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7 STEPS to Write a Recipe Book for FREE! // Step-By-Step Guide by a Cookbook Author

7 STEPS to Write a Recipe Book for FREE! // Step-By-Step Guide by a Cookbook Author

Finally! We launched our first recipe book – Fall In Love With Salads – on Amazon. Yay. And the response we are getting is unimaginable. We sold 100+ copies on the launch day itself. Waaaooo!

100 copies sold

Writing a book has been the most adventurous project I ever worked on. No doubt it is satisfying and fulfilling. The happiness and pride you feel can not be expressed in words. But this whole process of writing a book makes you anxious, nervous, and restless. It will make you sweat and give you tears (happy tears too) in each phase. Sometimes you will feel stuck and wonder “Why did you even start it?”. In your journey, there will be a point when you will want to give it all up because there is no one to guide you. There is no one to ask for help. You feel stuck, all alone.

And that is why I decided to write this blog so that I can STOP YOU FROM QUITTING!

My Story

When I decided to work on my recipe book, I had no idea where to start. I checked online to get some ideas but there are many videos available on fiction books, how to self-publish your book on Amazon, and even how to write and finish your book in a weekend but not so much on recipe books. I could not get much information online.

Even after watching all the videos, I was clueless! I wanted to design and work on a recipe book. I can not just open Microsoft Word, start typing, and submit my manuscript on Amazon. There were plenty of things that were making me scared to start because I had no answers:

  1. How do I start writing a recipe book?
  2. How can I design a book without spending a lot on designing software?
  3. Is writing a recipe on a blog the same as writing on a book?
  4. Can I do the copy check? I have fairly good English.
  5. What about the book photography and editing? What should be the photo size for printing?
  6. How do I click fantastic photos without spending much on props and backdrops?
  7. Who will publish my book worldwide? Who to contact and how?

All these clueless questions made me so anxious and nervous that I was always reluctant to start. Then, one fine day, Jatin sat on my head and pushed me to “Just Go For It”. And here begins the book adventure.

Fall In Love With Salads

Step 1 – What is your goal?

Answer these questions first – Why do you want to write a book? What is the goal that you want to achieve? What is the purpose of your book?

Know Your WHY!

Take your time and think about the goals and objectives you want to achieve from your book. When you know that, then it will become easier for you to stick to the process of writing a book. It will act as a REMINDER for you. Unless you know why you want to write a book, it will always remain your dream to become a writer. Writing a book is extremely hard. And what separates the one who writes and the one who dreams is a “clear understanding of their goals“. So, take your time and know your why.

Realistic Objectives

For example, when I wanted to write a book, I was very clear about the objectives that I wanted to achieve from my cookbook:

  • Credibility as a recipe creator – Of all the media, a book still holds great value regarding quality content. Writing a recipe book will give me more authority in my niche.
  • Improve my skills – Working on a recipe book differs from writing recipes in a blog or making a recipe video. If it is a blog, you can edit it anytime. But once a book is out, there is no scope for making changes. The book demands precision, attention, quality, and detailing. Apart from that, it surely improved my photography skills a lot.
  • Getting more clients and opportunities – When I go to food events and meet a prospective client there, the first thing that helps me grab their attention and take my work seriously, is my book. The book is a tool for me to showcase my work to them. It gives my work more credibility. Showing what you do helps and if it is a good quality book, it holds great value.
  • Impact – I want to make people understand that healthy food doesn’t need to be boring. And I want them to include more whole foods in their regular diet. The book is one way of creating a greater impact.
  • Creating an asset – A book will not give you instant (and a lot of) money. It won’t make you rich overnight. Sorry to burst your bubble! ๐Ÿ˜€ I wanted to build an asset that will exist forever, create a legacy, and generate revenue for a lifetime.

Unrealistic Objectives

Writing a book is already very difficult and becomes even more painful when you set some unrealistic objectives. For example:

  • Sell a million copies and become popular -Who doesn’t want that? We all do. Secretly! But honestly, you can not predict the destiny of your book.
  • Earn a lot of money – Well, sorry to burst your bubble but a book doesn’t make you rich. The royalty that an author gets is painfully low. I will share more on this in detail later.
  • Invitation to be a speaker – Everybody has prepared their Ted Talk but only a few get a chance to present on the stage of Ted. It may happen though. But how many times? Hence, work on setting the right and realistic expectations that can give you the results you want to achieve. Do not focus much attention on predicting the destiny of your book.
  • Be No.1 on Amazon in different categories – I will be honest with you. These days when we have influencers and celebrities with millions of followers, when they write a book they get a huge amount of engagement instantly. I would suggest not to strive for competition with them. Just focus your energy on your craft.

Step 2 – Think About The Topic/Genre

Once you decide on your purpose for writing a book, the next step is to think about the topic or genre of the book. The topic should be something you are passionate about and feel strongly about. It could be a storybook, recipe book, thriller, motivational, etc. The choices are endless.

