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Market Your Cookbook

Contributed by: Pamela White

Divine recipes, luscious photographs - this is your first cookbook and you look forward to those big royalty checks. So what's your marketing plan for this book? What are you doing to increase sales?

New writers often think the publisher arranges for all publicity. Not true. As the writer, you have most at stake so it will benefit you most to take a proactive stance when it comes to promoting and selling your cookbook.

Much of the research can take place while you are planning and writing your book. Visit bookstores and study the cookbooks that are on the shelves. Note the different types of cookbooks and who are writing them. Discern which books are your direct competition for sales. Create ways to make yourself stand out.

After your book is at the publisher but before it is released contact magazine editors, ezine publishers and website owners. Ask if they will review your book and wait for a reply before you incur the cost of shipping.

Write articles or offer excerpts from you cookbook to magazines that cater to your audience.

Tap your local newspaper for interviews and reviews. Pick up the phone and ask for a feature reporter (look for bylines in the features, lifestyle, or Sunday special sections) and offer yourself up as the subject of an article.

Build a website using your name or your book's name as the domain. Take all those published reviews, articles, newspaper features and anything else anyone has said about your book and link to it, or excerpt it. You can also use quotes from reviews in any press release you send out.

Once your book is published call bookstores as far as you are willing to travel and offer to do a book signing, cooking demonstration or reading. Do not give up. Keep calling and planning and promoting. Bring along giveaways to book signings. Have bookmarks, recipe cards, or notepads printed up with your name, website and book cover prominently displayed.

Don't stop with bookstores. Check out cookware stores and gourmet shops that will stock your cookbook, and who might even welcome you to demonstrate your recipes on a busy Saturday.

Ask all your friends to help spread the word by joining food-related discussion lists, setting up book signings in their local bookstores, and writing reviews of your book.

Contact television and radio stations to see if they are looking for a feel-good news story or if you can be a guest on one of their shows.

Having a new cookbook out or being a local published author is newsworthy, but how do you keep the marketing effort up long term? Find a way to connect your recipes with events. Dessert cookbooks are easily linked with holidays like Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and weddings. Healthy food cookbooks are great for January (New Year's resolutions), spring (getting ready for summer clothes) and right after a new medical report comes out about the danger of fat, meat, sugar, wheat allergies and junk food.

If you want ongoing coverage from local, regional and national news media send out announcements on your expertise. Include any food science and nutrition background you have to widen your appeal as an expert.

Donate your cookbook as a prize or to be auctioned off for charity. Not only will the lucky winner learn who you are, but so will all the other readers, listeners and viewers as the contest or auction is promoted for the weeks leading up to it.

The key to marketing your cookbook is persistence. Try everything above, then go back through the list again and again. Marketing your cookbook successfully can be likened to making a snowball. You start with a few individual ideas, add on more each day or week, and soon you've got a snowball whose momentum will carry you, and your cookbook, out into the world.

Pamela White is the publisher of Food Writing, a bi-weekly newsletter. She is the author of Six Weeks to Making Money as a Food Writer and instructor of an 8-week online food writing class. For more information or to subscribe, please visit: www.food-writing.com


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