• Fall Cookbook Roundup

     

    fall-cookbook-roundupIt’s time for my semi-annual cookbook roundup. Fall and the Christmas/holiday season traditionally creates a busy time for cooks as well as cookbook sales and publication. My roundup this fall includes links to recently published articles about cookbooks from the perspective of food safety, gift-giving lists, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the platform and success of Ina Garten.

    Let’s start with an article that presents cookbooks as a biohazard because of harmful bacteria clinging to their pages.

    And next are 11 best new cookbooks 2016 from the Independent in the UK. Topics for these cookbooks include seaweed, food of Palestine, a new family classics book from Jamie Oliver, foods of Pakistan, Miso cookbook, Cardamom Trail baking book by GBB Show semi-finalist Chetna Makan, food from the Amalfi Coast, Simple food by Diana Henry, Scandinavian comfort food, and Japanese cooking at home.

    This list of cookbooks that add a dash of science to holiday meals includes books that explore the idea of science not just in a restaurant kitchen, but in the home kitchen.

    This is a hefty report from the LA Times fall cookbook roundup and let me draw your attention to their look at the current state of the cookbook industry. This report takes a look at how cookbook sales responded to the digital and ebook response to recipes. In the end, sales have proven that cookbook users want physical books “with recipes that work, are explained well, and that they can follow.” Amen.

    And a follow-up from the Frankfort Book Fair that reiterates that the cookbook sector of the market has been unaffected by a drop in sales unlike other sectors. Cookbooks can evoke emotion and are more visual which helps to explain why hardcover cookbooks still sell well.

    Here’s a list of cookbooks [that] make tasteful gifts for foodies.

    Ina Garten has written 10 cookbooks. Here’s a look at how she does it and what makes her books successful.

    And finally, from the NYTThe Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016.

    And if after all this, you still dream of writing a cookbook of your own, be sure to check out my blog for my Steps to Write a Cookbook Series.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 4

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksBOOK MARKETING

    My 2nd cookbook, Tasting Kentucky: Favorite Recipes from the Bluegrass State continues to keep me busy. Most marketing efforts for this book are up to me. Every week I schedule time to contact new sales and signing leads and to follow-up on activities from the previous weeks.

    One of my go-to resources for topics related to writing, publishing, and marketing is Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn. You can read here her thoughts on marketing or if you’re interested buy her book, How to Market a Book where she discusses marketing principles, prerequisites for success, short-term marketing concepts, author platforms,and book launches.

    WRITING ADVICE

    November is #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While this newsletter is about writing cookbooks, there are similarities between writing novels and cookbooks. As part of a #NaNoWriMo promotion, I became aware of this complimentary copy of The Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice

    AUTHOR PLATFORMS

    It takes time to build an author platform. It also takes time to write a cookbook proposal or manuscript. In this blog post, Chad R. Allen answers the question How Do I Write My Book and Build a Platform at the Same Time?

    If you have questions about what an author platform is and how to build one, read my blog post and download the Build Your Author Platform worksheet.

    FOOD TRENDS

    We’re nearing the end of the calendar year and food trends for 2017 are starting to emerge. Reading about these trends is something I always enjoy. In the article written for Foodservice Equipment and Supplies, six trends are identified that “may move from cutting edge to mainstream.”

    Follow my Food Trends board on Pinterest.

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Find An Agent or Publisher

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-8If you have decided not to self-publish your cookbook, the route from your cookbook proposal to a finished book will either move through an agent or a publisher.

    If you’re writing your cookbook for family and friends, or if you want to pay a vanity or subsidy publisher to publisher your book, you won’t need to find an agent. For this reason, take time now to evaluate how you want to get your cookbook publisher so you can follow the correct steps. Read this blog post Routes to Publication for tips and discussion on various ways to get a cookbook published.

    After writing a cookbook proposal, which we discussed here, your next step is to query agents or publishers. Query means a question, but in the publishing world, it actually has more than one meaning. In this case, it means to ask someone or to inquire about the acceptability of a cookbook concept or other book idea. The purpose of a query is to determine if an agent wants to represent you and/or if a publisher wants to publish your cookbook. (The other type of query refers to a term used when editing a book manuscript.)

    In this blog post, we will discuss querying agents and publishers, as well as other methods to attract attention from an agent or publisher.

    FIND AN AGENT
    The purpose of finding an agent is so that they can be your ally in the publishing world.  If you feel uncomfortable navigating a book contract alone, or if you want to go after a larger publisher and get the best deal possible, you may want to use an agent.

    If you want to find an agent, you need to research cookbook agents and then to retain an agent you need to send them your cookbook proposal or concept summarized in query letter according to their submission guidelines. These can be found on their website and submissions are done either via email, snail mail, or an online form on their website. Some cookbook agents also publish an outline of a cookbook proposal on their website. If they expect you to follow their outline, organize your proposal according to their guidelines as well.

    Once you find an agent and sign a contract they will make sure your proposal is in top notch shape to submit to publishers. Agents often know what different editors are looking for, so they can help submit to the best publisher for your concept.

    Agents are paid a percentage of your advance and royalties so they are motivated to find the most lucrative deal for your cookbook. The standard rate for agents if 15%.

    Here are some suggested ways to find a cookbook agents:

    1. Refer to print or online edition of A Guide To Literary Agents. They even maintain a list of cookbook literary agents.

    2. Use Query Tracker to find literary agents. With this site you can also organize and track your queries. You do have to create an account, but the service is free to use for basic use.

    3. If you compiled a list of agents in your cookbook research, look up the agent using the the links above.

    4. Visit agent’s website to learn more about their agency and about the types of authors they represent. Read their submission guidelines and follow them as defined.

    4. Search agents, deals, publishers on Publishers Marketplace.It requires a subscription, but it’s worth the fee if you want to use a site that many editors and agents have access to. In addition, their site is just linked away from Publishers Lunch, a daily newsletter for the publishing industry that you might enjoy subscribing to as well.

    5. Network with cookbook authors at book fairs, cooking classes, or conferences. Talk to them about their book and ask if they are represented by an agent. Don’t be afraid to ask for their agent’s name as well or if they didn’t have an agent, how they were offered a cookbook contract. If you know the cookbook author well enough, ask them to connect you to their agent. Agents sometimes give preference to referrals, so a personal recommendation can go a long way.

