If you're thinking about writing a cookbook, you probably have lots of questions. What should you write about? Does your concept stand out? How do you make sure your recipes work? Do you really need an agent? What happens when you have your book proposal ready?

Cookbook Boot Camp was created by cookbook-author-stars Matt and Ted Lee to answer just these sorts of questions. The upcoming two-day session in Williamsburg, Brooklyn focuses on finding your voice, honing your story's focus, choosing recipes, and what happens next. It will help you prepare for photoshoots and guide you through what's needed in your cookbook proposal. There's a welcome reception the evening of Wednesday, June 18th, and the Boot Camp session starts Thursday, June 19th at 8 a.m. and ends Friday June 20th, around 5 p.m.

We chatted with Ted Lee about his excitement for the upcoming Boot Camp: "As much as Boot Camp is about me and Matt asking the hard questions of writers, unloading everything we know about the mechanics of cookbook publishing, and guiding the discussions," Lee said, "there's nothing that compares to a writer who's been wrestling with an idea and its focus, then floating a refined idea for a book out to of a peer group of other aspiring authors and having everyone respond: 'THAT is your book!' 'That is the cookbook the world needs now!'"

Lee continues: "Nobody we know—not agents, not editors—is doing the work of demystifying the process for writers, not only of how a writer gets a cookbook deal, and then, once you've got the deal, sharing best-practices of how you produce the necessary deliverables (manuscript, recipes, photos) efficiently, on deadline, at a price the writer can afford."

That last part is key, Lee says: "A lot of first-time authors who dream of publishing probably imagine signing the deal to be the best day of their lives. But if you don't have a realistic sense of the amount of work and the time it takes, and of all sorts of other factors that may emerge in the process, the day you sign the contract could easily end up being the worst day of your life!"

And he's excited to meet you! "We fully expect to find the next Smitten Kitchen, the next Dinner: A Love Story, the next Joy the Baker in our sessions and we will do everything possible to make sure those books see the light of day."

Sounds like an amazing opportunity, right? The cost is $2100, and you can send in a regular application here, but the Lee Bros. are generously offering one lucky Serious Eater complimentary tuition. (The winner will need to cover their own lodging, airfare and other transportation, and meals beyond seminar lunches.)

How to Apply

You cannot enter this contest in the comments below; you must email your entry to contest@seriouseats.com. Contest is open for entries now until Friday, May 30th at 11:30 p.m. EST.

Include all of these items in your email.

  • Full Name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Your website URL (if applicable)
  • Links to 3 top writing samples (or attach PDFs)
  • Answer the following question in 200 words or less: How does your book idea build upon the work you've done thus far?

The top five applicants will be selected by Matt and Ted Lee based on the strength of the application, then one winner will be chosen at random from the top five. Think you're a contender? Apply now! Late entries will not be considered.

Giveaway begins May 27th, 2014 at 7:30 a.m. EST and ends Friday, May 30th at 11:30 p.m. EST. Top five applicants will be chosen by Matt and Ted Lee on the basis of strength of application, then one winner will be chosen at random from the top five. Winner will be notified by email. Winner receives complimentary tuition to Cookbook Boot Camp in Brooklyn, winner will need to cover their own lodging, transportation, meals, and any other expenses. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

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