Photo by Steven Depolo


Why Writing a Book is Like Making Sausage

I grew up in an Italian-German household. Many of my summers (and other times of the year) were spent visiting my grandmother in Wisconsin at her lake house in Elkhart Lake or her home in Sheboygan.

Let me tell you, people in Wisconsin love their sausage. Bratwurst, smoked meats, summer sausage, you name it.

My grandmother would frequently joke about people “talking like a sausage” meaning, someone was talking a little crazy and it was all jumbled up.

For many of the writers I work with that’s exactly what it’s like when they first come to me with an idea. It’s a mix-mash of ideas, threads and theories in their head. It’s a pile of ingredients.

Maybe they have an outline, maybe they don’t. Maybe it’s not even a recipe.

Either way, people who come to me want help crafting something out of their big pile of ideas.

That’s why writing a book is a lot like making sausage.

Every recipe is a little bit different, but done correctly it comes out in a beautiful dish that tastes delicious.

Want to learn more?

Here’s how we can cook together.

Here’s some of my experience


Chicago | May 2016 to Present

Writer and ghostwriter for Jenkins Group.

  • Research

  • Writing

  • Interviewing sources

  • Manuscript editing

  • Book proposals

  • Non-fiction book projects

  • Book outlines

writer, Researcher & Project manager

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Chicago | August 21, 2018

Worked with New York Times editor KJ Dell’Antonia for more than a year. Helped her research, write and report the book, How to Be a A Happier Parent. (Represented by Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore & Company and published by Penguin Random House.)

  • Crafted a complicated 105-question Qualtrics survey of more than 1,000 U.S. parents from various socioeconomic backgrounds; certified with Institutional Review Board (IRB) training via the Collaborative Institutional Initiative Training (CITI) program for ethical training on human subjects research

  • Found an academic researcher, Matthew Weinshenker, to partner on project and analyze data

  • Drafted internal project timelines to meet publisher deadlines

  • Interviewed sources from survey

  • Researched and wrote passages in the book

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Note from KJ Dell Antonia to Dawn Reiss.JPG

Book Author

Armchair Reader: Chicago

Publisher: Publications International, Ltd.

Chicago | February 16, 2010

Co-author of a book about quirky, off-beat people, places and things in Chicago.