By Matt and Ted, Sergeants at Cookbook Boot Camp in Charleston, SC
Publishing a cookbook is hard from every angle–difficult to conceptualize, tough to break into agents’ and editors’ offices, and near-impossible to sit down and write the manuscript. But there are at least 5 ways in which luck breaks your way:
1. The book proposal can be brief.
2. Once your proposal is done, and before you sign a deal, you are at your most powerful in publishing.
3. Publishers know restaurant chefs can, at a minimum, sell books through their restaurants, and this contributes to editors’ eagerness to publish–and to pay bigger advances–to chefs with a successful business.
4. No matter what you do, you can be confident that your best recipes are different from everyone else’s. Don’t be concerned about originality; you are already unique.
5. Every step of the process can be outsourced.
1. While the typical proposal runs to about 35 pages, some books have been sold on a paragraph (we know from personal experience!). Put together a strong mission statement and 10 of your best recipes and you’re probably over this mark. The entire process of creating the proposal will take a lot of thinking and conceptualizing, but may be the easiest, quickest skirmish in the creation of your cookbook; creating the full manuscript will be the drawn-out battle.
2. Editors are motivated by great ideas but also by the fear that their competitors will grab you before they do. Keep hope alive, but also ask the tough questions now, before inking the deal: once you sign, you become a burden to the winning editor and persona non grata to the underbidding editors.
3. Books can be another dish to add to your menu. Once a ticket is open, adding the chef’s cookbook to it is a no-brainer.
4. As Mister Rogers said, there’s no one like you. Own every part of it, the trials and tribulations as well as the successes.
5. Writers for the proposal and manuscript, recipe-developers to transform your stained binder of material into something publishable, testers to make sure they work, art directors to run the photo shoot–you name it, there are plenty of talented and eager freelancers out there who would be thrilled to work on your project and won’t charge an arm and a leg. In fact, if it’s the difference between getting the cookbook done and it never happening, spending money on publishing teammates may be the best value in the world.
If you are ready to explore cookbook-making with us in a two-day seminar that will educate you about the entire process, go to CookbookBootCamp.com to find out more and to register for one of these exciting and motivating sessions.