Use a Potluck to Boost Sales

Cookbook, Potluck, Fundraising

Having a plan on how you are going to sell your cookbooks when they arrive is an essential part to a fundraising cookbook. Combining cookbook sales with food is a perfect combination for success.

Hosting a potluck featuring some of the recipes in the book gives your community a chance to try out the recipes and fall in love with your book. Here are a few tips from our customers that will help make this a successful event!

  • Encourage people bringing dishes to the potluck to use the recipes they submitted. Have index cards ready so you can list the name of the recipe and the page it can be found on to set next to the dish.
  • If a recipe has been submitted in memory of someone consider placing a framed photo of them next to the dish made from their recipe.
  • Have pens handy and encourage people to autograph each other’s cookbooks. This is a perfect keepsake! Think back to the days when people signed and left little notes in year books. Imagine the treasure of opening your cookbook to a handwritten message from a friend.
  • If the potluck is close to the holidays consider inviting a youth group to set up a gift wrap station with donated paper and accept donations for gift wrapping.
  • Some groups may find it fun to have a “photo booth” where people can pose with the cookbook and a few staged kitchen utensils. These photos will also be perfect to share on social media to spread the word even further.
  • Have a table for children to sit and create “bookmarks” for the cookbook. Encourage people to buy the cookbook as a gift and include their child’s bookmark as a special touch.
  • No time for a potluck? Feature a few of the cookie/bar recipes from the cookbook and have a coffee or tea party.

Planning ahead for the potluck will also give people a chance to pick up copies they pre-ordered at the event as well. Try to set the date by the time you approve your order for the cookbooks so you can use this as a launch party. If you already have your books it’s never too late to boost sales with a potluck. Go ahead and put those cookbooks to good use and let them sell themselves.

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Starting a Personal or Family Cookbook

The idea of creating a cookbook can seem overwhelming, but in reality, creating a cookbook these days is as easy as rounding up ingredients for a recipe. Let’s take a look at the beginning steps of a cookbook.

The best starting point is to obtain a copy of our cookbook guide. This will give you a basic understanding of the different parts of a cookbook. The guide will also give standard options for submitting recipes.

Gather, select, and sort your recipes. There are a variety of ways of doing this, but knowing if you are going with an online submission or sending the recipes to us to type, will give you a starting point. Dividing the recipes into categories as you go, also makes sorting easier.

Set a submission date goal. Having a goal gives you something to work toward. We suggest setting a submission date that is 6 weeks before you want the books in hand. This allows extra time and takes the pressure off. (Books can be completed in as little as 2 weeks with rush processing, but allowing extra time takes pressure off you during the proofing process.)

Call or email questions. In today’s world, a lot of people are surprised when we answer the phone. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. If it’s after hours, write down your question or email it to us right then, so you can get it off your mind and keep working. Then, as soon as we are back in the office, we can discuss the question and get you back on track. As with all technology, there can be glitches. If you do not get a reply in a reasonable time, try contacting us again.

Support, having a trusted friend or family member to confide in, ask to help, or work alongside can make the project a fun adventure. A second set of eyes that knows you, is a valuable tool to spot errors and make suggestions.

Get started today by requesting a free guide online, by email or phone!

Request guide online at:


Call: 1-800-383-1679/319-334-8608

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How to Propose a Cookbook Project to a Committee

So you think a cookbook would be the perfect project for your group or organization to raise funds or just to share a keepsake book of recipes. Here are some tips for proposing your idea to the group.

Request a copy of our FREE Cookbook Guide. This informative packet includes not only the guidebook but also a pricing sheet, order form and a sample cookbook that shows examples of our recipe design options.

List the benefits of a cookbook project. Here is a sample list and you may have other thoughts that are more applicable.

  • A group project that everyone can participate in by sharing recipes.
  • Raising funds with a keepsake item that will be treasured for years to come.
  • Providing the community with a cookbook of tried-and-true recipes.

Have a plan. Outline your plan from start to finish to give the group an idea of what is involved. The guidebook can be helpful, or you are welcome to call Cookbook Specialists, for help with ideas on what plan will work best for you.

Here is a sample plan.

  • How many recipes you would like the book to be and how many you would like each member to contribute.
  • Date you would like recipes submitted by, date you want order submitted to Cookbook Specialists and date that you expect the cookbooks in hand.
  • Selecting from the guidebook (or conversation with Cookbook Specialists) information on how recipes will be sorted and submitted.
  • Discussing the plan for selling the books.
  • Funding options. Check our guidebook for terms and conditions or our blog on Funding Fundraising Cookbooks for ideas that would work for your group.

Finally, be prepared to overcome objections. If someone has a question or concern that you don’t have the answer to, simply say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll check into it and will get an answer for you this week.” Then simply call us and we will discuss the question/concern so you can bring the answers back to your group.

Don’t hesitate to contact Cookbook Specialists, with questions. We have years of experience working with groups just like yours and we are happy to help.

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Merchant Ads

Selling ad space to local businesses is a great way to boost your profits or fund your book costs. Simply set your price per ad (most groups double or triple the price of the ad). Ads can also be sold to members of your group as dedication or memorial pages. Ad pages are located behind the index and are in black and white.

Ads are offered in full-page, half-page or quarter-page sizes and pricing can be found in Cookbook Specialists’ Guidebook.

Reaching out to local businesses asking if they want to purchase an ad is a good way to start. You may also want to expand and reach out to home-based businesses as well. We have some tips to get you started.

Pricing the ads is your first step. Cookbook Specialists lists suggested ad prices in the guidebook and you are welcome to charge more if you wish.