    6. Attend food bloggers or culinary conference to meet agents if they are presenting or offering  speed pitch sessions.

    7. Volunteer at food or wine events where cookbook authors have signings or where people in book- or food-related jobs gather. Get to know others and connect with like-minded people. You never know what sort of connection you might make when you get out and give away your time.

    8. Join an organization where cookbook authors, food writers, or other culinary-focused individuals meet. The best example is the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Other industry specific groups are James Beard, Association of Food Journalists, and Les Dames Escoffier. Membership requirements are specific and do vary so check their website.

    9. Connect with cookbook authors and agents on social media. Engage them in conversation and share ideas about food, cooking, and your expertise in a knowledgeable and professional way.

    FIND A TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER WITHOUT AN AGENT
    If you want to find a traditional publisher, without the representation of an agent, you need to search for a cookbook publisher who accepts “unsolicited” cookbook proposals. Here are few ways to research publishers who accept unsolicited cookbook proposals:

    1. Refer to the list of cookbooks you made while doing cookbook research. Look up each publisher in print- or online- edition of  Writers Market to see if they accept unsolicited proposals. If they do, visit the publisher’s website and look at their most recent online catalog to see what type of cookbooks they publish. Select publishers who produce books that appeal to you and who haven’t already published a cookbook on the topic you want to write about. For example, if a publisher just published a book 101 Ways to Cook Kale, then your book about kale probably won’t be extended a contract by that publisher because it’s too repetitive of a topic.

    2. Send your “unsolicited” (unagented) cookbook proposal directly to the acquisitions editor without going through an agent. (If they only take agented/solicited proposals, you must have an agent submit your proposal to the publisher. Use the steps above under Find An Agent.) Follow submission guidelines found in Writer’s Market, or on the publisher’s website. Submit a query letter and cookbook proposal directly to the editor with his/her name. Don’t send a query letter without a personal name.

    5. Network with cookbook authors at book fairs, cooking classes, or conferences. Talk to them about their book and ask if they’re publisher accepts unsolicited proposals. Don’t be afraid to ask for their editors name as well. If  you know the cookbook author well enough, ask them to connect you to their editor. Editors often accept personal recommendations from authors they’ve worked with and a personal recommendation goes a long way.

    6. Strive to connect acquisitions editors by attending conferences, food events, book fairs, and any other activity where people who love food and cooking gather.

    BUILD YOUR PLATFORM
    Some aspiring cookbook authors take a less direct approach to finding a publisher and instead of direct contact with agents or publishers they focus on getting noticed as they build their platform and develop a relationship with their audience.

    This method of finding a publisher has been known to work, but doesn’t happen overnight. And sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. A crowd of people currently blog, write, and speak about food, cooking, health, and nutrition. That said, don’t rule out the “Getting Noticed” option. You need to build a platform anyway, so why not get started. With persistence and savvy ways of self-promotion, you can build an audience and get them excited about your food or cooking message. And, at the same time, you just might attract the attention of an agent or an editor who loves that you already have a built-in audience for your message.

    Before I wrote my first cookbook, I taught cooking classes, wrote for a local newspaper, became active on Facebook and Twitter, and volunteered for local food/culinary events and committees. It was in doing these activities that I met an acquisitions editor, and she asked me about writing a cookbook. And it was because of my first cookbook, that I landed a contract for my second cookbook. You never know what doors can open through hard work to build up a platform in your area of expertise. This won’t happen with a sit-back-and-blog-and-wait attitude, though. You’ll have to add time and energy to connect with your audience and with other people who write and publish cookbooks.
    COOKBOOK WRITING CONTESTS
    Over the past few years, there have been competitions run by cookbook agents and TV shows/celebrities to unearth the next great cookbook author. Below are a few examples of such contests.

    1. Twitter contest held by The Lisa Ekus Group: Independent Publisher – THE Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry

    2. A contest on the Rachael Ray show for 5-ingredient family meals: ‘The Great American Cookbook Competition’- The Finale – Rachael Ray Show

    Writing a cookbook may be a dream of yours, but the writing of the book only benefits your audience when your book is published. Do your research, build your platform, write your proposal, and you too can find a credible publisher for your cookbook – either through an agent or by going directly to the publisher yourself.

    Download the worksheet below for a summary of the tips to find an agent or publisher.

    tips-to-find-an-agent-or-publisher-2

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”. 

     

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Write a Cookbook Proposal

    copy-of-steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-7-1Welcome to Part 7 of my blog series Steps to Write a Cookbook. If this is the first blog post you’ve read in this series, I encourage you to go back and review the previous blog posts in the series:

     

    Identify your goals for publication

    Define your cookbook concept

    Evaluate routes to publication

    Build your author platform

    Check your commitment

    Research the competition

    This is the place where aspiring authors get ansty to write their cookbook manuscript. The good news is that the entire book manuscript isn’t necessary at this point. What you need to focus on next is writing a cookbook proposal.

    What is a cookbook proposal?
    A cookbook proposal is a business plan for your cookbook. In a proposal, you summarize your cookbook concept and sell yourself as the author of the cookbook. You may be lucky enough to have a publisher approach you about writing your cookbook, you may choose to self-publish your cookbook, or you may send your proposal to agents and/or a publishing house, but in any case, it’s recommended to focus now on writing a proposal. How long it takes to write a proposal depends on your motivation, your platform development, and how many recipes you have ready to include. I’ve seen aspiring author focus and write a proposal in 90 days, but a lot will depend on your ability to concentrate and prioritize the work to write the proposal.

    Why write a proposal?
    It’s worth the time and effort to write a cookbook proposal. A cookbook proposal provides you with:

    1. A plan that organizes your concept, competition, content, audience, and marketing/promotion ideas. A proposal communicates in detail your vision for your cookbook. When shared with agents and editors you can find out if they are willing to invest time and money on the publication of your idea. It is possible to query an agent, and some editors, by only sharing your cookbook concept, but be prepared for them to request a proposal if they want to see more. In some cases, agents like  to only see a  cookbook summary submitted and then they help shape the proposal before submission to a publisher.

