Self Publishing

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Cookbook – Imagery (Part 3)


How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Cookbook – Imagery (Part 3)

So, you’ve worked hard, created your recipes, tested them, fine-tuned, and made a few tasting sessions to gather feedback from others. That required a lot of work – congratulations – you’re about 20% done…

In my perspective, the recipes’ imagery is almost as important as the recipes themselves. Different cookbooks have a different emphasis on this matter. I’ve browsed through cookbooks that virtually have no imagery, only text, and cookbooks that have a 1:1 ratio of recipes to images. I don’t know whether there’s an average but through my non-scholastic research I’d say it’s around 1 image to every 3-4 recipes. This product decision has major budget derivatives.

In the High Cookery book, I placed the dishes in the center of focus, as opposed to my first books where ambiance and context were equals to the actual dish. Therefore, I decided the ratio of recipes to imagery will be (almost) 1:1 and the quality of photos – extremely professional.

This meant I hired both an amazing food photographer and an incredible food stylist for a few days of cooking. Not compromising on the quality of imagery also meant each photo requires time to set up and timing of cooking. Think about broccoli or salmon being prepared for a photo. If you cook the broccoli for 10 minutes it is beautiful bright green (or the salmon-pink) but cook it a few minutes more and it transforms into a wilted, ugly, and definitely not appetizing-looking slushy dark green. Timing the recipes and allowing ample time for each photo meant that we could only do roughly 10-12 recipes per cooking day (a cooking day was around 8 hours).

Every day cost me $1,170 and we did a total of 9 days so all and all $10,530 for the whole book.

But wait, there’s more. Location is also an important factor. In my case since we took close-ups of the dishes, we could do it in my house where it was easy for me to work in the kitchen. But there was one day where we did ambiance photos and I needed to rent a large house for the day (I used Airbnb) which cost me another $300.

The last component is the serving dishes and background for the images. Luckily, the food stylist brought most of it from her own stash, but all and all I did have to pay $450 to supplement with odd stuff.

So, the cost of photo shooting and styling turned out to be $11,280 which is pretty painful now that I think about it. Since I’ve been engaged in the world of cookery for a while, I’d say this represents the cost of a high standard product which doesn’t have to be the case always. I just chose to walk that route for my own personal product-affiliated reasons. I’m not sure, to be completely honest, that this necessarily represents a good business decision. I’ll share that conclusion when I get to it…

Next – food and visual styling