Whether you’re a food blogger or someone who wants to share their family recipes with the world, creating a self published cookbook can be a lot of fun. Use it to build your brand, make some side income, or even as a keepsake for yourself and your family.
Self publishing a cookbook is a great idea for anyone who has a passion for food. You’d think with websites like Pinterest and food blogs galore, people would be less likely to buy a dedicated cookbook, but it’s actually the opposite.
Print cookbook love is on the rise! Sales actually rose 21% between 2017 and 2018. Clearly there’s a market for recipes out there.
Why you should write a self published cookbook
Even with sales climbing, it might feel like the cookbook world is an oversaturated market. But, the truth is, everyone has to eat! With more people cooking at home than ever, now is the perfect time to share your own unique recipes with the world.
If you’re looking at self publishing a recipe collection for your family, there’s no time like now to get started on that too. With so many print on demand options, you can give everyone in your family a hard copy! Who knows, maybe you can even sell a few copies too.
How to create a self published cookbook
Before you get started, make sure you have a great collection of recipes to include in your book. The actual amount of recipes you need varies, with the average being about 150. If you have more text, style, and photos for each one you can probably get away with a little bit less.
If you only have a small amount of recipes, consider making your cookbook into a free eBook or give it away to members of your email list.
Choosing your recipes
Since you’re planning to create a self published cookbook, the recipes are the most important part! First of all, make sure all the recipes in your book are your own. While it might be hard to have something completely original since most recipes are ‘tried and true’, you also can’t include another chef’s signature dish.
Test your recipes thoroughly before you make the final decision with what to include. Have other people try them out, and get their feedback.
If you’re an established food blogger, choosing is probably a bit easier; look at popular recipes on your website and keep in mind any feedback you’ve received over the years.
For someone who’s self publishing a cookbook of family recipes for personal use, compiling the list might be easier. Make sure you gather up everything you want to include before you get started, though. That way you can figure out how to arrange your book before you start, and make sure you didn’t forget anything.
Recipe photos for a self published cookbook
One thing that sets cookbooks apart are the recipe photos. Having great photography (ideally one for every recipe) makes a big difference in the overall quality of your book.
This is one area you might want to consider hiring professionally. There are dedicated food photographers out there who can capture amazing shots of your finished dishes.
Another option, if you’re better at cooking than you are at plating, is to hire a professional chef to help create the photography for your cookbook. They can work with you and recreate your recipe in their kitchen. The finished product will look more polished than if you did it at home.
If you’re not able to hire a professional, make sure your do it yourself photos are high quality. That means using a DSLR camera with a proper lens, and learning how to plate the food to it looks appetizing to your readers.
Formatting a cookbook is a lot more work than a self published fiction book that’s only words. Regardless of whether you’re doing a print or eBook version, your cookbook needs to be arranged and laid out on a computer.
Before you get started, have an idea in mind about how you want the pages to look. How will the ingredients be listed? Will you have a description of each recipe? Are there photos on each page, and if so, how many?
You’ll need some kind of layout software to create your book pages. A word processor will also work, but your book may not look as polished as if you hired a graphic designer.
Be aware of your cookbook’s dimensions when you’re formatting, too. While it matters a bit less with an eBook, a print cookbook can come in a variety of sizes. Keep the final product in mind when choosing font and picture sizes in your layout.
Self publishing options for cookbooks
Once you have your book completed it’s time to get it published! Self publishing options for cookbooks are similar to any other kind of books.
You can go all digital, or you can have it printed.Services like Amazon offer print on demand and eBook versions without any upfront cost.
If it’s a family cookbook, look for places that are willing to print a small run. That way you can order enough for everyone.
For regular cookbooks, though, you need to consider how your book is going to sell. If your upfront budget is small, all digital might be the best option. However, keep in mind that print cookbook sales are on the rise. Not everyone likes to have an electronic device in their kitchen!
Lastly, if you’re going the print route consider how your cookbook is going to be bound. Spiral spines lay flat, which makes it easier to read the recipe. A 3 ring binder style is also popular. Of course, you can still go with the standard hardcover or paperback options, too.
Should food bloggers self publish a cookbook?
The thing about cookbooks is that people don’t just buy them for the recipes. They also look for a collection that works for their family, books from names they trust and recognize, and recipe instructions that have a unique personality to them.
If you already have a following, people are likely to buy your cookbook. On the flipside, smaller food bloggers can also benefit from being published. Imagine having “author of…” as part of your website’s about section!
Other tips for creating a self published cookbook
- If you’re publishing a cookbook for kids, keep in mind that you’ll need extra warnings about parental supervision, especially when it comes to the stove, knives, etc.
- Try to stick to a theme, or at least break recipes up by groups (eg. meal type, total time required, etc)
- Cover design is really important with cookbooks, so make it look delicious!
While creating a self published cookbook, make sure you always keep your target audience in mind. That means you need to curate a collection of recipes that people can actually use. Find what makes your recipes unique and then use that to stand out!