Cookbook Publishing and Writing a Cook Book Online

Cookbooks have a somewhat unique position in the publishing world, thanks to the great variety of types and and publication methods. For starters, a great number of cookbooks are published every year as fundraising endeavors by religious or civic groups and schools. There are several publishing houses whose whole business is printing cookbooks for fundraisers, and in situations where the group lacks publishing expertise, they probably offer the best chance of actually coming out ahead on the project. Traditional publishing houses bring out a tremendous array of cookbooks every year, ranging from reprints of old classics to new coffee table editions published more as food art than sources for recipes.

Self publishing cookbooks (for a profit) presents some special challenges for a new publishing imprint and the number of choices related to printing is enough to make any cook blanch. For starters, recipe oriented cookbooks are often published with comb or spiral bindings so they can be laid flat. Special coated papers may be employed to help the book stand up to broken eggs from the omelet, and font and layout may be designed for reading from twice the normal distance. With the advent of digital photography, aspiring cooking authors are likely to depend over-much on color photography of food preparation, and while this works great when writing a cook book online, it's a costly nightmare for printing.

Since my main axe is print on demand publishing, the fancy photography and limitless binding options are out. To use Lightning Source for printing and distribution, the book can't really use photography at all (mediocre reproduction won't hold water with cookbooks) and only perfect binding (glued) is an option. That doesn't mean you can't cook up a terrific self published book, you just have to match the technology to the style before you start. Print on demand is at its best with straight text content, but it works well enough with black and white line drawings as well. If you think about the cook books you actually use, how many of them actually feature color photography? Some of the best books for cooks were designed with low printing cost in mind, and the only illustrations are black and white line drawings of ingredients.

Combining the online promotion with print on demand production for a hybrid cookbook makes a lot of sense for the newcomer. The online aspect lets you go nuts producing content with a digital camera and the will to cook, so you can literally illustrate every single step in the cooking process for each recipe if you want. Imagine a website with thousands of step-by-step cooking photographs, something you could never do in a book at any cost. A paper cookbook with the actual recipes laid out in standard ingredients:instructions format would be sold as the companion book to the site and wouldn't require any illustration at all. You can take your time writing the online cookbook, start with one recipe and see how it goes. As the site grows and the traffic builds, you'll be able to judge your market and determine whether you should stick with print on demand, go offset, or try to sell out to a traditional publisher.

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