If you are lucky enough to be a rock star in the kitchen, the idea of sharing your skills with others may inspire you to publish your cookbook. Sharing these culinary delights with a mass audience just makes sense, as people are always hungry for novel recipe ideas.
To accomplish the goal of creating a self-published cookbook, it helps to follow some time-honored steps along the way. To create a successful cookbook project, it takes careful planning and execution, in addition to those delicious family-favorite recipes. Learning how to publish a cookbook can be summarized in the following six steps—a recipe for success!
6 Steps to Self-Publish a Cookbook
Self-published cookbooks offer an exciting opportunity to reach a broad audience and succeed immensely.
Start building a following on social media platforms in the months before publishing your cookbook. Create a compelling Facebook author page for your audience to learn more about you and your writing projects. Or entice followers with photos and videos of your confections and craft a lively Instagram feed.
Create a food blog to promote blog posts on your social media and share with other food bloggers. By diligently growing a following for your brand, you will have established a customer base before you even go to print. Follow these steps to see your collection of recipes take shape while learning how to make a cookbook sell like hotcakes:
Decide on a theme
Identify a unique niche that your cookbook will fill or create an interesting concept or theme for the book. For example, featuring farm-to-table, gluten-free, artisan bread or recipes made with plant-based “meat” are focused themes that may be trendy and marketable.
Put a fresh spin on a category that already exists in the cookbook space by incorporating travel blogs, memoirs, or even research into the tome.
Test your recipes
The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Like beta readers, taste testers are just as important to a cookbook project. Test-drive your recipes with family, friends, and social media followers. Request honest feedback from tasters so you can continually tweak the recipes prior to publication.
Ensure your list of ingredients and instructions are clearly articulated and easy to follow, and be sure to include allergy and nutritional information.
Get professional photos
Nothing will sink your self-publishing cookbook project like amateur photos. Invest in a professional photographer who will depict your culinary creations at their finest. Consider step-by-step photos of the cooking process or just a featured picture of the finished product.
If you are an experienced photographer, a new smartphone offers excellent editing features and high-resolution cameras, so it can do the job if hiring a photographer is cost-prohibitive.
Create compelling content
A book stuffed full of recipes won’t cut it in today’s experience-oriented marketplace. People want to make an emotional connection to the author, and a cookbook is no exception.
A compelling or humorous narrative will spice up the reader experience and boost your social media following, which translates to sales.
Hire an editor
No matter how amazing your writing skills might be, do not scrimp on the vital step of proofreading and editing the manuscript. Let a fresh pair of eyes review the document and refine the finished product prior to publication.
As with editing the cookbook, book cover design, format, and interior design elements should also be handled by a pro. You want your book to exude the same high standards as the best-selling cookbooks on the market.
Give your cookbook the best shot at success by turning over this essential final step to a book design professional. From there, your cookbook is off to publication.
Cookbook Layout and Design Considerations
When it comes to assembling the cookbook layout and various design elements, you should plan to be meticulous with the process. Cookbooks are visually busy with lots going on—photos, blurbs, list of ingredients, and cooking instructions—on every page.
Design elements to consider for your cookbook:
- Layout. Experiment with a few different book templates to find one that suits the unique features of your cookbook, and that allows all various parts to fit on the page comfortably. Many cookbook authors prefer dedicating two pages per recipe, one with the recipe and one with a large photograph of the dish. Some authors intersperse small photos for each step of the cooking instructions to help guide the reader along. Have fun experimenting with different cookbook design layouts to find the one with the best visual impact.
- Binding. The majority of cookbooks are hardcover bound, also called case binding. This provides the consumer with a sturdy cookbook that will hold up to years of use in the kitchen. Spiral bound hardcover books are also popular, as the coil bindings allow the pages to open flat for ease of use. Some authors do, however, select the paperback option, even though these books are not as durable as a hardcover cookbook.
- Font. Plan on using just two fonts (three at the most), including a basic serif font for the body plus a complimentary sans-serif font for titles. Examples of serif fonts that work well for cookbooks include Minion Pro, Palatino, Baskerville, Georgia, Garamond Pro, and Goudy Old Style. You can have some fun selecting the sans serif font, but make sure it pairs well with the serif. Font size should be on the larger size, such as 12pt for the body, 14pt for the ingredients list, and 16pt for titles, for ease of reading while cooking.
What Are Common Cookbook Trim Sizes?
Because you want your cookbook to be easily readable while scurrying around a kitchen, the smallest size to consider would be 6 x 9 inches. However, the standard cookbook size is the medium cookbook size of 7.5 x 9.25 inches. Some cookbook authors prefer a roomier size and opt for the 7.75 x 10.25 inch trim size to best make use of white space.
Cookbook Dedication Examples
Many cookbook authors include a dedication page in the front matter of their books, just like books in any other genre. While adding a dedication is not universal among cookbook authors, here are some fun, sentimental, and creative cookbook dedication samples to inspire you:
- Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks—Super Easy! thanks her (oh, so sexy) husband.
- Alex Snodgrass, author of The Comfortable Kitchen, offers a heartfelt message to her children.
- Jennifer Segal, author of Once Upon a Chef: Weeknight/Weekend, thanks her kids and her husband and includes a tasty image of some comfort food.
- Pati Junich author of Treasures of the Mexican Table, penned her dedication in Spanish, even though the book is written in English.
- Joshua Weissman, author of An Unapologetic Cookbook, offers sincere thanks to his parents.
Titling Your Cookbook Like a Pro
When giving your cookbook a title, ask yourself how your cookbook will stand out from the others. Here are some important considerations to make when titling your cookbook:
- Who is your target audience? Is it a busy working mom? Is it a bachelor? Is it someone with a large family? Is it someone with a food sensitivity or particular preference, like a vegan?
- Your title should not be vague or esoteric. Convey specifically what type of cuisine you are featuring in your cookbook.
- Fulfill a need. Many cookbook authors find great success by addressing a specific need, such as recipes that are economical, easy, organic, gluten-free, or party fare.
- Make use of a subtitle. Your subtitle can help clarify what a creative title is actually referring to or just further articulate the focus of the cookbook.
Even with all these practical considerations to keep in mind when naming your cookbook, don’t be afraid to add a little humor or personality to the title. Check out this website, which compiled some catchy titles of published cookbooks to inspire your own original title.
Cook Up Your Very Own Cookbook
Now, having the ingredients for success at your fingertips, it is time to put your cookbook project in motion. Partner up with a seasoned pro and have Gatekeeper Press guide the entire process from start to finish. Gatekeeper Press has published some high-quality cookbooks and can help you bring your beautiful cookbook to print. Bon appétit!