I’m embarrassed to see how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything. Last time I posted, I said something about how I was going to start to (slowly) work on some new cookbooks. I did actually keep that promise, but then my world turned topsy-turvy.
Not long after I posted, a family looking for a new location for their business came to look at Desserts Plus and quickly made us an offer on our building. We accepted for many reasons, and starting looking for a new space. We had no idea how long it would take us.
Since moving our of our building 13 (!) months ago, we’ve had a pop-up store for Passover, rented a kitchen to cater a few major events and even had a booth at a farmer’s market for part of the simmer.
All along we worked on finding our space, which we did last summer. Several delays kept construction from starting until early this year (you can see a lot of our updates on our Instagram account).
In fact, we even have a kickstarter campaign going to try to get the final push we need to finish our space.
(You can read more about our campaign on our Facebook page, instagram or kickstarter.)
Meanwhile, while all of that was going on, I was slowly working on my next cookbook.
Last month I published Pam’s Cookie Collection:
This is smaller than my other books with just 40-something recipes, but I’m proud of this one! It’s got lots of recipes that I’ve been baking at Desserts Plus over the years, along with lots of others that I created in my home kitchen.
You can get copies here:
If you don’t have any of my books but you’ve wanted them, now is a good time to get them! For the next week one of the rewards for our kickstarter campaign is a cookbook collection. You can get one copy of each of my three books – signed if you like! (It’s listed twice – once if you’re able to pick them up at our new café and once if you need them shipped throughout North America.)
I’ll try not to be such a stranger! Thanks for stopping by and reading.
My first cookbook came out in 2004. Since then I’ve written one more (Passover) plus some new recipes for the second addition of Soup-A Kosher Collection. But in in addition to the books, I’ve developed lots and lots of recipes for newspapers, magazines, my blog and recipes that haven’t been published anywhere but I use all the time at home or at work (Desserts Plus ).
I’ve been talking about the next cookbook for ages, but life keeps delaying things. So the other day I decided that enough was enough. It’s time to just get it done. I opened the program where I store most of my recipes and printed them off, organized and categorized them.
It’s going to take time to get even one done, but I have a lot of great recipes to work from for a number of books.
Between working 10+ hours a day, the holidays fast approaching and trying to sell my condo and hopefully move, there isn’t a lot of extra time to work on recipes, but just know that I am.
So many people have asked me when the next book will be available. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I’m committing to squeezing out time to test and test and test and get the next one out there. And then the next!
I spent last night tossing and turning. The books were due to arrive today and I was anxious. I was scared to see the books. It was a completely irrational fear because I knew about all the work that went into them. Months of recipe testing and writing was followed by edit after edit. When that was done, it was time for proofing, a little more editing and then more proofing.
First thing this morning, we cleared out a hallway at work. Chairs and tables leftover from our restaurant days usually reside here, but they had to make way for the books! And then they arrived. And I’m so happy with them.
Again, my irrational fear was that they wouldn’t look like real books. I can’t really explain this, because it makes no sense, but this is my first attempt at self-publishing and I was scared they wouldn’t look as good as Soup. They look great! I’m thrilled with how they turned out.
So that’s 254 boxes of books, to the left. It’s a whole lotta books. Good news is they all fit in the hall. I was concerned we’d have to fill the storage rooms and that we’d have rows of boxes stacked in the store aisles. At the moment it’s not a problem, but we have to start moving some out soon. As we approach Passover, we turn the entire store over and sell only Passover foods — and we need every inch of space we can get.
We sold 3 books out of the store this afternoon and I have orders that need to be shipped out tomorrow.
I also have to start packaging up the press kits and sending them out. We’re on our way — just another 5990-odd books to go!
If you’re in Winnipeg, books are available at the store (Desserts Plus) for now, with more stores to follow. They’re also available at amazon.com. We hope to have www.pamelareiss.com set up for book orders by the end of the week.
Happy new year!
I took a much needed break over the new year, getting away to the States for a week. It was the first week off from working on the book since Passover 2009. I had a great week, lots of shopping and relaxing and general road-trip fun.
My parents also went away and were out of town for another week, so when I returned to Winnipeg I had to deal with the 5-door freezer that broke down in our store while we were all gone. (The freezer was full of meat. Interesting fact, the zoo won’t take meat that’s been thawed. It all had to be trashed.) That, along with other fun things at work kept me running around in circles.
In the middle of the work mishugas, I had to approve final proofs for the book and get some items checked off the book-business to-do list (bank stuff, GST numbers, etc.). I’m also trying to get my website revamped with all of the heavy lifting being done by my sister. But stuff had to be written and organized for that.