But just thinking about the genre doesn’t get you started. For example, I wanted to write a recipe book. Then what? Should I jump into creating recipes for the book? Or should I be more specific about it? What do you think?

You have to be more specific about the topic or the genre you chose to write about. This not only helps you align your thoughts better but also helps in the correct positioning of your book. Positioning is important not only to write a book but also to decide the price, quality, and marketing for the book. It also ensures that you achieve your goals and objectives.

What is Book Positioning?

To define the correct positioning of your book, answer the following questions:

  • What is the niche of your book?
  • Which need of your readers is it going to fulfill?
  • What makes it unique from other books in the same genre?
  • Who is your target audience? Why should they read your book?
  • Are you accomplishing your goals and objectives from the book?

Let me share my example.

I wanted to write a recipe book. But that is not enough. I had to be more specific about it. After a lot of research and brainstorming came the idea of writing a book on Salads. The idea of writing a book on salads was to make salads exciting and “not boring” in the minds of my readers. Do people need a book on salads? Well, when I decided to write a book on salads, I did not have much information about it. I just went ahead with this idea because of the following reasons:

  1. I love salads and my recipes made my husband Fall In Love With Salads.
  2. With my book, I wanted to change the perception of salads.
  3. These days people want to eat more healthy yet tasty food.
  4. Some people are suggested to include more salads in their diet and I wanted them to have salads with pleasure.
  5. I wanted people to include more whole foods in their regular diet and live a healthy lifestyle. The dressings in the market are full of chemicals. I wanted to share my all-natural dressings.

And since it was my first book and I was absolutely clueless, I wanted to start with something small and comfortable.

Step 3 – Make A Plan and Set Deadlines

As it is said, a goal without a plan is just a dream. That is why, make a plan and act on it until it becomes a reality.

Set Realistic Deadlines

Let me state this once again – The Book Writing Is Extremely Hard! That is why, don’t be over-enthusiastic and do not set unrealistic expectations and deadlines. It will give you unnecessary pressure and may make you quit. AVOID THAT! It is your dream that you need to turn into reality. Make the process joyous and exciting.

Below are the points you need to consider to make a realistic plan:

  • What all needs to be done for the book?

You get more clarity about it as you progress. But to get a starting point, write down a few points about what needs to be done for the book. For example, I wrote about the number of recipes I wanted to include, book designing, recipe development, recipe testing, copywriting, photography, editing, etc.

  • What are your other priorities that demand your time and attention?
    • Do you have a job that demands 8 to 9 hours daily?
    • Do you need to do house chores?
    • Did you join any other vocation?
    • When can you manage time to write your book?
    • Do you have free weekends or can you wake up early to work on your book?

Think practically because that is going to help you set the deadlines.

  • Make a plan with dates

List the things that need to be achieved and start mentioning the dates and the deadlines for each task. Do not just rely on motivation to finish the book. Be disciplined and follow the schedule.

Step 4 – Action

Now begins the real work when you need to act according to the plans and schedule you created. Below are the action points needed to finish writing your recipe book:

Select Recipes

  • List down all the recipes on a paper or Excel sheet that are in your mind. Then finalize the recipes that will become a part of your book.
  • Start developing the recipes and write down the exact quantity, steps followed, and time taken to create the recipe. Carry a diary and a timer at all times.

Book Designing

  • Start the designing process parallelly. Please do not leave it for the end. The FREE SOFTWARE I used to design my book was – Canva. It has plenty of FREE design ideas, design elements, fonts, features, etc. that will help you get started.
  • Book Photography – Everyone has their process but I prefer to click photos later, once the recipe creation part is all done. That helps me to click photos in batches, shop ingredients and use them for multiple photos, think creatively, and utilize the time more systematically.
  • Photo Editing – Start editing the photos as you click them. Leaving it for the end may become overwhelming. The FREE SOFTWARES I used to edit the photos were – Snapseed (Mobile Version) and Darktable.

Book Title and Cover Design

  • This step needs serious thinking and brainstorming because your book’s perception depends on these factors. Leave it for the end once you finish the inside page design. By that time, you will get more clarity about the book’s positioning and the objectives you want to achieve from the book.

Here is a short video on “How I came up with the title of my book?

Testing. Testing. & More Testing!

  • This is a VERY IMPORTANT step. Please do not be negligent on this. Keep retesting your recipes multiple times to avoid mistakes and errors because once the book is published, there is no looking back. If possible, share your recipes with others so that they can follow the instructions and review the recipe.

Proofreading

  • It is the most crucial part of the book-writing process. You can not even count the number of times you need to do it. I would recommend getting it done by a professional. Hire a freelancer and pay them so that you get professional eyes to do the copy check of your book. You can not take chances with incorrect spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Step 5 – Rework Needed?

Once you are satisfied with your manuscript, look at it again and see if you need to work on something. We are not looking for perfection but you have to be completely satisfied with your creation.

