Food blogger Sinéad Delahunty has been a fixture in the world of online healthy eating for the last few years. She’s well known in her native Ireland through her blog and social media channels and reached a wide audience last year when she shared her culinary journey travelling in New Zealand in regular posts on thetaste.ie.
This month Sinéad releases her first recipe book, named Delalicious after her blog. We interview Sinead to get the low-down and find out what it really takes to move from blogger to published author.
Make sure to visit our Instagram account where we’re giving away a copy of Delalicious right now.
Tell us about your book! What can we expect to find in it?
My book Delalicious is brimming with over 90 exciting, colourful and fresh recipes that are achievable and accessible for all.
I believe everyone can and should cook from scratch. Find mouth-watering recipes for every meal from breakfast, lunches and dinners to decadent (yet nourishing!) treats and desserts to ensure your plate is always full of fresh food suitable for everyone.
My food blog Delalicious.com, aims to inspire others to fuel their lives with wholesome, seasonal and fresh food and my book is no different. “A full plate for a full life” is the tagline of my book and this sums up my life. I am just like you, trying to juggle work, life and maintaining a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
Within the pages you will discover handy tips and plenty of variation ideas to keep you recreating each recipe in lots of different ways. I also share all my top tricks on planning ahead and the art of batch-cooking, using your freezer, ideas for leftovers, food shop budgeting and planning.
From working as a Physiotherapist and playing gaelic football, I share my experiences of maintaining a balanced diet and provide research based plate guides dependant on your activity level to help you fill your plate each day.
I hope my book and recipes provide inspiration that fosters lots of creativity and happiness in your kitchen and allows you to fuel your life when you already have a really full plate.
How did you make sure you kept yourself accountable whilst writing the book?
From signing the book deal to delivering the manuscript, I had a meagre four months. This might sound like a lot of time but there was a very long to-do list. Choosing, writing and shooting the recipes, editing the shots, writing the introductory content, researching resources and background evidence. Remember, I was also working fulltime and playing competitive football during championship periods.
To hold myself accountable I mapped out the content delivery plan and estimated how much time and when each component would be completed. This allowed me to divide the book into bite-size chunks and focus on each area individually whilst not wasting time unnecessarily worrying about other areas that were further down the timeline.
For the photoshoots, I used my weekends that I didn’t have any football on to ensure all shots were taken in natural light.
For all the editing and writing, I used every evening after work that I wasn’t playing football. I used alarms on my phone to ensure I stopped before 10.30pm each night and allowed myself some important rest to allow me function optimally the next day.
Throughout, I was in touch with my publishers and provided sample content and photos to ensure I was moving in the right direction. I also worked closely with a personal development mentor who was invaluable for advice, reassurance and reflection during good and bad moments.
Using both the timeline and liaising consistently with my publishers and mentor were for me the two best ways to keep myself on track and also mentally in check.
Did you have any content you repurposed from your blog?
Yes, I did repurpose some recipes from previously published recipes on my blog. Generally, these recipes were altered in some way or form and all the shots were new and unique to the book.
This is something that I think we as bloggers don’t realise. The wealth and depth of content that you have at your fingertips is ridiculous!
Reviewing and repurposing old content is really important as a catalyst and source of new content. A meagre thought, line or comment in a social post could result in an entire blog post or book chapter.
I also canvassed my friends and colleagues regarding what kind of content they would be interested in reading in a cookbook. The feedback provided was invaluable about what they liked or disliked from reading current food related books on the market.
How did you find the right publisher?
I was in the extremely fortunate position that I was approached by a well known Irish publisher. I literally got home from work one evening to an email asking me if I would be interested in publishing a cookbook. You can imagine my face…initially I thought someone was making a joke or made a mistake but it was actually true! Within a week of that first email, I attended a meeting where I had to pitch my book. Yes, my book, that I had never imagined publishing until someone asked. However, within that week I had easily formulated the kernel of my book and even written pages of content.
For anyone sourcing a publisher or agent, I would suggest doing thorough research of the market each publisher prints or agent represents, how they operate and the style of book they usually produce. By being a niche market, you may provide more options to a publisher than one who published three cookbooks in the previous year compared to twenty. Be prepared to sell not only yourself and your book but also how you will sell and market the book when pitching to a publisher or agent. At the end of the day, sales are where the money is made!
What did you learn from them?
The first thing they told me was that books demand a LOT of time! Time both initially in writing the manuscript but even more when the proofing process begins. At the time, I was like “sure, it can’t take that much time?” but believe me it does!
Be prepared to work hard, long hours but it will all be worth it if you have the passion and desire to succeed.
Open discussion about ideas and plans for both the content and the layout are really important to ensure everyone understands the book vision.
What was the most challenging aspect about writing a book?
There were a number of challenges including deciding on the focus of my book, finalising the content and recipes for my book whilst managing my time and ensuring I didn’t get burnt out from the book, work, football and life.
However, the most challenging aspect was completing the recipe photoshoots for me. I had a very small budget of personal savings to fund the photoshoot. To keep costs down, I completed all the ingredient prep and cooking myself and I styled each and every shot whilst a photographer took the shots.
I use my smartphone camera for all my photography so obviously that wasn’t going to cut it for a published book. On reflection, I squeezed too many recipes into each day which resulted in some shots requiring retakes. I would suggest a maximum of 7-8 recipes a day. This might sound like very few but one shot could take an hour. Particularly when you are working with natural light, things can get rushed and this is generally when mistakes are made.
What would you tell someone thinking about writing their own book?
The journey to a published book is a continuous rollercoaster of highs and lows. Each low is followed by an even higher high and you will meet some serious challenges along the way.
I would strongly suggest building a team of trusted people around you that will support, guide and provide impartial feedback along the way. Only bring people on board that share your vision and you feel comfortable with. Without these two shared principles, you may feel deflated by the task ahead and not enjoy the process.
Taking days away from the book is really important too to allow you refresh and come back rejuvenated for the next step.