Friday, January 18, 2008

Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes Testimonial

A Testimonial Gives me Encouragement....
If you want to get right to the reader testimonial I posted, scroll down this page a bit. Or, feel free to first read my long-winded thoughts related to this, starting here :)

I'll admit, sometimes I wonder if all the effort creating my Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book was worth it. My wife and I invested a couple years in developing that book, but unless people just "happen to find the book" on the Internet or find it in a few retail stores in Ohio, sadly they will never know it exists. We don't advertise anywhere (perhaps we should) and this prevents many people from ever "finding" or "knowing about" our book.

We made the choice not to sell the book on Amazon (update: though, we did end up selling a Kindle version there), Borders or Barnes & Nobles, etc.;
choosing instead to offer it for sale online and direct via my Gluten-Free Desserts website, where I could offer people a money-back satisfaction-guarantee on the print-edition to show them how serious I was about the quality of the gluten-free recipes and desserts. With relatively low sales volume, I certainly wonder at times if I have made the right choice. But, when buyers take the time to write a testimonial, like the one I received earlier this week, it certainly encourages me greatly.

I have always told my wife a few times that we are in a "Catch-22" of sorts - people can't find our glutenfree recipes book because people haven't found our book. Meaning, we have to reach "critical mass" and gain public awareness of how good the book and the recipes really are, and this takes having enough people using the book and baking the gluten-free desserts and telling others how wonderful and outstanding they are to get others to find our book.

The Challenge...
Many existing Celiac sufferers already own "a lot" of gluten-free cookbooks and are skeptical at buying "yet another" book. How do I convince this group that they really can enjoy cakes and desserts as good as those everyone around them eats - the ones with wheat, that is! All I can simply say to you, if you are one of these "many books already" type is: how many other gluten-free cookbooks offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee??

There is a reason you typically won't find such a guarantee, and I'll be quite frank and honest here, and say what you all know to be true: most gluten-free recipe books produce foods that are just plain bad or "OK" at best! (sure, there are exceptions, but overwhelmingly this is the experience I have had with other books, and I have repeatedly and frequently heard others having the same experience - especially in regards to other dessert books and bread books and the "tough to make right as glutenfree" recipes).

I'm not going to try starting some flame-war here on the Gluten-Free Blog about what GF books are good and what are bad or anything else (though I know some will feel compelled to post comments about how a particular book is really good, or really awful, anyhow). Instead, I just want it to be known, that it is a fact (I stand by "fact" here - not just an opinion), that many gluten-free recipes books are sadly lacking in quality - recipe quality, and even overall book quality (they tend not to be what you'd expect to find in a modern bookstore).

So, given this, how do I convince people that are already skeptical about the quality of gluten-free cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, and other dessert recipes, to try yet another book!? Answer: I cannot convince anyone. I can only say what I know to be true: the cakes produced from the recipes in our books have won baking contests (against "real" cakes), and all the recipes were taste-tested using the entire population (i.e., people that eat wheat - not just GF / Celiac persons).

The feedback from people that have purchased our book and tried our recipes has been wonderful! But, that won't convince anyone else to get the book for themselves. Only by word-of-mouth (unless I get lucky enough to have some major magazine or TV show - Oprah or The View or something perhaps - do a favorable book review for me), will others find out what they are missing. The best I can do is post testimonials from some people that have tried our book, and let you see what they are saying and thinking about our product.

The Wonderful Book Testimonial I Received this Week
Here it is.

And, yes, this gave me a wonderful shot of encouragement regarding
my Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book. A buyer named Kelly emailed the following to me within just a week after obtaining our book, and from the sounds of it, it was a busy week of baking gluten-free desserts!

I bought your book last week and spent most of yesterday trying out recipes. The peanut butter pie is terrific! My pie crust making needs some adjustments, but for a first attempt, I am pleased. The filling is delicious! And it's gluten free!! WOW! I also made the peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, the chocolate chip cookies, and the double chocolate cookies with caramel bits. (In the chocolate chip recipe, I switched the cornstarch for tapioca (I am corn intolerant too) but resolved to tweak it a bit more next time, perhaps add part mesquite/part tapioca instead of all tapioca. My husband and sons loved everything, though!
So nice to see them smiling after eating a treat, instead of guzzling down a quart of milk to get their saliva going again!

Yours is the first book that really takes taste to the next level. Our whole family deals with celiac disease and multiple food allergies, and our youngest son was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just before Halloween. We've waded through some pretty awful gluten free meals and desserts in the past.... but things are looking up! I've bought dozens of cook books but your book is definitely the best! I can't wait to try the rest of the recipes!
I offer one suggestion for the next book: it would be absolutely wonderful if you added nutrition information for each recipe, especially a carb count. That would really help out with insulin adjustments.

Well, it's [now] Tuesday and the chocolate caramel cookies I made Sunday night are already completely gone! Tell your wife my husband is a dentist and he's pretty darn nervous about the delicious sweets proliferating in our household since the purchase of your dessert book! My son (with Type1 Diabetes), made me figure his dinner insulin last night to include a piece of the peanut butter pie and a chocolate caramel cookie! And tho my husband frowned a bit, he broke into a grin and dug into the dessert plate himself -- it's been a long time since dessert tasted so good!

I used to bake (before celiac) all our breads and treats, and everything just came to a halt suddenly when we were diagnosed. I immediately tacked on a few extra allergies for myself, which was overwhelming. For awhile I just quit cooking "creatively" and bought mixes and boxes that were "safe". I was afraid I'd hurt my family accidentally, I guess. For so long, we ate for "fuel", not for taste. When Hunter [my son] ended up with diabetes last fall, I thought "I HAVE to start baking and cooking "REAL" food again. No more bland mixes. I have to find a way to get back some sense of normalcy for our family, especially Hunter."
My husband, who paid his way through college and med school working as a bar tender and chef, jumped in to offer help researching whole food dinners. (gluten free/ corn free /soy free /potato free /diabetic-safe - whew!) I will never forget the first dinner he brought to the table - eating it, I was so stunned I could barely chew. Tears poured down my cheeks. I cannot express how blissful it felt to eat that meal. I had completely forgotten how joyous! a delicious dinner with family and friends could be. Right after that, I met another woman (with a celiac/diabetic son too) who gave me a bag of her homemade cookies. Her cookies were so good compared to the ones I'd been buying...

I threw all our boxed versions out, and inspired by her efforts, bought every gluten free dessert book I could find and started experimenting. That was last Fall. There have been a few successes, but most of the good things came simply from experimenting with and converting my old favorite recipes. Not so much from my immense new collection of recipe books. Oh, some were "okay" and definitely better than the boxed items.... but none were spectacular. (I didn't have tears pouring down my face)

You and your wife, though,... your dessert recipes are different!! They are spectacular! And I can't wait to try the rest of them! Most celiacs (or those on a gluten free diet anyway) have gotten so used to mediocrity... and it doesn't have to be that way! NO MORE MEDIOCRITY! With a little extra time and effort, gluten free can be extraordinary.... maybe even better than wheat - maybe even (am I really saying this?) a blessing in disguise!!

And to think I was scolding myself: "Kel, OF ALL THINGS - YOU DO NOT NEED yet ANOTHER GLUTEN FREE DESSERT BOOK!" Funny how life is never quite what you expect!!

Thanks to you and your family, (and make sure you let me know when the new book is available!)
Warm regards,
Kelly S.

After I replied to Kelly, thanking her for her wonderfully kind feedback and letting her know that the upcoming (whenever I can find time to finish it) Biscotti and Scones book would probably be released as a free "E-Book", she emailed me back and said:

Maybe you guys should publish your second book. Just based on the recipes I tried Sunday [from your Gluten-Free Gourmet Desserts Book], I couldn't wait to get put on your alert list for the biscotti / scones book. I'm sure I can stir up some interest and word of mouth for you.
Perhaps she is right, but I am more interested in just getting these recipes out to people suffering from Coeliac / Celiac Disease, and/or anyone else living a gluten-free diet or wheat-free diet. So, plans are to still release the next book for free (in E-Book form), and certainly as such for those who have my first book.

