Today I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Angela Grassi – one of my recent cookbook coaching clients. Angela is smart, energetic, and knowledgeable dietitian and she knew that she wanted to write a cookbook several years ago. I met her at a national meeting for dietitians and we talked about her cookbook dream then. Having self-published her own books before, she knew going into this project that she would also self-publish this cookbook. And no surprise – she succeeded. I hope you enjoy this interview with Angela, and her advice about writing, and self-publishing, you own cookbook!
What is the name of your cookbook?
The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS
Is this your first cookbook?
Yes! I’ve written 2 other PCOS books before but never a cookbook.
Did you have a food blog or other established platform/audience prior to writing your cookbook?
I founded the PCOS Nutrition Center where I have a blog and sell my other books. I also have a Facebook page and all the other social media outlets, so an audience was already established for some time.
What compelled you to write a cookbook?
Patients would always ask me for PCOS-friendly recipes and meal plans. There is only one other PCOS cookbook out there. The market was wide open. My cookbook focuses on whole foods and includes an introduction about what whole foods are and how they benefit PCOS.
What advice do you have for an aspiring cookbook author who wants to self-publish a cookbook?
There are so many cookbooks out there, so I would only recommend self-publishing if you already have an established audience or if your cookbook is different from anything out there.
You have to do your research to find out what you are in-store for. I had already self-published my other books so I felt comfortable publishing my cookbook. Working with Maggie helped me understand what else I needed to know about writing cookbooks like defining a style, expectations for working with my co-author who I contracted to write some recipes, and which recipe analysis software to use.
Enlist help. Don’t try to save money by thinking you can do things yourself. Hire an editor. Hire someone to help you write recipes if you need to. Take your time to find a designer that you like and feel comfortable working with. Look at other self-published authors’ covers that you like to get recommendations. Have friends and family test out recipes. It’s great being an RDN and having colleagues who can cook. I asked a few of them to contribute recipes for the cookbook.
What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook content?
I was really surprised at how much fun I was having writing my cookbook! My co-author, Natalie Zaparynski, RDN, lives a half mile away so it was fun to taste each other’s creations. The biggest challenge was finding time to write and prepare 100 recipes and retest them. I had a lot of other projects going on at the same time and was teaching. I also have 2 small boys and with the winter we had, I’m amazed this book got done!
What was your biggest challenge in self-publishing your cookbook?
Initially I only wanted to publish the cookbook in ebook formats. I didn’t want the expense of printing another book (or taking up more space in my garage with the others). Once I released it, I was surprised at how many people didn’t read e-books and wanted the paperback version. I also had a customer support nightmare when the cookbook was first released on my website because people didn’t know how to download the book to their devices and were frustrated. I had to email people instructions, depending on what device they had.
I’m now getting it ready to print and am using a print broker. I hate that my books are being printed from China, but the estimates I was getting in the U.S. were for at least $10 each book. Hard to make a profit on that, especially since Amazon and other big retailers take a significant cut.
Any thoughts you’d like to share on the marketing and sales of your cookbook?
Every self-published author will tell you the easy part is writing a book, the hardest part is selling it. You have to have a plan for how you are going to promote it even before you write it. I worked hard to get my cookbook done to release it in September, which is PCOS Awareness Month. I scheduled a pre-sale the last 2 weeks in August which helped promote the cookbook ahead of time. During September, I offered a cookbook sweepstakes to win a free copy and spoke at a national PCOS symposium. As I was writing the cookbook, I held a recipe contest with the winning recipe being featured in the cookbook. I got a good response and it was fun to see other’s creativity.
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?”.