BIG NEWS) my husband is building me a chicken coop!!! That’s right. I am finally getting chickens! Here is the progress on the coop so far:
I will post a final reveal when it’s all done!
In other news, (and maybe I should have lead with this) is I have made the decision to pursue traditional publishing. I realize this is a long shot, but I have to at least try. My initial thought about writing and publishing a book was that I was doing it for fun, and I just wanted my book “out there.” While this statement mostly still holds true, it was really hard to see some really good momentum building for the book and then have it stall completely. Now, my book rank is 1,597,296. So, while my book is “out there” it’s also buried. People who self-publish face numerous hurdles along the way. Aside from all of the research, finding an illustrator, putting together a polished and professional product on limited funds, formatting, and finding a printer, one of the biggest hurdles is to get the word out and keep the momentum going. Traditional publishers have professionals who help you with all of this. So, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.
I still plan to proceed with illustrating and formatting my second book as if I was going to self-publish. In the meantime, I am also going to seek to acquire an interested literary agent or publisher. Wish me luck!
Moving right along, If you follow my cooking blog, alifelessbordinary.wordpress.com, you are already aware that I am going to post here exclusively from now on. I feel like I can share a little bit of everything here, and really just need to focus on one project at a time (for a change). I still plan to maintain the alifelessbordinary Facebook Page and Instagram profile. While they both were initially created for the sole purpose of sharing my cooking, they will evolve now to include author, craft, life and chicken updates as well.
Lastly, I’ve received feedback from libraries stating that they do not accept paperback children’s books. Therefore, I have decided to release a hardcover version of ‘Sam Likes Jam’ through Ingram Spark. I will let you know when that becomes available.
Anyway, that is all for now! Thank you to all who are sharing my journey.
Until Next Time,
My first reading of ‘Sam Likes Jam’ this weekend at 3PM! There will be lots of other fun events around town as well!