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Old 02-13-2018, 12:15 AM   #1
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What kind of cookbooks do you enjoy reading?

Im writing a cookbook. Several, actually. Im not promoting it here, but Id like some input from people who actually read cookbooks, not from bloggers and actual cookbook authors. Ive read How to Write a Recipe in various forms, most of the advice is good, some of it is extraneous, and a lot of it is contradictory.

So what do you like to read, and use? Do you like a conversational style for the recipe, or do you prefer a straight list of ingredients and steps, with the commentary completely separate from the recipe? And what about formats and fonts, if you ever even notice them. If you do notice, which fonts are the easiest to read for you? Do you prefer a fully justified text (so every line is the same length)? Do you like paragraphs indented, with no empty line between them, or do you prefer no idents and an empty break between paragraphs? And the recipes themselves. A numbered bullet list, or un-numbered? And do you prefer the method to be a bullet list or in paragraph form? Do you like to see the ingredients in bold when mentioned in the instructions, or is that a distraction?

I know many of you think Im completely bonkers to worry about these details. Just write the damned book already! I hear you cry. But God is in the details, and these seemingly trivial things can impact book sales! So many things to consider, and so many things to distract me! Can you kind folks help me out?

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Old 02-13-2018, 04:27 AM   #2
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I was senior art director for three magazines, and a photographer for several others. I hope you know what you are getting into.

Are you going to self-publish? Print or eBook? Self market or let someone else market the book? These are all things that matter, especially if you would like to make some money from the cookbook. There are all kinds of ways to lose money in publishing these days, and too many people learn that the hard way.

As for what needs to be in a cookbook, you need to have throughly tested recipes. Somebody other than you needs to take your recipe, and be able to make it, and have it come out just the way you intended it to come out.

As for things like formats and fonts, if you don't already know the answer, you need to work with someone who does. That kind of stuff is very elementary to me. It has been tried and tested. If you ask people on a cooking forum "what they prefer," you are not going to get good advice. Ford asked people what they wanted in a car, and came up with the Edsel.

Sorry to be so negative, I would love to see you successfully produce a cookbook, but you need to go into this with your eyes wide open.

If you want to throw a cookbook together with Microsoft Word, and give it away to family and friends, how you do it really doesn't matter. But if you look at this cookbook as a business opportunity, that is a whole different thing.

CD
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Old 02-13-2018, 08:37 AM   #3
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One of my favorite cookbooks is Dom Delouise's Eat This: It'll Make You Feel Better.

Each recipe - or group of recipes - has a very short and funny story about how he got the recipe, or about something about why it's in the book. The key words being short and funny.

It's a cookbook, afterall. Albeit with personality.

Just a thought.
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Old 02-13-2018, 09:11 AM   #4
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A funny story or an aside on recipes would be great. I prefer them to be short and sweet and separate from the recipe. When I'm ready to cook, I don't want to have to wade through non-cooking stuff to find what I need to put dinner on the table.

I have a standard format for all the recipes I keep in my cookbook. I use Arial, a sans serif font at 12 point size as I need glasses. I list the ingredients in two columns at the top of the recipe in the order they will be used in the recipe. (saves space so I can get the recipe on on page). I use underlines to separate groups of ingredients into their cooking steps.

If an ingredient is used in several steps in a recipe, I list it several times. I don't like the term, "8 tablespoons of butter, divided". Then I have to depend on the instructions to know how much I need in each step.

I separate the instructions for each step in its own paragraph. No indents and left justified. I speak English in my recipes, not recipe speak.

I include pot and pan size and types in general terms. You don't want a reader to think they have to go out and buy a specific pan to make your recipe.

I recommend suggestions for substitutions where appropriate. This makes your recipe more flexible and therefore more friendly.
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Old 02-13-2018, 02:41 PM   #5
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I like the ones on the internet, especially the ones with the videos.
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Old 02-13-2018, 02:53 PM   #6
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Ones with lots of pictures.
But I like watching how-to cooking videos on You Tube rather than in print.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
A funny story or an aside on recipes would be great. I prefer them to be short and sweet and separate from the recipe. When I'm ready to cook, I don't want to have to wade through non-cooking stuff to find what I need to put dinner on the table.

I have a standard format for all the recipes I keep in my cookbook. I use Arial, a sans serif font at 12 point size as I need glasses. I list the ingredients in two columns at the top of the recipe in the order they will be used in the recipe. (saves space so I can get the recipe on on page). I use underlines to separate groups of ingredients into their cooking steps.

If an ingredient is used in several steps in a recipe, I list it several times. I don't like the term, "8 tablespoons of butter, divided". Then I have to depend on the instructions to know how much I need in each step.

I separate the instructions for each step in its own paragraph. No indents and left justified. I speak English in my recipes, not recipe speak.

I include pot and pan size and types in general terms. You don't want a reader to think they have to go out and buy a specific pan to make your recipe.

I recommend suggestions for substitutions where appropriate. This makes your recipe more flexible and therefore more friendly.
Your tips will be very helpful, especially your formatting tips. Many thanks for sharing them with me.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:46 PM   #8
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Happy to help.
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Old 02-13-2018, 05:53 PM   #9
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When it comes to cookbooks I enjoy the ones that tell me about the author, an area of the country, a great restaurant, a style of cooking, history, etc...

I can find all of the recipes I need on the internet.

IMO you should decide what you have to say that is missing from the vast number of cookbooks in the world. Tell your own story in your own style.

Good luck!
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:52 AM   #10
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I don't tend to actually read cookbooks. I will if unfamiliar with the cuisine, but generally only look at recipes. I'm not really into the author's background or self hype.
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