One thing that hasn’t changed is the process of selling a cookbook to a publisher, a business that’s often best done with the advice of an agent. This person will help an author develop a proposal that will be presented to publishers at publishing houses with the goal of securing an offer for a book contract. According to Kim Lindman, unlike fiction books, the manuscript is not written until the author contracts with a publisher, in which case the recipes, photographs and associated content will be developed.
To grab a publisher’s attention, “it’s essential to have a proposal with a defined concept and a solid table of contents,” says Lindman. “Yes, it will help sell the book, but it’s also a blueprint for writing the book, once you’ve partnered with a publisher.”
Virginia Willis says recipe testing can be the hardest part of creating a cookbook. “A lot of people outsource their testing, but I don’t,” she says. “I can have other people try my recipes, but if it’s in my book, I cooked it, I tasted it, and I’m sure I tasted the final version.”
According to Janis Donnaud, the secret sauce for authors is to do their homework: “Go into business with the right agents, writers, and publishers, and produce the work they love.”