    2. A snapshot of your writing style and voice, as well as a taste of your cookbook through a sample of your best recipes. Well written text and delicious recipes make a strong case for you as the author of this book. If you can write a proposal, chances are you can write a cookbook.

    3. A litmus test for your commitment to writing a cookbook. Any aspiring author who can follow-through on writing a proposal shows commitment to their cookbook project.

    4. A tool that forces you to think not only about your book, but what you bring to the table for marketing and sales of the book. Here you define your platform and how it can help sell the book. idea.

    What to include in a proposal
    Agents and publishers devour well-written cookbook proposals. They want to read proposals that are unforgettable and learn about aspiring authors who have excitement and passion for a topic. The nuts and bolts of a cookbook proposal are pretty standard. Below is an outline and description of key components to include in a cookbook proposal. The page counts are estimates only, but you can see from the estimates that a proposal’s page count can be from 30 to 40 pages. The final length of the proposal depends on the length of the sample chapter.

    Cover Page: (1 page)
    Sometimes called the title page, this is the cover sheet for your proposal. It includes the working title for your cookbook, a subtitle if applicable, and your contact information. Create an appealing book title. Include social media information. If you submit the proposal as a PDF it’s nice to generate live links to make it easy for the agent and/or publisher to click through to your social media sites. Insert a shortened such as a bit.ly link and add a full URL as displayed here (https://bitly.com) to assist agents or editors who may only have a printed version of the proposal to visit the URLs provided.

    Table of Contents: (1 page)
    This is the table of contents for the cookbook proposal. It’s helpful to format in Microsoft Word (or other word-processing software) using the Outline View. With this feature, you can toggle the heading to update page numbers as the content expands or changes.

    Cookbook Summary: (a short paragraph)
    Also called your the hook or unique selling point think of this summary as the sound bite for your cookbook. This paragraph describes your book’s focus and the launching point from where you cookbook proposal will start. To create this summary, first explain in just a few sentences your cookbook concept, what you want to teach, and who you are trying to reach (your audience). Reduce the summary down to a few sentences. This can be hard to do, but the ability to do so demonstrates sharp focus for your concept.

    My first published cookbook was The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook. The short cookbook summary was: The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is a seasonal cooking journey through a Kentucky year. With twelve chapters, from January through December, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook guides home cooks through a year of delicious recipes that use Kentucky ingredients and follow Kentucky traditions to create family and celebration meals.

    Cookbook Concept Overview: (2 to 3 pages)
    This section provides agents and editors with their first glimpse of your writing ability and style. Make this section compelling and put your best foot forward. Hook the agent or editor and keep them reading with a well-written cookbook concept overview. It’s been said that if this section is not well put together, an agent or editor may not read any further. That’s a hard reality, so do your best to make this section shine.

    The cookbook concept overview provides a more in-depth discussion of your cookbook concept and answers the question – why you need to write this book? You job as the author is to summarize your concept: how you thought of the idea, why your cookbook needs to be written, why the time is now, why you need to write the book, and how you plan to execute the idea. If your audience requests that you write this book, or you know they would benefit from this book, communicate this request or need here. Add links to any viral or relevant social media, blog post, or comments on a blog that sparked the idea.

    Target Market: (1 to 2 pages)
    This section defines who will buy your book and how will it benefit them. Use this section to discuss your audience in detail including who they are, why they will buy the book, and how it will benefit them. Add statistics about where your target market shops, what they read, websites they visit, blogs they enjoy, and how your idea takes advantage of a recent trend, if applicable.

    Competition: (2 to 3 pages)
    In this section provide a list of about five cookbooks published in the past few years that are competition for your cookbook. The goal of making this list is to show how your idea fits in the current publishing landscape. Include for each book on the list it’s title, author, publisher, agent, copyright date, concept, and audience. Add a few sentences about how your book will be different. Use your descriptions to display confidence about your idea and present the competition in a positive fashion. If you feel the market is untapped for your idea, and that your idea is unique, rather than say, “No one has ever written a book like this”, use this section to show the publisher that they can have access to a new market through your cookbook.

    Promotion plan: (2 to 3 pages)
    After you write a book, your next job is to sell the book. In this part of the proposal, you tell the agent and editor how you can help sell the book by providing ideas for sales and marketing. Describe your connections to your audience through your platform such as a blog, videos, writing outlets, social media, and media and community connections. Include ideas for promotion for local cookware shops, restaurants, specialty retail shops, bookstores, and speaking engagements. Discuss how you can help schedule events, direct or bulk book purchases, and signings. Think of locations where your book can be sold outside of tradition retail bookstores such as women’s boutiques, pet stores, hardware stores, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and other specific retail establishments.

    Author background: (1 to 2 pages)
    In this section, you tell the agent or editor who you are and why you are the best person to write this book. Describe your author platform in detail. Include educational experience, books you’ve written (with sales figures if possible), media experience, special skills, and other information that sells you as the author of this book. You want the agent or editor to think that you’re the perfect person to write the book. Don’t be modest or reserved here. Support your case as the expert, writer, and promoter of this cookbook.

    Table of Contents: (1 page)
    The first page of this section is the “snapshot” table of contents for your cookbook. The table of contents lists in order the chapters for the book. Most non-fiction books, including cookbooks, contain 10 to 12 chapters. Include on the list every chapter including the introduction, acknowledgments, foreword (if you plan to do this section and name the person you might want to write the foreword), chapter titles, index, and any other chapters you plan to include such as a glossary. Make the chapters flow in a logical order. To plan the order of my chapters I use index cards, Post-It Notes, or the corkboard feature of the software program Scrivener to map out chapter names and place them in their desired order. After you complete the outline, type it on one page as an overview.

    Annotated table of contents with chapter summaries: (2 to 3 pages)
    After the overview, use several pages to write an expanded or annotated table of contents. This includes the chapter outline as described with the addition of a description of each chapter. This description offers several paragraphs to describe what the chapter is about and how it will help the audience. Include any call-out features such as boxed text, lists, or other graphic features in the description if you plan to use them. Within each description, include a list of recipes on that chapter.

