Guest Post by Carrie Vitt, author of The Grain-Free Family Table
Today we have a special guest post from Carrie Vitt, author of The Grain-Free Family Table, which will give you insight into the cookbook-writing process. Carrie’s a pro, having published Deliciously Organic prior to her new book, The Grain-Free Family Table, a paleo- and family-friendly cookbook that teaches readers how to cut all grains out of their diets without giving up flavorful, delicious food. Purchase your copy of The Grain-Free Family Table today!
10 things I learned from writing The Grain-Free Family Table and Deliciously Organic
Writing a cookbook is a very complicated process. Between the writing, recipe development, recipe testing, photographs and everything in between, sometimes you can feel like you’re in over your head.
I’ve learned many lessons along the way and want to share with you ten tips in hopes of helping you with your next cookbook project.
1. Test, test, test
If my recipes don’t work, I can pretty much guarantee my book won’t sell. Sadly, I think this is a step many cookbook authors overlook – either because they don’t have enough time or they don’t want to spend the money. I test the final version of each recipe myself a few times and then send the recipe to a professional test kitchen. It costs more, but well-tested recipes will make or break a book.
And here’s an extra tip – If possible, get the professional test kitchen testing after your recipes have been edited. I ask the professional tester to only follow what’s written on the page. This way I know the final recipe is written correctly and will work for even a beginner cook. Yes, it’s another extra step, but well worth it!
2. Have a friend look over your manuscript before you submit it
Writing a book can be a challenge, and having another set of eyes to review everything before turning in your manuscript can help take your book to a new level.
When my manuscript goes off to my editor, I don’t want the editor to be taking care of simple grammatical mistakes or other silly errors I could’ve found and fixed. Instead, I want her to focus on the bigger areas requiring revision, or ways to elevate the content of the book.
3. Write when inspiration hits
Some of my best writing or tips for The Grain-Free Family Table were written in 20 minutes or less. I didn’t plan time to “write” but instead kept pads of paper nearby so when inspiration struck, I could immediately get my thoughts on paper. Don’t worry about perfection – just type.
4. Beautiful photographs sell a cookbook
What do we all do when we pick up a cookbook? We flip through, looking at the photos! Photography can be expensive, but in my opinion, it makes all the difference for a cookbook. We eat with our eyes, so try to include as many photographs as your budget allows.
5. Be personal
I like to read cookbooks that feel like they were written by a friend. Add in those extra tips and notes you’d include if you were writing for a friend.
6. Give ingredient options and adaptations for recipes
If I’ve learned anything from blogging it’s that people have all sorts of allergies and need options. These days, people expect adaptations – whether it’s a gluten-free, egg free, nut-free or just a variation. If you can easily create an option, then do it. Don’t forget to test the adaptations, though!
7. Create twists on a classic, or recreate one
Most of us love elaborate recipes, but there’s something nice and familiar about a classic. I try to keep this in mind when creating recipes.
8. Be flexible and enjoy the entire process
Sometimes your editor’s or designer’s ideas are better than yours. Be open to the entire process and let the team help you improve your book. And don’t stress out too much – enjoy the process. Laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. It’s ok – everyone makes mistakes.
9. If you have a food blog, don’t be afraid to include some reader favorites in the book
Most of us prefer to have our favorite recipes in a book instead of constantly looking them up online. Do your readers a favor, and include their favorites in your book. I’ve had many write in, thanking me for simplifying their cooking!
10. Take some time off
After you turn in the manuscript, you usually have a month or so before you receive edits back. Take this time to catch your breath. Don’t look at your book at all! This way you’ll have a fresh pair of eyes when editing time comes around.