Kelly, thank you so much for your incredibly kind (and detailed) feedback! You can't even start to imagine how much that brightened my day, and how much it made my wife happy to know that her gluten-free baking and recipe efforts are appreciated.


Lynn said...

I had the pleasure of purchasing this book. I have not made anything yet. However, even if I never do (and I will) I consider this book worth double the price. Unbelieveable photos, directions. I just know everything will be devine. There is such a lack of good gluten free cookbooks. I also own several and they did not "hit me" the way this one did. Way to go!

Mrs. G.F. said...

I am so happy that she took the time and energy to write you such a beautiful letter! That kind of feedback in life doesn't happen all that often in life.

I am sure it made your week.


Mike Eberhart said...

Mrs gf,
You are so right: it made my week completely (as well as my wife's week)! I surely don't expect buyers to take the time to write such lengthy testimonials, nor should anyone feel obligated to. But it sure is nice when someone feels strongly enough about something to do so.

Thanks for purchasing the books, and for the nice feedback. And, although the book is nice to look at with all the color dessert pictures, I really think you need to get around to baking some :)
I know you have a lot of overlapping allergies to contend with, which may make choosing recipes tough. But, I'm sure something can work out for you. I remember you were one of the "pre-order" crowd a year ago. So, it's time! Email me if you want help choosing a recipe or two that would make good first-step ones for trying (even if some substitutions become necessary). Thanks again for the comments Lynn!

Lynn said...

Mike, I think you have this Lynn confused with another Lynn who also has a blog. Fortunately, I only have to deal with celiac and some lactose intolerance. I may start with the carrot cake but I would prefer to use canola oil instead of vegetable oil.
I think having a job gets in my way of baking from scratch and I use Pamela's baking mix as a substitute. I made a delicous fruitcake with it as well as cookies and muffins not to mention all sorts of pancakes so I think I will get around to it sooner or later!

Mike Eberhart said...

How right your are!
I saw "Lynn", and instantly thought Lynn Barry (Free To Eat blog). lol. sorry.

The carrot cake is a GREAT choice to start with. We use canola oil almost exclusively as our "vegetable oil" -- the book actually says that (see near bottom of page 13 - ingredients discussion "oils").

As for baking from scratch vs. flour-mixes, I definitely prefer from scratch, since I can control individual proportions and get them tuned to optimal mix for each recipe. Sure, it may take just a bit longer, but I have found the results far outweigh any time involved. Hope you enjoy the baking!! And, again, sorry to confuse you with another :)

Lynn said...

There are many people who do not eat wheat due to allergies and they are not thinking "gluten-free". If your book was available to the mainstream I'm sure those people would purchase it. After all, they still want to eat good desserts too. I hope you do advertise and get this book out there. The book speaks for itself. The word gourmet may scare some away. They need to get the book in their hands to appreciate how easy the recipes really are.

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for that feedback! Yes, you are quite right in that I may need to mention the whole "Wheat-Free" aspect of this book a bit more often. We (gluten-free types) realize it means wheat-free, but others may not. And yes, I should advertise :)

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I think you convinced me to buy the book :-)

Mike Eberhart said...

Well, I certainly like to hear that the testimonials of others are useful when evaluating a purchase. Sales are always a welcome thing :) Thanks. And, thanks for reading the blog too!

Unknown said...


Kelly refers to a list of gastronomic considerations in her testimonial including diabetes and yet she is serving your desserts to her entire family...

Having passed over this book (I am on the biscotti waiting/preorder list) I have to ask - are the dessert book recipes diabetic friendly?!

Mike Eberhart said...

Regarding whether the desserts are diabetic "friendly" or such,... well, in general I would say not unless you are able to control your consumption and keep portion sizes down. They ARE dessert recipes, and tend to be (as expected of most desserts) sweeter items that will certainly have sugar, carbs, and all those wonderful nutritional considerations that go with great taste.

