As an author of 14 cookbooks, I get asked all the time how people should go about publishing their own cookbook. I thought I would share my tips.
1. Do your research. If there are already 400 books on the same topic, you might want to channel your efforts in a different direction. Now, if there are only a couple books, go for it! There was only one other cake mix book on the market when I wrote my New York Times Bestseller, 101 Things To Do With A Cake Mix.
2. Organize your recipes into sections. Go through the recipes and verify that the amounts are correct and that the instructions are clear.
3. Be willing to do the work yourself. Self publish by making and distributing your own books. Register your book at the Library of Congress before you start to sell it. We made 7000 copies in our two bedroom apartment at BYU before the cake mix book went nationwide.
4. Be willing to go door to door to get books into stores. Set up appointments with the store buyer of cookbooks or books. (Note: The first store I approached turned me down. I kept trying. A few months later, they called to order after people started to ask for it. Anywhere we traveled we took the book and information for ordering the books.) With our high sales numbers, we were able to prove to a national publisher that there was a market for the book.
5. If you decide to find a publisher, be willing to take a risk. Send your book to multiple publishers. I sent mine to at least 10-13, before I had one accept it. I actually had an editor from one of the top 4 publishers call me later to apologize that they hadnʼt taken the book.
6. Be available to teach classes or workshops for free to get the word out. I taught classes for four of the Maceys stores to promote the books. I also taught workshops for church groups and for cities in Utah who offered community education classes. I didnʼt get paid much to teach, but I sold a lot of books.
7. Donʼt expect to make the big bucks all at once. Rachel Ray didnʼt become a millionaire overnight and neither will you. It takes a lot of work to get to the top. Most cookbook authors make their money teaching and selling their own books at workshops. I put my first book together to use as Christmas presents. It evolved into something greater.