Make Your Own Cookbook: How to Start
If cooking has always been a passion for you and if you are finally ready to step into the role of an entrepreneur, getting started on your own recipe book will be the perfect idea. Creating a book, even a cookbook, is quite a difficult task. But if you are committed and dedicated to making this happen, there is nothing stopping you from reaching new heights!
Luckily, we have the perfect guide for you to follow. The process will require a huge amount of effort on your part. But the end results – having accomplished writing a cookbook of your own – will be worth the hassle!
Here are the 5 steps you will need to follow to create your own cookbook:
The What, Who And Why Of Your Cookbook
The most crucial part of making your own cookbook is to know what type of book you will be writing, who your targeted audience will be and the purpose behind your book. These three pillars will be the foundation for writing an excellent cookbook, so it is extremely important that you have this matter sorted.
If you can answer these following questions, then congratulations because you have successfully completed the first step!
- Who will be reading this cookbook/ who is it directed towards
- What type of cookbook it will be
- Why your readers will enjoy this book
For example, dessert lovers will absolutely love Mary Berry’s Baking Bible since it offers more than 250 classic recipes with incredible baking ideas!
Whether your book is directed towards beginners, experts, vegans or meat lovers, make sure the reason to why the audience should use your book is clear. This will not only give your audience a clear idea but also help you to make your own cookbook a success.
Cookbooks, like normal books, require a genre and plot of their own. So you need to decide the type of cookbook you plan to write which could be one of the following:
- Comprehensive – This will include recipes with all stages of difficulty and everything relating to and surrounding the topic.
- Single-subject – Based on a particular feature of cuisine and the different ways it can be prepared.
- Restaurant-based – This will give the readers a look inside the kitchens of popular restaurants and how the chefs work in their turf.
- Chef-based – This focuses on recipes from a particular chef.
- Beginners – This is meant for beginners with simple steps and easy-to-follow instructions.
- Memoir hybrids – This is written around significant culinary figures and their lives – recipes included.
With that completed, think what it is you will offer the audience that will make your cookbook irresistible to them – what your goal and purpose is. It could be to bring improvements to already existing recipes or offering solutions to various troubles that cooks face all the time or looking into new food trends.
Having a reader profile ready is also part of your agenda. To pinpoint who will enjoy your book, ask yourself what kind of cook your audience is, what types of dishes they like or if they are fitness enthusiasts who want to eat healthy or are they set out to find recipes for when they are on a time crunch. These questions and many more will help you figure out who your target audience will be, which will play a big part in determining how your book will turn out.
Creating The Perfect Book
Making sure that the contents of your cookbook interest your readers should be your next task. That includes not only having great recipes in stock but also that they are comprehensible and to the point.
When making the ingredients list, keep the following points in mind:
- It is necessary to mention the serving quantity the recipe would yield and how long the cooking and prepping will be.
- Make sure the ingredients are listed sequentially, following the order in which they will be used.
- When naming ingredients, opt for their common terms or names. However, the case will be different if you need to mention the name of a certain brand.
- Be specific and give details – if you are using brown sugar, mention that and not only ‘sugar’.
- Quantity and accurate measurements need to be present. If the salt is ‘to taste’, mention it. A pinch of this or a dash of that can make a huge difference in a recipe. Also, mention what system of measurements you are using and make sure the system is what your targeted audience is likely to use.
- Give a list of alternatives to ingredients that are not commonly found everywhere.
- If a certain ingredient needs to be prepared in a particular way, state that information as well. If your recipe calls for julienned carrots, mention that. Same goes for anything that needs to be melted, beaten, diced, chopped, etc.
For the preparation instructions:
- Use simple language and words that leave no room for doubt. Your instructions also do not have to be complete sentences – they just need to be meaningful and cohesive.
- Maintain sequence and order here as well. Put tasks that need to be done first at the top and then continue onwards.
- It is very important that the timing is mentioned for every time there is cooking involved. For example – the pasta will need 8 minutes to get cooked. If the time period is variable, state how the reader will understand if the dish is done – inserting forks/knives or noticing color changes.
- Heating and temperature levels need to be mentioned in the instructions as well.
