Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What to expect when you write a Cookbook...

I wrote a cookbook. It turned into a wild ride, taking much longer than the 6 months I had originally slated for it to take. The original idea was to dump all of my baking recipes into one place for my friends and family to be able to go fetch without me having to ship off recipes via emails to folks around the globe.

Easy enough, or so I thought. I couldn't have been more wrong. So I thought I'd give others thinking of doing the same a heads-up.

One, I elected to create it in an eBook format and sell it for just 99 cents, I figured my friends and family could afford that, and I picked Kindle as that was available to everyone. I thought it would be easy enough to convert to a PDF. The conversion was the easy part, dealing with the fact that Kindle formats didn't handle tabs or tables properly made the formatting that much more difficult. It took me more than a week just to get the basic formatting down.

Two, you will need a cover and pictures of your final product. I suck at photography, lucky for me I have a couple of good friends who are photographers that were willing to do a barter deal, saving me some cash. I still had to put out some cash for the cover formatting to do the title placement. That was still one of the cheaper parts of creating the cookbook.  Take a look, I think it was worth it.


Three, you will spend lots and lots of money on groceries if you actually test your recipes to verify measurements, cooking time and temperatures. And it will be more than you estimate.

Four, expect to gain weight. Warn your friends and family that they will gain weight as you will most likely push your goodies on them for taste testing. Make sure you pick people who will tell you the truth - good, bad, or puke-worthy. You will need honest opinions, otherwise how will you know what to fix in your recipe?

Five, marketing your book will consume much of your time once it's finally on line for purchase.

Six, expect to find mistakes even after you proof your book, have your mother who holds a degree in English and is an exceptional proof reader gets her hand on it. I just realized that I forgot to tell folks when to add blueberries into the batter for my blueberry muffin recipe. So now I'm back to fixing the Kindle and CreateSpace versions.

Seven, people will want a physical copy in a format that isn't offered on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. That's were Lulu and Staples come in handy. You will become fast friends with the printing folks at Staples if you keep one of the "perfect" copies on hand to show them how the final product should look.

Eight, at some point an invisible sign will appear above your head that screams out "Ask the Baker" to everyone but you. Plan to spend more time in the baking aisle at your favorite store answering random shoppers questions. Things like "Is this the right cocoa for brownies?", "What kind of strawberries go on cheesecake?", "What's the difference between these two?" (it could be vanilla extract, cinnamon, flour, et.al.), "Will olive oil work the same as vegetable oil?", to name a few.

You may even find yourself intervening on a young man's plans to make his girlfriend some "homemade cookies" from a package. Instead you give him a brief baking lesson, hand him a bag of your favorite chocolate chips, point out the recipe on the back, explain the finer points of flours and sugars, and tell him he will do just fine and his girlfriend will love the cookies. Expect to see that young man again, only this time he wants to make a cake and wants to know how to make something from scratch.

Nine, you will be asked to make new recipes based on certain flavors or ingredients, or given suggestions for new recipes - which may or may not work out well. And when the cookbook is done, you'll be asked when the next one is coming out.

I'm glad I wrote one, it was a good lesson in self publishing and a crash course in formatting. But - no - I will not write another one for publication.


No comments: