Get ready for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the world of cookbook publishing, food media, and the evolving landscape of influencers. In this lively conversation between Danielle Wiley and Sally Ekus from the Ekus Group literary agency, learn about the transformative changes that have happened in food media — from the role of social platforms like TikTok and Instagram to the increasing importance of transparency in the publishing industry.
Sally’s deep insights and experiences shine through in this episode as she shares her unique perspective on navigating the complexities of getting cookbooks from concept to publication. The conversation also touches on the challenges and triumphs of advocating for diversity in cookbook publishing, as well as Sally’s unique leadership style (inspired by Ari Weinzweig and, wait for it: improv comedy!).
Tune in to uncover the hidden ingredients behind cookbook publishing, the ever-changing landscape of culinary content creation, and the powerful role of influence in shaping the world of food media today.
Be on the lookout for:
- Proven tips for crafting a compelling cookbook proposal
- The critical DE&I element of getting unique culinary voices heard in a competitive industry
- Why it’s a myth that a massive social media following is the sole path to cookbook success
- How Sally’s transparency empowers aspiring authors with real-world information about advances, royalties, and the overall book publishing process
- What brands can learn from the changing dynamics of reaching audiences through different channels
In order to honor the Ekus Group’s 40th anniversary in April of 2022, Sally launched a self-paced online course called How to Write a Cookbook. How to Write A Cookbook is available at a discounted price for all of our amazing Art of Sway listeners at this special link or by entering the code SWAYME at checkout.
Episode 43: Sally Ekus of Ekus Group
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway, the podcast that uncovers the power of influence and its impact on all areas of our lives. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week we’ll explore the many facets of influence through candid conversations with industry insiders, from brand marketers to social workers, educators, leaders, and more. Let’s dive in.
Sally Ekus is the president and lead agent at the Ekus Group, a full service culinary agency specializing in literary and talent representation. She represents a wide range of culinary, health, wellness, and lifestyle talent. From first time cookbook authors to seasoned chefs, hardees, professional food writers and bloggers, and internet and YouTube personalities. From concept to contract, she has brokered over 300 book deals with top publishers, including Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Simon and Schuster and numerous indie publishers.
Sally speaks all over the country about publishing trends and agenting and facilitates workshops that combine the agency’s groundbreaking media training program with applied improv training to help authors hone their authentic message and gain confidence and comfort promoting their work. To honor the Ekus Group’s 40th anniversary in April of 2022, she launched a self-paced online course called How to Write a Cookbook. How to Write A Cookbook is available at a discounted price for all of our amazing Art of Sway listeners.
You can find the clickable link in the blog post intro or just enter SWAYME, S-W-A-Y-M-E at checkout. I was so thrilled when Joanna Voss, one of our fabulous guests from season two, introduced me to Sally Ekus. I have greatly admired her agency for well over 20 years, and as a recovered food writer myself, it was just such a treat to get to know more about how the food publishing world works. I so greatly admire how transparent and ethical the Ekus group is. And Sally was just a delight. Please enjoy.
Okay. Hi, welcome.
Sally Ekus: Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here, Danielle.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I’m glad we made this happen. I feel like we started chatting a long time ago and life gets in the way, but I’m thrilled that you’re here and talking with me. And I of course know quite a bit about your background, but would love for you to share it with our listeners a little bit more. So I will start by saying that you recently took over as lead agent of the Ekus Group and would love for you to just share your journey and how you got from there to here and tell us a little bit about your job.
Sally Ekus: Sure. Well, it started when I was born because the Ekus group was originally started as Lisa Ekus Public Relations Company, and Lisa is my mom. And she started our agency almost quickly and exclusively as a culinary publicity firm working with publishers who hired her to organize cookbook tours for different cookbook authors who were publishing books. And this was 41 years ago, and I was essentially born into this industry, but never really had a sense of what my mom, as I called her at the time, did for work. And I didn’t have any sort of pressure to go into what is now very much a family business. And over the years, the agency has evolved. And so she started as a PR firm and then she created a media training program. As she was promoting these cookbooks out on tour, she realized that many authors didn’t necessarily know how to cook and talk together on television.
Now that’s something you see all the time, even way beyond television, but back then that didn’t exist. And so she co-created a culinary media training program, which actually people can still come through our agency and gain those skills and go through that formal training. And then the agency continued to evolve and the industry continued to change, and she started a spokesperson division, which now might be called talent representation or talent management, which you are very familiar with. And so that was meeting authors, coordinating their PR tours, then training them to execute those tours successfully, and then realizing, hey, we were sort of training spokespeople. And so creating partnerships and working with different brands or institutions who might’ve needed some recipe development or a spokesperson at a conference or now what we consider a brand partnership. So those three elements of the business evolved. And then fast-forward to about 20 years ago, she started doing literary representation, so working as a book agent representing authors and their cookbook concepts to publishers.
And around that time I was entering college, graduating college, somewhere in there. And I was on a path to become a social worker, and I was working in the mental health space and I was trained in active listening, negotiation and crisis counseling, all skills that are highly transferable to working with authors and working in publishing.
And many years ago I had a breakup. I moved home, I started helping out at the agency to sort of have this interim space of employment and realized that I had been informally training for this my whole life and absolutely adored working with authors. I loved meeting people that had a passion, a deep expertise, something to say and a creative side to them, and then helping them develop their idea and secure book contracts. And so I started just helping at the agency, sending out some book proposals which we can talk about, and supporting her work as a literary agent and then very quickly realized, I love this.
I think this is what I want to do. She didn’t really have a succession plan. And so a few years into our working together, we started talking about, is this really something that over time would be her succession plan. And fast-forward to April of 2023, she’s retired and living the retired life, still very much in touch with all of her clients and publishers and also gardening and taking an art class and being a grandmother and living the retired life. And I’ve stepped into the role as lead agent and I had been overseeing quite a few of our clients and projects prior to the formal retirement, but it’s a unique time to be talking because it’s a very special moment in our agency’s history and her legacy and also where we’re going moving forward.
Danielle Wiley: You’re giving me hope because my daughter is a psychology major at college and has no interest in what I do, but now I’m thinking like, okay, maybe as she gets some distance from it and realizes how amazing it is.
Sally Ekus: I think there’s really something to be said just for choosing to work with a family or a parent. And I think because I didn’t have that pressure, it was very much my choice, and that really helped. If you had asked me 20 years ago, what did my mom do for work? I would’ve said something in food. And now obviously I have a much deeper look into what that really looks like.
Danielle Wiley: Amazing. So when we chatted, I think a couple of months ago now, you talked about how becoming a mom yourself changed so much for you both personally, which I think is obvious. I mean, becoming a parent changes everything about everything, but also how it changed things for you professionally. And I’d love for you to talk a little bit about that professional part.
Sally Ekus: Yeah, I mean, one example, so our agency is 99, 95% culinary titles, culinary clients, but also really representing books in the nonfiction space is on the table. And so I have a book coming out, meaning I represent the authors, and the book is being published by Harper this fall called Tiny Humans, Big Emotions. And so it has nothing to do with food and is a book about raising tiny humans and their big emotions, which I have in my home on the regular.
And I came to the content of this book, the authors Alyssa and Lauren, through an Instagram account. Originally I was bombarded with different accounts when I was pregnant, and then Maybelline joined this world and I found this account to be the most helpful and practical in the moment. And so long story short, I actually met them through a chef that had taken one of our cookbook writing workshops at the agency.
So there like, was this culinary connection, which I found hilarious. So that is just one practical example is professionally, it just kind of widened my scope and how I would consider representing content, but also I have no space for anything extra in life since becoming a parent. And so I want that inbox that is stacked full of emails or the messages that I need to return or whatever I have in front of me as my to-do to also be filled with a lot of joy and excitement and enthusiasm because I have the great privilege of just working on projects that I love. And so becoming a mom just leaves very little room for anything else. There’s just so much hard in the day-to-day. And so I really prioritize the not hard when possible.
Danielle Wiley: I mean, for me personally, I feel like it also made me so much better at triage because so much of being a mom, like you’re triaging, right? Is this kid’s arm going to fall off or are they just screaming because they want to scream and I can take a minute. And dealing with that in every moment of your personal life gives you so much perspective at work when there’s drama happening. And just the multitasking and prioritizing.
