Cookbooks are special, aren’t they? They contain so many disparate elements that it’s almost difficult to conceive of them all making a perfectly unified whole … but they do! Consider the cookbooks you have in your house. It’s likely that you have several, especially if you’re already of the mindset to write one of your own. People who are drawn to write cookbooks often enjoy using them, don’t they? In any case: pick one up and turn it over in your hands, and flip through the pages. What catches your eye?
Very likely, you’ll immediately be able to name several key features. Beautiful pictures or illustrations, easy-to-read text, interesting recipes, and an easy-to-navigate index. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, including the world-famous More With Less cookbook–a cookbook so famous that it even has its own Wikipedia page. Why would people be so fanatical about a forty-year-old cookbook with no pictures and very little flair to its recipes? Here’s a hint: it has to do with the story behind the cookbook. While images and all those other features we’ve named above are indeed critical elements of a modern cookbook, they must necessarily be accompanied by something more. And that something is the story which you are sitting down to write!
Maybe you’ve already gotten started. Maybe you even have a finished draft, and a manuscript you’re wrangling into shape. Whether you’re just setting out to write the first few recipes or touching up the final backmatter, there are two things to keep in mind about writing a successful cookbook.
It’s all part of a whole. Everything in a cookbook must work to complement the other elements, or else you end up with a confusing cookbook which will frustrate your readers and culinary collaborators. There are a lot of ways to “do it right” when it comes to cookbooks, but one surefire way not to succeed is to provide something messy and difficult to parse. So take the time to trim things down, to simplify and streamline, and to make your cookbook a beautiful, unified whole wherein every element works to support the others.
It’s not ultimately about the food. Well, sure it is also a little bit about the food. In fact, a great deal may be about your food. But it’s also mostly about you and your story and what you bring to the kitchen. Later on, when your book is published and you start to sell it, you’ll be selling yourself and your story as much as you will be selling a beautiful book full of recipes. Knowing this at the outset is vital to writing a cookbook which celebrates your story and makes room for it as a living, breathing part of the aforementioned whole.
And there you have it: two important ideas to keep in mind as you whip up your next cookbook. For more information, visit us online at https://www.outskirtspress.com/ to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.
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