Learn seven valuable tips on preparing your cookbook for publishing or self-publishing. Save time and money on editing/proofreading with this expert advice.

If you’re writing or compiling a cookbook, there are steps you can take to make it user-friendly — and save on editing charges. First, if you’re sending it off to a cookbook publisher, check the instructions and format and follow it very closely. Cookbook publishers are very particular about how your recipes are submitted. Some allow extra comments or stories about the recipes, but some do not. Take the time to read the directions carefully to be sure you get published.

If you’re self-publishing or sending it to a publisher that doesn’t specify cookbook formats, try using the following tips as a guide. They will help your cookbook look more professional and eliminate confusion on the part of your readers. They will also save time for your editor/proofreader — and thus save you money and increase your profits.

  1. Order your ingredients according to order of use. The exception would be a main ingredient, say, chicken. You may put this item first.
  2. Use the same type of wording for each sentence of the instructions. For example, be brief—or not: “Strain beans and set aside” would be preferred to “Strain the beans and set them aside.”
  3. Use tsp for teaspoon and TBSP for tablespoon to easily differentiate the two (unless your publisher uses other abbreviations).
  4. Use the same format for describing how the ingredients should be prepared (such as 1 small onion, chopped; 1 can black beans, drained; or 2 TBSP chopped garlic; drained can black beans).
  5. Double-check to make sure your instructions tell you when to use every single ingredient.
  6. If using uncommon ingredients, place an asterisk with a note saying what it is and where it can be purchased.
  7. Run spellcheck. It doesn’t catch everything, but it sure is a great start.

Pay special attention to number 5 above. Many times a recipe will list ingredients that the instructions do not incorporate. There’s nothing worse than ending up with an expensive bowl of peeled, de-veined shrimp or a highly aromatic pile of finely chopped onion that your instructions have not told you how and when to add into your recipe.

Having a friend read the cookbook over is also a great help. Asking someone to make the recipes with you before you publish them can be another checkpoint — and a great way to spend time together while sampling some great food.

Finally, if you’re self-publishing, follow the tips above and do yourself a favor: Hire a professional proofreader or editor. It will be worth every cent.