    Sample Chapter with Recipes (several pages)
    You are the perfect person to write this cookbook and the sample chapter is where you demonstrate this ability. The sample chapter includes text, supporting information such as a call-out or boxed text, and approximately 10 complete recipes. The recipes need to be tested and formatted using your preferred recipe style. (If you’re unsure of your recipe style, I plan to cover this topic in the next blog post.) Editors and agents do prepare recipes from proposals, so the recipes need to well written and tested. Some agents and editors prefer that the sample recipes cover the breadth of a concept, rather than all ten recipes being from one chapter. For example, if your cookbook concept is about preparing plant-based finger foods for toddlers, and the chapters include soups, entrees, and side dishes, you can include sample recipes from each chapter. chapter.

    Cookbook design features: (1 page)
    Use the information you collected when you completed your bookstore, library, and online research. If you have a vision for the photography of your cookbook, include sample photos so that the agent/publisher is aware of this desire.

    Attachments to proposal: (as needed)
    Attach to the proposal links to article or relevant information you didn’t include in the proposal such as videos, blog posts, or writing samples.

    Tips for success when writing a proposal
    *When you write your proposal, always keep agents and editors in mind. Anticipate and answer questions they would have about you as the author and your topic, platform, or book idea. You are selling your book idea to them. You want to capture their imagination with you as the author of an unforgettable concept.

    *The proposal must showcase your best writing skills in all sections. Write the proposal, so it’s enjoyable to read. The agent and/or editor can discover your ability to write and deliver your cookbook concept through organized and well-written text and recipes.

    *When formatting your proposal check to see if the agent and/or the publishing house requires specific style guidelines to format the proposal. If they do follow them carefully. If guidelines are not available, format the proposal in 12-point, double-spaced, easily readable font. Include a footer with page numbers and 1-inch margins. Avoid  “fluffing” up a proposal with fancy binding or random food images unless you want to showcase photography or illustrations for the book.

    *If writing is not your skill, partner with a collaborator on the proposal, but disclose the collaboration because it’s important not to mislead an agent and/or editor to think you wrote the proposal on your own. If you do decide to work with a collaborator on the proposal, you may want to consider working with the collaborator on the actual book manuscript as well. In this case, the proposal sell both the author and the collaborator.

    *Read the proposal carefully before submission. Make sure it is clear, organized, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Share the proposal with a trusted colleague or friend so they can read the proposal too. This is the first impression you will give to an agent and/or editor, so it’s worth the time and effort.

    *Check their guidelines and submit the proposal as defined by the agent or editor. Most agents and editors accept electronic submissions while some prefer hard copies sent via snail mail. If submitted via snail mail, print the proposal on white paper, bind with a large rubber band, and include a SASE if you want the proposal returned.

    Below is a checklist you can download that includes an outline of a cookbook proposal. Use it as you work through the process of writing your cookbook proposal.

    copy-of-cookbook-proposal-checklist-2

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

     

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Research the Competition

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-6

    Welcome to Part 6 of my ongoing series Steps to Write a Cookbook. If this is your first visit to this series, I encourage you to go back and review the previous blog posts in the series:

     

    Identify your goals for publication

    Define your cookbook concept

    Evaluate routes to publication

    Build your author platform

    Check your commitment

    Now it’s time to study other cookbooks. If you plan to write a family cookbook this step isn’t required. Otherwise, if you plan to publish your book via either the traditional- or self-publishing route, there are two reasons to study other cookbooks:

    1. Competitive title research
    You need to research competing cookbooks to show how your book will fit into the current publishing landscape. The purpose of studying competitive books is to generate list of cookbooks that are similar in their audience, concept, and category to the book you want to write. This list is then shared with potential agents and editors so they can visualize where your book fits in the context of other published cookbooks. It’s important to realize that the goal of the research isn’t to prove that your concept is unique and that you don’t have any competition. In fact, the opposite is true. You want to point out your competition to validate your idea and then add why it’s time for you to write a similar book for this audience and what you plan to add to the conversation regarding your perceived cookbook concept.

    2. Inspiration and design research
    The study of published cookbooks can be a source of inspiration as well. While looking at other cookbooks pay attention to what delights you – cover design, paper, fonts, interior colors, photography, recipe or text layout, trim size, or other features. Parts of other books that attract (or repel) you are clues about the type of book you may want to write.

    A word of caution
    Don’t let the study of other cookbooks deter you from writing your cookbook. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to see so many cookbooks already published. When we see these books we may feel doubt that we can see a cookbook project through to publication. The best remedy for this feeling is to acknowledge that there are hundreds of cookbooks published each year, but the exact book you want to write hasn’t been written yet because you haven’t written it. Your message can only be communicated in a way that you can write it. Use the study of published cookbooks to motivate you and not deter you. Work hard and commit to move forward with your project.

    Advice about finding sales figures
    I emailed four acquisitions editors to ask about obtaining sales figures for published cookbooks. They all acknowledged that sales data is hard to obtain outside of Nielsen BookScan. As a result, they don’t expect to see exact sales figures, but Amazon and other research can give clues about the popularity of a cookbook.

    How much time to spend on research
    A common mistake during this phase is to get too caught up in research. Research makes us look busy, but the reality is that excessive research slows down progress on writing your proposal or book manuscript. Even though research is necessary, it’s important not to spend excessive amounts of time on this step. I recommend scheduling approximately three 2-hour blocks of time on your calendar over the course of two weeks. During each 2-hour block of time visit either a local bookstore, library, or perform online search.

    Bookstore research
    Visit stores where cookbooks are sold such as chain or independent bookstores, specialty retailers (such as Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur La Table), or big box stores such as Sams Club and Costco. Study at least five cookbooks (preferably published in the past few years) that are in the same category as the book you want to write. Examples of categories are diet and health, regional cuisine, vegetarian cooking, baking, cooking for children, global cuisine, all-purpose cookbooks, etc. Collect data about each book such as the author, publisher, agent (typically found in the acknowledgments), copyright date, concept, and audience. Ask a bookseller or store employee: What cookbooks in the category are restocked on a regular basis? What is trending in cookbook sales at their store? Make notes about specific book design features as well that you like or don’t like. Make notes about design features you want to include in your cookbook.