Sally Ekus: Yes, I think perspective is a great key here because it altered my perspective, it changed it in some way, and that continues to be something that I bring to my client work and just my general day to day. And yes, prioritizing and reprioritizing is the name of the game always.
Danielle Wiley: So I first became aware of the Ekus group when I was actually an aspiring food writer myself. Most people know I had a food blog before I launched Sway Group, and I was convinced this was going to be my path in life. And I saw your mom speak at the IACP conference, which is the International Association of Culinary Professionals. I saw her, I saw Tony Bourdain. There was big exciting names there. And I mean, you’ve talked kind of in practical matters about how the agency has changed since then, just in terms of expanding and all of that. But I think what’s really interesting to me since that time, and even since 40 years ago, my husband and I were watching a 1994 PBS special with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, and it was Jacques and Julia in concert. They were in front of a live audience.
It was very nineties. There was a lot of shoulder pads and people were taking notes, but they were both so great on camera and it was such a thing. But except for PBS and maybe some small local opportunities, like being a food professional on the screen wasn’t a thing. And of course now if you want to be a food writer, you have to be on TikTok and on Instagram and talking to camera and showing how things are being made. And it’s just from what I’ve kind of observed as a big fan of the food writing space, it’s so different now from how it was 20 years ago and certainly 40 years ago. I’m just curious to hear your perspective because you’re so much more in it than I am.
Sally Ekus: I mean, in some ways, yes, it has changed so much. And though to be a food writer to say you have to be on TikTok to be a food writer, I don’t know. I don’t really agree. The expectation is that you’re there, but do you have to be? I think it really comes down to, there are so many channels for where you could do your X thing and being really intentional, knowledgeable and passionate about what you do and where you’re going to do it, that’s important.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I mean, I hope it is. I think there’s so much knowledge to be shared in the world of food and I mean being able to perform a camera has nothing to do with that expertise.
Sally Ekus: It’s a completely different skill. It’s great if you have both of those skills and a lot of people do, so you’re competing with a lot of people that also have both those skills. But when people pitch me for book representation and they lead with their social, that’s helpful because that’s what editors are looking for. That’s what publishers are asking for right now. But one of my first questions is like, okay, cool. Where have you written placed content where there’s some sort of journalistic vetting process or you’ve gone through some version of editing in some capacity?
It’s okay if you haven’t done that anywhere and you have this massive following, but there’s still, in my opinion, really something to be said for the full portfolio. And that full portfolio may not be full immediately, but thinking about how you’re going to round that out is important. If you want to write a book or if you want to say I’m a full-time food writer, I think it’s still important to have a byline or a credit line somewhere.
Danielle Wiley: I’m glad to hear that. I think it’s-
Sally Ekus: But I was raised by Lisa and I grew up in the IACP era, and so I work with people that have very fast track platform growth on social platforms, and they are securing book deals, and that’s great and that’s fun. Ultimately it’s because I love their content and they’re super passionate about it, and they’re finding their lane where that is reaching an audience. It’s not just for the sake of promoting it. I guess there’s still something there that is really interesting to me as an agent and other people as consumers, readers, cooks, curiosities.
Danielle Wiley: And so when you’re looking for new talent to bring, I mean, do you look for new talent to bring in or are you bombarded with people and so you don’t even have to?
Sally Ekus: I do, yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Okay.
Sally Ekus: It’s a little bit of both. I do scouting and also people pitch us for representation, and it’s everything in between. So somebody might come to us with a fully finished proposal looking for representation, and others are just, Hey, I’ve been thinking about this. Where do I begin? And then I’m reaching out to people that I’m reading or watching. And then a lot of it is current clients saying, Hey, so-and-so wants to write a book, or they were just approached, would you want to talk to them? And it builds from there.
Danielle Wiley: Okay. I think I had this image in my head that all sourcing now for cookbooks is coming from TikTok and Instagram.
