Book agent Carly Waters standing in front of a background of bright yellow fall foliage

Hi all! Desiree, your Allsorts host here. Since my new book Good for Your Gut will be out in a few months, I thought it would be cool to take a peek into the publishing world. This week launches a special TWO PART series on what it’s really like to write and create cookbooks. For part one, I’m speaking with my amazing literary agent, Carly Watters, to get under the hood of what it takes to make it in this business. Carly is a Senior VP and Senior Literary Agent at the Toronto-based P.S. Literary Agency and the co-host of the popular writing podcast “The Shit No One Tells You About Writing.

The publishing industry can seem so secretive and hard to penetrate, so if you’re wondering how it all works, this week we’re talking about the cookbook process from idea through to publishing. In part two, we’re going to get a behind the scenes look at how, with the help of some wonderful people, I created Eat More Plants and Good For Your Gut—and that conversation will take place with my friend and collaborator, Sophia Mackenzie, and will come out next in our dual show on cookbook publishing.

That’s right! Two pods for one in-depth look at a much-revered industry!! So let’s open the book…

About Carly Watters: 

Carly Watters holds a Masters Degree in Publishing Studies from City University London. As Senior VP and Senior Literary Agent at the Toronto-based P.S. Literary Agency, she represents award-winning and bestselling authors in the adult fiction and non-fiction categories and select children’s books. Carly also co-hosts the podcast,“The Shit No One Tells You About Writing.”

Book agent Carly Waters standing in front of a background of bright yellow fall foliage amongst The Allsorts Podcast's logos and graphics

On this episode we chat about:

  • How Carly Watters found her path into book publishing
  • Why the industry really is hard to break into (i.e. why the industry has always benefitted the privileged class who can afford to live in expensive cities like London and New York and work for little/no pay.)
  • How to find or attract an agent and what exactly publishers are looking for in a cookbook 
  • Whether or not you can ACTUALLY make a living writing cookbooks these days—or as a literary agent? 
  • The state of the book industry (could it possibly be doing well?!?!)
  • The importance of having a very strong food philosophy
  • Why having a platform (AKA an audience) really is important to publishers 
  • The 3 times a year books come out and tend to do well, and why
  • What a “query letter” is and what it typically encompasses 
  • How a book proposal is similar to a business plan (yep, how are you going to get people to actually BUY your book!)
  • Why pre-ordering a book means the world to an author (did you know if books don’t sell right away, book stores can send them back to the publisher?! Yikes!) 

Learned something new? Have questions? 

Keep the conversation going on Instagram! Have something to say about what you heard? Screenshot this episode and tag us @theallsortpod @carlywatters with your questions and/or comments!

You can also join our free online community, Nutrition with Desiree by clicking here!

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Connect with Carly Watters:


Instagram: @carlywatters 

Twitter: @carlywatters

Carly Watters’ Recommendations:

The Guncle by Steven Rowley