Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cookin' Up a Storm


Have you ever considered writing a cookbook? You've created some super recipes—family favorites that everyone begs you to fix again. Do you think other families would enjoy them, too? By writing a cookbook, you can share them with lots of folks as well as make a few dollars in the process.

Is writing a cookbook difficult? Like most projects, it takes time. However, when you already have your recipes, you've completed the most time-consuming part of the process. If you don't yet have them perfected, however, you will need to complete that phase. Be sure to take detailed notes as you work on them so you can share the little tidbits that make your recipes special and delectable.


Several years ago, my daughter wrote a cookbook. While it is no longer in print (I'm encouraging her to update it so we re-release it later this year), it was both a major learning experience and a joy to be among the beta tasters of her luscious entrées and desserts. For years, several of us have been wheat/gluten free, and she adapted standard recipes containing those ingredients as well as created new ones to meet our dietary requirements. Her cream puffs are the best I've ever tasted. So are many of her other dishes.


Why mention this? Often we don't realize we have something special, something unique to offer. Even if you've never considered writing a novel or a non-fiction book, you can write a cookbook if you love to cook and family and friends beg you to make something yummy again…and again…and again. Think about it: you could have a gold mine in your recipe box or that drawer where you've been storing instructions on making family goodies, some of which may have been handed down for generations.

You say you're not a writer? You say English grammar was your worst subject in school? The beauty of a cookbook lies in its traditional content:

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
etc., etc., etc.

The typical writing requirement for a book doesn't apply to a cookbook.


Hints for those making your goodies; other brief comments that would likely go in a sidebar; substitutions for those who can't use dairy, wheat and so forth need not be lengthy. Suggestions for vegetarian or vegan adaptations broaden the value of your book and increase your potential audience. Preparation directions need not be wordy, but they must be sufficiently detailed not to leave your reader wondering when you add this or what you mean by that. Your introduction or opening letter to your readers can be simple and straightforward and should personalize your work by speaking directly to each person who has chosen to try your recipes. For these things, you get the basics on paper (or the computer) and hire an editor to polish the text and fix the punctuation. A final suggestion: make liberal use of photos—even if they're black and white. Readers love to see what a dish is supposed to look like.


Your contribution—that which sets your book apart from all others—lies in your recipes. Think about sharing them. Who knows—your name could become a household favorite. You might even become as well known as Julia Child.

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. She also helps new and not-so-new writers improve their skills through posts on Blood Red Pencil and offers private tutoring as well as seminars online. You can contact her through her writing website, LSLaneBooks.com. Also, you can visit her editing team at DenverEditor.com to find experienced editors in a variety of genres to help you polish your book into a marketable work.

20 comments :

  1. My child's preschool put together a cookbook as a fundraiser from recipes donated by family and friends. The organiser was good at double-checking things like quantities and ingredients ("Are you sure the recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar?!") but unfortunately not so good at proofreading: "Cut up two zucchini's and add them to the pan". Still a clever idea, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a fabulous idea because it can get youngsters involved in food preparation. They need to learn at a young age that what they eat is important. With the problem of childhood obesity we have in the States (can't speak for anyplace else), it's vital to educate young palates to enjoy wholesome food. Sweet treats are yummy, but the main course can be, too, as well as nutritious. This can also be a fun time to share some nutritional basics with little ones. Carrots have vitamin A, and that's good for your eyes, and so forth. About the proofing — that's important, too. Thanks for sharing this, Elle. It was a cool project.

      Delete
  2. Fun idea for people who love cooking. I'm not one of them. My cookbook would read, "How to Make Dinner in Under Ten Minutes. Okay, thirty. I believe I have mastered that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lots of people need to make dinner "in under ten minutes" — or in under thirty. People are busy. You just might have a winner here, Polly. :-)

      Delete
  3. A cookbook is something I could never do. I hardly ever cook and don't enjoy it, but admire those who have a passion for cooking. Sometimes, I'll see a cozy mystery with a character who enjoys cooking and recipes are included in the book, which is a nice touch. However, I won't be including recipes in any of my books. lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. I include food in my stories, both the preparation (no recipes) as it fits the story and meals eaten out, again as it flows naturally into the storyline. I enjoy cooking when time permits, but it's my daughter who's the genius in the kitchen.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You may have inspired several new cookbooks, Linda. Have a cookie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope so! The cookie sounds good. Is it chocolate chip?

      Delete
  6. A cookbook is something you can have printed in small batches. A friend of mine had all of her mother's recipes put into a book along with photos of her mother cooking and family parties. It makes for a terrific present.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea! Personalized gifts are wonderful treasures for the recipients. Thanks for the idea, Diana.

      Delete
  7. Hmm. It's a good thing I like writing mysteries. I'm a lousy cook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good book is a gourmet meal for the heart and soul. Whether you're cooking on the stove or on the hard drive, you are fixing something to look forward to. :-)

      Delete
  8. I love cookbooks and once worked for a cookbook distributor. Talk about an overload of recipes. LOL I have not thought of doing a cookbook, but our art center has one that is a collection of family recipes. It is used as a fund-raiser. My son, who is the archivist for Austin, TX, did a book on the history of Austin Cookbooks that has a lot of recipes from the late 19th century. We chuckle over "place in oven and bake until browned." So many people cooked and baked with wood stoves, there were no temperature settings or timers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recipes from the late 19th century? How fun! I used to use a wood-burning cookstove -- definitely no temperature gage. I'd be interested in knowing more about the book on the history of Austin Cookbooks, complete with recipes. :-)

      Delete
  9. This is such a great post, Linda! I automatically thought of my mom and her love of baking, something she got from her mother. She has a lot of great sweet treats that others would love.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My mouth still waters when I look back on my mom's homemade meals and her mom's delectable fried chicken. No one else could fix chicken like my grandmother. Of course, Mom and Grandma were "scratch cooks" because they didn't have access to all the instant foods that fill today's grocery shelves and freezers. (I'm not convinced all the quick and easy offerings from the food industry are in our best interest.) So, Shon, may we look forward to a cookbook of family recipes from you someday? If so, please reserve a copy for me!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have to put a family one together - almost a year now since my mother died.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Family cookbooks are such treasures. I remember standing in the kitchen next to my mother as she made her wonderful Swiss steak with vegetables, pork barbecue, and her Guild white cake. I watched her sift the cake flour 3 times and even got to lick the beaters after she poured the batter into the round cake pans, which was a special treat. It's been more than half a century since I did that, but in many ways it doesn't seem so long ago.

      Delete
  12. I have toyed with the idea of writing a cookbook for a couple of years now! You've inspired me to get down to work and get it done. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You're more than welcome. Would you be sharing ethnic recipes from Yemen? After watching a segment on the cooking channel, I recently purchased 2 cookbooks featuring vegan Ethiopian dishes. I can hardly wait to try them.

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...