WOMEN IN BUSINESS: “Businessmom” writes book to satisfy creative urge

TRAVERSE CITY – Anyone who has ever taken on the job of staying home to raise young children knows it involves long hours, little vacation time and a non-existent retirement plan.

For women who were previously in the business world, it can sometimes mean an identity crisis.

Just ask Marilyn Taylor of Traverse City.

Eight years ago, Taylor, 37, was a TV talk show host and producer, working long hours loving it. When she and husband, Tom, decided to adopt a child, the judge handling the adoption ruled someone would have to stay home with the child. Marilyn stepped up to the plate and they adopted Paul, now 8 years old. Three years later, they adopted Gina, now 5. Suddenly Marilyn was washing dishes and changing diapers instead of interviewing visiting celebrities and local “movers and shakers” on her midday talk show at TV 9&10.

“I knew I wanted to be home with the kids, but I felt like there had to be more to life than dishes and laundry and diapers,” Taylor said.

In 1996, she and friend Jerrold Jenkins came up with the idea of a muffin book based on her huge personal collection of muffin recipes. Jenkins just happens to be founder and president of Jenkins Group Inc., a service company that assists authors with the self-publishing, marketing and distribution of their books. He is also publisher of Publishing Entrepreneur and Small Press magazines and publisher of the newly-founded small press publishing company Rhodes & Easton, LLC.

It was the publishing company, Rhodes & Easton, that offered Taylor a contract for her book, which was completed earlier this year and released under the title of “Marilyn Taylor’s Muffin Madness” in late June.

“Sure, there are other muffin books on the market,” says publisher Mark Dressler. “But none that are as complete, none that include 188 recipes and none that have Marilyn.”

“Muffin Madness” is organized into six categories: fruit, vegetable, grain, sweet, fat-free and dinner muffins. There are also a bevy of relevant tips throughout the book.

For Taylor, having this project really gave her that psychological boost so many stay-home mom’s need.

“I did learn about publishing, marketing and promotion,” said Taylor. “But the biggest lesson I learned was balancing. I had to learn to schedule my book activities around my children’s activities, because they are my first priority. It felt good to accomplish both.”

Taylor also used “Muffin Madness” as a learning tool for her kids. She engaged them in taste testing and let them select a muffin as their namesake. They stacked the books for her after delivery. She has even taken them to book signings and paid them for their time.

“From a marketing standpoint, Marilyn is perfect for this book,” Dressler said. “The fact that she is a real stay-home mom lends so much credibility to the book’s premise that muffins are the perfect fast food for today’s busy lifestyles.”

Dressler adds that Taylor’s previous television background also helps tremendously with promotion efforts. Currently they are working on a deal with Nordic Ware baking products and QVC, the cable shopping channel, to use Taylor as a spokesperson for their muffin tins, while also promoting her book.

“We start promoting on a local level, then expand to regional and, eventually, reach the national level if the book is catching on,” Dressler said. “We initially printed 5,000 copies and there is no doubt we will reprint.”

Taylor echoes Dressler in that the real work–book signings, cooking demonstrations and presentations–begins after the book is written.

“It’s funny,” Taylor concludes, “Once that creative businesswoman side of me was reawakened, the ideas just started pouring out.”

She is already making plans for this fall when Gina, Taylor’s youngest, starts kindergarten.

“I have a couple of ideas for new book projects and, of course, I will continue to promote ‘Muffin Madness.'”