Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 3: Routes to Cookbook Publication
Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 3: Routes to Cookbook Publication


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 vary, 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 …

Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 2: Define Your Cookbook Concept
Steps To Write A Cookbook Part 2: 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 goals 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 identify 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 some questions to help you develop your unique cookbook concept in more detail. Before you work through these concept questions, make sure you have 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 …

Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1: Identify Your Goals for Publication
Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1: Identify Your Goals for Publication

Steps to Write a Cookbook Part 1

There are many reasons that someone wants to write a cookbook. Maybe they want to write for their family, or perhaps to showcase their restaurant’s recipes. Maybe they have a nutrition business and their clients need help cooking, or perhaps an organization they volunteer for wants to publish a cookbook to raise money. Regardless of the reason, many aspiring cookbook authors feel overwhelmed by the scope of a cookbook project.

I know how they feel. I’ve been there before with my own cookbook projects. When I work with aspiring cookbook authors they often ask me what is the first thing they should do to write a cookbook? To help answer this question I plan to create a series of blog posts to walk aspiring cookbook authors step-by-step through the process of writing a cookbook. This will include key decisions you need to make before you get started.

Before you start with your cookbook project, it’s important to be able to answer clearly two important questions:

  • Who are your writing your cookbook for?
  • Why do you want to write a cookbook?

Let’s take a look at these issues a bit more in-depth:

QUESTION 1: Who are you writing your cookbook for?

By answering this question, you will be better able to identify the best way to get your cookbook published. Once you identify how to publish, the steps to publication are easier to map out. Here are three common groups of people that cookbooks are written for:

Family and/or friends
I suspect that if you want to write a cookbook you’re an experienced cook or baker, and as a result have recipes to share. Your family loves your home-cooked meals, and your friends think you’re the go-to person to bring a signature casserole or cake to a party or get-together. They all want you to share your recipes, and you know this because they’re always asking you for your recipes.

You may be wondering if these reasons are compelling enough reasons to write a cookbook? Yes, it’s a good enough reason. Your audience is on the small side, but they are important. Your recipes and style of cooking for friends and family needs to be preserved. Plus, if they’ve asked for recipes, they will enjoy recreating the dishes you make when they cook for their friends, move to their own apartment, head off to college, start their own family, etc., a cookbook written for them will fill that need.

Clients or customers
If you have a nutrition-focused business, and you help your clients with weight loss, disease management, or wellness, I suspect that food preparation might be part of what you teach them. You also know their challenges when it comes to food, cooking, and nutrition. You know what motivates them to cook, and you know what their barriers are to cooking. Your cookbook can help them live a healthier lifestyle and provides a preset way to connect with them in the office.

If you own a restaurant or catering business, …

Cookbook Writing A to Z
Cookbook Writing A to Z












This post is an A to Z random thoughts list about writing a cookbook. I wrote it because this week I keep thinking about clients who say, “I don’t know”. What if you did know? What would that look like? So when you don’t know what to write, write an A to Z list around your area of expertise. You might be surprised what comes up.

  • Action, not inaction, leads to your book’s completion.
  • Build your platform every day.
  • Create book content that your audience will enjoy and benefit from. You are the expert.
  • Delve deep into a narrow topic to broaden your appeal.
  • Effort is not always necessary when you feel good and write what you love.
  • Follow your favorite cookbook authors on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Let them inspire you.
  • Go for it. Don’t be afraid. Love others and love what you do and from this good-feeling place, you will get good results.
  • Host a cookbook recipe tasting/testing party. Gather your friends to test and taste recipes.
  • Inspire others with your message and they will follow you.
  • Just because you receive a rejection, you don’t have to stop. Yes lives in the land of no. Don’t be afraid of no.
  • Keep track of your recipes in writing. Note any changes made to the recipe as you revise and test.
  • Lower your expectations. Don’t expect others to do the work for you or for others to be the reason you don’t get started on the book you always dream about.
  • Move along. Always keep moving. If you’re not moving you’re probably not growing.
  • Never let bad thoughts or feelings drive your results. Your results will be negative. Let good feelings drive results. You’ll get better results.
  • Other people have good ideas, but when you’re generating your cookbook concept, don’t take a poll. Just poll yourself and decide what you want to do.
  • Pay attention to how you feel during this journey because it is a journey. Even when you finish your book, the journey continues as you market and sell the book.
  • Quitting won’t get you closer to your goal. Don’t quit, just keep learning.
  • Rest assured that no one can write a book exactly like you because they aren’t you.
  • Save yourself the trouble of not asking too many opinions. Your reason to move forward is in you.
  • Test all recipes for your cookbook proposal. Test them again so you put your best foot forward.
  • Unless you plan to write only one book, don’t feel like you have to cover everything in your first book.
  • Vary the ways you feel inspired from travel, to exercise, to a meal at your favorite restaurant.
  • When it’s time to submit your cookbook proposal, follow the agent’s or publisher’s submission guidelines.
  • Xylophone. This had nothing to do with cookbooks but I can’t think of an X word.
  • You are the reason your book idea is different from your competitors. You make
40 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Platform
40 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Platform

