Sunday, May 15, 2016

So You Want to Write a Cookbook?

How does one get a cookbook published, you may ask. If I were to write a recipe for such a thing, it might look something like this:

Cookbook a la Gourmet Family


professionalism, a ton
subject specialization, 2 quarts
interesting concept, 1 gallon
fresh approach, 2 pounds
writing skills, 3 cups
market knowledge, 3 cups
author platform, 1/2 pound


1. Put on your big girl apron and Be Professional At All Times. If you don't know what that means, look it up. Ask an author or publishing professional you know. Read journals. Go to conferences. 

2. Add subject knowledge and let brew. Do you know something about your subject? Are you an expert? Do you have a unique experience or approach? Are you willing to go the distance to learn your subject really really well? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may qualify to write about your subject. You don't have to be a Master Chef to write a cookbook but you probably need to know the lingo and have some personal experience or connections.

3. Make sure you can write well. If not, practice, practice, practice. If your writing is rusty, take a class or join a writing critique group. Ask a friend or colleague to take a look at your work before you submit it somewhere. Don't assume your writing is perfect and doesn't need work. Remember, writers are called "writers" because they write and they write a lot. Writing a lot equals practice. Good writing will go miles further than passable writing.

4. Learn about what it takes to publish a book. This part requires some time and patience. In order to know your market well, you need to perform research. If you don't know the first thing about the publishing industry, take a look in the Writing Reference section of your local bookstore (or the 800s at your local library, via the Dewey Decimal System). There are also some great articles in such magazines as Writers Digest and The Writer. One of my favorite online journals about writing in general is But there are tons of other ones out there.

Aside from the process of publication, you'll also need to know about your market. You'll need to find out such things as how many other books have been published in the past year that are similar to yours? What makes yours different? Which agents and publishers deal in your topic? How do you pitch an idea to them? What should your book proposal include?

5. Build your platform (and remember step 1). This is your area of expertise. What makes you uniquely qualified to write about your topic? Where have you published or presented on your topic? If you aren't already a celebrity or a head chef, this make take some doing. Consider building your professional network and online presence by creating professional profiles and connecting with others. Ask questions and interact for starters.

Keep in mind that we don't have a cookbook published yet. So take this recipe with a grain of salt. (After all, salt is to taste.) Although, having been in the industry both from the perspective of a purchaser (Librarian) and as a professional (Writer & Editor), I do know something about what it takes to get a book into the world. So, if you're going to use this post as a piece of advice, keep those things in mind.

More on the individual steps later.

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