    Library research
    Most libraries have extensive cookbook sections that include recently published cookbooks, as well as regional, self-published, and out-of-print cookbooks. Take time to ask a librarian about cookbooks that circulate well and titles that have multiple copies in circulation. Ask too if they have access to any additional statistics or rankings for cookbooks that you can access through the library. Collect data as for bookstore research such as author, publisher, agent, date of publication, concept, and audience. Make notes about any design features that interest you as well.

    Online research can be done at a variety of websites:

    Amazon
    Amazon is the place to a review cookbooks online. Every acquisitions editor that I talked with uses Amazon to look at competitive cookbook titles. Amazon categorizes books in an organized fashion, so pay attention to their categories and rankings within a category. Gather data as for bookstore research, but include Amazon sales ranking, book category, number of reviews, and ideas for competitive titles located in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature. An additional benefit of Amazon is the sales of self-published titles that might be popular and your competition in the online space, but are not sold in bookstores, specialty retailers, or big box stores.

    Google
    “Google” the cookbooks that you have determined to be competitive titles. Makes note about the book, the author’s platform, or any other experts that may show up when you search. Consider how your audience uses the online space to obtain information related to your concept outside of buying a cookbook. For example, if your cookbook idea is about using a slow-cooker to make desserts, and you find an online expert for this topic, make a note of him or her. Learn more about their platform. Even their popularity validates your idea in the absence of a published cookbook. Search for print or digital magazines, newsletters, databases, events, or conferences that might pertain to your concept as well. What experts are involved in writing and speaking? Have they written cookbooks you might want to consider as competition?

    Goodreads
    Search Goodreads for your competitive titles. Read the customer reviews to obtain information such as customer perceived strengths and weakness of the book. Look at cookbook categories for most read, giveaways, most popular this week, and new releases.

    Publishers Marketplace
    Consider a subscription to Publishers Marketplace to fully access the website. It’s useful to perform keyword searches that lead you to bestselling cookbooks, as well as recent cookbook deals, publishers, editors, and agents, and titles that are under contract.

    Research of competitive titles is an important step for writing a cookbook. Your ability to create this list of titles shows your grasp of your concept, your audience, and the category where your book will fit in the context of previously published cookbooks. Research can be enjoyable, but don’t stall or spend too much time. Download the worksheet below to help you focus and move through this step in an organized fashion.

    competitive-title-research-worksheet

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Check Your Commitment

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-5-1

    “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. [S]He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if [s]he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.”
    —Lawrence Clark Powell, author.

    Cookbook projects are multi-step processes. Each project has a unique set of nuances and challenges. My goal for this blog post is to acknowledge the challenges and help you evaluate your commitment to seeing the project through to completion.

    Commitment to your cookbook project is an essential ingredient for successful completion of  all phases of the book – your book proposal, manuscript, and ultimate publication and book promotion.  In the end, your willingness to commit to these all phases defines the success of your book.  Below are several steps that can help you to commit and take action on your cookbook project.

    Determine your path in the publishing landscape. As I discussed in a recent blog post on routes to publication, there are various options for publishing your cookbook. If you are not clear on your route to publication I encourage you to stop and take time to make this decision. Once you decide on your path, take time to learn and follow that path. Committment to your options on the path will help you ignore the shiny parts of other choices.

    Dream big, but work small with patience. It’s ok to keep your end goal in mind and imagine how it will feel to share a copy of your book with your audience, family, or friends. But, once you imagine the excitement, thrill, or exhilaration, you have to be patient with the process. This is when it’s important to return to your next step in the process and do the work of the next stage well. With patience and deliberate actions, your cookbook will get written and published as you desire.

    Enhance focus and concentration. Focus and concentration are harder than ever in our virtual- and social-media driven lives. I receive numerous texts, phone calls, emails, Twitter notifications, and package deliveries in the course of my typical work day. The outside world wants in even when I have the need to focus or concentrate. It’s up to me to commit to creating time and a place where I can focus and concentrate. 

    Create a space and place to write. Everyone has a different place where they like to write. What’s most important is to commit to a physical space and place to write where you are the most focused and productive. In that place, keep supplies handy and work diligently. My writing space is a clutter-free desk. At my side, I keep my iPhone (for the timer), my computer, a notebook, a pen, a candle, and reference books. The reference books are important to me so that I’m not tempted to go online to “research”. For me, “research” equals a rabbit hole and I get distracted with online research and am definitely not writing. Also during my writing time, I prefer quiet. I turn off music, notifications, and other distractions. When I show up in commit to working here, my work gets done.

    Develop a writing routine. My writing routine anchors my progress on projects and this routine trumps mindset and topic for me. My commitment to a routine makes my productivity soar. If my routine is thrown off for some reason, my productivity suffers. My personal best time for writing time is between 8:00 – 10:30 am. It is during this time that I feel refreshed and energized and can set aside time to focus and write. I set my timer for 50 minutes and work. Then I take a 10-minute break and if time allows I may write for 50 more minutes. At the very least I know if my routine allows 50 minutes, 5 times/week, I can accomplish about 4 hours of writing time. For me my routines eliminate worry. Once my writing time has expired, I move on to other work I have to do related to my business and my clients. Some writing routines are based on writing a specific number of words each day, or a particular page count. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you measure your writing time, what’s most important is that you commit to a routine.

    Define interruptions vs. emergencies. Interruptions are common, and it’s important to commit to managing interruptions whether you write in an office environment, a coffee shop, or at home. You set the tone for when and how others interrupt your writing time. Ideally, I structure my writing time so that I can write during the quiet hours of my day. For me, that is in the early morning. For you, quiet time may be in the evening after everyone is in bed or after other coworkers or employees have gone home for the day. If others are around when I write I usually wear headphones or earbuds to signal not to interrupt unless there is an emergency.

    Adjust your mindset. It’s not uncommon to feel like giving up during the course of a book project. At these times enhance your commitment with positive messages such as: You can do this matter what. You do have enough time. You have enough talent. Your audience is waiting for your book. Your cookbook will help your audience. Your audience is excited to learn more about your topic. You don’t need permission to move forward. Repeat as necessary. Another mindset adjustment to remain committed to the project is to think thoughts that lead to energy-producing emotions such as I am productive, optimistic, energetic, focused, composed, and disciplined. Avoid thoughts that lead to energy-draining emotions such as I am confused, unsure, stumped, or overwhelmed. Positive emotions and energy are your friends. Tap into them.