DesignAspiring cookbook authors have a dual-focus for tasks they need to complete, especially if they desire a traditional publishing contract. First, they need to build their platform and second, they need to write a proposal. One doesn’t necessairly come before the other, but both are important to focus on as you prepare to approach an agent or editor. If you are building your platform with a website as the hub and if you plan to blog, you may feel concerned that you have to always blog about recipes. That’s not true. What you need to do is create regular content that your audience is interested in. By regular I mean at least once a week. This is important. And for as long as your blog continues, commit to regular content. Topics for your blog post and content can vary. Your audience is interested in answers to their questions, your help solving a problem they have, and connecting with you. Here are some ideas for blog posts that aren’t directly related to recipes, but that you can easily write to create and update content and inspire and educate your audience.  You might even consider batch creating of blog posts. For the next 30 days, schedule time to write 12 blog posts. Then you get to take the next two months “off” of writing blog posts and focus on other projects.  It’s nice to get ahead and not have any writing emergencies. Here are numerous idea for blog posts topics.

1. Review a book from a competitor

2. Write a list of things that made you happy this month

3. Describe a day in the life of you

4. Review your favorite cooking or baking products

6. Provide advice on a topic related to your area of expertise

7. List what’s in your junk drawer

8. Explain things that inspire you

9. Give away your seasonal bucket list or bucket list for the next year

10. Describe what’s on your desk

11. Share one of your secrets related to cooking, baking, or your area of expertise

12. Describe your favorite ways to unwind after a productive day

13. List facts about you that you’re willing to share

14. Provide tips on how to stay organized

15. List your favorite posts from other blogs

16. Give your opinion on a topic of interest to your audience

17. List quotes you live by

18. Describe how you spend your time alone

19. Give advice for your audience

20. State the top 10 reasons you blog

21. Write a series: 7 days of the life of someone who wants to write a cookbook

22. Write an open letter

23. List 30 things to do before you’re 30, 40 things to do before you’re 40, 50 before 50, 60 before 60, etc.

24. Describe your perfect day

25. Expand on your most important life lesson

26. Write an A to Z post

27. Tell about things you don’t regret

28. Describe what apps you use every …

Cookbook Manuscripts Done!
Cookbook Manuscripts Done!

This is a short blog post – but I’m so happy. I did it! Done and done. I submitted my cookbook manuscripts. Manuscript transmittal is the end of the beginning phase of cookbook publication.

Now my publisher takes over. They edit, design, and produce/print my books. They are specialists at EDP and that is why I personally like to collaborate with publishers. If all goes well (and it will), the Essential Pantry and Essential Plant-based Pantry will be published in September 2018.

I am tentatively booked at BEA in NYC at the end of May 2018 to start promos and signings. Sort of a pre-launch signing event. I’m excited to plan cookbook marketing efforts

What steps are you taking to get closer to submitting your cookbook for publication?

Here is step #1: Identify Your Goals For Publication

And, if you are a cookbook author and interested in a Cookbook Marketing Mastermind Group, email me. I plan to facilitate this new mastermind group. I would like to see who’s interested.

Now, I ‘m going to enjoy my submission with a hot cup of tea and a good book! And then, get started on my next project.

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?

Creating Your Perfect Day

Creating Your Perfect DayIt’s a beautiful morning here as I write this blog post. We just finished a great weekend. My 15-year old son went to his first homecoming dance. We bought the pants, tie, and flowers. We made the salad for a dinner hosted by a friend. We took pictures and enjoyed his friend’s parents. We drove the kids to the dance and then to a friend’s house after the dance. I love and appreciate all the fun that having a high-school-aged son brings. It was a lovely evening of teens dressing up and dancing. Who doesn’t love good music and dancing? The boys and girls were all adorable. This is the fun of my life with my family.

My week ahead will be filled with results. Quite frankly, it has to be. My 2 cookbook manuscripts are due to my publisher in one week. My mastermind groups are meeting this week. I have projects for other clients that I will make progress on. This is the fun of my life with cookbooks.

