If you’re a food blogger, cooking instructor, or health and wellness expert, a cookbook is a valuable product to offer your audience. Books are a great way to monetize content you’ve already created. Plus, having a book can help establish you as an authority in your field, leading to more opportunities to promote your content and grow your audience.
Cookbooks aren’t just for bloggers and dieticians though. You might have a tin full of recipe cards on your kitchen counter that would make an amazing DIY cookbook. I’ve got you covered too. In this article, you’ll learn how to:
- Plan and design your cookbook, including themes, layout, and binding options like spiral bound or hardcover etc.
- Have your cookbook custom printed and bound
- Market and sell your cookbook
Choose Your Cookbook Theme & Recipes
The first step to becoming a cookbook author is to decide on a theme. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cookbook that doesn’t have a distinct theme. Home cooking. Desserts. Healthy breakfasts. Bread and biscuits.
Cookbook themes abound.
Take a look at the recipes you have. If you’re a food blogger, you might have a wide range at hand. Look for some common themes in your most popular posts and use that to decide how to build your cookbook!
Once you’ve figured out a theme, collect 30-40 recipes that fit the theme. It’s okay to include some complementary recipes too—maybe your Low-Budget Dinners cookbook has a couple of dessert recipes or cocktails that go perfectly with specific meals.
Type up all your recipes in a word processor like Google Docs. Make the formatting simple and uniform. Here’s a template I created using a popular bread recipe. Feel free to make a copy of this for your own recipe planning.
You’ll also want to take some high-definition recipe photos to show off your completed dishes or illustrate the steps of the process.
With all of your recipes ready, take some time to write any other content for your cookbook. That might be an introduction or some general instructions. And don’t forget the important content like:
- The copyright page
- Table of contents
- Ingredient index
Gather your content and high-quality recipe photos. Now you’re ready to design your cookbook.
Planning Your Cookbook
Plan ahead and determine how you’ll offer your cookbook before you start designing. Most likely, you’ll want to take advantage of one or more print-on-demand platforms to fulfill orders for you.
If you’re planning to sell directly to your fans from your own website, blog, or social media, Lulu Direct connects with Shopify and WooCommerce. You may also want to make your book available through online retailers, which can be done with Lulu’s Global Distribution. Using Amazon’s publishing might work too (though they don’t have as many hardcover options).
Decide on the formats and platforms you’ll use. You’re going to need a unique cover and interior for each format.
Cookbook Layout and Design
Go to your bookshelf (or the bookstore) and look at a bunch of cookbooks. Flip through them. You’ll notice that most of them are large, hardcover books that resemble a photo book more than a novel. Make some notes about what you like, what you don’t like, and what will work well with your recipes.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, I strongly recommend starting with a template. We offer free templates on our Cookbook page. You’ll need to use a design tool like InDesign or Affinity Publisher to create your cookbook with these templates.
We offer free templates in three popular sizes for cookbooks:
8.5 x 11 in
7 x 9 in
6 x 9 in
Cookbook Printing: Binding Options
As you’re planning your cookbook design, you need to think about more than what your pages will include. You also have to consider the ink, the paper weight, and how you’ll have your cookbook bound.
For most cookbooks, you’ll want to look for premium/highest quality ink and paper. Even if you’re publishing a black & white cookbook, you may still want the premium ink to ensure your recipe ingredients and instructions ‘pop’ on the page.
The binding options are a little more diverse. Normally, you’ll see cookbooks using one of these three book binding options:
- Hardcover Cookbooks – Your cover is printed and glued to stiff boards to create a casewrap, hardcover cookbook ideal for image-rich designs. Think of your cookbook as a photo book or coffee table book. Something that is both functional and beautiful to look at.
- Paperback Cookbooks – Your cookbook will, outwardly, look a lot like a novel or nonfiction book. This is great for saving costs, but might be problematic when it comes to using the cookbook; paperback books don’t lay flat when opened.