    Identify your obstacles. There are obstacles to writing a cookbook. Examples include day jobs, home lives, community involvement, children, and travel demands that keep us too busy. In addition, there are inner voices that leave us confused, unsure, and overwhelmed. Obstacles are present with any goal. Your job is to commit to the goal and work to overcome the obstacles. For example, when you identify the obstacle, “I can’t write this book because I’m too busy with my day job”, try to set a goal to wake up one hour earlier several mornings a week to work on your project or to set aside weekend mornings and double up on your writing time. Schedule doable goals, stick to your plan, and your obstacles become stepping stones instead of blocking the path.

    Writers who are committed to their cookbook project make consistent progress and get their books published. They manage distractions and negative emotions. They are consistent and build their platforms and write their book proposals or manuscripts. Evaluate your commitment with this worksheet.

    commitment-to-writing-worksheet

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Build Your Author Platform

    steps-to-write-a-cookbook-part-4-2Welcome to part 4 of my ongoing series Steps to Write a Cookbook. If you’re new to this series, I encourage you to go back to part 1 and work your way through the series. In each blog post I’ve provided a worksheet or checklist to help you identify:

    WHO – who is your audience

    WHY – why you want to write a cookbook

    WHAT – what is your cookbook concept

    HOW – how you plan to publish your cookbook your cookbook

    In part 4 we are going to talk about your author platform as a key part of writing your cookbook. Your author platform serves to help your audience get to known you better. It’s how they see you, hear you, and get to trust you. One reason to define your audience early in the process of writing a cookbook is to help you determine if building a platform is necessary. For example, if your audience is your family or college-aged kids, a platform isn’t essential. But, if your audience is middle-aged professional women who suffer from heartburn, then your platform is essential. You need to have a way to get in touch with these women, and they need to be able to find you, hear you, and see you as an expert in the treatment of heartburn through food and/or nutrition.

    Your platform forms the foundation of most of the promotional work you will do for your brand, business, and cookbook. Through the various parts of your platform, you are able to stay in touch with your audience and build a relationship with those who are interested in what you have to say. Every aspiring cookbook author, including those who want to self-publish their cookbook, needs to have a way to connect with their audience. In addition, if you desire to have your cookbook published with the help of an agent and/or traditional publisher know that they will find you as a potential author more attractive if they know you have a platform.

    Below are some specific ideas for you to consider as you build or expand your platform. The first five tasks I would consider to be of the highest priority for an aspiring cookbook author. I also recommend that you consider building the first four tasks before querying an agent/and or editor with your cookbook concept. Tasks five and six provide additional ideas for how to let your audience get to know you better. It’s not essential to do everything on this list. You can reach your goals as a cookbook author with only a few of these in place. What’s important is to do something, and to be consistent. Your audience does want to, and they need to, hear from you. As a result, they will get to know you better, and hopefully like you and trust you all because of the work you’ve put in to building your author platform.

    1. Create a hub or home on the web. Build a website or blog with a unique domain name that belongs to you. (Or hire someone to build it for you. You’ll save a lot of time and they are the expert in this area.) Some aspiring authors use their name for a URL, and some use their brand or company name, but regardless of what you choose, it’s important to have your own home on the web. Think of it this way – if a social media site or platform goes down, or crashes, you want your audience to still be able to get in touch with you outside of the social media site or space that crashed or went out of business. Your website or blog doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, but it should reflect the work you do and be kept up to date with new and fresh content.

    2. Create an email address related to your domain name. A domain-connected email address lends credibility and professionalism to your work. Once you select your domain name, you can set up an email connected to your URL through your hosting company.

    3. Collect email addresses from your audience. One of the best ways to keep in touch with your audience is via email. Collect the email addresses of those who visit your website and then send unique content on a regular basis to their email address. To collect email addresses, chose an provider that offers email service and address collection, such as Mail Chimp or Emma. While you get started, some providers offer free packages. Have your web person add a place on your website to collect email addresses. (Ensure your audience that you don’t spam or share their email address with anyone.) To entice your audience to sign up, offer something for free in exchange for their email address. Examples of freebies are a newsletter, checklist, video, short email course, or workbook that relate to your audience’s most pressing problem or challenge. For example, on Greenapron.com  I offer a free subscription to the newsletter Fork, Pen, & Spoon. On Cookbook Camp.com I offer a checklist to assess if you’re ready to write a cookbook. 

    4. Join social media sites where your audience hangs out. Connect with your audience on social media. Go to them where they are already spending time. Be interactive, share information, and be a source of expertise. Keep your online profile names consistent with your brand by selecting account names that use your name, your company name, or the name of your brand. Social media sites that are popular in the food and nutrition space are:

    *Facebook
    *Twitter
    *Instagram
    *Snapchat
    *Pinterest

    5. Create a simple press kit as a promotional tool. A press kit should include a bio, headshot, writing samples, contact information. Make the press kit available as a PDF download from your website, or use links to Dropbox for higher resolution images and files. Whenever anyone wants to know more about you for a speaking engagement or other opportunity, you can direct them to your press kit.

    6. Explore these alternative methods your platform as a way to connect with potential cookbook buyers:

    *Private practice in nutrition or food coaching
    *Restaurant or catering business
    *Material written for print or online newspapers, magazine, or website
    *Public speaking opportunities
    *Promote your area of expertise as a guest on radio shows or podcasts
    *Start your own podcast
    *Create a cooking show for television or video on your website
    *Create a vlog on Vimeo or YouTube
    **Teach classes, seminars, webinars, or online courses

    How are you doing with building your platform? Download this checklist and make a plan to develop or build your platform. Your work will go a long way for future book sales, promotions, and reader engagement. In addition, a future agent and/or publisher will be pleased with the work you’ve done to get in touch, and stay in touch, with your audience.

    build-your-author-platform-worksheet

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Cookbook and Food Writing Links Vol. 3

    Cookbook and Food Writing LinksCookbook Writing

    Many readers of my weekly newsletter, Fork, Pen, & Spoon, ask what are the specific steps to write a cookbook? In response to their question, I’ve written blog posts that include worksheets to guide you on the steps to start your cookbook project. Here is a summary of the topics covered so far:

    · WHO is you cookbook audience
    · WHY are you writing a cookbook
    · WHAT is your cookbook concept
    · HOW to you want to publish your cookbook

    Take some time to link to the blog posts, download the worksheets, and identify your who, why, what, and how before we move to step #4.

