Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Recipe Rifle: a digital original

Last year, in secret, I spent an awfully long time trying to get someone to publish Recipe Rifle as a book, but in the end failed.

It was a perfectly ghastly experience, looking back. At the time it seemed sort of fun, a respite from the tedious task of administering to a small baby. But in actual fact it was just disappointment after disappointment, I existed in a horrid limbo. Hopes up, hopes dashed. Eventually, total disaster, angry words and a general collapse. I wasn't really surprised: dancing in front of a weary, malfunctioning publishing industry, chronically unable to sell myself, I often said things in meetings like "You know, the way things are at the moment, I probably wouldn't take this book on if I were you."

And, worse, these publishing people would say to me: "Why would someone buy this book? I mean, why would they pick it up in Waterstones?" By the third time I heard this I would want, powerfully, to claw their eyes out, kick them in the stomach and scream "You tell me you fucking idiot! That's your job not mine! Jesus fucking Christ, no wonder the whole damn thing is collapsing round your ears if you're asking me why someone would buy a freaking book. I'm going home."

But I did not do that.

Instead I cut all ties to that miserable year, sulked in my tent for a while, then sought out instead The Friday Project, a publishing house that specialises in bringing blogs to a wider audience. And when I say that, I mean that they make it possible for otherwise unpublishable authors (that's me) to sell their work, without it being considered "vanity" (i.e. "mad") publishing.

The bloke who runs The Friday Project, Scott, is terrific. He doesn't ask me who will buy my book. He doesn't ask me, looking worried, how I think I am going to turn the blog into a "story". He just said "Put together whatever you think is best and maybe some people will buy it if they like it."

"Will you make it really cheap?" I asked, anxiously. "I mean, like, 50p so it's crazy not to buy it, like a vest top from H&M??"

"Not that cheap," he said. "But not expensive either."

The catch is that you will only be able to buy it online and read it on your iPad or Kindle or other e-reader, (unless it becomes a freak hit and the cost of printing the book becomes negligable). A "digital original", they call it, with graceful euphemism. and I don't get an advance, I am only paid for what I sell. But frankly with my shitty attitude that's a good thing. Give me money and I won't do anything. Give me a deadline and the possibility of money and I will work. A bit.

SO - my readers, my lovely, lovely readers who have been with me through thick and thin, through marriage, births, ups and downs (no deaths - yet) do you have a favourite post that you think I ought to definitely include? One that you can recall made you laugh? Are there any that were really bad - have I had a dodgy patch? Am I boring when I bang on about a certain thing?

Tell me! Tell me, tell me. I have to file my first draft in October.

BE HONEST.



75 comments:

  1. Oh good god, I have enjoyed lots of things, will have a trawl and get back to you, when I am not *working*.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that'll be great! I love your blog. Honestly, I can't think of any posts that you should leave out. I enjoy any with a long rambling beginning, if that helps. If I think of any that stand out, I'll come back to the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved the christmas specials that you did back in 2010, especially the christmas special #1 about hosting the event. It incorporated everything that is stressy about hosting a dinner party but you solved it and made it funny!

    "Force yourself to walk more slowly round the house than you feel like, rather than marching from room to room, breathlessly shoving plates of smoked salmon under people's noses and screaming "NOTHER DRINK?!?!?" before running back to the kitchen hissing "Fucking fucking fucking HELL..."

    This is exactly what I do in that situation (screaming 'nother drink rather than being calm and collected!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Harriet Addison31 July 2012 at 15:25

    Scotch eggs. Runny yolks!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your blog is always so lovely and funny that it's hard to remember individual brilliant posts.

    BUT! I do remember reading Nigella's mexican lasagne - about the compromises you make with your husband and all the irritating things you both choose to overlook in the other - and thinking 'Yes!! Me too!'. So that would have to rank among my very favourites. Funny and true and just spot on.