Sally Ekus: A lot of it is, and it’s not all I do. I just feel like it’s important to drive home. And I know that I’m not all agents in that way. I have heard stories of people finding their way into my inbox. We get on a five or 10 minute exploratory call and they’re like, I talked to another agent, or I got an email reply that said, come back to me when you have a hundred thousand followers. And okay, that is fine. That is definitely going to make it easier to open a door. There’s always a seat at the table at our agency to at least have a quick conversation, even without those massive platforms, we represent everyone in that span. A lot of first time authors and some of them come to the table with big social audiences and some of them don’t. And when I do scout, I will go to social accounts and look at the content, but I’m not deterred by under some arbitrary threshold. I mean, I don’t know. How do you feel about it in the work you do in the talent space?
Danielle Wiley: It’s weird for me, I have so much baggage when it comes to food writing and food. I mean, it’s been my passion since… I mean, I still have upstairs, the cookbook I put together when I was 12. I was a weird kid. I would sit home on Saturday nights and watch Country Kitchen and Frugal Gourmet, and I’m not typical. But I started my food blog because I had a full-time job and it was too much work for me to be pitching food magazines all the time. And I just wanted to share my content out there, but I didn’t have time to be sending Saveur 10 pitches for one concept. They kept having me rework it. It’s a lot. So on the one hand, I love seeing people express themselves in social media with food, and I love how it gets my kids into cooking.
I mean, my son, he made Gordon Ramsey’s scrambled eggs the other day and he said, I put in a knob of butter and he loves using an English accent. So some of it, I love how it makes it democratic and how anyone can publish something. And there’s that piece of it that I love. And then there’s kind of like the snobby foodie person in me who appreciates hearing you say that it’s more than just that. And it’s having that editorial oversight and having someone edit you and when I see a recipe posted online and they don’t follow standard recipe protocol in terms of order of ingredients or seeing mistakes like that go through make me batty. I’m definitely not the one to ask this question. I have a lot of feelings.
Sally Ekus: Well, no, you are, because I think that just so beautifully illustrates the spectrum of the content you’re going to get out there and what it does for different people and why food media and the food space has just expanded so much. There’s a little bit, whatever you’re looking for, you can find it. And if you go into your kitchen and you try it may not work depending on what you found. And so some people want the thing that they bring into the kitchen to work really well for them. Other people have more intuition or they just want to be inspired. It really depends.
Danielle Wiley: I also wonder sometimes if the fact that recipes are going up so quickly and there’s such this quick turnaround now and less editing, I feel like that’s having… I see sometimes the negative impact that that has on traditional food media. My mom got me Stanley Tucci’s memoir for my birthday last year, and I sadly made his bolognese that had Parmesan rind broth in it, which is a brilliant idea and delicious, but the recipe was so wrong. I mean, you could have killed someone with the amount of salt that was in it. No one tried it. There was no editing.
Sally Ekus: I’ll give you a good example of a project I’m working on right now just to kind of illustrate the possibilities and room for all of this discussion. And this is a great example of how a client even came to us. So an editor that I work with sent me an email saying, Hey, I have my eye on someone. I saw some of the material. I like them. But I think what they were saying is it needs an agent to get involved to help sort of shape the concept, finish up the proposal and get it ready. It’s not really the editor’s role to do that on the side before they contract a book. So I was introduced to the author, we got along really well. The food was really interesting. It’s different, but it’s sort of within a space that is of interest to people and the broader marketplace.
And I gave them feedback, they immediately implemented it. So the proposal development sort of progressed quickly and immensely all in just a few rounds. And then when we got to the recipes, the recipes definitely just reflected how they publish recipes online as a content creator, and they’re good, but the level of detail that I know is required A by this publisher that’s interested, and B, just in general to write a good recipe and have the level of specificity, it wasn’t there. An intuitive cook? Okay, yes, maybe, but the cuisine itself is not the most mainstream. And so I just knew that the more clarity, the more details, the better. And so I have them work with a recipe tester and editor in this, which is not always the same skillset, but the person that I partnered them with did have both skills available. So they worked on the recipes for the proposal, and they just did a handful so that the author could see the level of work that we were asking for.
