.... Welcome to Recipe for a Cookbook.
I created this blog to help you write your cookbook. Browse the site to see what's here. If you have any questions about writing a cookbook, just ask. I love writing cookbooks and I'd love to show you how to write, publish, and promote your cookbook.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cookbooks and Copyrights

I taught a cookbook writing class a few weeks ago and the question about recipes and copyrights came up... it always does. I've also received quite a few emails asking the same question, so here are the facts about recipes and copyrights.

Recipes, for the most part, cannot be copyrighted because they contain a list of ingredients and lists aren't covered by copyright. What is copyrighted in a recipe is the cooking methodology (the directions, written in the cookbook author's style for preparing the recipe) and the headnotes (the little bite of information which is usually presented under the recipe title, but sometimes appears at the end of a recipe as a cooking note).

If you plan to fill your cookbook with a mix of original recipes, recipes you've found online, in magazines, in other cookbooks (after tweaking the recipe by perhaps changing a few ingredients or the spices to make the recipe uniquely your own and rewriting the methodology), this is pretty much okay. Depending on how much you've modified the recipe, you might want to credit the source where you found the recipe, noting that your recipe was inspired by or adapted from such-and-such a cookbook or magazine or online source.

A cookbook is (and should be) so much more than just recipes and cooking directions. Cookbook authors put themselves--their style and personality--into the pages. This comes through in the theme and story line of the cookbook, and in the way the directions are written and bites of information are shared.

If you'd like to include a recipe you've found in another cookbook, or from a website or foodie blog, in the same way it was published, write to ask permission to use the recipe in your cookbook. Never, ever, never copy a recipe verbatim. That's plagiarism and a copyright infringement. Always give credit where credit is due.

Add a dash of common sense and a pinch of courtesy in writing the recipes for your cookbook. Make your cookbook uniquely your own.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Starting From Scratch

Practically everyone I've ever talked to who loves food and cooking has mentioned writing a cookbook. Chances are you've thought about it, too.

Writing a cookbook starts from scratch. It begins inside you with your desire to write a cookbook. If there's a cookbook simmering in your thoughts, maybe it's time to get your cookbook out of your mind and on to paper.

Before you begin writing your cookbook, gather the necessary ingredients: Why do you want to write a cookbook? Aside from sharing recipes, what do you want to achieve from writing and publishing your cookbook? Write down your thoughts and feelings about the cookbook you want to write.

Clearly and thoroughly define the scope, theme, and focus of your cookbook. How do you want to shape it? What kind of recipes do you want to include? Tie all these ingredients together with a theme and story line that weaves through your cookbook. What can you offer that's new, interesting, and different? What do you want to feed your readers? A cookbook isn't just a collection of recipes; it's a culinary adventure that serves up lots of interesting tidbits that may or may not be food related. Offer more than recipes. Offer a cookbook that's interesting to read as well as cook from.

After you've gathered your thoughts and put them on paper, create an outline for your cookbook. This is a road map that will guide you during the construction of your cookbook and lead you on the path to making your cookbook a reality. Think about the kind of cookbook you'd love to write and then write that cookbook!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cookbook Ingredients

What goes into writing and publishing your cookbook? There are so many ways to create a cookbook; your choices are practically unlimited. Here's an essential ingredient list for writing and publishing a cookbook.
  • 1 cookbook idea
  • 200 or more kitchen-tested recipes
  • Sprinkling of title ideas
  • Dash of vision
  • Plenty of creativity
  • 6 months - 1 year of time
  • Lots of publishing know-how
Combine your cookbook idea with an original theme and story line. Add delicious, home-tested recipes, stirred into a desktop publishing format. Sprinkle title ideas liberally through your mind. Mix in with a do-able dash of vision and clarity, and lots of optimistic expectations tempered with realistic goals. Simmer with plenty of creativity. Let cook for as much time as it takes. Add lots of publishing know-how to the mix.

Yield: One cookbook

These are just the basic ingredients; there's so much more to put into the mix depending on the kind of cookbook you're writing, what you want to achieve with it, and the decisions you make about how to publish and market it. I wrote my first cookbook, Really Good Recipes, ten years ago because I love to cook, wanted to share my recipes, and thought it would be an easy and fun thing to do. Creating a cookbook is an experience unto itself. I was totally wrong about the easy part; there's a lot of attention and detail that goes into creating a cookbook. But it is a really fun thing to write and publish a cookbook!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cookbook Vision

Do you dream about writing a cookbook? Do you think about what recipes you'll put into your cookbook? Do you imagine what your cookbook will look like?

Dreaming about writing a cookbook and musing on the possibility of really writing a cookbook are very important ingredients in actually creating a cookbook.

What's your vision for your cookbook? Can you imagine it in your mind? What does it look like when it's floating through your thoughts?

Put your cookbook vision on paper and see what happens.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


If you're writing a cookbook, or even just thinking about writing a cookbook, you've come to the write place.

There are so many aspects to writing and publishing a cookbook; these vary with the type of cookbook you are writing, why you're writing it, and what you want to achieve with it.

This blog will offer you the ingredients of how to write, publish, and promote your cookbook.