Write a recipe book: the guide in 10 steps

If you love cooking, do not miss an episode of Masterchef and in the kitchen, you have now notebooks full of recipes invented or revisited by you, maybe it’s time for you to write your recipe book.

“Who, me?” You’ll be thinking.

Yes, just you. Because if it is true that bookstores abound in recipe books and every starlet publishes a cookery book, it is also true that the food and gastronomy sector is growing strongly and the recipes manual is a literary genre with growing sales constant.

Writing a recipe book is, therefore, an excellent idea, but because the book is well constructed and is then appreciated by the readers, organize your work according to these 10 steps.

1. Differentiated from others

Precisely because the sector of culinary manuals is growing, this means that competition is high and fierce. If you want to enter the arena you must, therefore, be sure that your idea of the book differs from all those already published.

A generic recipe book does not interest anyone. So, before you start writing, ask yourself what your book is so special about because it’s different from the others and so why a reader should buy it.

When it comes to choosing a new book to buy, in fact, the reader can be guided by the advice of a friend, can look for the famous chef’s book, but in the absence of titles already suggested the reader will direct his choice to a book that offers something new, or proposing classic recipes but in a new way.

Then all those books containing recipes designed for specific people (celiacs, vegans, children, etc.) or books with special occasions (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, summer evenings with friends, etc.) can be interesting, or still recipe books all centered on the main ingredient (mushrooms, salmon, chicken, etc.) or recipe books all with the same work setting (steaming, 15-minute recipes, with no more than 5 ingredients, etc.).

2. Be clear

After having established in what your book will be differentiated from the competitors, make sure that this particularity clearly emerges from the title.

The title of the book must explain in a nutshell the central theme. Possibly in the subtitle, you can add some more information.

Remember, however, that these are practical manuals, so they need an informative and not emotional title. Anna’s recipes are classic and romantic, but she does not communicate anything and does not tell the reader why “the recipes of this girl named Anna” can make the difference for her lunches and dinners. Much better 50 recipes for children to eat vegetables!

So write a list of possible titles before you start writing and then, during the writing, add the new ideas that will come to you. The final title will establish it only at the end, but from the beginning, you must have a clear idea of your project.

3. Be useful

First of all, a recipe book must be useful.

Ask yourself: who is the book addressed to? what problem or difficulty of cooking faces? what solutions do you propose? offers a new look at nutrition?

Remember that most people live cooking as a daily action, to be done every day (or almost) because we need to eat, but often having to invent what to put on the table every day, especially for those who have family and work, it can become a burden. In this sense your book must be able to help, giving (at least some) valid answers to the eternal question: “What do I do for dinner?”.

It may also be that you are starting a new culinary trend, for example offering recipes with an ingredient that is still little used but healthy, or that you teach practical tricks to cook better and in less time.

In any case, identify which is the key point of your book and summarize it in a short sentence.

During the writing of the book, you will have to constantly return to this concept and verify that you have not gone astray.

4. Observe the competition

Now that you’ve established the basic concepts, you can start working on the content of your recipe book. To decide how you want your book to be the best method is to look at what is already on the market and what others have done.

Most likely, since you love cooking, you will already have a house full of recipe books and cooking magazines, but now you have to browse through them with another perspective: what you are interested in is not whether the recipes you like or if they are easy, but how a book is built, how many recipes do you have, in what order you propose them, how you explain them, etc.

Buy different books of different authors, better if they are of different kinds of recipes. It is a necessary investment to make your recipe book professionally.

See if the books have introductions if they have glossaries if they show the technical data for each recipe (portions, time of realization and cooking, calories, average expenditure) if there are recipes of basic preparations or introductory technique lessons. At what level of the reader is each book addressed? There will be books for beginners and books that already provide a manual skill and a certain familiarity with the kitchen tools.

Make a nice table, on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet, and write down everything. This will help you understand what the reader expects, what are the characteristics that make a recipe book professional and therefore, how you want to make your own.

5. Set the structure

After browsing through many other books, you can establish the structure of your recipe book.

Will there be an introduction? Will there be basic recipes at the beginning? A glossary at the end? Will the recipes be divided into chapters? And if so, how? By ingredient, by course, by difficulty, by season, by color, etc.?

And above all, how will the information within each recipe be presented? First the ingredients and then the explanation or the ingredients mentioned in the explanation? And the technical data at the top or bottom?

Make a detailed list of all the elements that will somehow have to appear in your book and look for an original but coherent way of inserting them.

6. Create the profile of your reader-type

In a crowded market like that of the gastronomic publishing, to be able to intercept a public of readers it is necessary to know who they are and what they want.

Then create the profile of your reader-type.

Is it predominantly a woman or a man? What age? Do you have any children or not? Do you always cook in a hurry or give yourself the right time at the stove? Do you often invite friends to dinner?

Do you like to invent and customize recipes or follow the instructions? Every so often tries new tastes or is it more traditionalist? Is it more interested in the nutritional aspect of the dishes or their scenic and gustatory impact?

And above all, what skills do you already have? Is a beginner to whom you have to explain everything or cooking for a while and then you can take for granted terms and techniques?

Answer all these questions, better if in writing, and add every other detail you can think of.

Only after having established exactly who will be your reader, you will be able to define what kind of recipes you will be able to insert in your book.

For example, if your recipe book is aimed at novice readers in the kitchen, you will prefer simple recipes, with easy-to-find ingredients that do not require special tools and secure success.

Readers skilled in the kitchen, but not particularly experienced or with limited availability of time, will love recipes that are slightly more difficult, with unusual ingredients or combinations and with some new preparation or cooking techniques to learn.

Lovers of cooking enthusiasts (like you!) Will instead expect more creative, original recipes with a higher number of ingredients; more than just preparation instructions, they try the tricks to solve the most common problems or suggestions to change the recipes, giving space to their creativity and experience.

7. Create the recipe index

After having understood what kind of recipes you can insert in your book according to the target reader you are addressing to, it is finally time to choose from your personal repertoire the most suitable recipes.

Recipes are the heart of a cookbook, so their choice and the order in which they are presented are delicate steps that can determine the success or failure of the book itself.

A cookbook is not, in fact, a simple list of recipes, but the story of culinary experience, or the development of a gastronomic idea.

He, therefore, takes particular care in drafting the recipe index and review it several times until you are satisfied with it.

Try to get a balanced list, in which the divisions in chapters are clear (for example by scale, by ingredient, by the speed of execution, etc.) and by the logic of succession of recipes within each chapter (for example, an order seasonal, or difficult, etc.).

Enter more delicious recipes, but also some healthier recipes, some classic revisited and some original and unusual dishes.

And always remember the practical purpose of the book: if each recipe requires too many ingredients or ingredients difficult to find, the reader will not appreciate them. Most people love to experiment, but in small doses.


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