Creating a cookbook: the do’s and don’t’s

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

Creating a cookbook can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding. There are so many different aspects to consider during the production process to ensure your vision comes to life, which can undoubtedly become overwhelming. To help, here are a few tips from whitefox to keep in mind on your cookbook journey:

DO have an existing audience and platform from which you can promote your book. This could be a blog, a social media account, an online course, an extensive network of clients and so on. Research what platforms your target audience is present on and make sure you’re on them too!

DON’T make the idea for your book too specific or too general. Instead, find your place on the sliding scale of how original the concept of your book needs to be. If you have a large, loyal following then you can lean more towards the general as you already have people waiting to read your book. If your platform is slightly smaller then you need to edge closer to a niche idea that fills a gap in the market. Most concepts will typically fall somewhere in between the two.

DO establish a concept and direction. Cookbooks are so much more than simply a collection of recipes. They should take the reader on a journey, guiding them through your recipes with a personal narrative and having them revolve around a special theme. What is the purpose of your book? Who will read it? How do you want it to look and feel? Who do you want to collaborate with in order to achieve your vision? Gain some clarity before you start by making sure you know the answer to these questions.

DON’T just select random recipes. It’s not good enough to simply fill a book with recipes you like. They need to tie effortlessly together so your reader isn’t jumping from one extreme to the other. Make sure they are relevant to your book’s theme and that they are categorised appropriately so the reader can discover exactly what they are looking for with little searching.

creating a cookbook

DO pay attention to the details. Whether you’re specifying what type and size of onion to use or the amount of chilli to add, put yourself in the shoes of your reader and ask yourself what they need to know to create the best result. Don’t leave them guessing. But be careful not to be pedantic or overcomplicate things too as it may cause them to give up completely.

DON’T make your recipes too unapproachable. What might be easy for you to cook, may not be for the average home cook who won’t have lots of fancy equipment or access to unusual ingredients. Travel back to your humble beginnings and choose or adapt recipes that can be achieved with the basics in a realistic amount of time.

DO expect lots of revisions. Editing is a huge part of the publishing process. A first draft is never perfect, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your editor is there to help you achieve the best possible version of your book so it may take a few attempts to polish and revise it. Rather than going on the defensive, view their feedback as constructive, not personal. Remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve and listen to the professionals.

DON’T hesitate to ask any questions. There is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your passion project. This is a new venture you’re embarking on, something potentially completely unknown to you, so of course you’ll have a question or two. Reach out to other authors and ask them about their experience, most will be more than happy to offer any writing tips or insight into the industry. Contact publishing professionals too, ask them about what is involved in the process and if they can offer you any advice at this stage. It takes courage to ask for a bit of help, but you’ll feel so much better once you do so.

creating a cookbook

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Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.