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making your own cookbook

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Im not thinking about this yet :P but a friend of mine wants to do a japanese/asian/scandinavian fusion cookbook, pretty experimental :D Just a few dosen/hundred copies first, so not a big project. Its just that she and I are not that tech savvy but I still promised to help her. So I was wondering if someone here has done it before? How difficult is designing the book, layout etc? Is there software thats really easy to use for this kind of stuff? Or should we just get a designer to do it...? Its going to be around 50 pages so not very long. And how much would it cost roughly, for the design & printing? She had photos taken by a friend whos a pro :)

So any help would be much appreciated :)

post #2 of 7

I have just begun writing a cook book myself. Look around for a small publisher. There are many more around these days. The one I'm using charges by the particular service, not a blanket price for the whole thing automatically although they will do that too if you want. You can do small print runs and you buy only what you can afford. These used to be called vanity presses but are fast becoming the new way of producing smaller works. You own all the rights to your work at all times.

      Most of what you contribute can be done on Microsoft Word. The publisher, at least mine anyway,  uses software called Creative Suite. Unfortunately that is a big, extensive and expensive software package, around $700 and if you buy the latest version and the publisher has an earlier version, the publisher can not work with what you have. In other words, later versions can understand earlier version but not the other way around.

So if you have Word, all you do is type the text and recipes, scan the photos, make some basic layout decisions and talk it over with the staff. They will be able to put the whole package together.

I am at the beginning of the process but a friend has published several works with the same publisher and speaks highly of them. So far the only thing slowing the whole thing down is me. 

Every project and publisher is different so I can't tell you what it would cost. That also depends on how many copies you wish to print. I think my book will cost around $1500.

But the days of convincing a publisher to handle the job are over. 

post #3 of 7

You can easily do it all in Word or it's free competitors like OpenOffice or LibreOffice.  Save it as a PDF and put a copy of any specialty font files you used on the disk with the PDF.


Places like Kinkos will have a docutech printer which will produce and bind a run of paperback books. Biggest hassle is the cover. That can be worth hiring a designer for. 


The indexing tools of Word or anything else are a bit of a nightmare. But a good index is very valuable. Spend some time learning how to do this and your book will be the better for it.


Before you do any layout, talk to your printer about costs and layouts that work cost effectively minimizing paper waste, added trimming charges and so on.


You'll likely need to plan a left-right layout with a larger offset on the gutter side--the side where it's bound-- so it looks right spread open. So on the left pages, a larger right margin, and on the right pages, a larger left margin. Newer production printers can sometimes add that in at print time, but this is why you should talk to your printer before you do layout so you  know what requirements will be for your layout.


Costs, the more books you print, the cheaper everything gets. The fewer books, the more expensive.


Amazon has tools for you to turn this all into an ebook and sell it on Amazon. That's much more practical and lower cost for something of the scale you're talking about.  From there, you can also make print-on-demand copies available if you want for those that want a hard copy.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #4 of 7
I do not want to do a cook book but a book of all my creations cakes and all the desserts I made. Mainly photos and maybe some instructions about how to decorate cakes or make macaron towers, but I do not know where to start.
post #5 of 7

I was at the Costco photo counter the other day, and they can make you a small hard bound cook book. Full color photo and then the recipe on the facing page.


Also, Adobe released their Creative Suite 2 for free. It's got some really neat publishing lay out tools.

post #6 of 7

That's a trickier one. It will rely on quality photography and food styling.


In my opinion, this is one where I'd retain an agent to shop your photography to a publisher as work and knowledge samples. If successful, you'll get a contract to work with pros in shooting the cakes to produce what the publisher wants.


Alternatively, start a blog of your work and try and work up a following sufficient to attract the interest of a publisher as happened with Julie and Julia. Also worked for Bee Yin Low of to publish her cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replyis guys! really appreciate your help and advise. It seems this is a bigger project that I initially thought but thats ok, seems like it could be fun :) That ebook thing is a great idea too, maybe we'll do that too! And yes, I have word and openoffice, so lets see which one I'll use, but good to know that someone's done it before using those. I dont know if were going to do a hardcover one, probably just a magazine type print, since they seem to be be cheaper to print. I got a quote from a local printer but their prose was too high frown.gif So I think I might try this one online printing company Ive sed before for flyers and business card printing before, print24. The quote for a couple hundred was pretty reasonable. Lets see, so much to work out still before printing but ooks like we'll be able to do it :) Another friend is a part time graphic designer and he promised to help so I think we'll be ok :)

Thanks again! 

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