I don’t do recipe editing, but I know when I look at a recipe, what’s sort of missing. So I knew just going through this exercise would be really helpful. And sure enough, they did three recipes and the client was like, oh, cool. Now I see it. Right? And so they were able to then rewrite the other recipes with the order of ingredients the right way, the level of detail in how the ingredients were listed, the instructions. And it really was just, it’s taking that, here’s what I do online to that next step, getting it ready to pitch for a book. And this is just before the book’s even pitched.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, that’s amazing. I wish more people would get that help. I wish Stanley Tucci… And his wife’s in the publishing industry. I was like, how did she let this happen? I still have a lot of anger.
Sally Ekus: Probably not where their focus is.
Danielle Wiley: No, no. So when we talked, kind of switching gears a little bit, when we talked a few weeks ago, you told me that you’re a fierce advocate for transparency in the publishing industry. So I was wondering how that manifests.
Sally Ekus: Did I say that?
Danielle Wiley: You did, how that manifests itself in your day-to-day work?
Sally Ekus: A couple of different ways. I don’t have much of a filter, so depending on who asks me what they’ll just get, whatever my answer is going to be. But then more specifically, the role of an agent is often… I mean, it’s a gatekeeper role and there’s a lot of unknown around what are book advances, how do photography budgets work, the shoulds, what should I expect, what can I expect? How does a book, how does a cookbook come together? What is my editor going to be like?
I’m an agent that often publicly answers those questions, as evidenced by doing interviews. And I created a course, we used to do workshops all about cookbook publishing, and we still do those workshops. And I do a lot of one-on-one consulting with people who are trying to figure out where to begin or if they want to self-publish, but I just decided to also compile it and put it together that’s available to people who are ready to take that next step and take it seriously.
And I walk through financials of different book advances that I’ve negotiated and what the author ends up making in royalties, and without identifying who the authors are, offering real examples of book contracts so that people… It’s just so much work. And there is often another reason somebody should decide to do a cookbook that I wanted to give people enough information that they’re not going down a path of so much effort without knowing what the possible types of return are. I’m also a part of the AALA agent mentorship program, bringing in the next generation and really prioritizing diversity in the agenting space because as a predominantly white middle class profession without a lot of transparency, there’s just not much conversation. And so basically it looks like me taking all possible opportunities to talk about what publishing is all about, specifically cookbook publishing as much as possible.
Danielle Wiley: I love it.
Sally Ekus: And then there was the existential crisis project that I represented where this really came to fruition, where I was pitching a project that was sort of at the beginning incline of publishers asking for and supposedly prioritizing diversity and underrepresented voices on their list. And I was pitching a project that had all the elements of deep voice, cultural ties, a cuisine that is not over published, but not completely unpublished. And I just felt like publishers were giving me the shitty lines about what… Can I swear on the podcast?
Danielle Wiley: You can swear all you like.
Sally Ekus: Okay, they were just bullshitting me with their rejections and I wasn’t having it. And it wasn’t about the content, it was something else, I don’t know. But it was really frustrating and it was the closest I came so far in a career that I absolutely love, where I thought, you can’t just keep sending out press releases about your D&I initiatives and pass on this type of project.
You just can’t do it. You got to give me a better reason than this doesn’t sell, or the sales team, or there’s no platform. Just give me a better reason or be honest with me about it. And so I pulled the project and went on an unofficial conversation network path with a bunch of different editors and just kind of talked through what was really going on. And sure enough, they’re like, well, let me just tell you offline, I don’t agree with my team’s assessment here. You’re right, it has all these elements. I don’t know why we’re not making an offer. And I’m like, well, that doesn’t work for me.
And so then I ended up sort of rearranging certain parts of the proposal to try to lead with what the industry would need to see first to help secure ultimately what I knew would be wonderful support for this author and this content. And I sold it to a great publisher. And we did get there, but it was a moment in the industry where I just said, I think I need to have really direct conversations with people, maybe not in the inbox, but to figure out how to best represent this author and also just do meaningful work. And in my tiny corner, we’re talking about cookbooks here. I’m not changing the world or saving lives, but it meant a lot to me. And I am a fierce advocate for authors when it comes to everything, but particularly uphill battles I want to climb.
