Cookbooks and baking books are the hottest-selling segments of the nonfiction market. Cookbook sales have soared in recent years, and the pace shows no sign of slowing down. If you want to get in on this popular trend, follow this guide to boosting cookbook sales.
What Type of Cookbook Are You Writing?
Your cookbook marketing approach depends on the type of cookbook you’re creating. Most cookbooks fall into one of these four categories:
- Chef collection
- Family cookbook
- Diet or Show Tie-In
A chef collection is what we think of as a classic cookbook. It focuses on a particular chef and his or her favorite recipes. The cookbook might be part of a series, or it might focus on recipes for specific seasons and occasions. Some chefs base these cookbooks on recipes from their restaurants, and others have developed recipes specifically for home cooks. Examples include Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten or Le Bernardin Cookbook: Four-Star Simplicity by Eric Ripert.
These cookbooks remain very popular. Despite the popularity of online cooking blogs and recipe sites, cookbook sales have soared more than 20% in the past few years.
A family cookbook, as you might guess from the name, is a book that collects and preserves your family’s favorite recipes. If it’s a family tradition to make a certain cookie recipe that’s been handed down for generations on a piece of paper that’s been photocopies 100 times, you know what a family recipe is. If there’s a relative who’s always asked to bring a specific dish to every holiday gathering, that’s a family recipe.
A family cookbook is not something you create for the public. You don’t expect any cookbook sales from it. It’s a way to honor and treasure your family’s traditions for now and for future generations. It may also be a way to honor a family member who has passed away.
Many charities, churches, and school fundraising groups use cookbooks to help raise money. Typically, the cookbook’s recipes come from local families, volunteers, employees, and others connected to the organization.
People buy these cookbooks at meetings, bake sales, thrift stories, and other places. Increasingly, you can also buy them online to support your favorite organization. They are usually spiral bound with black and white drawings or photos. They are a mixed bag of recipes ranging from drinks and appetizers to desserts.
Hundreds of fundraiser cookbooks are published every year. They are a popular and successful fundraising tool.
Diet or show tie-in
This fourth category is for books that are tied to a famous TV show or popular diet. Cookbook marketing for these titles depends on promoting those ties to a recognizable name. The name of the show or diet is the major selling point.
High cookbook sales are almost guaranteed because the diet or TV show are well-known. These books aren’t aimed at people who want to explore cooking. They’re designed to help people stay on a particular eating plan. Examples of these cookbooks include The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook and the South Beach Diet Cookbook.
Cookbook Sales Tips
The type of cookbook you write will determine your cookbook marketing strategy and ultimate cookbook sales. If you want to publish your own recipes, you should market your book the way you would any self-published nonfiction book.
Start by determining whether there’s an audience for your book. Do you have an online presence? Are people reading your cooking blog, or do you have a loyal Instagram following of people who eagerly wait to see photos of your latest bakery confections? If so, you have the basis to market and sell your self-published cookbook.
If you’re starting from scratch, begin by testing the waters with a blog or recipe site. Post photos of your recipes, and invite comments from users. Offer helpful tips and insights for home cooks who want to recreate your recipes. Once you’ve built a small but loyal following, begin marketing your cookbook to them to increase cookbook sales.
You can’t just rely on social media, however. Consider other places where you might find buyers. Contact possible venues for a book signing. A bookstore is one logical choice, but you may also want to host a book signing at a cooking school, local club, senior center, or service organization. Does your book focus on healthy eating or eating to manage a particular medical condition? Set up book signings at local health organizations or support groups for that illness.
Bakery cookbooks might be a popular item at family groups or local craft shows. Be creative about venues where the audience might respond well to your book so you can increase cookbook sales.
Cookbook Marketing for Fundraisers
For a fundraiser cookbook, you want to focus your marketing differently. Most of the people in your organization already know about the book, but your cookbook marketing efforts should go beyond that to increase cookbook sales. Consider these ways to get the word out.
- Contact the local media. Ask TV stations and radio talk show hosts who cover local issues to mention the book. Be sure they tell listeners where they can buy the book.
- Promote the book on your organization’s social media accounts.
- Sell copies of the book at other fundraising events, including bake sales, car washes, and flower sales.
- Ask recipe contributors to let their friends and family members know about the cookbook.
Design Tips for Better Cookbook Sales
A well-designed cookbook will boost your cookbook sales. According to customer surveys, cookbook buyers prefer cookbooks with photographs.
Focus on the production
Any successful book must have an eye-catching cover and well-designed layout. In a cookbook, the layout and visual appeal are even more important. Your cookbook sales could depend largely on how your book looks.
People want cookbooks that are as beautiful to look at as they are to read. They want an easy-to-read format that allows them to read the book while it’s propped up in the kitchen. Large font sizes and a clean, simple design are necessary. Your cookbook marketing should focus on how easy and practical the book is.
If you’re writing your own collection of recipes, spend the most money you can on high-quality design and production.
Even if you’re producing a family or fundraiser cookbook, you can work with a limited budget to create a book that’s attractively laid out and illustrated to increase cookbook sales.
Add graphic elements
Make your book lively and appealing with graphics and pictures. You can find hundreds of free, copyright-free images to illustrate your cookbook. Use them to design a beautiful cover and make your pages more inviting.
Design it for easy use
Your cookbook must be easy for readers to use. Consider how people typically use cookbooks.
The best binding is usually spiral or wire-o binding. These binding styles allow the book to stay open while it’s flat on a counter. You might also consider adding tabs to the book for easy reference to specific sections. Place only one recipe on each page, and include a photograph or a drawing with each one.
Create beautiful photos
Full-color, high-resolution photos are essential to a cookbook. If you’re producing a fundraiser cookbook, your budget may be limited to black-and-white photos. You can still make them appealing with the right layout and design.
Food styling for photographs is an art. In most professionally produced cookbooks, food designers use various techniques to make the food look appealing, and professional photographers take the pictures.
You may not have that budget, but you can still produce great-looking pictures. Classes in food styling are available, or you can glean tips from studying the pictures on your favorite recipe sites.
You Can Boost Your Cookbook Sales
With the right design focus and marketing approach, you can produce a cookbook that people want to buy. Whether you’re using your cookbook to promote your own recipes or raise money for your favorite charity, there are ways to boost your cookbook sales. If you need help with printing your cookbook, talk to Dazzle Printing.