What else is there to think about aside from testing your recipes until they’re foolproof? Here are the top five things to consider when you start to craft your initial ideas, your recipes, and your first draft.
There should be a common theme that unites all of the recipes in your cookbook. Perhaps they are all under five ingredients, all things that can be baked on a sheet pan, or all meticulously decorated. Maybe they are all recipes that serve a large crowd or aim to be kid-friendly. Whatever the commonality, identifying the theme will assist you in choosing recipes, thinking about marketing angles, and refining the overall focus for your cookbook.
Determining which style of writing you will use is important to ensure consistency throughout the writing and recipe testing process and will also define how your readers perceive you, the author, and the experience they get from reading your cookbook. What kind of “personality” would you like to give your cookbook? Casual and fun, perhaps with a touch of humor? Formal, precise, and extremely reliable? Take into consideration the recipes you are making when deciding on tone. For example, if all of your recipes are for elegant holiday desserts, consider using a tone that is gracious and cheery. If you’re making a book of Southern dump casseroles, a relaxed, conversational tone will likely appeal more to your audience.
As you compile your cookbook, think purposely about what tips and tricks, expert advice, or other complementary content you can offer the reader. Do you have a special trick for bashing out butter for croissants? Could you include some optional ingredients to allow for more personalization? Will you add serving instructions or decorating tips? Does using a certain brand or style of ingredient yield better results, and if the reader doesn’t have that particular item, what can they substitute? Could you include additional small recipes on the side that complement a particular recipe, such as a dressing or a glaze? Supplemental content will add depth and usability to your cookbook.
Some cookbooks can be enhanced by narrative or anecdotes from the author. Perhaps you discovered a new recipe while traveling abroad and want to share about the experience, or maybe you tried a recipe fifty times before it came out right the first time. Alternatively, many cookbooks are best served without the personality of the author being a part of it, so you can also consider only adding information that is “need to know.” Concision allows your reader to cut to the chase and get cooking. Whichever option you choose, deciding whether or not to include personal elements should be intentional, not an afterthought.
It’s wise to have a basic idea of how many sections you will incorporate into your cookbook. For example, if you are writing a cookbook of all recipes that contain the same ingredient, you might have separate sections for entrees, appetizers, desserts, and side dishes. You can also get creative with the organization of your book. For example, instead of simply organizing by recipe type, you might consider organizing by what mood or emotion a recipe evokes. It’s also important to decide if your cookbook would benefit from having an index. Especially with larger cookbooks, it’s helpful for readers to have a quick way to discover recipes that align with their interests or needs.