Self Publishing

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Cookbook – Start Here (Part 1)


How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Cookbook – Start Here (Part 1)

I think one of the first questions people ask me when they hear I self-published several cookbooks is – ‘how much did it cost?’.

When I self-published my first books, I approached it in a very sweet, naïve, and fundamentally wrong way. I thought I’ll just cook a few dishes, bring a decent photographer, and write up the recipes. That’s basically it, right? Wrong! If you ever find yourself approaching a task (and task) this simplistically, please wait and do the research.

Before I get into the numbers it’s important to understand what money is being spent for. Also, the standard of your product quality will, naturally, have a significant impact on your budget. I knew from the get-go that food is going to be sacred in my creation and therefore hired the services of, not only, an amazing food photographer (yes there is a specialty for that) but also a genius food stylist. Together they made sure the imagery allows you, the readers, to appreciate and respect these culinary creations. However, this did come with a meaningful cost…

In addition – editing, designing, and proof-reading are three tasks that, in my case, involved three different subcontractors. My type of engagement requires people who know their stuff, especially in areas where I have very little to contribute. Therefore, hiring great people did bring about higher costs…

The final part of costs associated with the creation of the product are ingredients, locations (if you’re renting them), models (or like in my case, friends, and family) and let’s not forget the cannabis (though I do realize this is an extremely specific cost item for High Cookery… or is it?!)

But wait! If you think that if you’ll build it – they will come you are wrong. Now comes the second part, the business part – how much inventory will you print? Will you print locally (costs more per unit) or in China (bulk printing). Or is it purely digital? Marketing your creation can take as much money as you can spare for public relations, click-ads, search engine optimization, promotions to increase your reviews and placements, and more and more.

Your time is obviously another highly subjective factor. I authored most of the book while backpacking for a year with family in Southeast Asia. therefore, the cost of my time was marginal – but if you only have a few hours a week in between work and other activities you definitely need to consider this objective vis-à-vis other goals and tasks.

So now that I laid down the general theoretical foundation of my budgetary experience, let’s dive into the numbers in the next posts.