revamp | Eat Up v3.0

A manuscript often takes on several personalities before finding its most publishable persona.  As it turns out, Eat Up is no different.

I wrote the first draft of Eat Up in 2010 while in graduate school, and consequently chose to target an academic audience.  Writing this first draft was exhilarating and empowering, and I felt as though I was on track to contribute something truly meaningful to academia.  Several months after graduating I re-read the draft, only to find that what I had once perceived as well written was actually dry and, well, academic.

After the panic and disappointment subsided, I decided to hunker down and revamp the manuscript.  I hired someone to help with editing and strategic development, and launched full force into Eat Up v2.0 in 2011.  This new and improved version targeted designers, practitioners, policy makers, food activists, and yes – even academia.  The tone became more readable, and the chapter titles, a bit snarky.  V2.0 was a hop in the right direction, but what I really needed was a leap.

Eat Up v3.0 | cover and page 1

In comes Eat Up v3.0.  This draft re-evaluates both the underlying message and the target audience of v2.0.  The most significant change lies in the manuscript’s restructuring: the book will now be split into three smaller volumes.  Each volume in the boxed set will target a distinct audience, thereby providing the reader with the knowledge that he or she seeks, without all the extraneous information.  The books will, of course, reference each other, so that readers will be exposed to the full breadth of rooftop agriculture one snippet at a time.  Working titles for the volumes and their audiences are as follows:

Eat Up |  nourishing yourself with food from the roof  –  This volume will act as a DIY for individuals and groups who are interested in growing vegetables and herbs on their own roofs.  Whether planting a few tomato plants or starting a rooftop community garden, this book will appeal to small-scale growers around the country.

Eat Up |  from beans to bucks with food from the roof  –  This volume will target entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and others who are interested in the boutique aspect of rooftop agriculture.  The book will introduce labor, marketing, and distribution strategies while providing useful tips for “making it happen.”

Eat Up |  feeding the people with food from the roof  –  The third volume will focus on large-scale initiatives and rooftop agricultural networks.  The content will target city planners, policy makers, designers, and academics who are interested in learning how rooftop agriculture can feed the masses.

What do you think about this overhaul?  Are these changes a step in the right direction?

13 Comments on “revamp | Eat Up v3.0

  1. i think the idea of a trilogy of books is BRILLIANT! b/c it side-steps the issue of overwhelming a target audience. nicely done! and you can show how folks can graduate from one topic to another.

    Q: would you sell them individually, or only as a set?

    what do you think of shorter names? one way is to name the book after the audience, rather than after the actions, eg:
    Eat Up | 1: DIY
    Eat Up | 2: Entrepreneur
    Eat Up | 3: Citywide
    the numbers show the order in which to read them.

    shorter names are more practical: imagine people talking about which book to reference, and all that text that goes along with that reference. plus, an Amazon listing can be cropped in some views to fewer characters than you’d think, like in RSS readers or phone displays.

    Another idea comes from Computer technical books: each book published by O’Reilly has well-done cover art of a particular animal, and the book is informally called “the Camel book” or the “the aardvark book” even though the animals have little to do with the subject matter. People KNOW which book you mean, even if they didn’t know the publisher, or the exact name of the book, or the author — this is in-the-know branding at it’s best: go to amazon and search for “the Camel book” and you’ll see the book “Perl”. It is visual and people immediately know if they’ve got the right book. and you certainly know enough artists who’d like to draw the covers.

  2. Gregg,

    Thank you for this wonderful feedback! Originally I planned on only offering them as a set. After speaking with a few people, it seems that perhaps offering them individually AND as a set might be preferable. What are your thoughts?

    I really like the idea of shorter names, but each subtitle must convey the book’s topic (not just the audience). This means that something like “rooftop agriculture” or “food from the roof” is necessary so that book store and perusers instantly know what the book is about. If you saw “Eat Up: DIY” in isolation, I’m not sure if the book’s topic would be evident. I’d like to keep Eat Up in each title, because that is the brand that I am trying to establish. These subtitles are tricky!

    Keep the comments coming – they provide a valuable perspective.

  3. I think this is terrific Lauren…sometimes you just have to stand back from something you love and re-assess!

    I think you should offer both the option of a box set and the volumes individually for a target market. I also think that you may want to broaden your descriptors for Amazon to include “gardening” a much larger target market.

  4. Hi Lauren-

    I think your idea to re-structure your book into separate volumes to target specific audiences makes a lot of sense. The concept of rooftop agriculture will appeal to different audiences for different reasons, and the 3 different volumes/approaches will make your ideas more marketable, I think. Offering them as individual volumes or a boxed set is also a good idea —
    I am so impressed with your hard work and commitment – you have truly found your passion, which is key to success!!

  5. Thanks for the encouragement, Dale!

    Q: If you saw these books online, in a book store, at a museum shop, or at Whole Foods, would you buy an individual volume or the whole set? Would this decision be cost or content driven?

    Feedback from anyone on this question would be very helpful.

  6. Great ideas and changes! I might be inclined to buy an individual volume and work up to a whole set. Usually these decisions are cost-driven, although sometimes it comes down to whether a particular topic is of special interest to me…so, I guess, it’s both…. Generally I prefer having the choice in this sort of thing…the possibility of individual purchases and/or the set, depending on a number of factors

  7. I agree with others, that the three volume idea is a good one. To answer your question about selling them individually or as a set, I would probably buy one volume before the whole set, partly because of my tight budget. I think I would want to check out one before I bought them all.

    Also, as far as the title goes: out of context, I don’t know if I would know what “food from the roof” means.

    Thanks for all your work on this, I am excited to read the books!

  8. As a consumer, I agree with all the others that I’d buy just the first volume. But if we put ourselves in the mindset of an entrepreneur then it would prob’ly be the first two volumes. And a city planner would buy them all.

    I see what you mean that just the title “Eat Up | 1: DIY” means little to an Amazon-saavy consumer. In the context of the set, though, it means more, eg, the Set would have an explanatory name, eg, see this book which is part of a series:

    The series could be called “The Rooftop Gardening Series”, which includes Pam’s idea that “gardening” is a significant word. Then the shorter names make sense b/c Amazon lists the series name in the title of the book.

  9. There are surprisingly few resources available for individual gardeners trying to grow food (or other plants) on their own rooftops.

    As the owner of a Philadelphia rowhouse, I have no illusions of starting a full-scale farm on the roof, but I’ve had varying success growing a few different vegetables for our own kitchen… and I’d love to be able to buy a book that’s written on this topic.

    But I doubt I’d have much use for the other books in the series. Meanwhile, folks that *are* looking at building farm on larger rooftops might not be as interested in the first book.

    So I’d certainly cast a vote for selling the books separately.

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