16th Annual International Self-Published Awards Winners

Announcing the winners of the 16th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. by Zachary Petit
Author:
Publish date:

In Santa Monica, four city blocks overlooking the ocean form an “X.” The smells: earthy, fresh. The colors: bursts that mirror the changing palates of the seasons. The tastes? Amelia Saltsman’s The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, the grand-prize winner of the 2008 Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, captures the flavors lining the historic streets.

“It’s one of the most inspiring places for me to be,” Saltsman says. “I knew that it was one of the most important markets in the country, but it wasn’t getting the recognition that it could.”

Having written a book that surpassed 2,355 others in the latest WD competition, Saltsman is undoubtedly a talented author. But first and foremost, she considers herself a chef. The Los Angeles native has managed a cooking school, catered, taught the craft and worked as a food stylist for TV shows and cookbook authors on tour. She eventually began hosting her own TV program about the farmers’ market, became a frequent radio guest and jump-started a writing career by breaking into her local paper—which happened to be the Los Angeles Times. She’s since expanded her reach to publications such as National Geographic Traveler and Bon Appetit.

“It’s a matter of plugging away and building a platform slowly, and becoming an expert in your field,” she says. “One of the reasons I wanted to write the cookbook was to set everything down in book form, but also to create a bigger platform. I was essentially a regional writer with a regional subject.”

But Saltsman knew her recipes could be used anywhere, and that anyone could enjoy reading about her hub’s role in the movement toward cooking with fresh, local ingredients. “It tells the story of farmers’ markets everywhere,” she says. “It’s inspiring and as long as there’s a universal core there, the message will resonate.”

Still, Saltsman didn’t even try selling her book to a mainstream publisher. Because the farmers’ market was a regional gathering, she figured she didn’t stand a chance on the national stage. Instead, she decided to publish it herself and hired a copy editor, a designer and an indexer to prepare her text to compete on shelves. She warns that self-published authors have to be ready to wear many hats—from brutal editor to budget-conscious publisher—and likens the process to the uphill battle faced by many of the subjects in her book.

“The odds are against a farmer on so many levels: the climate, the weather, the economy, the competition, the pests, you name it. And yet they love what they do and they do it beautifully,” she says. “I really relate to that on so many levels and I realized that in a way, tackling a publishing project myself was very much like that.”

After a year of writing and editing and a year of production, the book was in Saltsman’s hands on Aug. 1, 2007. It was picked up by the Anthropologie chain, and it’s now nearly through its second printing. While she’s taking home $3,000 and other prizes for winning the Self-Published awards, Saltsman is already eyeing her next book, continuing to tour with her current one and deciding the future of Blenheim Press, the imprint she founded to release The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook. “I’m really at kind of a delicious and scary crossroads,” she says. “I’ve been delighted that it seems to have shown itself to be an evergreen title.”

Looking to refuel before a writing marathon? For the recipe for Black Cod with Green Tomatoes, one of Amelia Saltsman’s favorites, click here.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a palindrome is when it comes to writing, including several examples of palindromes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time to set a trap.

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

Children's author Christine Evans shares how repetition is good for growing readers and gives you the tools to write your story's perfect refrain.

From Our Readers

Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers ask: Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World. Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

Your story belongs to you but will involve other people. Where do your rights end and theirs begin?

Identifying Your Book's Target Audience

Identifying Your Book's Target Audience

Editor-in-chief Amy Jones navigates how to know your target audience, and how knowing will make your writing stronger.