What the Publishers Didn’t See

May 30, 2017

Here’s a taste of what they said:

“What a treat! A wonderful parable, inspirational, very moving. And the lessons really work.”

“It made me tear up—and I love novels that evoke emotion.”

“A life-lessons-through-food novel for a new generation. Owen is a sympathetic, relatable character, and his struggle to put his life back together is truly moving.”

“The writing is top-notch and totally immersive. I enjoyed following Owen’s character growth.”

“Heartwarming . . . the writing is fantastically specific about the feeling of cooking and all of the equipment surrounding it, which made the story really rich.”

“The authors’ passion for food and cooking shine in this manuscript, and the descriptive details were absolutely mouthwatering.”

“Owen is an endearing character, and I quite like how cooking changes his life.”

“The premise is both clever and interesting, the authentic culinary detail a nice touch.”

“Owen’s story is big-hearted and wholesome, even aspirational.”

“A lovely read that I immensely enjoyed” . . . “A moving story” . . . “The writing is intriguing, and the cooking bits are glorious” . . . “I appreciate the book’s unique blend of narrative, life advice, and culinary tips” . . . “I think this could be a big hit.”

WOW, right? That’s what more than a dozen New York editors said after reading the manuscript for my next book, The Recipe.

And they all passed.

Every single one.

Coauthored with my good friend, Culinary Olympian multiple gold-medalist Chef Charles Carroll (yes, there is a Culinary Olympics, held every four years, just like that other Olympics), The Recipe is a tale of heartbreak and redemption, the story of a boy who learns to overcome personal tragedy and carve out a life of excellence and honor through cooking lessons at the hands of a crusty old diner chef. The Karate Kid meets Master Chef.

So you’re probably wondering: “Wait a minute — if they all loved it so much, why did all those publishers pass?”

We wondered, too. Turns out, it was because our book didn’t fit their particular category. Or in some cases, because they couldn’t quite figure out what category to fit us into. As one editor commented:

“It’s a book that straddles three genres: self-help, fiction, and cooking. I was hoping to pitch it [to my boss] as a book that would encompass all three — but there’s a concern that it would get lost in between.”

Which to us is another way of saying “It appeals to too many people.” (I know: crazy, right?)

Here’s the thing: We didn’t write The Recipe for readers who love to learn core success principles they can apply in their own lives … or for readers who love a personal story of struggle and triumph … or for “foodie” readers who love to learn about how to cook amazing food.

We wrote it for all three.

Because in our experience, there are a lot of smart readers out there who fit all three of those descriptions. You’re probably one yourself.

  • You love to learn principles you can use to better your life.
  • You love a compelling story of an underdog who comes out on top.
  • You love great food, and love learning secrets of a world-class chef.

We wrote this book for you.

The publishers didn’t get that. But we think you will. In fact, we think you’ll love it. So we’re publishing it ourselves … for you.

This October. In hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

Between now and then, Chef Charles and I will be looking for people who want to join our Launch Team — readers and fans who love the book and want to help spread the word. If you think that might be you, let me know. Just click on the “Contact” link here on my website (or email me if we already know each other) and put “Launch Team” at the top. I’ll get an advance copy in your hands, and we’ll take it from there.

Together, we’ll show the publishers what they missed!



  1. Adrian

    LAUNCH TEAM (or Lunch Team, I’m happy with either one! or both…)

    Sign me up, Stinky :>)

    • John David Mann

      Yer on! There ain’t no other human bein’ alive what can claim the right ta calls me Stinky, but . . . yer on!

  2. Soundararajan

    Your books are excellent, motivating and every one should carry your book.

    • John David Mann

      Many thanks, Chef — hope you enjoy this one especially!

  3. Hannah Ineson

    I think you can already count me on the Launch Team since I did have a small hand in the book! Looking forward to it!

    • John David Mann

      “Small hand” but big impact! Everyone who’s seen the cover and commented to me LOVES it — thank-you thank-you, Hannah!

  4. Celinda Kitchens

    Can you get it added to Goodreads for all the fiction readers?

    • John David Mann

      Great point, Celinda! We’ll make sure it’s up on Goodreads for pre-order . . . and we may do some Goodreads Giveaways, too! (And don’t forget, if you raise your hand to join our Launch Team, you get a sneak preview e-copy!)

  5. Beverly Bellmore

    I’d love to read the book and be part of the launch team! I love to read, eat and help promote people. I’m in if you’ll have me.

    • John David Mann

      Hey Bev — you’re in! Official Launch Team “Welcome Letter” coming your way …

  6. Abbie McClung

    **Raises hand for the Launch Team ** ✋

    • John David Mann

      Yer in!

  7. Liz Wertz

    Sounds like an interesting read! I would love to be included in the book’s launch team.

    • John David Mann

      Hi Liz — you’re in!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free E-Book on iPad

Get “How to Write Good” download FREE

You may not be a published writer. But everyone tells stories. For a limited time, you can download “How to Write Good (Or At Least, Gooder)” for free. Right now this 130-page book is a JDM Readers Club exclusive. PLUS when you do you get an additional bonus free gift.

Find out more Logos