You are about to embark on most exciting enterprise of your life -- publishing a cook book! You will soon learn that writing a cook book is truly a fun, exciting and challenging project – more than you can imagine. Like me, you can publish your own wildly successful cook book. And if you ask me if I think publishing a cook book is worth time and effort? You bet I do!
My cook book, Fit to Cook – Why ‘Waist’ Time in Kitchen? sold over 250,000 copies (with, I might add, less than 10% of those sales coming from book stores). However, I wasted a great deal of time, back-tracking and scrambling in order to sell all those books because in beginning I did not have a complete grasp of publishing industry and process of marketing a cook book.
Before you rack your brain figuring out how to write a cook book, and more importantly, how to publish a cook book, take some time to thoroughly research why and what you are writing about, who you are writing for and when is best time to launch your book.
Whether you want to get published or whether you want to self publish your cook book, same basics apply – you need a good understanding of publishing industry. Without basics, will you know if your contracts are in order, that your book is best it can be and that your cook book marketing plan is actually an effective strategy? No – but, knowledge is power. It is crucial that you take enough time to educate yourself about entire publishing industry.
Understanding publishing, and marketing of books, will clearly help you to identify why you are writing a cook book. Perhaps you are writing a cook book just to record secret family recipes or to have all of your own favorite recipes in a book format; maybe you are writing a cook book for a community or church fundraiser; or best of all, your goal is to create a bestseller. Cook books that are written for a very small group do not require business and marketing plans because you already know how many books will be purchased and who buyers are. However, if you are planning to publish your own cook book for mass markets, you need to understand that you have moved beyond author to publisher. That means that you are now a business person whose primary goal is creation of a product to sell. There is no point in printing a book that no one will want to buy.
When I began writing my own cook book, I naively thought that it would be a two or three month process, and that in no time I would have a book on every book store shelf in country. Ha, ha, ha, chuckle chuckle… Experience is a great educator, but who says that you have to learn hard way? Obviously I had no idea how to publish a cook book in beginning! However, through this article and via publishing course that I and my partners have created, I intend to help you avoid losing time and money.
How did I create such a successful cook book? The short answer is research, research, research, and then more research. Thankfully I had wisdom to do research before going to print. But research can, and did, take years. Primarily for that reason, I created a self publishing course, Recipe for Success (Click Here for more information) as most valuable publishing research shortcut in existence. In my experience, after I learned how to write a cook book I had to learn all about cook book publishing:
cataloging in publication data
printing terms like cover stock, bindings, signatures and bluelines
learning how to obtain printing quotes, (crucial in knowing how many books you can afford to print)
graphic design (makes difference between great sales and no sales)
editing (cannot, and I mean cannot, be done by yourself, friends or family)
titles and subtitles (they can make or break a book)
title search (avoid duplicating someone else’s title)
distribution Next, I had to learn about how to start a business:
business plan incorporation toll free numbers corporate logos and identity websites shipping arrangements accounting principles Most importantly I had to become wise about marketing:
writing a plan
understanding target markets
going through difficult but crucial process of choosing a book title
discovering importance of a book’s cover – both front cover and back cover – and how to design cover
looking outside book stores for buyers
learning importance of publicity
discovering essential need for a stellar media kit and how to create one
approaching media and importance of a good publicist I learned, and I will share with you, a key point to consider when you are discovering how to write a cook book. Before you even begin to write your cook book, you must identify your target market. Who will actually buy your cook book? It is amazing that so many authors think that “everyone” will want their book, but that is not so. Not “everyone” is a target for anything! – not even Bible.
Know who will actually buy your book. Interviewing owners of cook book stores and specialty cooking stores can help you to identify cook book trends so that you know what people are actually buying. It is also a good idea to think of corporations and organizations that might benefit by using your book as a promotional item. Approach them even before you go to print, offering them special discounts, opportunities to place their information in a special printing of book, advertising chances to offer your cook book as a “freebie” with purchase of their product – just to name a few cook book marketing ideas.
If your cook book is targeted to busy families, recipes must be easy to prepare in a short time period; if it is targeted to gourmet cooks, recipes must be of quality that you would expect to find in a four or five star restaurant; if it is targeted to a specific ethnic group, recipes must be authentic; but if it is targeted to mass market, your cook book must have a very wide scope with recipes that make any mouth water, and ingredients must be readily available in grocery stores.