interesting cookbook

Interesting Cookbook: 10 Tips for a Great One

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

May 22, 2024

Want to publish an interesting cookbook? Cookbooks are popular with readers, and they’re a popular choice for first-time writers. If you have unique recipes and a fresh approach, you can write an interesting cookbook that will stand out among the others. Here are 10 tips to help you create your own interesting cookbook.

1. Decide What Kind of Cookbook You’re Writing

If you enjoy cooking and sharing recipes, you can write and publish an interesting cookbook. It all starts with deciding what kind of cookbook you want to create.

Family cookbook

This gathers your family’s favorite recipes, many of which have been handed down for generations and served at every holiday and gathering. Self-publishing is the best route to publishing this type of book because you’re not concerned with selling it to the wider public or getting it accepted at a commercial publisher.

Self-publishing could be as simple as putting together some photocopied and stapled pages, or it could be a full-color, self-published book that sits on your family bookshelf. A family cookbook is a family heirloom that deserves to be cherished.

Fundraising cookbook

Hundreds of these cookbooks are published every year. Charitable organizations, schools, and churches regularly self-publish them as fundraiser tools. They’re hot sellers with members of the organization and others in the community. People wait for each year’s edition, and that built-in popularity makes them good for raising money.

Working with a group of people that are united toward the same cause means you’re working with a pool of cooks who are happy to contribute their favorite recipes for an interesting cookbook. These are often recipes repeatedly tested in their home kitchens or handed down from generations. Many contributors offer funny stories about how they came across the recipes. Self-publishing is the right choice for a fundraising or community cookbook.

Cookbook aimed at the public

If you want a cookbook that reaches as wide an audience as possible, you may want to publish a cookbook with mass appeal. Unlike family or fundraising cookbooks, this one is designed to attract regular cookbook buyers and reach some commercial success. Some authors have success self-publishing this type of cookbook. Others find success by going through a commercial publishing house.

If you want to publish a popular interesting cookbook, you must know what sells. You must also be prepared to produce a high-quality book with professionally designed layout, photos, and cover.

2. Develop a Concept for Your Interesting Cookbook

You may have hundreds or thousands of recipes. How do you choose the ones that will go into your book? You may feel overwhelmed, but in truth, it’s easy to choose the right ones if you have a clear, focused concept of what you want your interesting cookbook to be.

Is it a collection of your favorite, time-tested reliable recipes? Is it centered around a certain theme, like cooking for the holidays or cooking outdoors? Try to think about your ideal reader. What kind of cooking do they enjoy? How can you best help them achieve their goals?

Trends in eating and cooking are like those in fashion. They come and go, with each one having a shining moment when they’re all the rage. Interesting cookbook trends have followed the public’s relentless obsessions with foams, kale, cupcakes, vegetable noodles, gluten-free baking, comfort food, haute cuisine, deconstructed dishes, and more. Cookbook writers who got in on those trends could count on high sales for those interesting cookbooks.

As a cookbook writer, you can’t be expected to keep up with every passing trend, but it’s important to know what current buyers are looking for. You need to know what the average reader is looking for and what they consider an interesting cookbook.

4. Know What Cookbook Buyers Want

According to surveys by cookbook publishers, the top-selling cookbooks currently are those that focus on:

  • Fast, simple recipes that anyone can follow.
  • Commonly available and inexpensive ingredients.
  • Wholesome, unfussy family meals.
  • Baking, especially bread and desserts.

Look at the top-selling cookbook titles of 2024 according to Amazon:

  • Half-Baked Harvest Super Simple: Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Food
  • Once Upon a Chef: 70 Quick-Fix Weeknight Dinners and 30 Luscious Weekend Recipes
  • Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals
  • Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
  • Fix It and Forget It: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes

If your recipes fit these trends, you are in luck. Your cookbook should appeal to a wide range of buyers looking for simple, wholesome recipes.

5. Develop a Concept for Your Interesting Cookbook

Once you have an idea of the type of cookbook you’re writing, you are ready to start planning it. Gather all the recipes you want to use, and begin sorting through them to find those that fit your theme.

6. Organize Your Recipes

The best cookbooks are well-organized. If you’re writing an all-purpose cookbook, you should have the traditional sections:

  • Appetizers
  • Main Courses
  • Salads
  • Soups and Stews
  • Desserts
  • Breads and Rolls

If your recipe is focused on baking, you may want to use categories like breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, pie crust, and quick breads. Your chapter titles depend on the recipes you plan to publish. Good organization will make your interesting cookbook easy to use.

7. Test Every Recipe

One of the time-consuming but necessary steps in creating a cookbook is to test every recipe. Your best recipes may be reliable for you, but you still need to test them to make sure the average person can follow them and get the same results.

When you try each recipe, make note of any facts or pointers that you use to make it successful. For instance, is there an ingredient you forgot to include on the list? Make sure it makes it onto the final version. Is there a trick to save time on one of the steps? Are there any cleaning tips for the equipment the recipe uses? Include that information in a “notes” section for each recipe. This is valuable information that readers appreciate.

The elements of a good recipe are:

  • Clear, simple language
  • Accurate measurements
  • Accurate cooking times
  • Helpful notes and pointers

8. Write the Recipes

Take your tested recipes, and write each one out. Follow the standard recipe format of listing the ingredients first and the steps second.

Be sure each recipe is clearly laid out, and be sure you’ve included any tips and pointers that make the recipe easier to follow. A well-written recipe is clear, exact, and focused on helping the user get to a delicious, finished product.

9. Take Pictures

Pictures are necessary in every cookbook. You want people to see what the finished recipe looks like. A picture also provides users with a serving suggestion for each recipe.

If you’re writing for the public and hoping for high sales of your cookbook, you must use professional photographers. You may have to pay for a food designer who will make the finished recipes look as tempting as possible.

10. Hire Professionals

The beautiful photos of recipes that appear in your favorite cookbook—or your favorite recipe website—have been put together by professionals who specialize in food display and photography. Don’t stint on this if you want to publish in the commercial market. If you have a contract with a professional publishing house, they will pay for these services as part of the production.

Family and fundraising cookbooks don’t need the same high-quality food images. You can use graphics from free illustration sites, photos of contributors, or drawings and paintings by members of your organization. One cat shelter, for instance, used pictures of the shelter cats “cooking” the recipes. You can make your recipe book fun and lively, even if you’re working with a small budget.

You Can Publish an Interesting Cookbook

If you’re a skilled cook, you have what it takes to create a cookbook that intrigues and delights your readers. With careful organization and some attention to detail, you can produce a useful book that users turn to when trying to decide what to cook. If you’re self-publishing a family or fundraising cookbook, check out the affordable printing rates at Publishing Xpress.

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