Today I am delighted to introduce EMMA LONG, my first interviewee and author of the very well received cookery book ‘QUICK AND EASY HOMEMADE MEALS’, published by Book Guild. After several years working for The Swallow Hotel Group as an Assistant Manager, Emma set up her own Birmingham-based business, Emma’s Pantry, in 1998, which she ran until 2012 when she joined her family run property business full time. In response to demand from Emma’s Pantry staff and customers she created ‘QUICK AND EASY HOMEMADE MEALS’, in which she guides her hungry readers through easy to follow recipes making the most of common ingredients. Each recipe is accompanied by full colour photographs, showing the raw ingredients and the delicious meals that can be created.
When not cooking, Emma is a keen tennis player and gardener, an avid reader, and enjoys playing the guitar and drums. I’m delighted to say she has found time in her busy schedule to answer some questions for me. So without further ado, let’s welcome Emma and get to know her a little better.
Alison – Briefly describe your latest book / work in progress, along with details of book signings, release date (where relevant), promotional events etc.
Emma – My book “Quick and Easy Homemade Meals” was published in 2012 and is my first publication – It is as the cover states ‘A book of tasty recipes for the busy person’.
Each recipe is accompanied with a photo of the raw ingredients as well as one of the finished dish, something I feel is a unique selling point, as I have yet to discover a publication which has this feature.
I am currently writing my second book and have nearly finished ‘trying and testing’ the recipes. Additionally, I hope to combine both books to develop a student friendly version which will include advice on essential ingredients for the fridge, freezer, and store cupboard.
Alison – ‘Quick and Easy Homemade Meals’ is now on my wish list; my cookery skills are in need of some improvement! When and why did you decide to become and author?
Emma – I decided to become an author in 2011 and was inspired by not only my love of preparing food but also the pleasure I get from constructing a tasty dish by combining a few ingredients. I wanted to capture this inspiration in book form and so starting to write down my recipes.
Writing a book and having it published is a very satisfying and rewarding achievement – something I wanted to fulfil before my 40th birthday !
I do like a challenge and am always looking for new ways to add another ‘string to my bow’.
Alison – What are you reading at the moment, and what is your opinion?
Emma – I am a very keen reader and since 2010 and have on average been reading a book a week. I am currently in between books at the moment as I am just finishing “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben and am about to start “Inferno” the new novel by Dan Brown. I really enjoy Harlan Coben books as each chapter leaves you on the edge of your seat – really well written thrillers.
Alison – Has your book received favourable reviews ? Please feel free to quote from the reviews / and / or post links here.
Emma – Yes, I am pleased to say the Burton Mail (Saturday, 25th February, 2012) provided a very favourable review as have some customers on Amazon.
Caroline Kay from the Burton Mail wrote:
“I may not be a very adventurous cook, but I do like my cookery books.
Over the years I have acquired quite a few – but the one thing I like the most is to see a picture of each of the dishes which are included. Not all cookery books offer this luxury – in fact, many moons ago, I had one to review which didn’t have a single picture or illustration throughout.
Quick and Easy Homemade Meals, however, doesn’t just have a full colour photograph illustrating how each dish should look when prepared, but also a picture of the raw ingredients. Personally, I love this quirky addition.
The book is divided into 11 sections – beef dishes, pasta, chicken, fish, pork, lamb, vegetarian, alternative meals, side dishes, sauces, and sandwich fillings.
All the dishes are quick and easy to prepare and the majority don’t have a particularly long cooking time which is ideal for those, like me, who always seem to be in a rush. There is a good selection of recipes mixing classics with favourites and includes some interesting snacks and side dishes.
There are more than 100 recipes featured from an author who, unlike many of our cookery brethren, doesn’t believe in the motto ‘the more complicated the better’.
Chances are you will have most of the ingredients in your store cupboard, fridge and freezer.”
Amazon Customers have given my book a 5 star rating and the comments during 2012 – 2013 included:
“Great Book !”
“Quite a discovery”
“I highly recommend this book”
“Excellent cook book”
A local Birmingham magazine called “Gem” which is delivered to homes within the area have been very supportive, including me in two issues in 2012 and I have been approached by The Editor to write a feature for the July and August editions this year.
Recently, my old University, Oxford Brookes, from which I graduated in 1995, posted a profile detailing my career to date on their website. The link is here.
Furthermore, in order to promote my book I have designed a website and have a dedicated Facebook page on which I post updates, news, and recipes:
Alison – It must be fabulous to know that people have not only bought ‘Quick and Easy Homemade Meals’ they have enjoyed it so much they review and recommend it. All the hard work and the long publishing process was definitely worthwhile. What have you learned from the publishing experience ? Are there things you would do differently in future ?
Emma – The publishing process was a completely new experience for me, but the publisher kept me informed at each stage so I knew what to expect. It could be said you learn from your mistakes the first time round which makes the publishing procedure easier and gives you a greater understanding for your second publication.
The Facebook page I created for my book has been very successful, and so in hindsight perhaps I should have designed one earlier, maybe pre-book launch, and thus I could have started to built an audience and gained more interest earlier.
Alison – Do you think professional editing and proof reading are essential parts of the publishing process ? Do you think an author can successfully perform these tasks themselves ? Please give reasons for your answer.
Emma – Most definitely these are essential parts. As an author you become very engrossed in your work and possibly overlook typographical errors and may miss out, in the case of a cookery book, the mention of a specific ingredient which has been listed but omitted from the method.
Proof reading and editing provide ‘a fresh pair of eyes’ and are beneficial tools in order to offer a critical evaluation.
Alison – I agree. Recently I saw a cartoon picture with the caption ‘Don’t ask an author to poof read their own work, they’ll only see whatever they intended to write’. In addition to employing the services of professional editors and proof readers, is there any other advice you would give to a budding author ?
Emma – Research your topic thoroughly and look for a USP (unique selling point) which will inevitably help sell your book. Don’t be disheartened by rejection use it positively – I was turned down by 14 Literary Agents until I found a publisher who saw the potential in my manuscript and I am now a publisher author !
Use the internet as a platform to showcase your work, such as creating a Facebook page and designing a website.
It you believe in your work, undoubtedly others will too, and thus you may well fulfil a niche in the market which has largely remained unexplored.
Alison – Social media is an invaluable marketing tool, isn’t it. After working so hard to find a publisher, it must have been great to see your book in print for the first time. How did you feel?
Emma – Thrilled and excited ! To see my initial manuscript turned into a book meant I fulfilled an ambition to be a published author by 40. As a new author the process felt quite daunting but I am delighted with the finished product. The support and positive comments have made the whole process worthwhile.
Alison – Do you think someone can be taught to write books, or is it a natural talent ?
Emma – I think there is a writer and book in everyone ! The word ‘talent’ is defined in the dictionary as an ‘ability’ which I believe each one of us has, but some may not realise. Our introduction to creative writing can start at an early age at school, but career choices, and experiences during life can provide material which could result in a book. I recommend putting pen to paper and let your creative juices flow !
Alison – What are your top five books ? A favourite series can count as one choice.
Emma- This is a very difficult question as I have enjoyed some many books by different authors over the years but I have managed to produce a short list as follows:
1) “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown
2) “Hothouse Flower” by Lucinda Riley
3) “Never Look Away” by Linwood Barclay
4) “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben
5) “Confessions of a Midwife” by Diane Chamberlain
Alison – Good choices! ‘Tell No One’ is a particular favourite of mine too. What do you think is the future for the physical book ? Do you think there will always be people buying hard copies of books, or will the e-reader take over completely ?
Emma – Sadly there has been a steady demise in the traditional High Street bookstore over the past few years as on line retailers, such as Amazon, have succeeded in meeting the demands of the consumer whose hectic life style limits their spare time and thus ordering a book via the internet, which can be delivered to your e-reader within seconds, removes the need to leave your desk to shop.
I, too have joined the growing band of people who own a Kindle (the device is certainly easier and weighs less to take on holiday than several novels !) and have recently uploaded a Kindle version of my book on to the Amazon website.
Perhaps, like a fashion item, the book will come back into vogue and the e-reader will become a less favourable mode of reading, only time will tell !
Alison – I think there will always be a call for real books as well as e-books, particularly for reference. I can’t imagine following recipes on my kindle, for example, so I’m sure there is a future for the traditional book. Let’s hope so!
Thank you very much to Emma for her excellent comments. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I have, and if you fancy trying Emma’s recipes for yourself QUICK AND EASY HOMEMADE MEALS can be ordered directly from Book Guild, or from Amazon: UK link US Link
You can also follow Emma on FACEBOOK