    Incidentally, I read your last post and was briefly convinced it was going to be an obituary to Beautiful Connie. But it sounds like she's absolutely fine, right? Phew!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Exciting! Love the post with the lists- August 3 2011.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bang Bang Chicken. For the recipe but mostly for the stuff about the tiny milk-lover sucking on empty bottles. Not many things make me guffaw, but that did.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations!!
    All the posts with long stories are my favourites. And I really like it when you show a recipe that you have changed for the better, or when you say - don't bother doing this that or the other.
    So exciting! I will have a think for a constructive answer to your actual question, as opposed to my answer which is a bit like when Hugh Grant said "I like the bit in space" in the film Notting Hill

    ReplyDelete
  9. The recent one about trying to take away Kitty's bottle. Too good.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your 'how to host a dinner party' post was AMAZING. (Was it xmas themed? I forget.)

    Especially the points about never apologising for the food. I ALWAYS used to do that and it drove me mad (let alone everyone else).

    Look forward to downloading the book! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. your gumbo post was particularly inspired... I do hope you will also be including some of the comments by your long standing followers.. you've hurled your fair share of abuse at me too!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I will be buying it. I love reading your blog. Its really enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
  13. How exciting! You are my favourite writer of a blog. I love all your posts but I particularly enjoyed this one: http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/no-food-today.html

    Unfortunately you didn't write most of it, but don't take that personally.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congrats Esther so pleased I shall be eagerly looking out for it on my iPad I laughed at the one about valentines day when giles sent you flowers after you told him about your horrible boyfriends and the red velvet cupcakes

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just love all the posts where you talk about your life, and I would def buy the book. You go girl!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Gravy- about Australia, you have no idea how long it took me to find that! Also Kitty's bottle,Christmas posts- so many.

    Good Luck

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the stuff about your past and upbringing. Always hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ooh Esther, I am VERY excited about your book. THIS IS EXCELLENT NEWS - CONGRATULATIONS!

    I have loads of 'favourites' of your blog - I've just had a quick whizz-around to remind myself, and the ones that immediately spring to mind are:

    May 2010 - Crispy Pork & Lemongrass
    August 2010 - Trying to eat in France whilst pregnant
    June 2012 - Breaded scallops (I know it's only been up for a few weeks, but it's one of my favourite blog posts of any blogger EVER. I must re-read it at least 3 times a week, and it never fails to make me laugh. Although, embarrassingly, I haven't actually got round to making the scallops yet. I will. I promise)

    Oh - and as someone said above - the Nigella Lasagne post about coping with other half's annoying points was bloody brilliant too.

    Seriously though, they're ALL pretty damn good - why not publish the whole lot?!

    Clare x

    ReplyDelete
  19. The one about how Giles used to be really bad at staying out late when he said he'd be home in time for dinner... and he was out with the "man with the FACE". Hilariously funny and it was as if you had taken my relationship with my husband and just changed the names (our mystery man of dalliance had *quote* "a face like the inside of a teapot"). It was the breaded scallops blog - I don't like scallops but who cares about the recipe when the life insights are so good!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Whenever I look up the Mexican Lasagne recipe (which is fairly often) it always makes me laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I will have to start reading from the beginning now, and even then, will buy the book and read it on the ipod.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Fab! Your blog always brings a smile to my face, so witty, honest and a jolly good read!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I like the ones where you talk about your husband.

    I'm not saying he's more interesting than you - I like when he talks about you, too.

    I loved the Nigella's Mexican Lasagne one, and Valentines Day, and any where you talk about your early days together.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I adore your long, ranty stories best. And when you expose yourself to be an anxious sometimes dithery (always sweary) person... I can totally relate to you (not in a creepy way)
    I also enjoy it when you hate a recipe so much that you don't actually include it in the post.
    And I liked your Freud story. And when you mention famous people.
    And I like tales of Kitty.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Excellent news, congratulations! I really enjoyed your Christmas posts, the recent one about Giles and the man with the face, anything Kitty related and a brilliant one from ages ago about Jason Orange.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm going to be a total pain in the arse - can new stuff go in it? I'd love to buy it, but I've already read all your old posts!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I like the posts about your family members. My favorite was the one when you were staying with your parents during your remodel. I love it when you're just indifferent, foul-mouthed and so British. In my next life, I want to come back just like you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha ha! god you poor thing. you're better off wanting to come back as the duchess of cambridge. although you'll have some competition there I think xx

      Delete
  28. Great news Esther, well done! I liked the posts when you were learning about how to blog and your little sister deigned to offer her technological knowhow.

