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Self Publishing Blog

Welcome to the Self Publishing Made Easy Blog

Jason Logsdon's Presentation at Eat Write Retreat

I recently got asked to speak about self publishing at the Eat Write Retreat conference in Chicago for food bloggers as part of a two hour, three person presentation and panel discussion.
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Is Self Publishing Right for You?

Who Can Write a Cookbook?


Or more accurately, anybody who is willing to put in the time and energy.

Writing a cookbook is not easy, it is a lot of hard work. But if you are committed to learning about the process and willing to work hard to make it happen, you can definitely write and publish a great cookbook of your own.

Right now, self publishing is easy. You don't need money. You don't need a place to store thousands of books. And you definitely don't need to get permission from anyone else. All you need is an idea for a book and the work ethic to actually create it.

Our site is focused on food bloggers who are looking to create a cookbook. Luckily, as food bloggers, all of you are uniquely positioned to write a cookbook. You understand recipe development and writing, food photography and how to connect with readers. These are all critical skills to writing a cookbook and food bloggers have a leg up on other potential authors. You also have a built in marketing base with your readers and your network of other food bloggers.

Why Shouldn't You Write a Cookbook?

Many people get into cookbook writing for the wrong reasons. While cookbook writing can be very rewarding, it's important to remember that it is a long, arduous process filled with lots of work. Some of the common bad reasons people get into cookbook writing are:

Get Rich

If you have dreams of publishing a cookbook that becomes a number one best seller and brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars you will probably end up being very, very disappointed. There are thousands of cookbooks published every year, hundreds of which are of great quality, and only a handful will become top sellers. While we will show you how to make money through self publishing, it is normally in smaller amounts that build up over time.

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How do You Finance a Cookbook?

If you already have a successful food blog, you are probably able to self-finance your own cookbook. With your knowledge of recipe writing and food photography you already have the majority of the skills needed to write a cookbook covered. Print on demand publishing companies eliminate the majority of the upfront costs including purchasing inventory. Most cookbooks can be published for under a few thousand dollars depending on how much external expertise you need.

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How to Get A Cookbook in Bookstores

It's the goal of many authors to be on the shelves of big chain booksellers. However, it is a very hard and risky enterprise for a self published author.

Many large chains work directly with established publishers, leaving you out of the loop. They also take a large chunk of the profit for themselves, usually 45% to 55%.

Even if you can get into a large chain, they typically require the rights to return any unsold books. So while an order for several thousand books can look great, if they don't sell you'll be footing the bill.

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Self Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing

Self publishing is a very different processes than publishing through a traditional publisher. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and only you can determine the method that will work best for you.

Cookbook Royalties

Royalties are simply the amount of money the author gets paid every time a book is sold and they are one of the main concerns for many authors. There are a few differences between royalties for self published and traditionally published books.

For traditionally published books royalties are negotiated ahead of time and are usually 1% to 10%, depending on how established an author is. For most authors the 5% to 8% range will apply. This is usually based off the profit of each book sold, not the list price.

Royalties for self published books tend to be much higher than for traditionally published books. They are almost always 100% of the profit of each book, which is often in the 20% to 40% of the list price. You also have control over how large your royalties are when self publishing by changing the list price, allowing you to maximize profit or sales, depending on the goals of your book. For more information you can read our guide to how royalties work.

Cookbook Advances

Advances are the royalties an author gets paid up front. This is used to help offset the costs of creating a book. It's important to remember that it is an advance on royalties, not a bonus. So if you get a $10,000 advance and end up selling books worth $12,000 in royalties, you will get an additional check for only $2,000. Some publishing contracts will also specify that if your royalty isn't met that the author has to return the excess money.

Advances don't exist in self publishing unless you externally finance your book. Most traditional advances run from $1,000 to $10,000 for a normal author who is just starting out.

Control of Content and Design

One of the biggest advantages to self publishing is that you have complete control over all aspects of your book. When working with a traditional publisher they will often specify the cover, title, page layout, photography, and have input about general or specific subject matter. When you self publish you can use whatever you like so it matches your vision, potentially saving yourself lots of frustration.

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