Free the Cookbook

We think cookbooks are an ideal place to get really creative. Make something amazing, take some pictures, show it all off in a book (Include pictures of the dirty dishes? We don’t know—we’ll leave that up to you).

So read on for real talk—super-straightforward how-tos about how you’ll actually put your book together, an interview with a blogger who turned her gluten-free lifestyle into a killer cookbook—even a collection of our greatest support tutorials ever. Your newsletter is served! Oh, and if you’re running a business, check out this video about the future of books: Enhanced ebooks (cue the sci-fi music). They’re the perfect way to drive business with something truly beautiful.

An Interview with a Goddess

Karina Allrich created the Gluten-Free Goddess cookbook; a polished, professional-quality recipe book she’s using to help promote a seriously delicious gluten-free lifestyle (and make sales). We took a moment to speak to Karina about her process (and learned she has more ebooks on the way—yum).

1. Can you share a little bit of your background story?

I began sharing my original gluten-free recipes at Gluten-Free Goddess®, a food and recipe blog, in late fall of 2005. My intent was to encourage families who also needed to live gluten-free and I wanted to show that it’s more than doable. It can be delicious—even fabulous. I spent a lot of time developing recipes and photographing them in an appealing way. My goal was to inspire.

2. What did you think a book could do for your brand?

I never thought about “the brand” or plan on becoming a brand, or a persona. There was no strategy. I just did my own thing. I called my blog Gluten-Free Goddess because I had written a sweet little paperback cookbook years ago (now out of print) called Recipes from a Vegetarian Goddess.

What I did think about was how publishing was changing. And how I was buying fewer and fewer mainstream cookbooks, turning, instead, to food blogs—and the Internet—for inspiration. When I received an iPad for Christmas, I started using it in the kitchen immediately. I loved the instant access to all my Gluten-Free Goddess recipes and seeing them with the original photography and  readers might feel the same way. There is so much content on GFG—over 400-something recipes. So I started pulling together an ebook cookbook of my personal favorites and the most popular recipes on the blog (judging by page views and ongoing views and a few of our family favorites). I ended up with a collection of 45 recipes.

3. What tips would you give to someone who has never made a cookbook before?

Take the time to create big, beautiful photographs. Photography makes a cookbook more appealing. Browse food blogs to familiarize yourself with the various styles of food photography. Light the food with soft, natural light. Use a decent digital camera. Learn how to edit photographs, and adjust contrast and color. Save your images in 300 DPI.

4. So while we’re speaking of food photography, can you share a little about your background and food photography you admire?

I studied photography in art school, and also worked as a photo assistant on studio shoots in Los Angeles and New England. And I paint. So visual creativity is important to me. I have worked to develop my own style in food photography and I like a light, casual mood. Not too fussy. We actually eat the food I make for the blog. There are so many wonderful food bloggers whose food photography inspires me. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Urban Poser. And Martha Stewart’s team—so simple and fresh.

5. Did anything surprise you about our book-making tools?

Blurb’s bookmaking program BookWright makes it so easy to create and edit a cookbook. I was surprised at how clean and simple the process was.

6. How are you using your cookbook?

The Gluten-Free Goddess ebook is a complement to my blog. I see it as a take-away—something more intimate and manageable than the interactive live blog with all its posts, comments, and social media. It’s a taster of the blog. A menu of favorites.

7. What has the response been?

Very strong and encouraging.

8. What do you have coming up? What’s the future of Gluten Free Goddess?

I hope to create more ebook cookbooks with a theme, or particular slant. It might be a seasonal approach, or a focus, such as cookie recipes, or muffins and scones. There are endless possibilities as I continue developing recipes.

Let’s get real about making a book—here’s the best of our how-tos:

We’re crazy about making books (obviously) but we understand that it can seem like a daunting process. Here’s everything you need to get your cookbook (or any book) started—and all wrapped up.

How to get started on your own cookbook (and finish it) in BookWright:

This summer, like you, we’ll be outside making good use of our free time with backyard BBQs and summer garden parties, capturing our best recipes in photos and words. So now’s the time to turn that material into a cookbook.

We know it takes time, but we’ve got the cheat sheet you need to get going. The best way to get started? Holding off a bit. It’s tempting to want to dive right in, but thinking a bit and getting organized is worth it in the end, trust us. Make the most of your time by dividing each step into chunks so you can tackle them at different points in your book-making process. And here we go:

Organize

Gather your recipes and do a process of elimination. Once you’ve narrowed your favorites down, you can gather accompanying images—just make sure you’re giving the recipe and image files the same name to make it easier when it’s time to upload. Keep everything in one folder on your computer.

Flow it

Next, determine how you want your cookbook story to flow. Do you want to sort your recipes by age, popularity, or even something else? Once you’ve determined the order, you’ll have done the bulk of your creative decision-making.

Get the tool

Download our free bookmaking tool, BookWright, choose your book size (Standard Portrait and Standard Landscape are the most popular for cookbooks) and input your title and author name. Choose “Cookbook” as your starting point—this will give you the best layouts for the job. Then pick a source for your images— iPhoto, your computer, even Flickr or Picasa. Last, choose a theme. Now you’re ready to put together your cookbook.

Lay it out

This is where the real book-making comes in. BookWright will provide you with 20 pages in our standard recipe layout, but you’ll find plenty of alternate layouts in the “Choose page layout” panel on the upper left. You can also add additional pages—including photo pages–by clicking “Add Pages” in the top toolbar.

Just add copy

Our layouts provide space for stories, introductions, and those all-important ingredients and directions. Paste in your copy and you’re golden. Then garnish with photos. Remember to run spell check.

Preview and review

Click “Review book” and go through page by page. If you’re not a natural-born proofreader, ask a friend to take a second look.

Order

Make any last minute edits, click “Order,” and follow the prompts to checkout. Remember to order extra copies for friends and family—or sell it in our Bookstore.

That’s it, you’re done. Give yourself a toast, a pat on the back, and a moment in the sun. Congratulations!

Blurb cookbooks for everyone!

Perfectly balanced both in content and execution, the Guide to the Foreign Japanese Kitchen delivers achievable recipes (you can see we’re big on this at Blurb) in wonderfully clean, bite-sized steps. Along with alternatives for hard-to-find ingredients and a little commentary on the history of Japanese food culture, this book has it all.

Any recipe book that suggests purchasing large bars of baking chocolate to create chunks—instead of chips—is an immediate hit with us. Well written and beautifully documented with the author’s photographs, Addictions is sugar and spice and all things nice. “Guilty eating needs company,” says the description, but what if you’re proud of your sweet tooth? Food for thought, Ms. Klementowski, food for thought.

The Camper’s Cook Book should be a staple for anyone heading out on outdoor trips this summer—especially if you’re bringing the kids. And if you do, make them cook. Filled with recipes kids will love, can help put together, and–most importantly–that use practical ingredients you’re likely to actually have on hand (so you can stop foraging in the woods for food).

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