You reach this stage after a lot of sweat and tears and I understand that at this stage you may just want to move to the next step – Book Publishing. But have some patience. Just for a little while. If you need to click a couple of photos again, DO IT. Do you want to change a recipe and include a new one? DO IT! Just Do IT! Please do not be lazy and work on the book where it needs improvement. Do not settle for less. Because once your book is sent for publishing, there won’t be any scope for rework.

When you rework and make changes, be clear about your objectives, book positioning, and what you want your audience to perceive.

Step 6 – Book Publishing

Yay! Your book is done. It is time to celebrate. You can go out with your partner, friends, or family to absorb the fact that you finally finished writing your book. You deserve it.

The next two topics need separate and detailed articles which I will share in my upcoming blogs. But let me share one thing about Book Publishing – It is HARD! Too HARD!

Self Publishing

Although Amazon Direct Publishing and plenty of other self-publishing options made this job much easier and simpler, I faced many issues with them. One issue was the quality of the book. I had some idea about how the book should look and feel once printed. I needed a good quality book because I spent a lot of time making it look a certain way. So many months were spent clicking the gorgeous photos for the book. And the soul of a recipe book is its photos. You CAN NOT mess with them.

Initially, I was clear that I would get my book published from Amazon’s KDP option. It has got good reviews. It is FREE. And it is easier and simpler to do. I finished my book, decided on the publishing date, started the pre-launch activities, created my account, and submitted my book to Amazon. I was very excited. In just a few days my book will be published. Now the only thing left to do was to wait for the sample copy to arrive from Amazon so that we can check it and then publish.

Sample Copy of Recipe Book from Amazon

When I received the sample copy of my recipe book, I was shattered. Literally! I felt like I failed and now nothing can be done because I had no clue what can I do next. The quality of the book I received was not what I expected. The pages, the print, and the saddest part – the photos didn’t match my expectations. I was disheartened. While writing this blog, I am feeling all those emotions that I felt on that day. It was like I had a breakup. And the next few days felt like I was going through a big breakup – heartbroken, teary eyes, a sad face, and a clueless mind.

I looked for other self-publishing options too. Sadly, no one had the print or paper quality I wanted for my book. I even thought of settling for the ebook option. But I wanted a hardcover copy of my book which people can hold, touch, feel, and make a part of their bookshelf.

“BUT I MADE IT HAPPEN!”

After 2 years, I finally published my first book – Fall In Love With Salads. And I did it all on my own. Somebody, please pat on my back.

No doubt it was hard, extremely hard. But I was persistent. I turned every possible stone to find ways to put my book out in the world and finally, I got it done. It was the most adventurous journey.

Is Amazon Self Publishing good?

Yes. Of course, it is. It has made the life of so many authors easy and simple. There was a time when you were too dependent on Book Publishers to pick your book and only some used to get selected. Now is not the case. At this age, anyone can become a writer.

Amazon gave us a platform to put our book out in the world and that too FREE OF COST. They take the royalty from each sale but before that, they do not charge a penny from you. You just need to finish your book and submit it to your KDP account. Amazon can even create a cover page for your book. The paper quality and print quality are also good. But I did not go ahead with them because I wanted my book to look premium. I wanted the photos of my book to shine. Also, I needed hardcover which was not possible with Amazon KDP.

But you can go ahead with this option. Like I said, think about your objectives and your audience.

IMPORTANT

Based on my experience, I would suggest this:

Start looking for a publisher or publishing options from the day you start working on your book. It takes much more time than you can think of. It took me 2 years of constant and consistent efforts to publish my book. Start Early!

Step 7 – Book Marketing

Some people write a book but do not market it. And that is alright. If it fulfills your objectives, so be it. But since I worked a lot on the book, I wanted it to reach as many people as possible.

I knew that I wanted to market my book to my audience myself. I did not want to hire any company and spend a lot of money on PR and marketing of the book. Honestly, it costs a lot and I did not have that much money to spend. That is why I did a lot of research and found out all possible ways to market my book and the result is unimaginable – I sold 100+ copies of my book on the launch date. That is something! And I did it myself.

I made a detailed plan for book marketing – Pre-Launch Activity, Launch Week Activities, and Post-Launch Tasks. And all these activities need to be backed by a few creatives to grab attention. I created all of them using the FREE version of Canva. I even used the FREE version of Mailerlite to create mailer campaigns and send them to my audience.

Conclusion

I hope this article and my experience will push you to start writing your book and finish it too. I faced many challenges when I decided to write a book and I do not want you to face those challenges. That is why, I want to share every possible detail to help you achieve your dream of writing a book.

But finishing a book is not the end of this process. Publishing the book takes a toll on you and your mental health. Many people quit because they do not know how to publish the book. But do not worry. I am there for you. I can help you decide whether to go for self-publishing or traditional publishing.

The feeling of putting the book out and calling yourself an “Author” can not be expressed in words. It gives immense pleasure and happiness. And what is more satisfying is when you get beautiful reviews for your book. That is when you say – I am happy, I didn’t quit!

Summary

Love

Richa

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