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Have you ever written a proffesional cook book?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
First off a little background. I am a lowly 23 year old line cook, I think I am pretty decent at what I do, but I have a long long way to go. I think that I have the skills to be a sous chef in probably 1.5 to 2 years.

Now, what I came to say is that my family has mentioned to me on more than one occasion that I should write a cookbook focusing on good food for cheap and how to save money in the kitchen without buying bs frozen food or convenience food. I consider myself an optimist and am never scared of failing at things, I've done it many of times. So, I am seriously considering it.

So, how many of you have ever written a cookbook or been part of the process? What are the chances of it being published? Does it require a large investment? Would people not take me serious because of my age regardless of the quality of the book? Is there a lot of money in this? What kind of websites should I look at? Is it required that you make a name for yourself first? I am a blank page on this matter and would greatly appreciate any input that you culinary professionals may have on this matter.

Grazie a mille
post #2 of 6
Age has nothing to do with it - content and platform are king.

There are basically two routes you can go: find a publisher or self publish. Self publish means a large investment but you're in control. If you want to be in the bookstores, being self-published poses problems - not insurmountable, but time (and money) consuming.

If submitting to a publisher, do your research first and find one that fits your book. Most have web sites which include submission guidelines for submitting your cookbook outline and sample recipes.

One thing they'll look at is your author platform: how large is your community and potential audience? The more well-known you are, the better the publisher will like it, but it's only one thing they consider in the larger scheme of things. If you have a good concept and a solid platform, you're more likely to get published.

Not a lot of money in it unless you can sell a lot - meaning thousands - of copies. Rarely is being an author a stand alone day job. More like a way to enhance income.

There are a couple of books on the market about writing cookbooks, which is a good place to start research. Just search for "how to write a cookbook." Be sure to go through the amazon link on cheftalk.com and support this great site!

Good luck!

post #3 of 6
although not published, ive been writing down recipes and taking photographs of my own food for some time... and i store them all in marble notebooks... ive always thought about publishing it, or doing something with it, however my initial intention was just for referance down the road.
post #4 of 6
my chef at school just published this

Amazon.com: MacVeigh, Jeremy: Books
post #5 of 6
First off, don't approach a publisher with a supposedly completed book-they will return your manuscript unopened, if you are lucky, or, they will just ignore you altogether.

The first thing to do is write a query letter describing the subject and thrust of your book, who you are, your experience, culinary viewpoint and what makes your cookbook relevant and unique. Attach an introduction, an outline that shows chapter subjects and a few recipes. Once this is all done, submit this package to a bunch of literary agents who handle cookbooks. You can find this info in the acknowledgments section of any published cookbook. They will then get in touch with you, or not. Be persistent and after a few weeks, call to inquire if they got your query and had a chance to look at it.

If you find an agent interested in representing you, they may make suggestions as to how to make your idea more marketable and then start pitching your book to publishers. Then, once the editorial board at a publisher decides to take on your project, you will be assigned and editor, and the whole completion process begins. Your agent (and you) will then negotiate and sign a contract with the publisher. You might get an advance to completion... or not. Then, for at least a year, you'll be working with an editor to develop your book and define a market.

All expenses for development, testing and refining of your recipes will be paid by you. So will all photographic and food styling services. You will be given deadlines that you should follow, or risk some unhappiness from your editor and publisher (they have dropped some hopeful authors). Then after a publication and release you must promote the book if you want it to sell. This is also your job, not the publisher's. Most successful cookbook authors hire publicity agents to help them do this.

As far as the money, few authors really make any money on their cookbooks. Most use them as career promotional vehicles. There are A LOT
of cookbooks published every year and few, if any, really enter the realm of classic cookbooks that sell strongly year after year. Most end up on the racks at Sam's Club and Costco within a couple years. Needless to say, cookbook publishing is very competitive.

You should check out a book titled Will Write for Food-though I can't remember the author's name. She writes very clearly about different approaches to food writing and has an illuminating chapter on cookbook writing. Sometimes there are also workshops on cookbook writing at community colleges and such. I've been to a few and they are very helpful.

I hope this post does not discourage you because it appears to be a lot of work for a very long term project- it is! I am so completely daunted such a task that the books everyone keeps pressuring me to write reside on my computer desktop in various stages of completion. I do, however, make an enjoyable living as a freelance support person for other authors.

Do use the services of professional recipe testers and editors-they will give you perspective on how to refine your recipes to make them useful to a wider audience thus making your book more marketable. Good Luck and why not post a few of your cost saving recipes here at CT?


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!



Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #6 of 6
I'm working on a book and blogging the process. The blog is online here: http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/blogs...arts-i-ii.html

I'd appreciate it if you'd share some of your ideas with me,
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