    I also enjoy reading recipes featuring something you don't like e.g. courgettes, punishment muesli, most green things... and the pleasant surprises of an unexpectedly good dish that makes you grin at your husband and clink glasses.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Your semi-neurotic/hysterical rantings are my favorite blog read. Just promise to throw in a couple of your brilliant recipes, please? And I love the story where your husband goes out on benders, and your reaction to it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The courgette pasta staying with your sister, the one about godparents/spy dad and the one about doing better than people who went to Oxford xx

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hey, just related. Do you know that there are self-publishing platforms where copies are printed on demand when users buy? And you can set your own price, etc?

    Looks like exactly what you need, ie, no-risk publishing without an annoying editor. Check out Lulu.com

    http://www.lulu.com/

    ReplyDelete
  32. Congratulations,a recipe rifle book will be great,love your writing. Favourite bits: Christmas,insights into your family life,you trying out recipes from well known chefs/cooks. Things that irritate me slightly, when you complain too much about your fairly privileged life (sorry!)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've just received the email notification, having missed yesterday's tweet due to a meeting. Congratulations! I am, of course, delighted for you. I have one obvious favourite post, but will try to avoid self-interest, will look back through the others and will let you know the ones I like most (or least) as soon as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Esther - brilliant news. I will be definitely be buying it. My faves all seem to be when you talk about your own family, esp. when you moved back in with your mother and had your sisters around. Also, anything about Giles being off his face is too good. Kitty & the bottle. Actually, Kitty & anything. And I love your recipes, or your take on recipes but found the Christmas stuff esp. useful. Basically, anything around celebrations when we all panic. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Yay a book! I'll buy it :) I know its a recipe blog but I love the stories and rants leading up to the food - love hearing about Kitty and everything else. I used to read another food blog, the recipes were nice and so where the photo's but the woman was just too bloody perfect - it drove me mad! I ended up fantasising about tracking her house down, breaking in and fucking up her perfect macaroons or sabotaging her magimix. Her blog was DULL. Your blog makes me laugh out loud, empathise/commiserate and then I get to go into the kitchen, make something yummy and pass it off as my own work ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Yes, I would definitely buy it...a big thumbsup from me :)

    Carol

    ReplyDelete
  37. Love this blog. Love all your rants. I especially love your posts about Kitty and motherhood but that's no doubt because I have a young one too. Looking forward to the digital original.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Personally , I love all the dishes as they all come with a great story. I remember your Coronation chicken sounding great . Love the recipes that work though obviously. I remember you talking about one which really didn't.
    I look forward to buying it and wish you lots of luck. I'm sure it'll lead to a book being published. If you are in need of a recipe tester, look no further!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Brilliant! The whole pork pie saga please x

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'd vote for:
    Potatoes boulangere Feb 2012
    Goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart Jan 2012
    How to save a stew Oct 2011
    Giles' featherblade stew August 2011
    And the one on the browser tab that I accidentally closed and now can't remember what it was.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Mexican Lasagne post saved my relationship more than once. I mean, we've broken up now, but, not because he always left the bathroom light on. I'm actually making Mex Lasagne for dinner tonight. Dinner alone.
    I also liked the ones where you talk about how to be skinny. I always want to know that.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Making a Mexican Lasagne for myself is probably not the best way to get skinny, to be fair.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Started to read your blog for recipe related stuff but started to love it when you had Kitty. Hasd a baby at same time as you and it made me feel completely reassured that I wasn't the only one that thought those kind of things. Glad am not the only one freaked out/ bored out of my mind/ want to poke my own eyes out with spending too much alone time with a toddler!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Any story where you tell the truth about life which I think is all of them. So any of your blog, in fact, ALL of your blog should go into the book. My only issue with this whole book thing is that it's going to take loads of your time which means you'll post recipes and stories less and that is a Very Bad Thing.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Ooohhh, this one (http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/how-not-to-drink.html), you must absolutely put the How Not to Drink post in! I have this bookmarked and it's the link I always send to people when I recommend your blog (and I know they read the e-mail rolling their eyes and thinking "better read it or she's just going to keep harassing me and asking if I've read it like she does with all those Victoria Coren articles she sends me..." - then I sit there feeling smug knowing that 10 minutes later they'll be thinking "...well she was right again, it is excellent...").
    Also, the white sauce one is one I refer to ALL the time (I should really just print it out and stick it on the fridge...).
    As soon as I buy a Kindle I'll buy your book!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Yup. Put it all in. The whole thing has been a hoot. I'd like nothing more than to download your œuvre. (sounds like a euphemism - sorry)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Congrats! Think ALL of your posts are fab - entertaining, dry, reassuringly "real" and funny as hell! I look forward to the book and new posts, good luck x

