Like many food writers, I’m
curious about self-publishing and whether it makes sense
for me. I like the idea of more control and keeping all
the profits, but I’m unsure how much I’d
have to fork over to get my cookbook published in the
first place. In the past, I’d have to engage a
vanity press or printing company, agree to a minimum
order of anywhere from 100 to 5000 books, and pay thousands
of dollars. Months later, I’d get a delivery to
my garage, and then I’d have to figure out how
to distribute and sell my cookbooks.
These publishers still exist and people still hire them.
Wimmer, for example, specializes in community cookbooks
that raise money. You know, the spiral-bound ones with
recipes using canned soups, chow mein noodles and fried
More recently, Print-On-Demand (POD) emerged, where a publisher
prints a book only when a buyer places an order. This is
a huge advance for those of us who aren’t sure we
want to print more than a few books. I mean, just how many
people want to read my family’s recipes for m’challella
(pickled turnip) or cheese sumbusak (turnovers), besides
a few relatives? It also solves the question of storage,
and that of budget, theoretically.
POD means less commitment. My assumption is that all I
have to do is upload a software file to my publisher, who
prints it and sends me a minimum of one cookbook. My file
remains on the publisher’s website, where my relatives
can order one book each.
This sounds great, but at first, POD was not evolved enough.
The technology could only handle black and white paperbacks.
Like most burgeoning cookbook authors, I want it all: a
big, hardcover, full color book, full of photos, on quality
paper, with a dust jacket, just like the professionally
published ones on my bookshelves.
Enter phase two of the POD market. During my investigation,
I’ve found four publishers who can publish hardcover,
full-color books. Two, Blurb,
and Lulu, say they specialize in cookbooks and that
I can order my own full color cookbook, just one, for around
$50. They will deliver it in 7-10 business days. And for
a small price,