Author, Glass Onion Classics
Chefs are known for secret recipes that keep hungry patrons filling restaurant seats. But another way for a culinary establishment to increase its fans is to give those recipes away. That's precisely what Sarah O'Kelley, proprietor of The Glass Onion in Charleston, S.C., did with her book, Glass Onion Classics.
Sarah used her degree in magazine publishing from Northwestern University to support her love affair with food, writing about it for publications in New Orleans and Charleston. She also developed invaluable experience with cookbook writing during her stint working for celebrity chef Emeril Legasse's cookbook and TV test kitchen for several years. It was this career stop that made writing her restaurant's cookbook a top priority.
"Working with Emeril taught me just how long and arduous the traditional publishing route can be," she said. "I knew we might have a hard time selling our first cookbook just a few years after opening, but we were ready. By independently publishing with CreateSpace, we were able to take matters into our own hands."
Using CreateSpace's Total Design Freedom interior and cover design service, Sarah was able to quickly produce a professional-quality book to sell to Glass Onion patrons and anyone who enjoys Southern food made with all-natural ingredients.
"Right off the bat, I was impressed that I was able to call and speak with a CreateSpace representative when I needed help," she said. "Other companies required that an appointment be made for phone time, and that just did not work with my hectic schedule. I have nothing but overwhelming praise for the entire experience; even when I was at my wit's end, CreateSpace's customer service skills saved my sanity."
In addition to being the restaurant's baker and writer-in-residence, Sarah also has taken the lead on its publicity efforts. She chose a grassroots approach to marketing the book, relying heavily on social media to build the brand and reaching out to her connections in the food business to help her set up signings and demonstrations in other cities.
"In a lot of ways, promoting a book like ours comes down to 'shameless self-promotion,'" she said. "My advice for other authors about marketing is don't be scared to reach out to folks in your niche that can help you."
Sarah also thinks authors should never underestimate the power of hometown support; a recent book signing in her hometown netted her hundreds of book sales. The Glass Onion's local market has also been supportive of the book through feature stories in local print publications and steady at-counter sales in her restaurant.
Sarah is pleased to have met her 2011 sales goals and is thrilled with the praise Glass Onion Classics has received from noted magazines like Garden & Gun, which lend credibility to her book project.
"We wanted to publish a professional-looking book in a timely manner at minimal costs, and Create Space made all that possible," she said. "We are especially happy with the look and feel of our book - there's nothing amateur about it!"