    ReplyDelete
  48. Congratulations Esther!! I am SUPER excited for your book. Have followed your blog for a couple years now and I love your writing. Honestly I'm not sure the recipes even matter so much.... BUT since you asked, I love your polenta cake, chocolate cake, banana bread, goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart, ALL your Christmas posts, auntie hannah's courgette thing, pizza, carrot cake and loads more I can't even list here....

    Can't wait to read your book xxx

    ReplyDelete
  49. I think your posts where you mention 'Julia Churchill' sing with fun and interest.
    Best regards,
    Udde

    ReplyDelete
  50. I LOVE your writing style, and I'd love to see you make a book come true.
    Have you considered a FundIt book? I just committed €15 to these guys today to get their book printed, hopefully. No foal, no fee. But if they do raise the funds, I get a lovely hardback book - which I suspect would bring them closer to a publishing contract!
    http://www.fundit.ie/project/the-cake-cafe-bake-book-2

    ReplyDelete
  51. Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - absolutely love that post and it's had me giggling many a time. I've been reading and loving your blog for a long time! Delighted you are going to give publication a whirl! Good luck! Best wishes, therunningwave.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  52. Elizabeth Medovnik4 August 2012 at 01:20

    Congratulations! I can't think of a single post I haven't enjoyed, so I certainly don't think you've had any boring, dodgy patches. I particularly like hearing about Kitty. Good luck with everything xx

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hey Esther! I haven't commented in a while, but that's because I've been busy with other things. I'd love if you released a proper book, a paper one, not a digital one. I don't have an iPad or e-reader or Kindle, but if you brought out a proper one both me and my companion would definately buy your book.

    Please try and bring it out in paper form. And I have loved several of your posts. There was one ages ago about chilli, or that mentioned chilli, and I commented on it at the time. If you know which one I mean, then that's the one I'd want you to include.

    Hope that helps. I have always loved your blog.

    xxx

    ReplyDelete
  54. That one where you call me terrific, that should go in.

    ReplyDelete
  55. OH OH OH the one about crazy people contacting you asking you weird questions. not sure when that post was. but it was funny!
    (Landey - now in Colorado - (you have a global audience! so will the book be offered overseas?!))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Landey! Great to hear from you. There was a clause about international rights in my contract but I didn't really read it.

      Delete
    2. It will be available in the States, Landey, don't you worry about that.

      Delete
    3. And Australia?

      Delete
  56. Everything! Everything you write about makes me laugh, I like the sweary real nature of everything...shitty food diet, I did that, nothing but diet coke, turkey ham and quavers, it works and it isn't about doing the best by your body it's about being THIN. Yours is the only blog I read because I feel like you tell the (entertainingly dramatised) truth rather than the boring ideal. please don't stop that.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Wow! Congrats, how exciting! I have loved all of your posts, but I will have a think about which were my favourites & comment again.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Soy-Braised Tofu with Butternut Squash. I think we all love the way you shoot straight from the hip and if you continue to do that as candidly as you do, you'll have a best-seller. Best of luck.

    Ps. I am quite good at sub-editing.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I like where you talk about dieting. The shitty food diet is my diet (Yesterday I ate a tim tam, a double cheesburger and a scoop of gelato).

    I liked the one where you bought that pink Herve dress that was ruined for your wedding.