While it’s been a bit stressful since I’ve been home, it’s also been exciting. I got my first orders from Amazon.com and have corresponded with some Jewish book distributors who are interested in handling my book. On Monday, my printers told me that they were printing the cover and text. The image insert pages were due to be printed later this week. Today the books were set to be bound and I should be receiving them next week.
I’m excited and nervous. First issue: Where will I put 6000 books? But that’s a small issue that’s easily resolved (just involves a lot of schlepping). I’m nervous because this time, the experience is much different from the Soup experience. With that book I tested, wrote and edited my words but everything else was done by the publishers. They had people doing the layout. They hired a food stylist and photographer to do the photos. The one thing that is consistent is the printer. Both books have been printed by the same company. The biggest difference may be that I have to figure out how to get them all sold.
So less than a week and they’ll be here. I can’t wait.
Have a great weekend.
Happy Chanukah! I can’t believe the holiday is almost over and I haven’t posted anything. It’s been a crazy, exciting week, so maybe it’s not that surprising.
On Monday, the files for Passover a Kosher Collection were due at the printer, so every spare moment leading up to Monday was spent proofing and worrying and making small changes here and there. We’ve had some problems with colour management — the colours as they appear on my monitor are not the same as the colours as they print on my laser printer, which are different from the colours that print on my ink jet, which are different from the colours on the proofs from my printer (which, btw, are different depending on which printer they use – high resolution proofs versus lower resolution proofs). So I’ve spent a lot of time tweaking colours.
I knew I’d be receiving a proof of the book soon, but I wasn’t expecting it until next week. It arrived this morning! It is extremely cool to see it printed in a way that’s close to what the actual book will look like. There are a few issues — the images in the book were printed using a low-resolution printer, so the colours are still off. I’m now waiting for them to send me some copies of the pictures done with the high resolution printer. Some of the words on the cover are the wrong colours — it’s not bad as it is, but it’s not how it was designed. And the whole thing has to be proofed one more time.
The thing is, it was really exciting when it came today. It looks like a book. Obviously it was designed to look like a book, but it’s really different when it shows up on the right size paper with the pictures in the right place and looking like a book.
When the Soup book was printed, I didn’t see it until I was in a town car in Toronto at 5 AM on my way to do my first live TV demo. I wasn’t involved in the pictures and the design — my work was done after all the edits were made. This experience is completely different. I’ve been involved from start to finish and it’s amazing to see it at this point.
A while back I put out a call for names for the Passover cookbook. There were lots of great suggestions and my advisory team (mom and dad plus friends on Facebook ad Twitter) and I debated titles for weeks. We were looking for humour, for creativity, and for the best descriptions; we let each title stand alone, then we tried mixing and matching. There were a few finalists. And then, finally, we realized that we were over-thinking it.
We finally decided on: Passover – A Kosher Collection.
It’s simple and to the point. Hopefully it will let those who enjoyed Soup – A Kosher Collection know that this book is from the same author. And finally, when I started writing Soup, I hoped that it would be the first in a series. I planned on Salads, Mains, Desserts, etc. — all with “A Kosher Collection” attached. Passover deviated from the plan. It wasn’t a course. But I realized it didn’t have to be a course — this holiday book is still a kosher collection.
I would like to thank everybody who contributed suggestions. They were all appreciated and given consideration before we realized we shouldn’t fix what wasn’t broken.
Over the last few weeks I’ve spent all my free time editing and working on photos. I mean all my free time — plus a lot of time at work, where I’ve been hiding out in my office trying to get stuff done.
I keep telling myself that I just have to get this one section done, then I’ll have some free time. Ha! What I meant is that I have to get this section done so I can get to the next one.
Anyway . . . I decided to take the pictures myself for this book. By myself, I mean with the help of my mother and sister. Lisa (the sister) helped by building the ‘studio’ for me. We got some lumber and a roll of backdrop paper, and ended up with this ‘photo studio’.
It worked well, and while I cooked and cooked and cooked, Mom and Lisa took turns as stylists/photographers (though I couldn’t help but take a couple of pictures of each dish myself — can we say control freak?). Every Sunday for a month or so, I’d prep 6-8 recipes and we’d snap dozens of pictures.
There will be 16 colour pages in the book (for those of you who have Soup, it will be the same) and we took over 1200 pictures. Do you know how long it takes to go through 1200 pictures? A long time. But I’ve eliminated close to 1000, and now I’m trying to choose the best out of the ones that are left.
The pictures are getting done in between editing the book. So far I’ve had three people (and me) editing and proofing. We’re on edit #4 now, and we keep finding things to change. We’re in the middle of this round, and I think it will take just one more. I hope.
Next up: formatting.
I’m not yet done writing my Passover cookbook, but with self-publishing comes a whole bunch of tasks that I didn’t have to worry about with the first book. I need to get an ISBN number, get it registered with certain sites and libraries and take a look at how I’m going to distribute it or get it sold.