Diabetes or not, I can only suggest that ALL people consume desserts in moderation, especially unless they are willing to offset their cake, cookie, pie, etc. intake with a fair amount of exercise and overall dietary restraint.

Desserts are a wonderful and enjoyable delicious treat that makes my wheat-free / gluten-free life more enjoyable too though! As such, I eat more than I should perhaps, but I also try to live with my own advice and exercise and keep carbs/calories as a whole in check. I realize diabetes makes this more difficult for anyone so affected, but moderation is still a great way to experience culinary / taste satisfaction even with blood-sugar concerns to weigh.

I have adapted *some* recipes to being sugar-free. Actually, I mean to post a variation to one of our chocolate cakes that uses splenda (no sugar). That was pretty good, though admittedly not as good as the "regular" version. Now, I have posted some modified recipes on here where I have tried to introduce more carb-friendly / healthy dessert variations, like this Gluten-Free Chocolate Ganache Cake with Flax variation that was wonderful! It still has plenty of carbs I'm sure, but it leans a bit more towards the healthy side of the equation :)

Hope that helps answer your question.

Unknown said...

This was the first time I have seen anything about your dessert book, I am putting it on my "to buy" list.

Unknown said...

Thanks Mike!

That was basically what I was wondering. My diabetic sweetie has a sweet tooth and I'm trying to adapt my GF baking to include his health needs. We had a wonderful cranberry cheesecake at Christmas but the Boston Cream Pie (with Splenda) in now known as the Cambridge Coconut Cream Cake (it was wasn't horrible..)

Again, thank you. I can hardly wait for the biscotti release - that's more to my taste :-)

Isle Dance said...

Media coverage is a must. Do you have a local morning show? Early news morning show? Afternoon show? Book, book, book yourself on those and then get copies of those interviews streaming on your website and then submit to the networks for coverage on the big shows. You derserve said coverage.

Mike Eberhart said...

Fab Gma,
Thanks! I'm not surprised you haven't heard much about my book. I don't really promote it much, aside from that link in the upper corner of the blog. As you can tell, I'm not the best marketer :)

You are right! But, you won't see ME on any morning show. Not something I'd be comfortable with. My wife has no interest either. I think we need to hire a "spokesperson" that can be the "face of gluten-free baking" for us. lol.

The most public thing we've done is show/sell out gluten-free desserts book at some Celiac Conferences / trade shows, and that was enough public exposure for me for a while. I'm not shy per se, I just am better with business-type meetings and such (no way I'd be good with someone interviewing me about baking or recipes).

I know people like Shauna (GF Girl) seem to really enjoy the public aspect of book marketing and publicity (like doing book signings, cooking events, etc), which is great for her. I'm sure she sells many more books because of it.

The next biggest "public" thing we have planned is to do some baking demos at some regional gluten-free stores this year to show off the desserts and the book - but, these will be small groups of people where I can feel comfortable interacting on more of a one-on-one / small-group-on-one basis. I've met quite a few gluten-free / wheat-free people over the years in small groups like this, and that is fine.

I just can't imagine aiming for larger groups (or TV coverage). I have no idea how celebrities ever handle the crowds and cameras and TV interviews and all that -- seems like it'd be rough. There is something to be said for remaining more private and personal (even if it doesn't sell many books). So, I guess until I find some willing "spokesperson" that wants to deal with all that publicity stuff to get coverage, we'll probably remain rather "small time" when it comes to marketing.

Isle, the bottom line is: you are RIGHT about what should be done - I just won't be the one to do it :)

Isle Dance said...

Totally understandable. Then I'd say focus on getting your books to the big time food industry people. The big-time people who need to/thrive on getting this info out to their fan base and more. Food/book reviewers?? Health food pushers?? Others who are doing similar things, but whom are missing the dessert aspect?? Their comments alone - on your website and theirs, in the paper, etc. - will bring more coverage and cost you nothing (except the book you sent them). Also, the morning/local/network TV people need to know about your book so they can do a cooking segment...but they can do it without you's no biggy. Because they need content to talk about, write about and push, to keep their current jobs.