- Coil Bound Cookbooks* – Spiral bound cookbook printing involves threading a plastic spiral through the spine, allowing your cookbook to open flat. Coil bound cookbooks are the most functional design for people who will regularly use the cookbook.
*note that Coil Bound cookbooks are not eligible for Global Distribution but can be sold through the Lulu Bookstore or your own website through Lulu Direct
If you’re having a hard time deciding how to have your cookbook bound, remember that print-on-demand makes it easy to offer a variety of versions. If you want a super-high-quality version with rich color and hardcover binding, you can do that right alongside a lower-priced coil bound version.
Using Lulu’s Cookbook Template
Here’s a look at the basic spread from our templates:
I replaced the stock ‘cookie’ image with some stock ‘bread’ images, then added the bread recipe from the Google Doc I mentioned earlier.
If you want to go beyond the templates we provide, you can always customize them to fit your recipes. Or use a site like template.net to download a variety of unique designs you can customize to fit your needs.
Watch Make Your Own Cookbook
Marketing Your Cookbook
If you’re not making a family cookbook and want to sell your content, I’ve got a few tips to help you get started.
Your marketing plan should start with your audience. If you’ve got a big following on Instagram, you should focus on reaching them. Tailor your marketing strategy to your audience. Cookbook marketing follows many of the same strategies you’ll use for any product or service.
The most important activities will be building awareness about your upcoming cookbook (while you’re working on designing and publishing) and promoting your book regularly to your fans. If you publish recipes on your food blog, remember that you’ll be getting a lot of new traffic as people discover your recipes. It’s smart to promote your recipe book in these posts—even if a new user doesn’t buy the book, just seeing that you’ve published a cookbook helps establish your authority as a recipe creator.
You might not be thinking immediately about ‘building authority’ when you publish your cookbook, but it is a valuable way to prove your knowledge and skills. Just seeing your cookbook available while reading your blog lets that reader know you’ve created enough content and have enough knowledge to warrant a book. That’s no small feat and not something you should overlook when you’re developing and implementing your marketing plans.
Cookbooks for Your Food Business
Take your recipes and your cooking tips and turn them into something your fans (and family members) will love. Cookbooks are a perfect product to supplement your food blog and health and wellness or nutrition business.
And with high-quality book printing using print-on-demand, you won’t have to worry about upfront costs or fulfilling orders. Your new cookbook is ready to find a home on the kitchen counters of your fans all around the world!
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.
Is lulu.com a POD website?. Do we just need to create books which will be printed and delivered by Lulu to the customers?
Yes, Lulu is a print-on-demand (POD) printer. We can ship to over 150 countries and have printers available around the world.
The cookbook templates seem to only apply to coil bound books… the other binding options are not available in the template Cover Folder options. Will the template still work even if I cannot select the binding option I ultimately want to use?
We only included the Coilbound cover template because that cover size doesn’t change. If you create a paperback or hardcover cookbook, the final size of the cover will depend on your page count. The interior templates will work for any book (at the size the templates are built for of course).
If you want to make a Small Landscape cookbook in paperback, you can use those same interior templates. Once you upload the interior on Lulu, we’ll give you a cover template sized to match your page count. You’ll also have the option of creating your cover with Canva on the spot too!
Very helpful post but what am I doing wrong? The template files I downloaded are just blank single page word docs and does not resemble the images in the post. There are no “template fields” to fill or picture place holders to change.
You’re right! Looks like something got mixed up in our files. I’ll get this looked at right away.
Do not remind me that just thinking that the stress of making long lines to get what you need is a nightmare, but your idea is great to make a good book of family recipes with all the tradition I find it excellent to collect all those magnificent recipes that have passed from generation to generation.
Thank you so much for this post . This is really helpful.
Can the cook book project be available to do AFTER January? For an Easter gift to family, or Mothers Day??
Absolutely! You can use our templates and file upload tool to create a cookbook anytime. Our cookbooks page stays active all year long so you can always find those templates.