Do you have a collection of family recipes or personal recipes that you’d love to see in print? Maybe it’s Grandma’s fluffy buttermilk biscuits, Mom’s chewy oatmeal cookies or Dad’s tangy barbecue sauce.
The idea of self-publishing a cookbook gets all the creative gears going, even in a home chef’s brain, but the reality of designing, printing and paying for that process is a little more daunting. Don’t worry just yet, we’re going to talk about the ins and outs involved in printing a cookbook below.
What Does It Mean to Be Self-Published?
If you traditionally publish any book, you will sign a contract with a publishing company and typically receive an advance. These days, many publishing companies look for influencers who already have a platform or the potential for one. However, seeing as much of the marketing falls in the hands of the author, why not self-publish?
When you’re a self-published author, you take ownership of your work and are responsible for the entire process, start to press. That also means that you’re paying for editing, layout, design and printing. You’re fronting all the upfront costs, plus advertising if you’re marketing your cookbook to the general public.
Self-Publishing a Cookbook: The Fixed Costs
We get it. You have lots of questions. How much does it cost to print a cookbook? How could I print a cookbook on my own? Do I have to do everything by myself?
We tell our authors that the only true fixed cost of printing a cookbook is the ISBN, which is the barcode that identifies your book. You can purchase one ISBN for $125 or 10 for $295 through Bowker in the United States. The latter choice is going to be the best option for an author looking to release multiple cookbooks while the first is great for a collection of recipes for an annual family reunion that also raises donations.
Some authors may consider Amazon as a publisher because you can receive a free ISBN, but that ISBN remains associated with Amazon, stays there and is only used for distribution on KDP.
Once an Amazon ISBN is tied to your book, it stays that way. So, if you want an independent company or kitchen supply store to carry your book, purchase your own ISBN.
Self-Publishing a Cookbook: The Variable Costs
Do you want complete creative control, or do you trust others with your vision? If so, to what degree? Answering these questions will help you decide what to outsource and what you can take on yourself.
The quality of the interior and exterior of your cookbook should be as professional as possible so that it’s competitive on the market. That may mean strolling through the bookstore or online to get a feel for the types of cookbooks that are likely to be your competitors. You will need to take a close look at the cover, the layout and the organization.
Here are the most common variable costs an author invests in when self-publishing:
Groceries: To ensure the recipes are perfected and you have a subject for photography.
The Adobe Creative Suite: For editing photos in Lightroom, designing a book cover in Photoshop or building the layout in InDesign. However, quality freeware exists for photo editing, and Microsoft Word can be utilized for layout in some cases. We don’t recommend it, and it takes an experienced eye to make cheaper workarounds worth it. As most self publishing authors do, the best option would be to seek help from friends and family or hire an experienced book designer to take care of the layout and design.
Design and Photography: You can invest in a photography class and do your photography as you go, unless you have content from an existing platform. We advise finding a good book cover designer who focuses on the cookbook industry or is familiar with it. An experienced designer knows the correct resolution for making your cover print-ready and perfect for marketing.
Recipe Editing: We recommend outsourcing the review of your recipes to someone experienced in recipe writing, to make sure they’re transcribed clearly and correctly.
Copy Editing: This is another area we recommend that you don’t cut costs on spending. A copy editor won’t miss the smallest inconsistencies and keeps the big picture of publishing in mind when doing developmental editing. Before you get a copy editor involved, you may want to physically print out the pages and go through them. You can view the Editorial Freelancer Associations’ recommended rates here.
Indexing: You need to give each recipe a tag. Indexing your recipes is important to do as soon as possible, no matter how tedious it is. Many authors prefer outsourcing indexing to save time and ensure precision.
Printing: The release date of your cookbook is going to be unforgettable, and we are dedicated to making that experience easy for our authors. We know exactly how overwhelming it is to go through the publishing process and then get stuck at printing. The cost of printing a cookbook requires different considerations, such as if you want a perfect bound spine or a wire coil. Do you want coated or uncoated paper? A quality printer also ensures that your digital proof matches your print proof or galley exactly, since what’s on your screen (RGB) is a little different colorwise for printing (CMYK).
Book Tour and Publicity: Many authors sign up to do book blog tours or are invited on YouTube shows and podcasts. You can also do live TV appearances, events and classes, whether national, regional or local. Don’t forget the digital aspect either: your social media, website and distribution channels.
So, What Does Printing My Cookbook Cost?
As you can see, the answer to how much it costs to get a cookbook printed is: it depends. Printing your cooking is one of the most important investments, but what goes into the book is also vital.
We hope that this guide has helped you weigh the fixed vs. variable costs of printing a cookbook. If you’d like to talk about what a physical copy of your book would look like, we’re here to discuss the options anytime. Get a quote today.