How to Self-Publish a Cookbook

1. Determine Your Cookbook Topic (and Make Sure It’s Good)

If you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance you already know what you’d like to write a cookbook about. But even if you don’t, that’s okay! A great place to start your brainstorm is to look at your most popular content, whether that’s a blog post, email, or social media post, and see if there’s a common theme across the top 10 or 20 pieces.

2. Test Your Recipes (and Have Others Test Them, Too)

Once you’ve got your topic set, it’s time to start thinking up the recipes you’ll include and testing them. I recommend that your cookbook have a minimum of 50 recipes. You’ll want to test these recipes yourself until you’re very happy with the results and then ask others to test them.

3. Write, write, write!

Typically, we don’t think of cookbooks for the writing, but there’s actually quite a bit of written content in them! You’ll be writing: – The front matter (introductory content) – Chapter introductions – Headnotes – Acknowledgments – Maybe more, depending on the time of book you’re writing! Especially if you’re doing a memoir style cookbook.

4. Photography

If you’re self-publishing, there’s a good chance you’re doing your own food photography. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive to hire it out! However, this is something you can look into if you’d like to.

Listen to me: this is one thing you HAVE to hire out! Other people are going to be able to catch things you can’t, and something that is clear to you may be gibberish to someone else.

6. Graphic Design

Once you have the recipes finished, the photography shot, and everything edited, it’s time to put it all together into a book! When you’re self-publishing, you’re essentially creating a giant PDF. And if you’re anything like me, you want this PDF (and therefore your book) to be pretty!

7. Self-Publishing Platforms and Distribution

I highly recommend using print on demand (POD) platforms when self-publishing. With print on demand, the platform is entirely responsible for printing and fulfillment, which means you won’t have a garage full of cookbooks that you’ve paid up front for and are really, really hoping you sell.

8. Marketing and PR

Besides creating a kickass cookbook, the marketing and PR may be the most important step in this whole process. This is likely a big reason you chose to create a cookbook: to get your name out there and to get recognition! You should be working on your marketing and PR plan months before you plan to release your cookbook, as you’ll want some things lined up for launch week.

Self-publishing a cookbook can be a lot of work, but it is so rewarding. If you’re looking for a little extra help, check out the Cookbook Lab and watch my on-demand webinar where we dive even deeper into the self-publishing process.