P.S. Is this the reason you opted to stay away from the big publishers - so you'd not have to go on forced public speaking engagements? Because they can happily work around you still call the shots that are important to you.

Mike Eberhart said...

Those are great ideas. You are full of very useful ideas and insight! Now I just have to force myself to act on that info. :)

Actually, I opted out of the big publishers for a few reasons, whether due to my lack of industry knowledge / know-how, or just perception. I didn't like how Amazon wants 55% off the top immediately (plus I have to cover shipping books to them too). Sure, I'd sell more books, but when making essentially nothing-per-book, volume doesn't exactly help matters. I want to eventually pay off my investment in printing and publishing these books, and I couldn't see that happening with the Amazon business model per se. Who knows, maybe I'd sell so many if I listed books with them that I could print enough at once to lower the per-book cost way way down, but, that's just too much thinking and work for now. :)

And, I love the autonomy and independence I have by keeping control of the whole process. Nobody will pressure me to sell books, or write more volumes, or anything - aside from ME (and, maybe my wife, but she is very relaxed and supportive of my decisions). My goal was to get a great gluten-free recipe book out to the public, which I've done. What I have not done is reach enough of the gluten-free / wheat-free / Celiac public with my current small-time (or, should I say, near-zero) marketing efforts.

I know you are right, 100%, about needing to get copies of the book to TV shows, reviewers, etc. It just overwhelms me thinking about it though. I like the "creation" aspects of recipes and books MUCH more than marketing. But, 2008 may still have me break out of my comfort zone yet!

I've put a "TO-DO" item on my list now: contact some TV shows/stations that do "food things" and see if they'd be interested. There are a few local ones I watch on occasion that I know do food spots... I'll see if I can get some interest (without me needing to appear!) It's a start :)

Thanks Isle, for all that wonderful input and encouragement!

Isle Dance said...

Oh wow, thanks. And yes - you and your wife would benefit!

I'm not sure Amazon qualifies as a good deal/legit publisher. Did you ever check with major publishing houses? I know someone who published their own book, small-scale, but then a big publisher saw/loved it and paid $$$$ to have him turn around and publish through the big house. You are just as eligible for this.

Basically, working through the big guys ((guarantees)) you good money...not expenses.

You've done such a beautiful job, it makes sense to find someone in the know (agent? lawyer?) who can guide you appropriately to the major publishers, as this should not be costing you diddly. You can do this!!!!

Heee. Okay. Pep talk over. I know you and your wife will do what's right for you. No worries. :o)

Mike Eberhart said...

The more you offer this wonderful advice, the more I realize I'm clueless with regards to publishing :) I don't even know who "big publishers" include these days. I remember very early on contacting one (semi-random, just because I owned a recipe book they published that I really liked the look of), and they told me how they created their own content or something. I never went further with attempting to locate a publisher.

Anyone want to broker a deal for me? Any "agents" out there, or publishers looking for great content? Just let me know, and we can talk details. My only requirement is that high quality of the book is maintained, and I very much strongly desire that satisfaction-guarantee remain in place to show how serious we are about the recipe quality -- is that something a "big place" can do? I do want more gluten-free and Celiac and wheat-free people to "find the book", and this may be the only way to ensure that.

Well, I'll TRY to figure out how to proceed with these ideas. Thanks again Isle! You are stimulating the brain cells, though I now blame you for my "to-do" list growing longer. he he he.

Isle Dance said...


What I would do: Go to two big book stores (or search online). Find top selling similar books. Granted, they won't be gluten-free books, but check out Carol Alt's raw food books, Martha Stewart's books and what not. Whatever's been on the top ten list. Write down their publisher/agent/editor info. Read the intros and the author bios. See who they thank. Start sending emails and asking questions. Your website alone is an excellent attachment enough - and it let's you save the books.

Oh...and check out as she has writer retreats where she teaches people this stuff. Email her directly, telling her your unique situation (as you may not need a retreat to help you with this) and see what happens! She is a beautiful you never know.

My fingers are crossed!! :o)