How to Ghostwrite Cookbooks
Being a ghostwriter can mean a lot of things. It can require you to do all of the work, including the research, or it can mean being given a draft and simply writing the content fluidly.
One of the benefits is that you can get paid for doing what you love. There is also a wide variety of topics that you can write about, primarily if you work for a ghostwriting service provider. Furthermore, as a ghostwriter, you do not have to be in the limelight at all–a fact that puts many introverted writers at ease.
Another advantage of ghostwriting is that you can write about what you enjoy most. If you love history, you can write about it. If you enjoy mysteries, you can keep yourself busy writing the next Inspector Clouseau novel. And if you love cooking, you can write cookbooks as if you’re Julia Child.
So what do you do if you’re asked to write a cookbook, but you’ve never written one before? You love to cook, and you know how to write, but you’ve never put these two together.
Read on as you learn the ins and outs of cookbook ghostwriting.
How Can You Ghostwrite Cookbooks More Easily?
If you’ve decided to try ghostwriting cookbooks, we’ll explain how to make the process easier so that your writing takes less time and goes smoothly.
Ask For A Detailed Set Of Requirements
The first thing that you should do is to ask the client for the requirements. They should be as detailed as possible, complete with the gender of the author, the targeted demographic, etc. The customer may offer sample cookbooks that they want you to gain inspiration from. If they don’t, ask if they have any preferences.
Have Your Sample Outline Approved
Your clients for cookbook projects might not have outlines prepared. However, when you know about what they want to see in the content, you should be able to make one.
You shouldn’t begin to write until you have clear requirements from your client and an approved outline. This might require some back and forth communication until you settle on a final outline.
Stick to What the Client is Looking For
When you are ghostwriting, it’s important that you stick with your client’s requirements. You can offer suggestions, but if the client rejects them, don’t take it personally and continue with their requirements, even if you don’t feel it’s the right direction to take.
If you aren’t comfortable writing what the client requested, then by all means gracefully decline the project. You’ll have trouble putting your best into a project that you can’t feel good about, so don’t try.
Do a Lot of Research
Depending on what type of cookbook your client requests, you will need to research the recipes and often research the nutritional value of the ingredients. The client might want you to prepare weekly or monthly meal plans.
Your client likely will be looking for a specialized cookbook and not a generic one with a potpourri of recipes.
If you work as a cookbook ghostwriter, you might want to consider keeping an arsenal of recipes on hand with all of the research done. That way, you can eliminate some of the front-end work, although you don’t want to use the same recipe for more than one client. You can revise it, but don’t reuse it because your other client will be plagiarizing, even though some recipes are quite similar. You need to find a way to change them up a bit.
Try The Recipes if There’s Still Time
The professional ghostwriters who have co-authored the cookbooks of top chefs and celebrities have mentioned that cooking is a part of their writing process. They have stood alongside the person whom they were writing for at the time and tasted the dishes, so they know how to explain the process and taste in words.
Considering there is no way for you to meet the client in person, but you have some time for cooking, you should try to make some of the recipes in the cookbook that you are writing. Not only will it help you to determine if you need to tweak the instructions or ingredients, but it will also allow you to bring something new to the dinner table.
Add Personality to the Cookbook
Clients will specify the tone or style of writing that they’d like. It should match the kind of dishes that will appear in the cookbook. For example, if you need to write about foods that can only be found in fine-dining restaurants, you have no choice but to use formal words. In case your audience is chill (think millennials and cool parents), you are free to use an informal tone. Either way, they can add personality to the cookbook. Your client may ask you to add humor or cooking quotes, or little tidbits about each recipe. They might ask you to write recommendations for complementing deserts or wines.
Practical Tips for Cookbook Ghostwriters
Specify Your Target Demographic
From the book title, you need to indicate who can benefit from the recipes you have written. For instance, naming the book “Keto Cookbook For Busy Moms” requires you to have filled it with ketogenic recipes that mothers can prepare. Describing the moms as “busy” individuals is a telltale sign that the dishes are quick and easy to make.
In the book’s introduction or description, you can add other details. How many recipes will the readers find, for instance? What are the advantages of buying this cookbook over the others? Furthermore, how many minutes do they have to allot for each recipe?
Double-Check Your Cooking Instructions
You should also not forget to double-check your cooking instructions for all the dishes. If possible, triple-check them.
No matter how amazing your editor, they might not be familiar with the recipes to know if they are accurate. While they will check for grammar and punctuation, they probably won’t know if you need one teaspoon of vanilla extract or one tablespoon.
Recipe accuracy is the responsibility of the ghostwriter, and you don’t want to skimp on reviewing each entry.
List the Ingredients Accordingly
You need to list all of the ingredients that you have used to prepare a dish. You can add suggested substitutes or recommended brands.
You want to list the ingredients in order of their use. If the recipe calls for dry goods to be mixed together, you’ll want to add them first. You want to make it easy for the reader to follow the recipe, and by listing the ingredients in order, they can set up their workstation appropriately.
Choose a Single Metric System
Since you will ideally cater to the readers in the United States, you need to avoid deviating from the Imperial metric system and going to the International System of Units.
As a quick refresher course, remember that grams, kilograms, milliliters, and liters are all SI units. Their counterparts in the Imperial metric system are ounces, pounds, quarts, and gallons.
Of course, you’ll want to use the measurement system that your client requests, and if they request both, be sure to make the appropriate conversions.
It is most common to abbreviate all recipe measurements, and anyone who has used a cookbook is accustomed to this. You don’t want to abbreviate the ingredients as that can cause confusion for the reader.
Write the ingredient list individually line by line. For example:
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
When all the ingredients are listed as in the above example, you can then write how to put prepare and cook.
The next line should say:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll the dough into two greased pie plates, flour if needed to aid in spreading.
Bake the crusts for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature on a countertop. Do not refrigerate.
Add the cherry filling and with remaining dough, add a crisscross topping and pinch the edges closed. Cover the edges with aluminum foil to prevent burning and remove in the last 10 minutes to brown.
This is an example of how a recipe should be written; however, you’ll want to have your format approved by your client.
Being asked to ghostwrite cookbooks can be a daunting experience if you’ve never done it before. You may need to spend days researching recipes. Of course, you need to familiarize yourself with cooking terminology.
Nevertheless, in the ghostwriting world, remember that versatility makes you extremely bankable. You may not have tried writing cookbooks, but you can learn how to do it. It may not be perfect the first time, but you can turn to your client and even your editor for guidance to better understand the process.