My mornings are the heart of my day. I use the first 3 hours of my day to do what I need to do get ready for the day with an open mind and positive attitude. I know what makes me happy in the morning, so I focus on those actions before I even sit down at my desk to work. I get up early. This is possible because I go to bed at a decent time. I take time to read, write, do a rampage of appreciation, drink coffee, sit in silence, let my dog out, empty the dishwasher, make my bed, start a load of laundry, drive my son to school and pack his lunch if needed, catch up on the news headlines, water my patio flowers, take a shower, put on some nice clothes and shoes, set my iPhone to do not disturb, and away I go. I’m ready for the day. The pump is primed so to speak and I can focus on my work with ease and excitement.

My schedule provides time to read, cook and eat dinner with my family. That is important. I like to read the paper while I cook or I call my mom. I also plan every day to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I’m tempted to stay up, but sleep fuels my next day, so I honor that. 

My work hours are scheduled ahead of time so I know not the “activities” I will do when I go to my computer, but the results I need to create. For example, I don’t block off one hour to “write cookbook manuscript.” Instead, I block off time to “tag recipes that are gluten-free” or “read and edit introduction”. These items have a result attached and help me accomplish everything I need to do. I focus for a 4- to 6-hour block of time each day on being highly productive. I can accomplish a lot during that

Secrets to Cookbook Writing Progress
Secrets to Cookbook Writing Progress

Secrets to ProgressI’ve been thinking a lot about cookbook projects. They are complicated, but fun and rewarding when you have an idea you want to share with a curated set of recipes.

Aspiring cookbook authors can do any of these three things: consume, indulge, or produce.

When you consume you read and research. You scroll and watch. You listen and you learn. Consuming may tell you what you need to do, but it rarely leads to a cookbook. It doesn’t involve results-based action.

When you indulge, you have self-pity, confusion, and a don’t-know-how attitude. There is overwhelm. Indulging equals stuck and doesn’t lead to a cookbook.

When you produce, you focus on results. You plan. You commit. You seek help and direction. You take action on your plan. You schedule the time to rest. You enjoy the journey. You make progress on your goals. You write a cookbook and you find a publisher.

Discomfort is real. It can be the temporary discomfort of sticking to a schedule when we want to consume. That’s a good discomfort because it is the currency of our dreams.

Discomfort can also be long term when we indulge in confusion and overwhelm instead of producing. It is uncomfortable to not go after our dreams. When we are stuck we fail ahead of time and that doesn’t feel good.

Which discomfort do you choose?

If you’re stuck consuming (watching others write their books on Instagram or Facebook) or indulging (feeling overwhelmed and stuck), you are a perfect fit for Hungry For A Cookbook Mastermind Group. You’re so close to producing and achieving results.

Hungry For A Cookbook starts September 19th.

I want you to produce results.

I want you to get your cookbook written and published.

I can show you how to get there. And you can make progress with only temporary discomfort as you go after your dream.

Apply for Hungry For A Cookbook today.

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?”. 

Q & A: How Do I Write a Cookbook Proposal that Attracts Agents and Publishers?
Q & A: How Do I Write a Cookbook Proposal that Attracts Agents and Publishers?

Agents and publishers love well-written cookbook proposals. They want to read proposals that are unforgettable and read about aspiring authors who have excitement and passion for a topic. This is attractive!

The nuts and bolts of a cookbook proposal are pretty standard. Think of a cookbook proposal as a business plan for your cookbook. It identifies your cookbook concept as well as your ideas for marketing and sales of your cookbook. You may be lucky enough to have a publisher approach you about writing your first cookbook, you may choose to self-publish your cookbook, or you may send your proposal to agents and/or publishing house, but in any case you’ll need a plan for your cookbook before you start writing it. In most cases, a cookbook proposal is the tool to use. In the end the proposal communicates to everyone involved in your cookbook project your vision for your cookbook.

Writing a solid cookbook proposal takes time and energy.

Cathy Barrow spent one year writing her proposal. With her research, she turned her ideas into a proposal that gained her a cookbook contract. Her book was published in November 2014 and Cathy won an IACP award at the recent 2015 IACP conference.

Heidi Swanson, from food blog 101 Cookbooks, has a four to five year cycle for writing new cookbooks. She likes to take time for her ideas to gel. In addition, she started to write part of her manuscript for the book before she writes her proposal. Her third cookbook, Near & Far, will be published in 2015.

Some other cookbook authors write their proposals in a few months, once they have started building their platform and connecting with potential buyers of their book.

