Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Does It Pay To Write Beer Books?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 25, 2008

I sent this missive off to the Association of Brewers in Colorado in reference to their Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Award program. For reasons I can’t comprehend, book authors aren’t eligible for this contest. I’ve sent e-mails around to a few people, including the folks at the Association of Brewers, and I’ve received positive feedback from a number of folks about the inclusion of book authors in the award program. So far, however, nothing from the AB people.

The e-mail follows, but I’m also trying to find a brewery or breweries, brewpub, trade organization or whatever, and see if we can jointly resurrect the old Beer Writers Guild program, in this case, specifically for beer book authors, and give these people the credit they deserve. I have nothing against the writer who pens an interesting 1,000 word article about some facet of beer, I’ve done it myself, but c’mon…putting a book together is a lengthy process, and quality and time-consuming works should be recognized.

If I can’t find sponsors to help me put a program in place, I might simply do this on my own. My first book won the Golden Quill Award for “Best Beer Book of the Year” back in 2000(?) from the now defunct Beer Writers Guild…and I never forgot the feeling and encouragment that a simple plastic award gave to me. I’d like to return the favor, give a fellow book author that proverbial shot in the arm that I received with my trophy, and maybe sweeten the pot with a further incentive to boot.

I know that a lot of people read these postings from around the country and I’m hoping that someone out there will step forward and help me to put together an author award program that will encourage and reward other writers to put pen to paper about a subject we all love—beer, its history, its use in food, etc.

I’ll gladly do the grunt work, set-up a web page, handle the correspondence, define the categories and qualifications and hope that someone out there will help make the particulars fall into place. The e-mail that got me thinking about this follows;

Looking at the the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Awards handed out in the last few years by the Brewers Association, [I see that] there really is no category for books and I find this an odd oversight.   It takes much more time and research to bring a book to print, and when articles seem to be the only thing that falls under “BA’s Consumer Print Media” category, something seems out of balance. Even the application makes no allowance for books, something I found out after my book submissions were misplaced last year. After belated correspondence was exchanged with **** *******, I realized that the 3 copies of my latest book submitted for award consideration amounted to a futile exercise, even with a well thought out book theme and front matter endorsement by Jim Koch of The Boston Beer Company.
Koch recognized the book as a strong message in bringing beer and food together, the history of how this marriage came about in American kitchens from Colonial Times through the bumpy time of Repeal and the tenative efforts of a wounded industry to find a common message in presenting beer as a drink of moderation.   This colorful history has led to today’s blossoming Renaissance of beer paired with food and beer-related food recipes.
But for us book authors, where’s the outlet for peer recognition for our contributions to good beer and food?
Consumer Print Media: For work appearing in general circulation consumer print publications such as daily newspapers, as well as consumer-oriented news, food, and lifestyle magazines.” But no books? 
 I remember the old Beer Writers Guild writing awards, of which I won a Golden Quill for my Chicago brewing industry history book back in 2001. This definitive book on one of the country’s most influential brewing centers wouldn’t even qualify for consideration in this newer program with its current guidelines.Why are books, works of considerable research and effort, ignored over 1,000-word articles? There were a good handful of informative and worthwhile beer-themed books written last beer by well-qualified experts who should have been given the opportunity to receive equal recognition for their efforts. Lucy Saunders, Sam Calagione and Marni Old, Charlie Bamforth, Maureen Ogle’s turn around with an additional paperback printing, or Dr. Amy Mittleman all penned books that will stand the test of time…but never were considered for the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Award. 
Michael Jackson’s writings were considerable, but it’s his books with distribution in bookstores and online that will be remembered for years to come and still turned to for information, education and sheer enjoyment, long after his passing. Books are the type of dedicated efforts that are handed out as holiday and birthday presents to a widespread audience of readers who might not be beer geeks but would nonetheless still welcome an informative publication that could serve as a gateway in sparking their interest in good beer, not an article published in a niche magazine “…in trade and specialized beer and brewing media” that for more often than not…preach to the choir.
Somehow, I think Jackson would even question this program in its current form; “The Michael Jackson Beer Journalism awards is the only program of its kind. The contest allows the craft beer community to acknowledge, reward and thank journalists who feature craft beer.” Except for book authors.   
Bob Skilnik    







One Response to “Does It Pay To Write Beer Books?”

  1. felicitous said

    Yours for Good Fermentables ™: Words, words ever……

    Bookmarked your post over at Blog!…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: