When I first received my copy of What the Fork? I was intrigued by the hot pink wrapping and eye catching design. I couldn’t wait to open it and see what was in store. Upon seeing me reading it, two friends asked if they could read it when I finished. My friends and I are recent college graduates on the hunt for our first jobs. We knew that reading this book could help us prepare for what may be ahead. We need to be ready to be put into professional settings and it is always a plus to know what you’re doing in those situations. After reading What the Fork? I interviewed Sue Jacques, “The Civility CEO,” about her experiences writing and self-publishing a how-to book.
Janine: What made you decide to write a book about fine dining?
Sue: At the beginning of What The Fork? I relate a story about my embarrassment at a formal dinner I attended many years ago. I was seated at the head table, surrounded by pomp, circumstance, and more silverware than I owned. With all eyes on me, I suddenly realized I lacked some of the skills required to dine with confidence in that situation. One of the reasons I wrote What The Fork? was to share the basics of fine dining I wished I’d known at that time. Another reason I wrote the book was to provide a take-away for the people who attend my What The Fork? formal dining tutorials. I have been told again and again by WTF? participants over the years, “You should write a book about this.” So I did!
Janine: What was your big picture vision for What The Fork?
Sue: I have always envisioned What The Fork? as the go-to guide for people who want to gain confidence in their dining, networking, and entertaining skills. If my book saves even one person from feeling the way I did at that formal dinner, I’ll consider it a success.
Janine: What were your personal goals?
Sue: To prove to myself that I could successfully write, design, publish, and distribute a book that helps others. This may be my first book, but it certainly isn’t my last!
Janine: What did you want your readers to get out of your book?
Sue: I want readers to gain the confidence and skills that will empower them to network and dine with ease and grace in any social or business situation. One of my missions as The Civility CEO® is to encourage people to sit down at the table with one another and have uninterrupted, valuable conversations while enjoying a meal. That’s easier to do when they’re not worrying about which fork to use!
Janine: Who is your target audience for What The Fork?
Sue: Business leaders, entrepreneurs, up-and-coming executives, university students, people with high-profile lifestyles, foodies, and those from other cultures who are unfamiliar with Western protocols of socializing and dining.
Janine: What made you decide to self publish What The Fork?
Sue: I had a creative vision in mind for this book and I wanted to see it through myself from start to finish. I must say, I enjoyed the process much more than I expected to!
Janine: What the Fork has exquisite layout and design that is so inviting to readers, can you say more about how you got the vision for it?
Sue: Thank you! My goal was to combine a memorable title with an eye-catching cover, colorful pages, simple illustrations, interesting quotes, and easy-to-read text. Erynn Lyster is the gifted graphic artist who did the layout and design for What The Fork? She has been doing all the graphic work for my business since day one, and she really “gets” me and my purpose as The Civility CEO®. We worked very closely together (and often very late into the night!) to bring my What The Fork? vision to life.
Janine: How has publishing What The Fork? affected your life?
Sue: This accomplishment has added a layer of personal and professional pride to my life. It has also given me the impetus to begin writing my next book.
Janine: Anything exciting that has come from publishing WTF?
Sue: I have been getting national media attention and have seen a significant increase in bookings for my What The Fork? dining tutorials and professional speaking services.
Janine: Do you have any children? If so, have you had them practice fine dining their whole lives to prepare for when they are older?
Sue: I have two adult stepchildren and two little granddaughters. As the subtitle of the book says, What The Fork? is an unpretentious guide to formal dining for informal people. Our family dinners have always focused more on togetherness than formality. My husband and I aim to lead by example and exposure, and we always avail ourselves to answer any questions as they arise. As a result, our family is very comfortable dining in any circumstance. I learned a long time ago that formality cannot be force-fed!