.... 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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Simply Simmering... Headnotes

My spaghetti sauce is simmering on the stove, filling my home with a wonderful, tantalizing aroma. I am stirring occasionally and looking forward to enjoying my dinner. I didn't lovingly slave over the stove for hours creating my special secret-ingredient-recipe-that-only-my-sister-and-daughters-know homemade spaghetti sauce like I usually do.

I browned a pound of lean ground beef, added some onions, green bell peppers, and mushrooms. Then I sprinkled some dried oregano and dried minced garlic over the meat and vegetables as they were cooking. For the final touch, I poured in a 26 oz. jar of Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic spaghetti sauce, put a lid on the pan and let it do its own thing.

While this is going to make a delicious dinner, served over whole grain spaghetti pasta along with a simple ripped Romaine green salad, tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkled with dried oregano, and topped with shavings of real Parmesan cheese, it will NOT make a delicious recipe in your cookbook. When you read the recipe of what I'm going to have for dinner, was your first thought that this was a recipe you just had to have? Were you wishing you were my neighbor and that I would invite you over to dinner? Probably not, unless you were really starving or forgot to go to the grocery store and you have no food in your house. By the way, Parmesan cheese on a salad is really good!

When people are standing in a bookstore (or wherever your book is sold) deciding whether to buy a cookbook, they look through it first, reading the recipes and imagining the finished dishes in their mind. If you offer them a generic recipe, like my "Simply Simmering Spaghetti," they'll probably put your cookbook back on the shelf and move on to the next one which has more appealing and interesting recipes.

Feed your readers well-written recipes they can envision in their mind and almost smell and taste. Entice them with a promise of a delicious meal with every recipe. Make their mouth water while they read through your list of ingredients in anticipation of how wonderful this recipe will turn out to be.

I can almost hear you thinking, "How will reading a list of ingredients create magic in a cookbook buyer's mind?" Whet their appetite with an appealing, catchy recipe name. Make the text eye-pleasing and attractive by using a serif font (one with feet, such as Times Roman) and attractive spacing for reading. Engage the reader in your dialog. Right under the recipe name, provide a note about the recipe, an interesting anecdote, or some information relative to the theme and story line of your cookbook. This is called a headnote.

And with these little tidbits of information, I leave you to let simmer in your mind how powerful a short note to your reader can be.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is There a Cookbook Hiding in Your Foodie Blog?

If you're a foodie blogger, I'm sure you've thought about creating a cookbook based on the recipes you share on your blog. I'll bet there is a cookbook hiding in your foodie blog, just waiting for you to put into print.

I've read a lot of excellent foodie blogs and I can see a cookbook in every one of them. The bloggers invite you into their kitchen and share their food with you; it's like having dinner with a friend.

On almost every post, the blogger introduces the recipe in a conversational style, showing you a taste of who they are, then walks you through the recipe, as if you're in the kitchen cooking with them. This has all the makings of a really delicious cookbook! So why not turn your foodie blog into a cookbook?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blog or Website? Which is Better?

When you're writing a cookbook, or any book, it's important to have an online presence to promote your book and make it visible and available. To do that, which is better? A blog or a website? If you're going the free route instead of the domain dot.com way, is Blogger better than WordPress?

There are pros and cons to both. A blog is interactive and encourages readers to connect with you and have a conversation whereas a website is static but has a more professional appearance. A blog is only one page of seven or so posts, which tend to disappear over time into the "older posts" and archives; very few people will take the time to read your whole blog to find what they don't know they're looking for, while a website can have many pages that keeps your information front and center just by clicking on a tab.

Blogger is perfect for blogging; it's user-friendly and you have lots of choices with colors, fonts, and headers. But more important, Google loves Blogger; you get lots more traffic.

I couldn't decide whether I wanted a blog or a website to promote my book about how to write a cookbook. While I was trying to decide which one would be best, Blogger debuted the "Pages" gadget, so now I have the best of both worlds... the blog to share tidbits of cookbook writing information and the pages which offer a meatier version of things related to writing a cookbook.

So what do you think... is a blog better or does a website offer more? And which one is right for you and the cookbook you're writing?

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.