In honor of National Cookbook Launch day on October 12, I wanted to highlight some important book discovery strategies specifically for our cookbook authors to use on their cookbook marketing journey.
Book discovery is challenging across genres, but cookbook marketing and branding is a whole other ballgame.
You have to be unique. You have to have a strong brand. You have to be relevant.
So ideally, before you even release your book, you’ve sorted out what your brand is, and what you need to do to stay true to that brand, and what kinds of cookbook marketing strategies are going to support that brand long term.
While this list could go on and on, my goal is to highlight 5 key areas I want all cookbook authors to focus on when they’re preparing for their launch and supporting their ongoing book discovery.
Saying your buyer market is people who love good food is like saying, “Anyone who can read will love my novel!” It’s too broad. It’s impossible to draw inspiration for your cookbook marketing when you’re trying to juggle so many different factors.
If you haven’t done a reader profile yet, please download my free worksheet. It will help you immensely when it comes to figuring out who to target with your book discovery strategies.
What if your cookbook is already out?
No need to worry! Even if your cookbook wasn’t produced with a specific buyer market in mind, you can still create more focus going forward.
This is where your website, your blog and your social media come to the rescue. Perhaps your book wasn’t focused enough. That’s in the past now. What you can do now is realign the rest of your brand to ensure you’re attracting the right people – and by the right people I mean the people most likely to buy your book.
Food photography is not something everyone is capable of doing despite the fun and sometimes desperate attempts you see on social media.
Be sure you’re setting aside a reasonable budget to get really high quality, professional images of your food taken, and use those same images to inspire your cover.
Books are 100% judged by their covers and when it comes to cookbook marketing, this really will make or break your success.
And when it comes to supporting your brand, think about how your imagery can play into this as well. Maybe that means images of kids and families enjoying your food. Or maybe that means setting up a cocktail party. If your presentation is something you want to highlight, consider having images taken of the process you go through to create your dishes. Step by step images aren’t necessary for every recipe by any means, but get creative with how you can take it beyond just the finished meal on a plate.
Publishing your cookbook is just the first step. Your cookbook marketing makes up the next 1,000 steps, and a big part of this is your online content.
You already invested in all this amazing imagery, so you better be using it on your website. But it goes even further than that.
Book discovery happens in a lot of different ways, and social media is definitely one of them. Food, cuisine, recipes and entertaining make up such a massive percentage of social media content it’s hard to even wrap your mind around.
So you can’t possibly stay off social media and expect to have a successful career as a cookbook author.
But this doesn’t mean you have to quit your job to leave bread crumbs of brilliance all over the internet. Use your reader profile to determine the best places for you to be, and this has a lot to do with the demographics of your readers.
People who use Instagram aren’t all the same people who use Twitter, who aren’t all the same people who use Pinterest, and so on.
Once you figure out which platforms your target reader markets prefer, that’s where you should spend your time – it’s not about being everywhere, it’s about being everywhere that matters.
Then you need to plan your content! And I suggest planning it to avoid rushing to come up with smart things to say and post.
Remember, the goal with cookbook marketing on social media is engagement. Think of social media as free market research, so you want to always think of ways to get your followers to keep the conversation going with you.
Maybe it’s your style to host a weekly Q&A for readers about their struggles. Or maybe it’s tips for shortening the prep work required for daily meals. The options are endless really, and I love a series, a theme, because it gives you focus and it’s something your followers can learn to rely on and come back for.
Cookbook marketing is just like every other genre when I preach that you need to keep in mind that people like what other people like.
Think how many restaurants you’ve tried because someone recommended it? Or how many recipes you’ve asked for after trying something at someone’s house?
You have to take that connection people have with food and translate it to book discovery.
A natural way to do this is by pitching bloggers. Blogger pitching is a cornerstone cookbook marketing strategy because it gets thought leaders on your side, promoting your book for you.
Again, your reader profile comes into play, who do these people go to for inspiration, advice and entertainment? Those are the people you want to approach about featuring your book and hopefully doing an interview with you.
This is also another opportunity to highlight your uniqueness. You need to add value to the blog owner’s site, this is not a one-way street. Can you offer books for a giveaway? Can you create a special recipes just for their followers? Dig deep and make them a special offer and you’re more likely to get a yes.
Generating reviews is a standard part of your book discovery strategy, of course, but it’s even more crucial for cookbook marketing because you’re asking for a much bigger commitment from potential buyers.
Think about it, you’re telling people you have answers to their food and dietary needs, you’re asking them to commit a good amount of time, energy, and money in purchasing ingredients and preparing food according to your instructions – it’s a big ask. Much bigger than giving a new romance author a shot.
So reviews are critical for convincing new potential buyers that you’re a sure thing.
Putting your cookbook up for pre-order is a great way to start establishing reviews. Get it up on Amazon so people know you’re serious, and then start offering free copies of your books in exchange for honest reviews.
Bloggers can play a huge role in this as well, send copies to bloggers in your market and request a blurb for your Amazon page and website.
Speaking of your website, create a page dedicated to reviews and positive feedback. Yes, reviews on Amazon are super important, but it’s not the only place to track accolades.
You can also ask people to post images of the meals they create and tag you on social media as a really fantastic way to expand your reach.
And if you really want to be a cookbook marketing superstar, have a fun freebie you can offer people for posting reviews or tagging you on social. Maybe it’s a special bonus recipe that’s updated for the time of year, whether it’s a Thanksgiving side dish, a new Christmas cookie recipe, an irresistible appetizer for a New Year’s party – keep it current, keep it special, and always make it about your readers.
The takeaway here is that when you start to plan your cookbook marketing you have to be different. I hope you’re ready for that challenge, because it’s rewarding as hell once it starts paying off.
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