Brian Yarvin follows the instructions in the book Writer’s Market to write his proposals. According to Brian, Writer’s Market lists “many legit, paying cookbook publishers and gives clear instructions for how to write a good proposal. I have sold every cookbook proposal I’ve circulated using the method spelled out there. (Although an agent helped me get better deals in some cases.)”

No matter how long you take to write your proposal, here are key components to include:

Cookbook Concept: There’s no reason to write a cookbook unless you feel that you have something different to say or are writing on a different topic or have a unique approach. Your concept should be a natural fit for you. If you’re struggling to define your concept, or struggling to pitch your idea, the concept probably needs to be refined. Once you get the flow, your idea will delight you and you can speak in your own voice and experience and be authentic.

Target Audience: It’s important to have your audience defined. Be specific. Who are you writing this book for? It is fine to write a cookbook to fulfill a personal dream, but in the end if you want to sell the book (after you write it) you need to have an

Mastermind Groups
Mastermind Groups

When I graduated from chef school, one of the first books I read was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I can remember the night I visited the local bookstore, most probably to look at the cookbook section, but found myself in the Business and Money section of the bookstore reading this book. I still have the book (with the date of purchase recorded on the inside first page) and I read parts of the book regularly.

Written in 1960, this book is considered an influential book for the achievement of personal goals, financial independence, and a spirit-filled life. In the book, such concepts as self-direction, organized planning, auto-suggestion, imagination, faith, persistence, and mastermind association are reviewed in detail and have helped countless individuals realize the power they have to create their future.

In his discussion of “the power of the Master Mind,” Hill says, “economic advantage may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of people who are willing to lend wholehearted aid, in a spirit of perfect harmony.” Hill believed in the power of association with others. “When a group of individual brains is coordinated, and function in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual brain in that group.”

So what’s the take-home message for those of us who have projects, careers, businesses, and families? The message is that if we band together in a spirit of harmony, with a common purpose, we too can use our experiences, intelligence, and knowledge to benefit one another. It’s in this spirit of cooperation that I have become more interested in mastermind groups.

Mastermind Groups are a win-win for everyone involved. If you feel stuck, alone in your work, or unable to move forward with a project, then joining a Mastermind Group may be perfect for you.

What is a mastermind group?

A Mastermind Group is a group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to challenge each other to set goals, brainstorm ideas and support each other in a spirit of compassion, respect, and honesty. Mastermind Groups help participants grow because the other participants are supportive, but can also help to clarify goals through being a devil’s advocate to one another.

Each Mastermind Group meeting has an agenda, but participation by each group member is key, for the group cannot function without participants who are committed to attend the meetings, set goals, and help others set their goals as they grow alongside each other. Brainstorming and a spirit of community and cooperation are key to the success of a Mastermind Group.

Anyone can join a Mastermind Group. Typically there are 5 to 8 people in a Mastermind Group. The members have a shared interest, similar skill or success level, and have a desire to make the next months of their life extraordinary. The want to be in a supportive group that helps them reach or exceed their goals. They are ready …

Cookbook Expert Interview Series: Dianne Jacob: Have Something New To Say That Will Appeal To A Large Audience
Cookbook Expert Interview Series: Dianne Jacob: Have Something New To Say That Will Appeal To A Large Audience

WWFFIII.coverAuthor and writing coach Dianne Jacob is considered a go-to expert for food writers. Both her book, Will Write for Food, and her blog, are considered go-to resources for those who want to dip their toes in the world of food writing. As a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, I have had opportunities to hear Dianne speak about food writing, so I knew she would make a nice addition my interview series. Thanks to Dianne for sharing her knowledge and I hope you enjoy this interview with Dianne. 

Please explain your role in the publishing industry. Do you own an agency? Have you written a book? Or do you provide a service?­

I am a writing coach for people who want to create an irresistible cookbook proposal for traditional publishers or help to start improving a food blog. I also teach food writing at conferences and in workshops around the world. I’ve written a multiple award-winning book called Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More. I’m also the co-author of two pizza cookbooks with chef Craig Priebe: The United States of Pizza and Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas. I have a blog on the subject of food writing, and a free newsletter on the subject as well.

What are some key factors for aspiring authors to consider in the development of a cookbook concept?

Have something new to say that will appeal to a large audience. A general soup-to-nuts cookbook will be a hard sell because you’re competing with Ina Garten and The Joy of Cooking.

Develop a big enough audience for the book through social media, writing, or teaching – before you send out the proposal.

Can you expand a bit on what a publisher looks for in terms of “big enough audience”?

No one agrees on what constitutes a “big enough” audience. The issue is that publishers need to know you have developed an audience for your book. If your social media numbers add up to under 500, they will wonder who will buy this book, since you have limited contacts. Writing freelance articles on the subject of the book, teaching, building a newsletter list and other similar strategies will also be helpful in showing publishers that you communicate regularly with the target buyer of your book.

