As a member of the Cookbook Writers Group on LinkedIn I enjoy connecting with cookbook authors around the world who are willing to share their cookbook publishing journeys. Beverly Noble is an author I connected with on LinkedIn. She self-published her book and used a print broker when it was time to get her book printed. She also worked with her husband on the photography for the book. All of this shows someone who wants to write a cookbook that self-publishing is doable.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you wanted to write a cookbook?
I have been cooking for family and friends since I was 8 and received a child’s cookbook for a birthday present. I was so proud to make a real meal for the family (with a little coaching from Mom, of course!) I started collecting recipes in my 20s, and soon after creating my own variations. Later, my husband’s illness caused me to review old favorites, and modify them. I started to just make a simple handout for family and friends, then it grew into a series of “real” cookbooks. I fell in love with the flavor of fresh fruit when my family moved from Alaska to California. We had grown up on canned fruit, other than a brief wild berry season in the fall. So tasting fresh strawberries, peaches, and cherries for the first time was incredible. Later, I lived in the central valley of California, surrounded by acres of farms which supply most of America with fresh fruit. The abundance and availability inspired me to find new uses beyond the desserts which neither my husband or myself could eat.
What is the name of your cookbook?
A Lifetime of Recipes: Fabulous Fresh Fruit. I’m currently working on A Lifetime of Recipes: Love Thy Veggies.
Is this your first cookbook?
Who is the audience for you cookbook?
People who want to reduce their use of commercial sauces and prepared food products and start cooking from scratch.
Did you have a food blog prior to writing your cookbook?
What advice do you have for an aspiring cookbook author who wants to self-publish a cookbook?
Think about the marketing before you start, and develop a plan. Get professional help if you don’t have any marketing experience. Be very clear as to who your target market is, how they like to communicate, and the contacts you have within that community. If you are computer savvy, Adobe’s InDesign is a great program to turn a word document into a press-ready book. Cookbooks need pictures! We couldn’t afford a professional photographer, so my husband took the pictures and used Photoshop for cropping and to re-format from RGB to CMYK. Consider taking a class or two at a community college to learn the software; it will save you time, money, and headaches!
Can you explain more regarding the photography about “re-format from RGB to CMYK”?
Regarding photography: There are two main formats, RGB and CMYK. RGB (red, green, blue) is what your camera or computer monitor uses; most digital cameras record at 72 dpi (dots per inch) and large dimensions, maybe 20 inches by 30 inches. But for printing, presses use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), four colors instead of three. 72 dpi will look very grainy; at least 240 dpi is needed, and 300 dpi is preferred. Most printers require CMYK photographs. So you need to change formats and dots per inch before submitting your photography or color graphics to the printer. We used Adobe Photoshop to do this; shrinking the 20×30 72 dpi photos to 5×8 gave us more than 300 dpi, and we also could change the color format with a single keystroke. We chose not to use other features of Photoshop as we wanted the colors and textures to be authentic.
Tell us what a print broker does and how you found your print broker?
We started by contacting local printers, but we just couldn’t afford their prices. An online search led me to print brokers, and to the woman who worked with us at Coburn Ink. A print broker has contacts in China, Mexico, and other countries that offer offset press runs far cheaper than in the U.S. The lowest quote we got in the U.S. was $15/book for full color; we ended up printing in China for a little under $5/book, including shipping costs. In addition to the cheaper printing costs, the broker handled the import process, the FTP site where we uploaded our documents, and the proof-revision process. She also educated us in technical details of book production.
How does a print broker get paid/compensated for their work?
The print broker is paid by the printer. Even with that commission, our costs to print in China were 1/3 of the lowest United States bid we received. We had wanted to print locally, but the prices were much too high.
What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook?
Learning the technology and tools of book production. I have cooked for years, and created or adapted hundreds of recipes. But writing a book requires a whole new skill set.
What was your biggest challenge in self-publishing your cookbook?
Marketing strategies and trying to find retail outlets.
Any thoughts you’d like to share on the marketing and sales of your cookbook?
Spend a LOT of time planning your sales strategies before the book is published. If I were starting over, I would do a food blog while the book was in development.