Thursday, June 03, 2010

Well, that takes the (cup)cake


The Kiddo's birthday is this month. I may be 40, I may have graduated magna cum laude, I may know how to fold fitted sheets. But I also know my limits.

Those limits butt nose-to-nose up against cake decorating.

The last time I tried to decorate a cake, it was strictly an emergency job. The Sister had made a wonderful flip-flop shaped cake for The Kiddo's 7th birthday, and I had neglected to properly reinforce the bottom. It flip-flopped right out of The Sister's hand and instantly became dog food.

So I baked a rushed-up square layer cake and tried to decorate it to look like a present. The Kiddo didn't say much. She didn't have to. The pity on her face did not belong to a 7-year-old. I would have much rather have had her sling a fit.

Last year, I screwed up even worse. The hotel where we were staying was supposed to provide a cake. The Kiddo wound up with the rest of a honeybun that The Husband didn't eat.

It was not an ideal solution.

So this year, since The Kiddo's birthday falls on Father's Day weekend & we are traveling out of town AGAIN this year, I thought, Self. Call the bakery. Get them to make some neat little iPod shaped cupcakes.

They called me back with a price quote. Five bucks a pop for a single-serving size of cake.

My mind reeled at that, and I politely hung up. I got all bent out of shape about the cost of that iPod shaped cupcake. I mean, cake doesn't cost that much, right?

But then I thought about how we, as authors, expect, hope, pray that readers will pay five or six dollars for a paperback to nearly $30 for a hardcover. No, we don't see all that money -- barely a sliver of it. But it's what the market asks the reader to pay for our intellectual property.

The reader can't/doesn't have time/doesn't know how to write a book like I've written. I can't/don't have time/don't know how to turn flour and eggs and sugar into an iPod shaped cupcake.

That baker and I are hoping for the same thing: that someone will think the price we're asking is a bargain of a swap.

But as a writer who still keeps the dayjob to keep the bills paid, I can't afford those $5 cupcakes. Not until I go test my limits and see if I can whip up an iPod cupcake of my own.

7 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

Good luck with that. What's really sad, I don't know what an i-pod is.

Linda G. said...

I feel your pain. My cake decorating skills extend to sprinkling powdered sugar on brownies, and I'm not even very good at that--it always comes out uneven.

If you do attempt the ipod-shaped cupcakes, I hope you'll document the process in pics. Win or fail, it will still be entertaining!

Yes, I admit "fail" would be more entertaining, but don't go messing up on my account... ;)

Lickety Splitter said...

I suck at pre-planning and cake decorating, so I have absolutely no advice, but I wish you all the luck in the world and God speed ;)

Posey said...

I just caught my stove on fire last night (No worries, it was small and I was a hero). Clearly I do not belong in the kitchen, and I don't bake them much less decorate them. :)

Sandy Shin said...

The value of a book is something I've thought about a lot, too, and agree with everything you've said here.

I can't bake or cook at all -- the most I can do is cookies. Ipod-shaped cupcakes will be difficult. But good luck! You can do it!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Experiments in cupcakery! This is what I did before I turned my dastardly skills to writing. I would dispense with the notion of cupcakes (too much work!) and go for a Mega iPod shaped cake - the pans are already rectangular, so we're just talking frosting trickery.

Check out these iPod cakes

Good luck.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Hmm... maybe you could mix it up so that there's one iPod cupcake for The Kiddo, and normal cupcakes with music notes on them or something for everyone else? That might be more budget friendly.