As I look through guides that my printer sent and try to navigate Amazon’s Advantage program (it allows self-published authors to list their books), I’m beginning to realize that I have to figure out what I’m going to call this one. When I talk about it, I call it ‘the Passover (or Pesach) cookbook’. Not very catchy.
I’ve gone through a long list of titles, but nothing really seems right. This book has a real mix of traditional Ashkenazi recipes and what I would call non-traditional recipes. So “Passover Recipes From My Bubbe’s Table” isn’t an option; nor is “New Age Passover Cooking”.
So what I’m going to do is ask you to come up with some suggestions. Send me a title (or several) via email, a comment here, on twitter @pamreiss or Facebook. When I’ve chosen a title, the person who came up with it will get my gratitude and a copy of the book when it’s printed.
In April, I signed up with Twitter. As a soon-to-be self-published-writer, I thought that I had to take advantage of any and all marketing tools. Especially the free ones. I’ve since made some interesting connections and no longer think of it as just a marketing tool. But, it is a good one.
As I cook my way through the recipes for the upcoming Passover book, I tweet about it. Just little notes (under 140 characters) letting people know what I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll ask for some input (ie: Matzo Balls – Floaters or Sinkers?), sometimes I’ll complain about a failed attempt (ie: today there was a power failure while I was baking a pie crust — the oven and timer timer shut off — will have to try that one again.)
My account is set up so that whatever I tweet then gets posted on Facebook as my new status. So an interesting thing happened last week. I got a phone call from a CBC radio producer that I know and she asked me if I’d talk about my summer of cooking on the radio. She’s been reading my cooking updates all summer and thought it would be a good segment. Sounds a little like some other blog/movie that’s been getting a lot of press about a writer cooking her way through a book.
I’ve done a bit of radio and TV since my first book came out. And I feel more comfortable doing it now, but there’s still a bit of nerves each time. I think I overcompensate by talking a mile-a-minute. Have you ever listened to an interview and been annoyed because the interviewee didn’t answer a direct question? I have. But then I realized that when I do these interviews, I just ramble so much that by the time I’m done answering the question I have no idea of what the question actually was.
I don’t fully know what I said during the interview — but vaguely recall that I talked about my books and cooking. My mother was happy that something I said made the interviewer laugh. Many people who heard the segment contacted me to tell me they enjoyed it. So in the end, we decided it was a success.
I’ve been working frantically to finish recipe testing. I’m at the point where I think I’m done with new recipes — though if something strikes me, I’ll have to give it a try. Now I’m going through my files and re-testing recipes I’ve developed over the last 3-4 years.
It’s interesting to see what I was doing back then. A couple of recipes were eliminated immediately after reading, a few were eliminated after trying. A few of them were gems. But even some of the gems needed a little tweaking and they all need good editing. I just spent an hour going through all of the recipes I tagged “Passover” and I have 30-35 recipes to cook through over then next couple of weeks.
The rush is because Rosh Hashanah will be here soon. I know most people won’t give it much thought for a couple of weeks, but I’ve got to be ahead of the game. My real job involves a lot of sourcing and ordering for our store. I spend hours going through product lists, on the internet looking for suppliers and on the phone trying to find out what is or isn’t available.
This year, for instance, I’ve been having a hard time finding Israeli honey. None of the kosher food suppliers that I use have any on their lists. It’s not imperative that the honey be from Israel, but I like to have a selection of honeys available and the Israel part is a nice bonus. (An assortment of honeys is a nice gift to take if you’re going to dinner for R.H.) So it took 2 days, but I think I found a source – not a food supplier but a Judaica company.
It’s not just about the honey. I spend a lot of time working on meat orders with my dad (he’s our meat department), guessing how many briskets and turkeys (and chickens and lamb, etc) we’ll sell out of the store and how many we’ll need for the prepared food part of the business. Then we need to put together an order form for prepared foods and somebody had to do an ad for the newspaper. And finally, I make sure the store is stocked with all of the essentials our customers might need for the holiday (kasha, noodles for kugel, yortzeit and Shabbat candles, etc).
So that’s all taken care of. Our first big order arrived late Friday and now we spend a couple of weeks getting more orders in and taking orders from customers. Before you know it, we’ll all have to be in the store helping customers and in the kitchen prepping food.
And that’s where the urgency is coming from. For the book to be ready to print in January, the recipes should be finished before Rosh Hashana. By finished, I mean tested and typed (hopefully). There will still be a lot to do after the recipes are done, so I’m giving myself a RH deadline. Besides, it’s kind of nice to think that the testing work will be done by the new year. The question is, will it?