    I also liked the one about Australia - even though you hated it and I'm Australian and I worried that maybe we couldn't be friends because you wouldn't like me. But then I realised I never call people or have freinds and neither do you so our combined grasping social awkwardness would put a stop to that rather than my worry that you don't like Australians.

    I'm a journalist (but in the Middle East, ack) so I like the ones about the papers you worked at.

    ReplyDelete
  60. 'Oh, and someone gave me fucking chlamydia.'

    Classic!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Dear Esther, to be honest I've never cooked any of your recipes - because that's not why I read your blog! I read it for the extremely funny ranting stories!
    Don't forget to put in the one about the psychoanalyst who asked you whether you think you can control things by worrying about them.. And I totally loved the one about Kitty and the bottle (I have a toddler with the same addiction at home), the one about putting up with each other's annoying habits, the one about Giles going out for a drink, also - the one about your mother raising three kids on her own and how we cannot be perfect parents (at least that's what i remember about it).

    ReplyDelete
  62. The one where you, for a very brief moment, mistook Kitty for an ape, or gorilla, or some other kind of primate. Classic.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Oh please the one about the shitty food diet!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Scallops, your mother, anything ranty. Leave out the ones where you just go "nigel slater said do this it tasted good even with half the ingredients" and include funny personal ones. Giles on valentines day, ones about working for dodgy bosses, the vulnerable anxiety ones make you loveable as well. You write so appealingly it's pretty much impossible to not empathise with you and giggle at a time something similar has happened to oneself.

    Well done btw - it's such a good blog its been my bath time reading for a while now. Oh and they should include pics as you're ever so pretty.

    Also in your opinion is it your doing pure protein for a couple of weeks to kick start the weight loss? Or is protein with vegetables/fruit sufficient? I do worry that I'll have breath like a hippos arse and be completely mental if I can't at least eat a banana and a tomato.

    Thanks! And best of luck

    N

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear N

      Unless you are very overweight, all one has to do to lose some chub is be mindful of not consuming bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and sugary things (coke, even diet coke is a killer, biscuits, cake etc).

      You can, certainly, do protein-only for a fortnight but I think that is just a miserable way to be, and not sustainable. If you brain-wash yourself to ALWAYS from now on, find an alternative snack to a piece of toast 90% of the time and try not, more than once a week, to reach for a pasta-based dinner, you are better set up for the future.

      xxxxx

      Delete
  65. Thanks I think you're right, I was only going to do the pure protein as a kick start but it's probably better to go a bit slower and make a sustainable change. I only have about 8 pounds to lose.

    Good luck again
    N

    Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  66. Nooooooo!!! Does this mean I will have to pay to read your blog? I feel slightly worried that at the age of 18 I eagerly check this page for new posts... surely I should be desperately searching for blogs on 'best eva facebook parties 2k12' or 'how not to vomit in freshers' week'... but no, I love to read about recipes and little Kitty!! I mean, I won't even pay for a subscription for the Times online... but I think I would stretch my meagre budget to pay for your writing... because your blogs are so entertaining, and your recipes actually work! I resent watching Nigella following her perfect recipes, in her grand house where everything runs so smoothly and she looks all glamourous... I would much rather read your writing, where recipes have some sort of significance and the writing is really damn entertaining! So basically, what I'm trying to say, is you are totally the next Delia/Nigella, just undiscovered, but way better than them... And because I won't be able to read your blog again (I realise I wrote before I will subscribe but now I've reached the end of the paragraph, I realise the money will probably disappear on a spritz or something..) so I just I have to post this comment now!

    Thank you for writing this blog, you must keep writing! And when I am old and rich I will buy your book. And possibly claim to have known you when you weren't famous!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Hello, we read your blog because it makes us laugh and involves food, two very good things. Remember, the best cookery books are not really about recipes but about life, look at Elizabeth David, M F K Fisher and dare I say it, Nigel slater. So relax, do what you do and go for it. Best of luck.

    ReplyDelete
  68. COURGETTES. SHERRY&TONIC. The constant mind fuck of motherhood.

    Really pleased to hear about the book.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Your Australian tshirt post when Kitty had been ill. Twas very very good.
    Emily

    ReplyDelete