Let’s Get Cooking: Tips for Writing a Cookbook
Cookbook writing may seem like a simple task, but actually it is not. Writing a good cookbook does not mean simply putting pages and pages of recipes together and writing your name on the cover. It requires the writer to be highly creative and articulate. Cookbooks may be particularly hard to write because they need the writer to be clear, so that readers can follow the instructions easily. If the instructions are sloppy and not in any order, that might turn the reader off completely.
If you are considering writing your own cookbook, the assumption is that you have read many other cookbooks before; if that’s the case then you’ve got a head start on your research. If you haven’t been reading up, then this is the time to start. Read as many different cookbooks as possible, as this will give you a good idea of the many themes and styles of writing out there.
The cookbook market is huge and ever growing, so here are three tips on cookbook writing that can help you along your journey:
1. Use personal experience
As previously mentioned, a cookbook is not just a compilation of recipes. It is a story in its own right. So, include your personal experiences with food and cooking in the book. Perhaps your family comes from a different country to that in which you currently reside, or you have a creative knack for making desserts, or you prefer writing about the different foods you enjoyed when you were young. The possibilities are endless. From Rachel Rae and Jamie Oliver to Nigella Lawson, all of them add their own flare, taste and character to their cookbooks, and that’s what has made them such huge successes. Different families have different cooking traditions, so adding your personality to your cookbook can put you at an advantage.
2. Find a theme and run with it
A book about your personal experiences with food is not a tightly focused theme. When you think about your theme, tighten it up to a single event or period in your life that inspired the food you write about. It could be that you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure and come from an African-American background where soul food is the order of the day. Your book could then be themed around cooking healthy but delicious soul food. A tightly focused theme will excite book editors and reader alike.
A focused theme will also make creating things like the cover and the overall design much easier.
3. Putting it all together
Once you have found the theme, then the writing and collecting of recipes should commence. The language and tone in which the each recipe is written is important. Consistency in the writing is also important, for instance, you cannot write ‘1 teaspoon’ in one recipe and then write ‘1 tsp’ in the next.
This is where the creativity should kick in. You can group the recipes in whichever way you want and you can add little personal notes above or below each recipe.
Make sure you get your book edited by someone else before you submit it to a publishing house. The last thing you want is a cookbook that looks sloppy and unprofessional. Other things to consider include the title of the book and of the individual recipes, the order in which the recipes appear, clarity of methods, portion and measuring consistency, and the photos.
There are many different types of cookbooks out there, from pizza cookbooks, dessert cookbooks, pastry cookbooks, and low-fat cookbooks to cookbooks for kids. So what are you waiting for? You could be sitting on a classic!
Written by Zimasa Mpemnyama
Image credit:Tom Taker (shoutabyss), CC By 2.0, via Flickr