Happy Monday and happy December, too! I LOVE Mondays! I always look forward to each and every one of them, as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
Among the many things celebrated during the month of December, this is also National Write A Business Plan Month! If Mom had received a dollar for every time she was asked how she started her business or how someone else could do what she does, she probably would’ve been among the most wealthy business women in the country.
As Mom used to say, there was no blue-print for how to successfully do what she was doing. She got to where she was through many little steps that took her in a direction she didn’t really plan but, which she felt, was the Lord’s plan for her. Mom’s faith was unyielding!
Mom was always mystified on how to come up with an easy answer for people, asking her advice on how to write and publish a cookbook or how to start their own newsletter. She always wanted to create some kind of easy, step-by-step plan. However, there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer that she could come up other than these three basic steps:
(1) write about what you know best
(2) know who your target audience is
(3) follow through or sell it to them
Mom always believed that only the trials and tribulations of one’s own real experiences were the best guides by which to set, plan, and accomplish their goals.
Thirty-two years ago, instead of composing a “How To…” guide for writing and self-publishing, Mom wrote “our family story” in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); in hopes that it might help inspire someone else. Here’s a medley of excerpts from that book, which Mom wrote on the subject of creating your own newsletter or book.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
The following is a medley of excerpts from Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published book…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)
THE EXPERIENCES WE’VE ENCOUNTERED in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting and newspaper exposure and our own publishing efforts. If someone can benefit from our experiences, all the better. Mostly, though, this is just a story of our family, our five children…and how we made a dent in the hard shell of the publishing industry. (p. 2)
All of this should have started somewhere at a particular place in my life, because most important things DO have MEMORABLE BEGINNINGS. But I’m hard put to come up with that one event, that singular moment, when I knew that our Secret RecipesTM would touch other people, not just across the country but [also] across the world. And, in doing so, would make a difference. That’s what really counts – doing something that will make a difference for the good of others. (p. 7)
AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK…I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody else can write their own book [or newsletter] and get it published. If there were a formula for our kind of success…I would be happy to share the information… (p. 14)
THE EXPERIENCES THAT COMPRISE the success and longevity of our Secret RecipesTM include some very wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make it easy for us to present our work to the public…[those were some to whom I shared ‘thank you’ notes in some of my past blog posts.]
Over the years, it has been, not a job, but a joy to continue investigating the secrets of the food industry, combining this information and recipes with the logic of the heart, the food for thought as well as food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight in, both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world! (p. 15)
‘I felt as if the hand of Providence had poured me out a blessing and it was pressed down, shaken together and running over.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 15)
EXPERIENCES & PREPARATION
THE EXACT CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, in which each of my writing experiences have occurred, are not clear in my memory now. However, each step [and] each experience was, on second thought, [neither] a delay nor a setback, as I used to believe. It was, instead, only preparation and the gathering of experience…
[Other than myself,] there has been no ‘real’ publisher, no public relations agent or the expensive efforts of professional promoters. [Their] ideas of how to publicize what I have to offer would only conflict with what I felt should be done.
My cup runneth over because I have been blessed with an enthusiasm for promoting my own work and have been twice-blessed with the support and partnership of, probably, the most honest man in the world; who knows, from his own valuable working experiences, exactly how to manage and protect this enterprise.
All of the blessings I derived from having stumbled my way through the [not so] meaningless jobs of the many newspapers for which I once worked, eventually paid tremendous dividends, as I was able to put those learned skills into practice with this family enterprise of ours. Each bit of experience contributed to what I would, later, be able to do without the help of professionals. (p. 20)
EXPERIENCES & RADIO
While the critics snickered that my fast food imitations would run its unhealthy course in a short while [and] that my ability to turn out copy would, soon, be exhausted; I continued to look to a Divine Source for [my] daily supply of, both, energy and ideas. I have never yet been disappointed or without something good to share with our family of readers and our radio listeners. My cup does, indeed, run over! (p. 21)
IF SOMEONE WERE TO COPY our so-called “success”, I could give them no blueprint for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires to form a pearl. (p. 25)
WITH…WRITING AND MARKETING, it’s all based on individuality, on experience being the best teacher and on having a responsive audience…it also begins with a sale. You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that – you either know or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light!
You have to let your light shine – and part of the preparation of communicating with your readers is to know how to talk to them, what they need from your [books or] newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better. (pp. 43-44)
BELIEVE ME, IT’S NOT EASY, putting out your own [book or] newsletter; and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint… to follow that will promise instant success. My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 48)
THE CARTOONS & JOHN McPARTLIN
THE CARTOONS… HAD BEEN the very beginning of my work in newspapers, as I provided ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ and, later [in between which I was writing at the ‘Algonac Courier’], the ‘Richmond Review’ with a cartoon panel I called ‘Full House, As Kept By Gloria Pitzer’. The cartoons were published every week for four or five years.
At the same time, I was also giving another paper a panel entitled ‘Could Be Verse’, which was three or four lines of rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic. One, for instance, read: ‘All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!’
They were silly verses but fun to do at the time. From that, came [my] column entitled ‘No Laughing Matter’, which ran weekly for about six years; and, during some of that time, it was syndicated by Columbia Features out of New York. (p. 52)
I often receive email solicitations, wanting me to pay “them” hundreds of dollars to market Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018). Generally, the emails point out that writing and publishing are only two minor steps in the whole “book-making-process”.
An author’s biggest challenge is probably the marketing step because it involves so much more personal time and effort since you’re not just selling your product, you’re also selling yourself – your talents and expertise.
I believe that! Throughout Mom’s career as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, she put in 12-hour work days all the time – doing restaurant reviews, product testing, developing imitations and many re-tests, writing, self-publishing, and self-promoting were all a part of her everyday life for almost 40 years.
I suppose the hours involved in just promoting something could justify (for me) how much it costs to pay the professionals to do it for me. It’s also saving me from the anxiety of the marketing challenges since I’m not a sales person and never really wanted to be one. However, for me, if I really love a product, use it myself, and believe in its value, that makes selling it to others a bit easier!
But I need to find a plan of action that works for me. And how do I know what’s the value (or cost) of my time? My experiences are a drop in the bucket compared to Mom’s. I’m sure it’s value is far less than that of the marketing professionals – but then “you get what you pay for”, as the old saying goes!
Granted – paying them would save me from all that stuff! But, when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on that kind of stuff, in the first place; sometimes, you just have to learn how to do it yourself. Nowadays, you can find YouTube videos on how to do just about anything! Mom didn’t have YouTube to help her. She succeeded on her accumulated experiences in the newspaper business and her own basic instincts.
Since this is National Pear Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Apple (or Pear) Crisp; from her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 240). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some of December’s month-long observances include… Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!
Wednesday, December 8th is… National Brownie Day! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipe for imitating Hostess Style Brownies & Fudge Frosting (from her “Original 200” recipes collection.)
…49 down and only 3 more to go!