What are the most important parts of a cookbook author’s visibility in today’s digital-media-driven world?

Both aspiring and continuing authors need a consistently growing social media platform and an engaged readership. See this guest post on my blog: What Bloggers Need for a Book Deal: Reader Relationships.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to self-publish her cookbook?

Find out what it will cost before you dive in. I’ve heard of books that cost $5000 to produce, and books that cost $60,000. There are so many variables: how many copies you want, whether you want color pages, whether you have to pay for photography, …

5 Questions Every Cookbook Author Must Answer
5 Questions Every Cookbook Author Must Answer

Imagine if you knew five questions that every editor, publisher, marketer, reviewer, and reader of your book would love to know your answers to. Imagine that if you took the time to answer these questions before you write your book, how much more on target the finished proposal and book would be. Imagine answers to such questions that could direct and inform the book entire project.

What are the questions?
Answer the questions below and you’ll have a crystal-clear focus. In addition, you will be able to supply essential information for your publisher, marketing team, book reviewers, and most importantly the buyer of your book.

1. Am I willing to control my thoughts, manage my time, and commit to activities to imagine, write, publish, and sell this book?
Answer this question first for yourself in an honest and real way. Can you commit to the work and dedication to propose, write, publish, and market your cookbook? Is your mindset a growth mindset (I can do this) or a fixed mindset (It’s too hard and I’m confused)? If the answer is a yes, move onto the following questions. If you’re wavering, get your thoughts and commitment in order before you proceed.

2. What is the book about?
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to be able to succinctly describe your book’s topic as well as how you identified the topic to write about or how you became interested in the topic. Include the book’s argument or problem that you are solving. If there is a payoff to this book, meaning if you read this, or cook this, you’ll get that, then describe the payoff. Describe what is new about this problem or argument in your book. Include what stopped you “cold” and made you want to write a book about this topic. If this topic is popular or written about in previous books include what you are adding to the idea or topic through the book.

3. Why are you the person to write this book on this topic?
Sell yourself as the author. Describe your expertise, social proof, and/or proven messages you have in writing, speaking, or teaching about this topic. Brag about the overwhelmingly positive responses you received to the message. Describe what you bring to the topic. Everyone from editor or marketer wants and needs to know why you are the perfect author for this book.

4. Why is now the time to publish the book?
Everyone is writing books. Publishers need books to publish. Describe why this is the perfect time for this book. Even with existing books (which you will describe in the competition section of a proposal) why there room for another book on the topic in the market.

5. Who makes up the core audience for the proposed book?
Describe your ideal buyer in detail. Include a discussion on why they will find your book appealing. Describe the problem they have and the payoff or solution you are offering this specific group of …

5 Myths About Writing a Cookbook
5 Myths About Writing a Cookbook

Writing a cookbook should not be a mysterious process. Also, writing a cookbook is not a project available only to celebrities and TV stars. If you have a passion about baking, nutrition, special diets, or cooking, and you have an audience who needs something you know about, then you can write a cookbook. Based on my experience with both my own and other author’s cookbook projects I’d like to dispel a few myths about writing a cookbook.

Myth #1
I need to have a successful food blog before I write a cookbook.

While a food blog might help with promotion of a cookbook or it may provide the way that you connect with your audience, you do not have to have one prior to writing a cookbook. I have written two cookbooks, and am under contract for two more books, and I don’t have a food blog. I tried to start a food blog once, but it did not take long before I realized that I didn’t enjoy food photography. Also, I am interested more in cooking and building my business than I am in taking the time to learn how to photograph food. There are other cookbook authors who do not have a food blog. However, even if you don’t have a food blog, what you do need is a platform. This is how you connect with your audience and how your audience connects with you. If you are a consultant, speaker, cooking or baking teacher, food or nutrition writer, you have a connection with an audience even without a food blog. Agents and publishers like robust platforms, but this is not always specifically a food blog.

Myth #2
I cannot write a book because someone has already written about my topic.

Let’s put this myth to rest. Take a trip to a local bookstore or the Food, Cooking, and Wine section of cookbooks on and look at how many Italian cookbooks or cookie books or Paleo diet books are published and in print. Even if your topic has been written about before, there is room for you and your unique spin on the subject. That is the difference between your book and everyone else’s book – YOU! -and your unique approach to the topic. Insert yourself in any topic you write about and provide for your audience what they want and need in a way only you can. No one has written that book before.