Danielle Wiley: And I mean, I think that’s a big misconception in lots of industries when it comes to diversity is that you just can say that that’s what you’re going to do and that somehow that’s going to make a difference and that things are going to change. And I think oftentimes people are surprised by how proactive they have to be, and you have to make an extra effort. And it is actually extra work to make a change. And it’s not just saying, Hey, this is what we want to do. And somehow things will sort themselves out. Because they won’t, especially if all the agents look a certain way and it is an uphill battle, and there is a lot to do.
Sally Ekus: Yeah, I mean, I’m a cis white woman representing a wide range of authors, but I definitely want to make space for more agenting in our author list, also our client list. We’ve represented BIPOC and minority voices for many, many years. I mean, that was part of the list that Lisa cultivated well before it was a lead conversation in publishing.
Danielle Wiley: This kind of makes me think of this next question, not because they’re directly related, but because I know that you share my admiration for a lot of the work that Ari Weinzweig has done, and so does your mom. So for those who haven’t listened, he was an amazing guest.
Sally Ekus: Yeah, Ari.
Danielle Wiley: Was it season one or season… It was early on because he lives here locally near me.
Sally Ekus: Definitely listened to that episode.
Danielle Wiley: I baked bread for him forever ago. But he’s so purposeful and he’s always starting difficult and really complex… You have to really sit down and have all your coffee before you read one of his newsletters. He’s so smart. But you told me that his leadership style has informed a lot of what you do and how you lead at the Ekus Group, and I’d love to hear a little bit more about that because that’s something that I aspire to as well. It’s so impressive.
Sally Ekus: I mean check with my team too, otherwise it’s just confirmation bias. But I mean, Lisa and Ari I think started the work that they do the same year or the same time as one another. And so his work in the anarchist leadership space is something that was a theme in Lisa’s leadership and curiosity and just some of the work that she did, particularly in the last… I’ve been with the agency for 14 years, so it’s sort of been a part of what I’ve had a front row seat to.
And so it’s just an infusion of opportunity and curiosities of what happens in what would be considered chaos or anarchy. So a lot of what Lisa exposed me to was his content, which was huge. We actually went to one of his retreats or workshops that he does when he came to Boston, but then it coincides with another pillar of leadership and professional development that I call upon, both for myself in my personal life and in my professional life and here at the agency, which is improv comedy. And I found improv… So they work in tandem with each other. I through improv work to redefine my relationship to fear and to failure, and that compliments Ari’s tone and work really well for me. And so those two things are what I come up against when I’m in a moment of conflict or when I see an opportunity or when I have no idea what to do. I’m always just kind of thinking more through, I try to think through the Ari lens or the improv comedy lens.
Danielle Wiley: So lots of yes ands.
Sally Ekus: Yeah, and just not being… Or understanding, acknowledging when it’s something is fear-based and why, and being curious about it and going forward to explore and see what could come out of it.
Danielle Wiley: Jumping back quickly just to people wanting to break into the publishing space and influencers. So we do have a number of influencers who listen to this and for anyone in that space who wants to break in to traditional publishing, what are one or two tips that you could share with them? First of all, put your ingredients in the right order if you are… That’s my tip.
Sally Ekus: Right? Yes. That wasn’t abundantly clear. Write great recipes. I always ask people, why do you want to write a book? So you can ask yourself that question, and then depending on what your answer is, it can kind of lead you to certain types of resources that are available to get started. And the book proposal is a great place to go first, and the book proposal is the business plan for you and your book. It’s what the idea is, who you are, why you’re the one that to write it, your assessment of the marketplace, who your audience is, how you know to reach that audience to sell the book, and then sample material from the actual concept itself.
So the tip is, and we can link to this in the show notes, go to our proposal guidelines, they’re not unique to our agency, and it’ll give you a guide for where to begin on creating this document. And if that document in and of itself is overwhelming, go first to the competition section and look at what is already out there that’s similar to the book that you want to write. How is your book new and different and building off of that category of success? So you can start with the competition section and then also just really get clear on your why. Why do you want to write a book? And if you can’t answer that question, it doesn’t mean you’re never going to do it, but it’s a really helpful one to ask pretty early on. And also follow and engage with the agents you want to pitch and the publishers you want to work with and do practical things like that.