    Food Photography

    Dark and moody describes the style of many images used in cookbooks, on food blogs, and in Instagram posts. Want to photograph dark and moody?

    Writing

    Whether you’re writing a blog post, newsletter, poem, or book, it takes courage to share what you write with others because they decide if they like what you write or not. Many fear this judgement and never write the blog posts, newsletter, poems, or books their audience needs to read. If you struggle with writing because you fear vulnerability, you may enjoy this article from Purpose Fairy that takes a look at courage and vulnerability.

    Author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Routes to Publication

    Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 3

    In part #1 of this blog series we focused on WHY you want to write a cookbook as well as your WHO – your target audience.

    In part #2, we discussed WHAT – your cookbook concept or main topic. An ideal cookbook concept joins your audience’s needs and desires with your skills, expertise, and knowledge. If you can match what you know, and feel excited to write about, with the needs, desires, or problems of your audience, then you’re well on your way to identifying a cookbook concept. The next step is to ask yourself:

    In this part #3 of this ongoing series Steps to Write A Cookbook we will identify your HOW.

    HOW do you want to have your cookbook published? Here are some common answers:

    • Organize recipes with an app or recipe software and print at home or using a quick-print shop
    • Operate as an independent publisher and self-publish an ebook or print-on-demand book
    • Pay a publishing company to help publish
    • Secure a publisher without an agent
    • Retain an agent to help find a traditional publisher

    These examples are all ways to get a cookbook published. The method of publication you select may be different than another cookbook author. Rather than comparison with what others are doing, I recommend you focus your energy on your reasons why you want to write a cookbook and then choose the route to publication that best matches your goals.

    NOTE: If you plan to sell cookbooks to the general public it’s important to build an author platform. Your audience needs to get to hear you, read your work, and get to know you. Once they know you, they are in a better position to buy your book when it’s published. Also, publishers choose to publish writers who are in touch with their target audience through their platform. Read more about platforms here.

    Routes to Cookbook Publication

    Software or online recipe tools
    If you identified your family or a civic group as your WHO and perhaps the goal to raise money or to share recipes with your college-age children as your WHY, your cookbook concept is pretty straight-forward. Your book will contain a set of recipes and maybe some stories, genealogy, history, or photos.  For this type of cookbook, there are online tools and other software to compile your recipes. Costs for each service varies, but because the software streamlines the process it may be worth the price. Outside of online tools, word processing software, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, works well to create your book’s interior pages. For a more upscale design consider software such as Adobe Design.

    If you want to use an online tool or software to compile recipes for family, your next step is to choose the software or online tool that best suits your needs. Refer to this summary of 5 Tools and Software for Writing a Family or Fundraiser Cookbook.

    Self (or independent) publishing
    As an independent publisher, you form a publishing company and coordinate all aspects of your cookbook publication. You are in total control of the schedule and the way the book is put together. You hire experts such as the photographer, editor, designer, indexer, printer, and book distributor. You obtain an ISBN number for book sales. You pay the freelancers for their work, as well as for the cost to print the book. As an independent publisher, you earn and keep all profits from book sales.

    If you decide to self-publish your cookbook, your next step is to identify the format for your book publication  – eBook, print-on-demand, or simple pdf file. From there the book is written, edited, designed, and printed or converted into an eBook or pdf all under the umbrella of your own publishing company. 

    Assisted self-publishing
    Also called subsidy or hybrid publishing, this form of publishing you pay a company to produce your book. The upfront payment makes this feel like a self-publishing project, but because the company helps hire the experts to help create and print your book, it has a traditional publishing feel as well. Some subsidy publishers vet their authors with a submission process, which maintains the quality of books the publisher produces.  The services provided vary from publisher to publisher. It’s important to identify the service you want help with (such as editing, book design, or printing) and then compare companies to see which one best fits your goals. Once your book is published, you receive royalties from the book sales to help offset the fees you paid to the publisher. In terms of comparison, you generally earn less than a self-published book, but generally more than you would with a traditionally published book.

    If you decide to find a subsidy publisher your next step is to research and select a company that will help produce the type of cookbook you envision and that offers the services you need help with. After you decide, enter into their submission process, if necessary, and when accepted pay them to help you publish your cookbook. 

    Traditional publishing (without an agent)
    In this route to publication, you search for a cookbook publisher who accepts a cookbook proposal “unsolicited” or without representation from an agent. You negotiate your own contract or hire an attorney to help you negotiate the deal. Then you write the manuscript according to the publisher’s schedule. Once the manuscript is submitted, they coordinate the work to edit, photograph, design, index, print, market, distribute, and publicize your book, or hire the experts to do these tasks. In return for their publishing your book, you give them control of the publishing schedule and share a large part of the profit from sales of the book. In exchange, the publisher pays you in an advance of royalties and/or royalties from book sales.

    If you decide on this path, your next step is to write a cookbook proposal for your cookbook concept.  Then you research publishers who accept unsolicited proposals and submit your proposal to the publishing company’s acquisition editor according to their submission guidelines. If the publisher accepts your proposal, you negotiate your contract with the publishing house. Once your contract is signed, you write your cookbook manuscript and submit it to the publisher according to their publishing schedule. From there they will turn your manuscript into a book and help you with book distribution, sales, marketing, and publicity.