Are You Ready to Write a Cookbook- Download an 11-point checklist and find out.



Myth #3
I must have my cookbook published by a major publisher.

There are several routes to the publication of a cookbook. Large publishers look for authors with extensive, robust platforms. If you have that, then a larger publisher with nationwide distribution may be for you. However, I’d argue that small, regional publishers are worthy of your cookbook proposal as well. Smaller publishers create beautiful cookbooks generally on more regionally focused topics that are popular such as micro-cuisines as evidenced by the rise in interest in books about Appalachian cuisine …

Is My Cookbook Concept Good Enough?
Is My Cookbook Concept Good Enough?


It’s not uncommon for aspiring cookbook authors to worry that their cookbook concept won’t be “good enough”. They think they’ll spend a lot of  time writing a cookbook and no one except their mother will want to buy it. Along those same lines, other aspiring cookbook authors fear that even if they think they have a great idea for a cookbook someone else will publish a cookbook on the same topic before they finish theirs. When I wrote my first cookbook, I initially felt the same way and asked myself will anyone care about my topic? I even had a publisher ready to accept my manuscript and I still felt that way.

These concerns are real: fear that your cookbook concept isn’t “good enough” and fear that someone else will write the book you want to write. Even if you feel this way, it’s important that you move forward. Pick the idea you want to write about and then get going. Take action. Write your book. Now, that’s a little simplistic, but much of our fear leads us to inaction. We get stuck and we don’t act. Because I’m not an agent, or a publisher or acquisitions editor, I can’t say for sure what topic is “good enough”. But, I do know that you can work to get over your fears. Here are my suggestions for overcoming the self-doubt you may feel as you work to write your cookbook.

1. Identify your audience and learn what they want. Everyone who has a business, or a blog, or an idea for a cookbook should have a target audience in mind. That audience needs and wants certain things. Hopefully, you are in touch them, and you know what cooking information, or types of recipes, they want. Even if your audience is your family, and you want to write a family cookbook, you should know what they want. If you maintain a blog, you have a built-in following of people who like your style and the topics you blog about. They will get excited if you write a cookbook because you’ll meet their needs in this book. If you don’t already have a built-in audience then, the first step is to identify a group of people and find out what they want in a cookbook. Create a following for your work, and then these fans will embrace your cookbook concept when you develop it.

2. Solve a common kitchen-related problem. Our kitchens are fraught with mistakes waiting to happen and opportunities for us to educate our audience about food, cooking, baking, or nutrition. Maybe your audience doesn’t know how to use cast-iron cookware or how to bake at high-altitudes. Maybe they want to know more about how to use a pressure-cooker to cook economically and healthfully. Guess what? You can teach them. Take the time to select a challenge your fans can identify with and develop your book around your solution to their problem. Keep in mind that feeling better, saving money, …

Writing a Cookbook Proposal - 5 Tips for Success
Writing a Cookbook Proposal - 5 Tips for Success

Every cookbook needs to have a specific audience defined. Be it men, women, school-age children, older adults, newly retired executives, experienced cooks, newlyweds, home chefs, or bakers, your cookbook needs to speak to a specific audience. When you keep this audience in mind, your message will be on-target and the audience won’t believe how much they can learn from you and how much you can help them. So what about when you write your cookbook proposal? Who do you write that for?

When you write your cookbook proposal, the target audience is not the same audience as your cookbook. Your proposal audience is an agent and/or an editor at a publishing house. Your job in a cookbook proposal is to speak to that agent and/or editor and WOW them with your cookbook idea. Your proposal not only packages, but delivers, your cookbook concept in a neat, clear, concise, and hopefully unforgettable, document. Think of your proposal as a tool to educate someone about your book idea. If they read the proposal they’ll know everything they need to know about you and your awesome cookbook idea. So, how can you do this?

Here are 5 tips for success with your cookbook proposal.

1. When you write your proposal always keep agents and editors in mind. Answer any question you think they would have about you, your topic, your platform, and your book idea. You are selling your book idea to them. You want them to lay awake at night and think of your cookbook idea and how you are the best person to write about this idea.

2. The proposal must showcase your best writing skills. This is done through how you write the proposal and how you express yourself in you book’s introduction, sample chapter, and in the several tested recipes you provide. Make your proposal an enjoyable read. Through your writing, and the way you express yourself in the proposal, the agent and/or editor must get an example of your ability to write clearly. Convince them of your ability to deliver your cookbook concept through your narrative and recipes.