Danielle Wiley: And where is that? I feel like Twitter’s dying. Have you moved over to Threads? Is that where they’re going to find the agents?
Sally Ekus: So I left Twitter a while ago. I’m not on Threads as of this recording, so it depends on the agent. You can go to our website, Ekusgroup.com, and there’s a list of resources that I typically help people turn to first. One of them is Kristin Donnelly who runs a class called, I think it’s called Operation: Find An Agent, and you can literally go through her class and come out with a list of cookbook agents and you can look at their client list and their different working style. Many agents are on social, they’re just kind of not as public as necessarily our agency is on Instagram and stuff.
But it all depends. You can use Query Tracker to look for different agents. You can also go to Publisher’s Marketplace and search different deals. You can buy a one-day subscription and search for different cookbook deals and see who the agents are. So you could type in certain keywords. So I often like to reverse engineer it. You can also go to the acknowledgement section of cookbooks, see who people thank, go and then Google that person’s name. You might find a website, you might find a social handle, but you can usually reverse engineer either starting in the acknowledgement section or going to a place like Publisher’s Marketplace and searching for different cookbook deals.
Danielle Wiley: Fabulous. Okay. One more fun question that we’ve been asking everyone this season.
Sally Ekus: They’re all fun.
Danielle Wiley: This is a frilly one. So what was the last thing that you were influenced to read by watch or listen to?
Sally Ekus: So I am on a bit of a kick with… I guess I was influenced by the increasing popularity of the chili crisp culture, but I’ve been a fan of spicy food forever. One of my very first food memories is Lisa using her chopsticks to squeeze out the seeds of a hot pepper in Chinese food onto her dish, and me wanting to get in on whatever my mom was doing. And she’s told me, honey, this is too spicy for you. Not yet. And I’ll never forget, when is it yet.
So fast-forward, love spicy food, big hot sauce fan. All my clients know this. It’s a big part of previous Halloween costumes. If you want to do a real deep dive into my Instagram account, you’ll see a red wig. I was a bottle of sriracha one year. Anyway, so maybe a year ago one of my clients, Haley Thomas, who is in the Hudson area of New York, I went to see her and she gifted me Mama Teav’s Hot Garlic, which is like chili crisp, but for garlic lovers.
And she just knew I was going to love it. And sure enough, it’s more than a year later and I am hooked, obsessed. I’ve been sending it to clients. I wholesale ordered it, nowhere local to me in New England carried it. So I found two places that I know the curators there, and I was like, can you please start carrying it? So I have a regular supply, so now it’s available at Provisions Northampton and Sutter Meats Butcher Store. So the spicy food culture got me been a long time fan and liver in that space, and then my client gifted me this product. I got no skin in this game as of this recording, I’m just a huge freaking fan of Mama Teav’s Hot Garlic. And it’s the right type of crunch, there is the oil in there if you want to cook with it, it goes on everything. And so I was influenced by, and now I like to think I’m an unofficial Mama Teav’s influencer as well.
Danielle Wiley: I’m going to buy it for my daughter who’s a huge spicy-
Sally Ekus: It’s so good.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, she’s going to,-
Sally Ekus: It’s on the palette of chili crisp, but it’s different because it’s garlic and if you love garlic, it’s not the overly crunchy, you get stuck in your teeth kind. It’s just the right crunch, the right heat. It lingers just long enough. But you keep going. Have I eaten it today? Yes, I have. Did I eat it yesterday? I have. Will I eat it later? Uh-huh.
Danielle Wiley: Amazing. Well, we’ll have to link to it in the show notes. That was impassioned and you sold me.
Sally Ekus: Thanks. Yeah, Mama Teav’s. Very good.
Danielle Wiley: Well, thank you so much. I’m so glad you came on, and this was a super fun conversation.
Sally Ekus: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity to just sit down and chat about the art of the sway.
Danielle Wiley: Love it. Love it. Well, thank you.
Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring candid conversations that explore the power of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.