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Self-Published Cookbook Business Idea

Learning how to self publish a cookbook is a great way to share your passion for great recipes with others while also starting your own business. Your cookbook can contain a variety of general recipes or focus on specialties such as meal courses, regional cuisine, or recipes for healthy-conscious cooks. With a variety of self-publishing tools and platforms available, the type of cookbook you choose to publish is really only dependent on you customer demand and your own creativity.

While learning how to self publish a cookbook isn’t an easy guarantee for success, eliminating the traditional publisher can help you get your book on the market faster while also keeping a greater share of proceeds from the sale of your cookbooks.

How To Self Publish A Cookbook: First Steps

It sounds obvious, but many would-be cookbook authors forget that the first part of self-publishing their cookbook is to create a cookbook manuscript of their recipes. Make sure that you include an introduction to tell your readers about your cookbook’s theme. You should give consideration to how best layout your table of contents. Organizing your recipe contents and making it easy for readers to find the recipes they want is also something you should do in the beginning. You can always refine how your recipes are best organized as you work through the cookbook.

You should also give your cookbook a personal touch. This is another beauty of self-publishing. You have more creative control and can add a highly personal touch to your recipe content. Consider adding interesting anecdotes for each recipe such as a fun story of when you first made the recipe. You could also add fun-facts about some of the ingredients for each dish. Use your imagination!

When first learning how to self publish a cookbook, you’ll also need to choose the software you’ll use to create your cookbook. There are a variety of options available to you.

Likely the least expensive software program for you to use while creating your cookbook manuscript is Microsoft Word. Part of the basic Microsoft Office suite, you may already have this software program on your home computer. Word can be somewhat limited if you have complex recipe layouts. Once you write a couple of recipes, you should know whether Word will work for you or not.

Using Adobe InDesign or Quark Express are more expensive options for how to self publish a cookbook. These products are extremely powerful publishing tools and provide you with more capabilities than a standard word processing product such as Word. If you’re new to these tools, there is a steep learning curve. There’s online training available or you could also hire someone to help you format your recipes in the software.

How To Self Publish A Cookbook: Writing It

Think about the theme around which you will build your cookbook. Your theme can be as obvious as chocolate desserts or different types of barbecue or it can be more general. Especially for self-publishers, your cookbook will have the greatest chance for success if you focus on a specialty niche that isn’t already saturated with other cookbooks of the same format.

Before writing your cookbook, create a template that you will use across all of your recipes. Every recipe in your cookbook should be in the same format. A typical recipe template could look like:

  • Recipe title
  • Brief introduction or story about the recipe
  • Preparation time
  • Cooking time
  • Cleanup time
  • Serving quantity
  • Nutritional information
  • Ingredients list
  • Steps for preparing the recipe
  • Tips for success

You can use the USDA National Nutrient Database to calculate the nutritional data for each of your recipes.

Publishing Your Cookbook

Before you formally publish your cookbook, make sure to proofread the contents carefully. Ask for help from friends and family to not only proofread the recipes but also try them out as well. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on the clarity of the recipe steps and any other suggestions your friends may have.

While your recipes are being proofread, you can spend some time creating the cover for your cookbook. It should be eye catching and professional in appearance. If you’re better at cooking than at graphic design, consider hiring someone to help you create the cover.

Learning how to self publish a cookbook requires that you figure out how and to whom you intend to market your cookbook. Your marketing plan will dictate the types of publishing formats you choose.

If you intend to sell your cookbook in smaller venues such as local fairs or farmers markets, you can probably get by publishing through a local copy shop such as Kinko’s. For larger volumes, you can work with a number of full-service publishers that specialize in helping independent authors. Check out companies like Lulu or for self-publishing options. Larger print shops in your area may also offer book publishing services. Check around for the best prices for the services you need.

Possibly the easiest way to publish and market your cookbook is online. Doing so will require that you have a website to promote your cookbook. But the publishing process for this approach literally requires only a couple mouse clicks. Using a PDF publishing tool like Adobe Acrobat, you can quickly convert your recipe manuscript into a PDF file that people can purchase and download from your site.

Growing Your Cookbook Business

If you enjoyed learning how to self publish a cookbook and had some success at it, you may start thinking about how to grow your gourmet publishing empire. It’s certainly fun to think about! If you’d like to take your cookbook enterprise to the next level, consider the following expansion ideas:

  • Build out a website that lists your recipes online. You’ll likely not charge people to access your recipes but can certainly make money selling advertising or promoting your other products for purchase.
  • Continue to self-publish additional cookbooks that build on the success of your first.
  • Open a cooking school.
  • If your popularity really explodes, you could even consider starting your own cooking show on television!

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