3. When formatting your proposal check to see if your agent and/or the publishing house where you plan to submit offers style guidelines to format the proposal. If they have guidelines be sure to  follow them to a “T”. If guidelines are not available, format the proposal in 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, or another widely acceptable font- style. Include a footer with page numbers and 1-inch margins. Skip elaborate design and stylized fonts unless you have a compelling reason to do so. Avoid  “fluffing” up a proposal with fancy binding or random food images unless you want to include sample photography. Keep the proposal simple and keep it focused.

4. Make sure your proposal is clear, to the point, well-formatted, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  If writing and grammar is not your skill, partner with a collaborator, but disclose the collaboration to the agent/editor so they …

3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook
3 Ways To Not Write A Cookbook

Over the past several years I’ve enjoyed coaching clients who want to write their first cookbook. They come to me in all stages of cookbook desire, but what they all have in common is that they’ve never written a cookbook before and they have a ton of questions about where to start and how to get published.  In my programs and private coaching we work through the questions and the obstacles they face. Most of them make good progress on their projects and hone in on their cookbook concept and content. I’m so proud that an attendee of a recent program signed her first cookbook contract. Through the program they learned the essential ingredients of writing a cookbook and when the request for a proposal came she kicked into action and wrote her proposal. Now that the proposal has been accepted, she’s working on a deadline to complete her manuscript.

The secret to her success has been all about taking action. She took a class, wrote a proposal, and is now writing a manuscript. She didn’t sit back and talk about her project and hope it would happen. In honor of my client’s cookbook contract, I’d like to share my 3 sure-fire ways to NOT write your cookbook:

1. Wait for inspiration

One way to not write your cookbook is to wait for inspiration before you write. This means, if you don’t feel inspired, just go ahead and take a break from writing. Instead, wait for the rush of ideas to come and the words to flow – wait for the magical writing fairy dust!

The problem with this is that those times seldom produce a large quantity of work and they don’t come frequently. Dedicated writers know that they can’t wait for inspiration before they write. They commit to writing whether they “feel” like it or not. Then, once they show up at the computer or notebook, inspiration pokes its head in the door and the writing gets done. In the end, it’s impossible to tell the difference between work that comes easy to an author and those paragraphs which an aspiring author rewrote numerous times. For that reason every aspiring author must make a habit out of showing up to write on a consistent basis, whether they feel inspired or not. Without a habit of writing, or creating content for your book, your project won’t move along.

2. Wait for permission

Another way to not write your cookbook is to wait for permission before you take action on your idea. In fact, be sure to try to get approval from everyone that you think matters – your friends, your spouse, your sisters – before you move forward. If for some reason they don’t like your idea then put your cookbook dream on hold. Ignore the excitement you feel about your idea because it’s not good enough. Others said it’s not good and because they know better, go ahead and stop.

The problem here is that there are really …

How To Write A Cookbook: Don’t Quit Before You Start
How To Write A Cookbook: Don’t Quit Before You Start

This story is about Felicia and Grant, two aspiring cookbook authors. Both Felicia and Grant think to themselves, “I’d like to write a cookbook. I’m not a cookbook author yet, but I am good at cooking, food messages, and the practice of translating food and ingredients into recipes that resonate with my audience. Plus, I connect well with people, and I enjoy writing about cooking. I love cookbooks and sharing recipes with others. Those I share my recipes with love the food they prepare, and this gives me great joy.” Both of their stories starts the same.

The next day, they both wake up and think, “Maybe I can write a cookbook. I have an idea and an audience who will love the work I produce. They already love my blog, or are thriving in my nutrition practice and they are always asking me recipes. It seems, though, like writing a cookbook is a massive project and seems difficult. Where do I even start? I feel confused. What do I do first? I’ve never done this before. Who would even care? I’m not a Food Network star, and I don’t write for a major food publication. Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? My cookbook won’t be as good as all those other cookbooks I see for sale anyway, and what if there’s a mistake in the book? I will look foolish, and people who hate my book and my mistakes will laugh at me behind my back.

The next day, Felicia decides never mind. I can’t do it. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough energy. I don’t know what to write my cookbook about. I don’t have enough money to hire anyone to help answer my questions. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. No one will care. I don’t want to figure the process. I don’t think I’ll write a cookbook.

That same day Grant goes on to decide never mind about all that. I can do it. I will schedule time to work on the project. I will take care of myself and manage my energy so that I have all the I need to work on the project. If needed I will invest money in myself and my project and get questions answered. I will figure this out. I’m not afraid of the effort. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. I can develop new skills such as perseverance. I realize effort is part of the journey and with the effort, I can do something new. I’m not going to let my fear of making a mistake stop me. I am committed to this project and to reaching my goal. I am willing to do what it takes and feel excited about the result.