    Agent-assisted traditional publishing
    In this form of traditional publication, you first retain an agent. The agent then becomes your connection to book publishers and your ally in the publishing world. Your agent shops your cookbook idea to publishers with the goal of selling it to an editor at a publishing house. When an acquisitions editor at the publishing company likes your idea, they negotiate a contract with your agent for you to write your book. Agents are not paid upfront by authors for their negotiations. Instead, they receive a percentage (typically 15%) of all the money you make from advances and/or royalties. So, for example, for every $100 you earn from your book’s advances or royalties, the agent is paid $15, and you keep the remaining $85. The advantage of an agent is they remain committed to the project and help you communicate and negotiate with the publisher. Agents can also negotiate a larger book contract with a publisher and this translates into more profit for you and your agent. Once a contract is signed, the publisher sets the schedule. Then you write the manuscript according to the publisher’s plan. After the manuscript is submitted, the publisher coordinates the work to edit, photograph, design, index, print, market, distribute, and publicize your book, or hire the experts to do these tasks. In return for their publishing services, you give them control of the publishing schedule and profit from sales of the book. In exchange, they pay you in the form of an advance and/or as royalties off book sales.

    If you decide on this traditional and agent-assisted route to publication, your next step is to start the process to retain an agent to represent you. Be prepared to submit a cookbook proposal to an agent if requested.  You can find an agent through personal introductions from other cookbook authors, by attending writing conferences, or by utilizing books such as Guide to Literary AgentsA personal introduction generally carries the most weight, but other methods of finding an agent can be successful.

    HOW should you publish your cookbook? This is a question only you can answer. To the various routes to cookbook publication, download this worksheet and score your answer.

    Routes to Cookbook Publication

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

  • Steps to Write a Cookbook: Define Your Cookbook Concept

    Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 2

    This is part #2 of a series of blog posts to help aspiring cookbook authors walk through the steps to writing a cookbook. In part #1 we discussed the importance of identifying WHO you are writing your book for and WHY you want to write a cookbook. Your WHO and your WHY are unique to you. Every aspiring cookbook author has a different audience and set of goal for their project so it’s important not to skip part #1.

    The next step involves identification of your WHAT – what is the topic of your cookbook? What is your cookbook concept?

    NOTE: If you identified your family or a fundraiser cookbook as your WHO and WHY, it may not be necessary to define your concept in a lot more detail. You know that you plan to write a cookbook to share a set of family or curated/collected recipes. You may decide to add stories, genealogy, history, or photos to the recipes, but your reason to write your cookbook is clear. The next steps for a family or fundraiser cookbook involve the process to collect recipes, organize them into chapters, write a table of contents, and make decisions about how to compile the manuscript, design the book’s interior, and print the manuscript. Refer to this blog post for 5 Tools and Software for Writing a Family or Fundraiser Cookbook.

    Outside of family or fundraiser cookbooks, if you identified your clients, customers, or other cooks and/or bakers as your audience, then the concept for your book needs to be defined in more detail.

    Cookbook Concept Development

    To more fully develop your cookbook concept make time to identify a topic that is in alignment with who you are and what you teach, cook, or bake. Use your brand identity to define the type of cookbook your clients or customers would expect from you. For example, if you are a diabetes expert and nutritionist, your audience probably wouldn’t expect you to write a cookbook about fancy cakes and buttercream frosting.

    Below are a some questions to help you develop your unique cookbook concept in more detail. Before you work through these concept questions, make you you’ve clearly identified your WHO – describe your audience in more detail: their age, gender, income level, and cooking experience. Then ask yourself:

    1. What information do you have that your audience would be excited for you to share with them?
    2. What unique set of cooking or baking skills do you want to share?
    3. What is your area of expertise?
    4. What secrets do you know about baking, cooking, or nutrition that you can share with your audience?
    5. What challenge can you help your audience with?
    6. What questions does your audience ask?
    7. What problems does your audience need you to solve for them?
    8. What is your audience curious about?
    9. What excitement about food, cooking/baking, nutrition, or the kitchen do you share with your audience?

    Mindset Barriers

    Mindset barriers often arise when aspiring cookbook authors start to define their cookbook concept. Here are a few common obstacles that crop up related to cookbook concept development and some suggestions for overcoming the obstacles.

    My goal is to make money, a lot of money. This has to be worth all the effort. How do I choose a topic that sells?

    Pick a topic with “legs”.  Look at food trends, but ultimately select a concept that will be relevant after your book is published. It may take 18 months from idea to publication for a trade or traditionally published cookbook, so select a topic that fits this timeline. Self-publishing your cookbook might not take that long, but you still want the topic to be relevant. Also, pick a topic that your audience engages with and refers to over and over. Think about it: the customer’s relationship with a cookbook isn’t linear like it is with a novel. A well-written cookbook becomes a favorite cookbook and is cooked from over and over again. That should be your goal.

    I have a unique idea, but I’m worried I’ve waited too long and the market is saturated with books similar to the one I want to write.

    Pick a topic where a new voice (your voice) will be a welcome addition to the other books out these on a similar topic. Many topics of cookbooks are always popular, and your topic, with your unique twist, can be attractive and relevant even with other books published on the same topic. How many Italian cooking books or cookie cookbook are out there? There are a lot. And they sell. Don’t let other books with similar concepts stop you. An idea that’s not strictly unique can sell very well. A  book coach, agent or editor will help you shape your idea into a usable, salable cookbook.

    I want to connect with my readers, but how do I figure out what they want?

    This does require research and hopefully a connection with readers before writing your book. What you need to determine is if there is room for your idea with you as the author. Research is necessary but has to be finite, because sometimes excessive research is a sign of fear to get started with the project. Research involves studying cookbooks, food blogs, and DIY sites that present a concept similar to your idea.  Determine how you will differentiate yourself. Once you complete a reasonable amount of research, then stop the research and take action. Select your concept and get started. Pitch the idea to an agent or editor.

    I want my book to sound like me. How do I find a unique theme/voice?

    Pretend you are helping one person – what would you tell them about your topic and why? Write your concept in your own words, using the way you would explain something as your guide. Some writers speak their concept or ideas into a voice recorder and then have the recording transcribed. Then it sounds like them. When a reader reads your work you want them to be able to hear you in the text and words. Your voice and words will be unique, because they come from you.

    Define Your Cookbook Concept Worksheet

     

     

     

     

     

    You many also be interested in links to some other blog posts about generating a cookbook concept:

    Is My Cookbook Concept Good Enough?

    Three Ways to Generate a Cookbook Concept

     

    Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

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