Why Self Publish a Cookbook

Self-publishing a cookbook - Man eating jelly donut

Some food for thought:

  • Cookbooks are more popular than ever. Every year some 60 million cookbooks are sold in North America alone.
  • If you wait to be published by a publisher, you could be waiting a long time! Publishers Weekly recently reported that, “Competiton [in the cookbook market] has never been keener. As a result, rigorous selectivity in acquisition is a universal objective of cookbook publishers.” Typically, publishers sign up cooking professionals, such as food writers, celebrity chefs, and home economists who have proven success in the food world.
  • Cookbooks are powerful sales and marketing tools for nonprofit organization fundraising and awareness.
  • Self published cookbooks have an impressive track record as bestsellers. Think of all those Junior League cookbooks that have sold more than 100,000 copies. Or, take inspiration from the Podleski sisters. They published a humorous, low-fat cookbook called Looneyspoons that sold more than 800,000 copies.
  • When you self publish a cookbook, you have complete editorial and artistic control over your cookbook. You retain all rights to your cookbook. This is not the case if you get published. The publisher will have final say over every aspect of your cookbook’s production. Don't like the publisher's cover design? There isn't much you can do about it.
  • Publishers are looking for cookbooks with mass market appeal. If you happen to have a highly targeted subject, you will face resistance from mass market publishers to sign on to your idea.
  • You can potentially make more money if you self publish a cookbook rather than being published. In a traditional publishing arrangement, you are paid an author royalty (roughly 7.5%) on each book sold, based on the retail selling price of your book. For example, you would earn $1.50 per book if your cookbook is being sold for $19.95. However, if you self publish, you could earn up to 100% of the profits, depending on your distribution mix.
  • Besides being a long-term, profit-generating product, cookbooks can pay off in other ways. A valuable public relations and advertising tool, a cookbook brings instant prestige to an organization or business.

Before you self publish a cookbook, it’s important to inform yourself about the publishing industry, cookbook writing and marketing, and the risks and rewards of cookbook self publishing.

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