The End of Their Stories

The final result for Felicia and Grant is entirely different. Felicia is still not a cookbook author. She didn’t write her cookbook. She quit before she started. She let …

5 Questions to Ask Before Writing A Cookbook
5 Questions to Ask Before Writing A Cookbook

Writing cookbooks has been a rewarding experience for me both personally and professionally, and the fact that I’ve repeated the process more than once is a testimony to the fact that I believe in the process. I also know that good things happen when you write a cookbook. Examples from my experience are enhanced creditably, expanded professional opportunities to speak and teach, and heightened self-awareness related to time and energy management and procrastination,  not to mention the benefit my readers receive from using my cookbooks. That in and of itself is almost reason enough!

While writing cookbooks is rewarding, such a project isn’t for the faint of heart and in most cases requires a team of dedicated professionals. The pre-publication involves you as the author and perhaps a book coach, agent, acquisitions editor, recipe tester(s), and maybe even a ghost writer. The publishing of the book requires a copy editor, designer, photographer, indexer, printer, distributor, marketer, and sales person.

As the author, you decide which publishing method best aligns with your goals – either become an independent publisher and hire the professionals to do all phases of the publishing yourself or work with a publisher who handles most of the publication tasks on your behalf.

Let’s assume you have the skills, passion, and knowledge required to write about a topic and you have your cookbook concept clearly defined. You still may wonder if you have what it takes to write a cookbook and what else you many need to consider.

Here are five questions you can ask yourself before you decide to write your own cookbook. If you have a handle on these items, then the work that follow during the pre-publication and publication phases will be easier to manage. This helps to ensure the best possible outcome of writing you own cookbook and getting it published.

1. Who am I writing my cookbook for?

Be sure you specifically know who you are writing your book for. Here are three common cookbook audiences:

Family and friends – I suspect that if you want to write a cookbook, you’re an experienced cook or baker, and as a result have recipes to share. Your family loves your home-cooked meals, and your friends think you’re the go-to person to bring a signature casserole or cake to a party or get-together. They all want you to share your recipes, and you know this because they’re always asking you for your recipes.

You may be wondering if these reasons are compelling enough reasons to write a cookbook? Yes, it’s a good enough reason. Your audience is on the small side, but they are important. Your recipes and style of cooking for friends and family need to be preserved. Plus, if they’ve asked for recipes, they will enjoy recreating the dishes you make when they cook for their friends, move to their apartment, head off to college, start their family, etc., a cookbook written for them will fill that need.

Clients or customers – If you …

The Power of Showing Up
The Power of Showing Up

One thing I’m going to try this year is to use the phrase show up to define my actions. With projects that need my focused attention, as well as activities in other parts of my life and business that are important, I think there will be great benefit from the daily reminder to show up in everything I plan to do. For example, If I promise I’ll call someone, schedule lunch or coffee, send an email, finish a project, attend a function or party, or sign a contract, it’s important for the sake of personal integrity and business relationships that I do what I say I’m going to do.

Accountability and dependability have always been important to me, and I work hard to be accountable and dependable with others. At the core of who I am, I don’t like to others down. The sad reality, though, is that I often let myself down. I think about doing something for myself, or dream of a personal goal, and I might not follow through, or if I do, it’s not with the best of what I can give. So I wonder if I can’t count on myself, who can I count on?

I see this challenge too when I work with individuals who want to write a cookbook. When they get into the work of writing recipes or a proposal, they don’t show up for themselves. They end up working on other projects and meet other deadlines for everyone else, but they fail to commit to their own project and dream. Even after discussions about time management, planning, and using a calendar to schedule time to take action, they use the scheduled time to work on their project. In short, they didn’t show up.

This idea of showing up for ourselves can have more than one meaning, and both were discussed at length in a podcast I recently listened to. In the The Life CoachSchool podcast with Brooke Castillo, Brooke stresses the importance of showing up for ourselves in two main areas: how we present ourselves, especially when we work alone part of the day, as well as how we plan and schedule our goals and show up to get the work done to accomplish our goals. Below is the link to these two podcasts.

I plan to get 2017 off to a good start and set my goals for the year. I then plan to schedule what I need to do and show up to do the work.  In doing this, I hope to accomplish all that I set out to do in 2017 not only for my clients but also for myself. 

Podcast #84 Showing Up discusses the importance of caring for ourselves and presenting our best self every day. Don’t listen to this if you’re in the “work in your pajamas”camp.

Podcast #126 The Power of Planning discusses the importance of planning and the elimination of indecision in our actions to show up and do everything we plan and …

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

If 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.

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, …