- If the process of preparing a certain ingredient is complicated, this is where you include the steps on how to make it
- Clearly mention the type of cookware and tools you will be using and their size. For example, a rubber spatula or a large saucepan, etc.
- Divide the preparation instruction into sections if a recipe has several parts to it. A common example would be pies which require different sets of instructions to make the crust, filling, etc.
- Give the reader an idea on how to serve the dish and store leftovers.
Doing all this alone may seem overwhelming to some and in such cases consider hiring recipe testers and professional editors. They help to bring the dish to perfection and make sure the instructions are impeccable.
The Book Structure
The type of book you write decides how you give structure to it and have it organized. A comprehensive cookbook, for example, will have separate sections/chapters for appetizers and desserts. If the recipe book is about a cuisine, like Indian, the chapters can vary according to regional cuisine – south Indian or Bengali.
Include a main introduction to your cookbook which will help build a connection between you and your audience. It will give a personal feel to the cookbook, ultimately winning over the reader. Include details like what made you fall in love with cooking or how you developed your cooking style. This will go a long way to make a cookbook successful.
Sometimes adding recipe introductions is a fantastic idea. They give the reader an idea about the dish and why it will be worth spending time and effort on.
Design Of The Cookbook
In the case of cookbooks, the cover, design and appearance plays a huge part in making sure it is a hit. It is extremely important that much of your creativity shows in the design of your cookbook because the better it looks, the more the cookbook will sell.
More often than not, the appearance of your cover determines how good your sales will be. So, use this as a way to win over readers. Traditionally published books are typically taken care of by the publishers. The problem lies when you are self-publishing where you’ll need to handle matters yourself and make sure you present a book that catches the attention of your audience among other cookbooks.
And any time all of this seems too much of a hassle, you are free to hire a professional book cover designer. The same goes for a book layout designer who will look after things like book formats and more, ensuring the contents of the pages are well organized and reader-friendly.
Since hiring additional help will cost you a lot, you may use an alternative, cheaper option – the software “Blurb”. This software offers you the option to make your own recipe book by letting you design your own formatted picture book. All you have to do is choose the size of your book, the kind of cover you want and the kind of paper you plan to use. Then design each page using layouts that can be customized. Add pictures from any source and put in text (intro and recipes included). Lastly, select a book cover of your choice.
- Book template
With all that mentioned, it is time we discuss the type of recipe book template you would be using. You will be required to choose a cookbook template before you can move onto other important tasks like photography. Knowing the type of layout you will be using will evidently make the photography process much easier – like taking more of portrait photos of your food if your cookbook is in portrait mode.
When it comes to photography, you need to make sure it is top-notch. A huge percentage of people buy cookbooks based solely on the fact whether it has pictures included or not. Needless to say, the better pictures you present, the more the readers will be inclined to buy the cookbook.
In this case, it is advisable to hire professional photographers and food stylists who will specifically take care of this important factor for you. But you can completely skip out on hiring one or the other (or both!) if you are a great photographer and stylist yourself.
Publishing The Book
The last step of bringing your cookbook into existence is to determine how you want the book to be published – traditionally or independently?
In exchange of royalties and control of your cookbook, traditionally publishing your cookbook will bring you benefits like saving a ton of money on photography, design, development, marketing and much more. So, if you are okay with making a few concessions, hire an agent immediately and make your way to the publishers. Have a book proposal ready containing much information about the book, a reasonable explanation for why you should be the author of the book and sample content. Try and highlight what makes your cookbook special and worth the price.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, has benefits of its own. You will be able to keep the control and profits mostly to yourself. Plus there is absolute certainty that you will have a book published with full ownership to it. Also, in this case, there will be no pressure on you to impress your publisher. So, the process will definitely be much easier for you.
All this information should be enough to give you an idea about how to create your own cookbook. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, this is no easy task. Aside from the points mentioned above, you need to keep a budget prepared for things like production, printing, additional help, etc. Do keep in mind that even though color cookbooks are much more expensive than black-and-white cookbooks, they will attract more audience. Don’t forget to, apply fool-proof marketing strategies to ensure the maximum sales of your cookbook. And if all of this seems too much work, you can always work on a DIY cookbook!
- 10 Tips For Creating a Cookbook – Blurb