Cookbook Writing - What You Need to Know

Food photography is critical to cookbooks. Evi Abeler

Here's a round-up of articles on how to write a cookbook.

How to write a cookbook proposal

In addition to the basic elements of a book proposal, a cookbook proposal requires recipe development, strategic thinking about photography, timing and more.

"Ingredients" for cookbook success

From good chapter organization to foolproof recipes, here are the elements of a great cookbook content.

Recipe writing

Recipes are the most important elements of a cookbook, and they need to be developed carefully for maximum appeal and conscientiously to adhere to industry ethics.


  • Recipe writing ethics - Recipes are intellectual property, just the same as any writing or creative endeavor, subject to copyright laws. Ethical cookbook writing requires appropriately crediting recipe sources and inspirations – understand the rules, here.
  • How to write cookbook recipes - The proof of writing cookbook recipes well is in the success of the reader's experience with the finished dish. Learn are the steps to take to help ensure your written recipes will work for the reader.
  • How to write recipe headnotes - A recipe headnote is the (usually) pithy little bit of text before you see the list of ingredients. Headnotes can give the reader additional background, information, or instruction to ensure recipe success.


Cookbook Food Photography

Food photography is critical to a cookbook's appeal. While there are classic cookbooks that don't contain photos, cooks today expect to see how a finished dish will look when it's completed.

  • Food photography planning tips for authors – Food photography requires a team (stylists, prop stylists, the photography team, the book's art director) to do it properly. Therefore, planning the photography — from budgets and how many photos will be in in the book through to the shoot — is critical to ensuring the shoot is as cost effective as possible.


Cookbook Marketing

As is true of most books, getting a cookbook into the marketplace and getting it into the hands of buyers is just as demanding as writing the book.  Here are some cookbook marketing hints.

  • Case study for a better cookbook title – The title of a book is arguably its first marketing tool. Read about how to improve a mediocre cookbook title to make it appeal to  as many readers as possible.
  • Julia Child, Cookbook Marketing Genius – "The French Chef" was a lifelong, tireless, exuberant, low-maintenance and good-natured advocate for her books. Here are some cookbook promotion lessons you can take from Julia Child.


Cookbook Awards

About the IACP Awards – the International Association of Culinary Professionals honors cookbook authors annually.

Read about the awards here.

About the James Beard Foundation Book Awards – the most prestigious awards for chefs and restaurants in the United States also honors cookbooks.


Cookbook Writing Role Model

Julia Child (August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) is the iconic cookbook author who is credited with bringing French cooking to American “servantless” households in the early 1960s. Child's promoting her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the early days of television led to her becoming the first true TV food personality — but the road to her first book publication was a long one. Read about:

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