Using Food to Create an Appetite for Your Novel

© 2012 Alice J. Wisler

“One cannot think well, live well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” wrote Virginia Woolf. That quote grabbed me, and I used it in my first cookbook of memories. Since that time, all my novels have recipes in the back, recipes that pertain to the story. The truth is, food speaks to us. Promoting a novel with food is not only in good taste (oh, forgive the pun), but it creates interest that lends itself to a variety of possibilities.

Perhaps your novel doesn’t have recipes in the back, but I bet you as the author have mentioned some sort of food in the story. Whether it is a bag of Lays potato chips, a type of hot tea, or strawberry crepes made by your character Aunt Geraldine, most novels have food. Characters have to eat. Find the mention of food and go from there.

To get you started:

  • Blog about the food in your story. For example, say pineapple chutney is one of the foods the relatives make for the annual family reunion (this happens in my first novel, Rain Song). To get readers and potential readers on the bandwagon, I researched the history of chutney and wrote on why I made up my own creation of the not-so-common version of pineapple (I wanted to be different). Then I searched for movies with chutney in it as well as songs, and I also included various chutney recipes. Soon everyone was talking about chutney and my novel. Well, not everyone, but many were.
  • Ask questions on your Facebook page. Start a dialog with your friends. What is your favorite chutney and why?
  • Include recipes at the end of your newsletter.Add a photo of one of the dishes and a famous or not-so-famous quote about it. For example, if your novel has watermelon in it, find recipes on watermelon pickles, watermelon juice, and watermelon candy. Enhance the recipes by borrowing one of Mark Twain’s lines: “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows that the angels eat.”
  • Host a tea with food from your novel. Invite your neighbors, your church friends, your relatives. Take photos of the spread of food and post them on Facebook and your blog.

Get creative. The sky is the limit. Start promoting your novels with food today and see what kind of delicious adventures and new readers you find.
When she’s not cooking, Alice J. Wisler writes southern fiction from her home in North Carolina. Each of her five novels has recipes for readers to try. She also teaches Writing the Heartache Workshops both online and at conferences. Visit her website at and join her on Facebook.


Using Food to Create an Appetite for Your Novel — 1 Comment

  1. I have a question for any of you who include recipes in your books.
    When I see recipes in a book, I love to read them for the story but
    also for the recipes. However one book had potato peel pie in the title
    and it is mentioned several times in the story. Has anyone ever heard
    of potato peel pie or thought about a recipe?

    The book is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

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