Dear Readers,

Have you ever wanted to write a cookbook?  You know, gather all those great tea party recipes you have collected and DO something with them?  If writing a cookbook is something you would love to do this article will walk you through the steps.


10 Steps To Writing A Cookbook

by Denise Rutledge


Anyone who loves to cook probably has a good cookbook trapped inside. The question is how to get that cookbook from the inside out. The following 10 steps to writing a cookbook will help you write a cookbook that does more than share recipes. They will help you write a cookbook that people will enjoy.


Step #1) Identify why you want to write a cookbook.

In order to maintain momentum throughout the entire cookbook writing effort, you need to know why you want to do this. Writing a cookbook that will sell, requires more than slapping a few recipes together. It requires commitment. It requires some level of experience as a cook, baker, candy maker, etc. Knowing why you want to do this helps you set your priorities. How long do you want to take? How much time and money are you willing to invest? These are questions you should ask at the outset


Step #2) Be creative and passionate.

Passion is an essential initial step. Passion leads to creativity. If it doesn’t, your cookbook won’t have the potential to stay around for a while. We’ve all seen church cookbook collections at the thrift shop. You aren’t aiming for thrift-shop discard. You’re aiming to produce a cookbook that becomes a treasured possession.


Step #3) Choose a cooking niche.

Don’t try to write a cookbook that covers every aspect of cooking. Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens already have generic cookbooks. You can’t compete with that. You must choose a cookbook topic where you can make a unique contribution. Jean Pare of Company’s Coming fame began with one niche cookbook. Her company has grown into Canada’s most popular cookbook series. Take a tip from this very successful cookbook writer. There are so many niches in cooking and baking. Choose one that you know well.


Step #4) Choose a unique approach to your niche.

Now, it’s time to do some research. You need to know what the competition is. Take a field trip to the local library. Look for cookbooks within your chosen niche. See what others have already done. You want to stand out from the crowd, so you don’t want to copy something that’s already in the market.

I’ve found that it often helps a would-be cookbook author to ask him or herself whether he/she has an unusual approach to life or out-of-the-norm life experiences. These kinds of things can provide a great backdrop for your cookbook. The combination of story with recipe has become quite popular, most likely because its a formula that works. Knowing the history of a recipe helps develop curiosity. Pictures into the history of the author can also enhance enjoyment of your cookbook.

You’ve chosen a niche you love. You’re ready to share your experiences with food. Now, create a unique setting in which to enjoy what you are sharing.


Step #5) Connect with a trend if you can.

A field trip to the bookstore will show you that there are trends in the cookbook market. For example, the demand for gluten-free cookbooks is very high right now. Cookbooks for individuals with allergies in general are at all-time high demand. If you have skills in one of these niches, your may be able to ride the wave.

The market changes constantly, so make sure you visit a bookstore before you finalize on your cookbook topic. Libraries tend to reflect trends from the past. Bookstores show current trends. If you can’t follow a trend, don’t worry. You don’t have to. People are still looking for ways to do things that have been around for years.


Step #6) Decide what level of experience you are targeting.

Do you want your cookbook to appeal to experienced cooks? Or do you want your cookbook to make it easy for inexperienced cooks to learn new skills? Identify your target audience.


Step #7) Choose a layout for your recipes.

There are generally four types of recipe layouts in use today. Choose the layout that is most appropriate for the level of experience you are targeting. Remember that someone who is experienced can always enjoy a cookbook that is laid out well for someone with less experience, but a novice won’t fare as well if you choose a recipe layout that’s only good for experienced cooks.

The one you see most often is one where all the ingredients are listed at the top, with instructions below. It’s well recognized, but not very friendly to individuals who are learning how to cook. The process of trying to coordinate ingredients to instructions can be a struggle.

The next layout correlates ingredients to steps. This layout, which usually places instructions beside the ingredients, will assign a number to each step. Then ingredients that are used in that step are also assigned the same number. The ingredients and steps are numbered in sequence, of course.

