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Publishing a Cookbook for Manly Men

 I'm a 28 year old male with an idea for a cookbook, a "MAN'S COOKBOOK." I would like your opinion. I would use words like a man – no hints or dashes of this and that. More like "grab the milk" and "bust an egg." Also grillin' terms.

 We are certain the world is waiting for just such a book. That didn't sound very manly, did it? How about, "Dude! What are you waiting for?"

Dude, it is very hard to break into the world of cookbook publishing, but the publishing world is always looking for something new, something different, and in particular, writers who have a "voice," a big personality, and a unique perspective. That's your advantage.

Dude, your challenge is getting your idea in front of the right publisher, and that is likely to involve getting it in front of a good agent. In other words, you've got to be able to sell your idea, and you'll probably have to make a hundred pitches or more to agents and publishers before you get in front of the right people.

Dude, it's not enough to have an idea. You've got to have great recipes – recipes that not only work, but work for your egg-bustin audience, especially if you're going to use your own vocabulary. Cookbooks and recipes have become so standardized (often bland) in an effort to make recipes work for nearly everyone who picks up a book. If you are going to express your recipes in manly terms, you've got to be sure men can cook from them. And, again, dude, you've got to be able to convince agents and publishers that they can.

Dude, you've got to show the agents/publishers that you can actually produce a whole book, that you are nearly (or, better yet, already) done; that you have the patience, attention to detail, and good attitude to work with an editor through the editing, revising, indexing, and production processes; and that you will be the biggest manly cheerleader for your manly book that they have ever known (that you will travel all over the country on your Harley, camp out on friends' couches, give countless interviews, bust a lot of eggs on morning television shows, and be the primary salesman for your book). (Dude, are you good looking? Hate to say it, but that will help.)

Dude, you've got to be able to convince the agents/publishers that there is a manly market for your book. Our brief search at shows some books in your niche (a totally unmanly word!), but not many that are recent. Why? Have there been no good manly ideas since the turn of the millennium? Is there no market for manly cookbooks? Have publishers failed at marketing manly cookbooks to manly men? If so, it will be hard to convince them they can open a market they have failed to crack before.

Dude, David Joachim, a successful cookbook author and a member of a marginally less successful rock and roll band, had sold more than half a million copies of his A Man, A Can, A Plan series, and has certainly has shown that there is a market for men's cookbooks. Your job is to convince some agent-publisher combination that you are the next right guy to serve that market.

Dude, with the contraction of the publishing world, a certain number of cookbook authors have had to create their own success by self-publishing a first book (including writing, editing, design, photography or art (if any), promotion, sales, etc., etc.), in the hopes of interesting an established publisher for a subsequent printing or a subsequent book. Self-publishing has gotten a little easier with various print-on-demand and online sales options, but it will take all your manly drive to achieve success. The other option, of course, although it is also a long-term proposition, is to create a Web site, stock it with compelling recipes, surround them with paid advertising, and see how long it takes to achieve a large enough audience to support your efforts.

Dude, in other words, work like mad to make your cookbook happen, but don't give up your day job!

For our part, Ochef is happy to serve readers of all genders.


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