Part 1 of 3: Organizing the Cookbook
- For example, you might want to write a dessert cookbook or a party food and appetizer cookbook.
- For example, your dessert cookbook could contain recipes on how to make sophisticated s’mores. Or the party and appetizer cookbook could focus on foods that are paleo-diet friendly.
- To make a personal cookbook, you can write it up on your computer in a readable PDF file. Print the file and have it bound at a copy or printing place.
- Remember that you’ll want your cookbook to stand out, so you might even want to combine a few popular combinations (like how to ferment spiralized foods or make gluten-free cake pops).
- For example, if you’re writing about cooking for a family, you can add interest about writing about what makes your family unique. For example, tell stories about cooking for your large family, your family with several dietary restrictions, or cooking a specific style of food for your family on a budget.
- For example, your dessert cookbook might have 4 chapters: one on classic cake pops, one on gluten-free cake pops, one on shaped cake pops, and one on savory cake pops.
- While it’s okay to be slightly quirky, remember that readers usually expect standard cookbooks to be arranged from savory to sweet, starters to mains to dessert, or from inexperienced cook to skilled in the kitchen.
Part 2 of 3: Creating Original Content
- Think about the recipes that you’ve made for other people. If any of them were a big hit, include them in the cookbook.
Make the recipes and write down tips. Test more recipes than you think you’ll need, since you may change your mind about using some of them. As you test, write very detailed descriptions of how to make each recipe. Include helpful tips to encourage your readers to make the food. Try to give substitutions for ingredients and variations for the recipes.
- For example, instead of saying, “Cream the butter and sugar,” instruct your readers to, “Beat room temperature butter with the sugar on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy.”
- Ask other people to test your recipes. This way you can get feedback about how clear your instructions were, how the food tasted, and where you need to improve the recipe.
Write each recipe as you want it to appear in the cookbook. Read over all of the testing notes and any feedback you got from others. Create a detailed recipe by explaining how to cook or assemble the ingredients. Be as clear and thorough as you can so people of many skill levels can cook your food.
- Diagrams and illustrations may be as helpful as photos in some cases. If you can’t draw, find someone who is willing to help out.
Take photographs of the food. High-resolution, quality photos help the reader imagine the end result of a recipe and inspire them to make the dish. Decide if you’d like to take a photo for every recipe or just include a few for each chapter. If your photography skills need brushing up, take a quick class or learn how to use photo-editing software to edit the pictures.
- You can also hire a photographer to photograph your food, but this will add to the cost of making your cookbook.
Give proper credit to others. All the recipes in your book should be written by you or at least changed in some way to make them your own. While lists of ingredients and very basic recipe instructions are not covered by copyright, the words used to describe the methods in each step or as a whole are copyright. If you’ve changed a recipe from another person, give them credit for the recipe.
- For example, if you’ve made a few small changes to someone’s recipe, note that your recipe was adapted from this person’s recipe. If you’ve made larger changes to the recipe, you could say that your recipe was inspired by this person’s.
- Never use someone else’s photography or illustrations since these are protected by copyright.
Part 3 of 3: Publishing the Cookbook
Hire an editor to proofread your work. Edit your work several times and have others read through it as well. Check for accuracy of ingredients, measurements, cooking times, etc. Readers will expect your recipes to turn out the way you describe, so if a step is missing or inaccurate, you may lose readers.
Find an agent. While you don’t have to have an agent before you submit a cookbook proposal to a publisher, having an agent can greatly improve your chances. Look at several of your favorite cookbooks and read through the acknowledgements. The author should mention their agent. Contact the agent and send them a brief message about working with them.
- Send inquiries to a few agents since many will be busy or might have cookbook projects that are similar to your own.
Contact publishers. Your agent will send information about your cookbook to several publishing houses. If you don’t have an agent, you’ll need to decide which publishers to send your cookbook or proposal to. If publishers are interested in your cookbook, they’ll talk with you about the overall look (photography, gloss or matte finishes, cover art) of the book and publishing fees and profits.
- Don’t be surprised if publishing houses will ask you to make changes to the structure or content of your cookbook. This may be because they want your cookbook to really stand out or be easier to market.
Create a following on social media. Many traditional publishers will be more likely to work with you if you already have lots of people interested in reading your book. Try to create a food blog that highlights some of your best work and has lots of readers. Give the publishers information about how many regular visitors you have to your blog as well as how many unique views you get each month.
Consider paying to self-publish your cookbook. If you can’t find a publishing company or want to make all of the publishing decisions yourself, you can self-publish your book. Contact a company that will publish your cookbook and discuss costs associated with printing the book.
- If you want to offer a cookbook to readers on your blog, you may want to publish an ebook. These are simply files that your readers can pay to download. You won’t need to publish an actual hard copy of your cookbook if you do an ebook.