The third layout is similar to the previous one, but the layout is different. Ingredients are listed. Then the instructions about what to do with those ingredients follows. This is one of the most friendly ways to teach someone how to cook. The instructions may be enhanced with photographs as well.

The final layout is one that is most commonly seen in old cookbooks. The ingredients and instructions are presented in paragraph style. Unless something is done to highlight which words are ingredients, this type of recipe format leaves the cook highly vulnerable to missing an important ingredient. It is the least user-friendly recipe layout.

Some cookbook authors forget which layout they are using. They use the most common layout for almost everything, then sneak a few ingredients into the instructions that follows. You don’t want to do this. Stick with one style.


Step #8) Test every recipe.

Make sure every recipe you include in your cookbook works exactly as you have presented it in your cookbook. Nothing is worse than buying a cookbook where the recipes don’t work. You can almost tell which cookbooks aren’t worth buying by which ones are the most common on thrift store shelves. Testing recipes takes time, but it’s an essential if you want your cookbook to last. It’s also essential if you hope to develop a series of cookbooks like Jean Pare did.


Step #9) Build a useful index.

A good index is a real selling point for any cookbook. It makes the cookbook so much easier to benefit from.

Try to think of every type of search someone might use. Some people look for recipes that use ingredients they have on hand because they don’t want to waste time going to the store. Others are looking for a certain type of recipe.

With the power of the right word processor, you can build an index that turns your cookbook into an easy to use resource. Break recipes down by primary category. For example, a cupcake cookbook could be divided into white, yellow, chocolate, spice, fruits and vegetables, etc. In addition, all recipes could also be listed under the primary ingredient that makes the recipe different, such as: coconut, banana, orange, carrot, apple, etc. You could also consider dividing by different groups, such as dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, whole grain, etc.


Step #10) Use top quality pictures.

You can write a good cookbook without any illustrations, but in today’s market you’ll want to add pictures as well. Just be sure the quality of each picture is top notch.

Where you place pictures is a matter of budget and taste. It costs more to have full color illustrations on each page, but it is very effective. The next best alternative is to add full color inserts between logical breaks in the content. This costs less as only a limited number of pages need to be in full color and the balance of the cookbook can be printed in one color (black is typical).

++Denise Rutledge provides ghostwriting, SEO article, website content, eBook and resume services through She would be happy to help you find the cookbook you have hidden inside.




Once you have followed these 10 steps it is time to start the publishing process.  There are several different ways to publish a cookbook and each has an advantages.


#1  The Kindle

More and more cookbooks are becoming available on the Kindle and Nook.  If you want to create a digital cookbook the best way to get started is to hire  For $50 they will put your kindle book together and help you publish it.  The book will look great, be formatted correctly and be ready to sell in no time.


#2 Create Space

You can make a book available on Kindle and as a print on demand book.  Amazon owns both Kindle and   Talk to LiberWriter about making your book available on both formats.  Create Space will simply print one book at a time every time you receive an order.  Books are ordered and sent through the Amazon shopping system.  While Print On Demand makes things easy, remember that the price may be higher since you are only printing one at a time.


#3 Morris Press or FundCraft

For generations, cookbook authors have used companies like Morris and to easily set up their cookbook campaign. Traditionally these companies have focused on selling cookbooks as fundraisers for churches, schools and lodges.  One of the great advantages of these companies is their easy to use templates, the fact that they will type your cookbook up for you, their marketing materials and their easy to choose covers. The downside of this option is the amount of books you must order in advance of sales.

New, but similar ,companies include,  (my pick) and

Requesting a sample pack from each company can help you make a wise decision.


Last but not least you MUST think about marketing.  How will you market this tea party cookbook?  Will you sell them wholesale to bed and breakfasts, gift shops and tearooms?  If so, you must have a large markup.  Retail business owners will expect to have at least a 50% markup on the product.  

Need start up capital?  Consider pre-selling books or working with a local organization who can sell your book and make a percentage.

The sky is the limit.  Make your tea dream a reality.  Write a tea party cookbook!