You can reach out to us for a template that shows the sizes of the ads so you can take that to businesses to show them what is available and pricing to go with it.  One recommendation we have is that the quarter-page ads are the perfect size of a standard business card. Some businesses have stock ads for the newspaper and those may fit a half or full-page ad better.

Letting business owners know approximately how many books you are printing gives them an idea of how many people will be seeing their ad.

Have 3 envelopes and sheets to keep track of the ads. Label them clearly as full-page, half-page and quarter-page. When you collect the ad, make sure to add the name of the person, the amount they paid and the name of the ad to the list and place the image in the envelope.

Note – it is helpful to have a list of the ads when you submit your order. Keep in mind our design team will not know that John Smith owns ABC Auto, so use the name that is on the ad when providing us with a list of the ads.

Make sure ads do not have tape, staples or paper clips that will damage other ads if you are mailing them. If you will be scanning and emailing the ads electronically, then name the file names the name of the business.

Cookbook Specialists can provide you with emailed sample pages. Just give us a call at 1-800-363-1679, or email at

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Tips for Collecting Recipes From a Group

Before you start collecting recipes consider what categories you would like in your book, what kind of recipes you want and how many recipes you would like.

For some groups, having specific types of recipes makes your cookbook stand out more.  You can ask people to submit recipes they use on a daily basis, for special holidays, potlucks, etc. Selecting categories will give you direction in what to ask for. Examples are appetizers, breads, main dishes and desserts.

The number of recipes will determine the thickness of your book and will weigh heavily in the pricing for your book – so if you know how much you want to sell the cookbook for, that is a good place to start to figure the number of recipes you will need.

Set a reasonable deadline, but don’t allow too much time. Typically 2 weeks to a month is a good window to request recipes. If your group only meets once a month, you may want to extend that to two months total. If you extend the time further, then people will put off their submission until they forget.

Is your group more a paper and pencil type of group or digital? Handing out recipe forms to collect recipes is great for groups with members who don’t have or like to use technology. We have a PDF of a recipe form we can email to you or you are welcome to create your own. For those with a more technology based group, try requesting recipes via email or have them photograph and send images of recipes to you. Another option is to create a contributor login on a web account and have members type the recipes directly into your cookbook project.

Sending an email or handing out a letter or newsletter is a great way to let your group know what you are looking for. 

Things to include in your recipe collection letter:

  • What categories you are looking for. Examples: appetizers, desserts and main dishes.
  • Let them know how many recipes you expect each member to submit and you can include a note that duplicate recipes may be removed.
  • Remind them to include a contributor name (who submitted the recipe and to make sure the name is readable.
  • Remind them to make sure recipes are complete and include all steps.
  • Include how they are to submit the recipe and when the recipes are due. Make sure you have an easy collection place or email.*
  • Finally, ask how many copies of the cookbook they will be wanting. Pre-booking orders and getting a general count from the recipe submissions will give you an idea of how many books you may be needing.

If you are need assistance putting together a letter that fits your organization’s needs perfectly, call or email us – we will be happy to help you put it together.

Options For Collecting Recipes – Out of the box ideas for recipe round up.

  • Host a potluck and share recipes – Photograph/copy recipes to use for the book.
  • Coffee – Meet for beverages and snacks. Have everyone bring their favorite recipe books/boxes to go through.
  • Contest – Have each recipe count as an entry to win a free copy of the cookbook.
  • Kids – Don’t rule out including cute recipes from children. Ask them to write the recipe how they think their favorite dish is made. We can include them word for word with all the cuteness!
  • Visits – Have your committee members go out and meet with housebound members for coffee and look through their recipes. It is a great way to include those that can’t get out and spend quality time with those members.

*Some groups will set up a dedicated email for their cookbook so that more than one person has access to it. They will then use the email as a way for people to request copies of the book after it’s printed. If you set up a cookbook email, make sure that you have someone check it daily – otherwise make sure we have the chairperson’s email so we can get ahold of someone immediately with questions. 

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Here Comes the Bride…With a Cookbook!

Cookbooks as Wedding Favors

After the engagement ring slips onto the finger, planning for the big day begins. Picking the day, place, venue, flowers, music… the list goes on. Making the day special with personal touches is what guests will remember for years to come. Personalized wedding favors for guests to take home are a perfect memento from a beautiful day.

Creating a cookbook gives you the chance to bring pieces of both families together and allows you to introduce the different flavors of your families. A family cookbook may include recipes from ancestors brought from the old world. It may also have recipes from family members that have married into the family that have very different ethnic backgrounds. Traditional holiday foods, special birthday dishes, and family favorites can be shared. You can even have a section in the cookbook of favorite foods/snacks for ballgames to include a groom or bride’s favorite sport or team.

Add photos to your cookbook. Use an engagement photo, candid shot, or a photo of a favorite place. There are also beautiful predesigned covers and dividers to choose from. Photos can also be added to dividers and personal pages.

A personalized story about the couple and how they met can be placed at the front of the book.  Additional pages can be added with a list of the bridal party, thoughtful notes, an expression of thanks for those that have helped with the special day or remembrance pages for loved ones that have passed away.

If you have an image of a cardboard box full of cookbooks waiting to be handed out at the wedding, think again. A ribbon coordinated with the wedding colors can be tied around each book. For an extra touch you can add a tag or print directly on the ribbon, “Today two are bound as one” or some other catchy phrase or quote. Place books in baskets to be picked up at the door.

Other options for displaying cookbooks: For a country or downhome feel, arrange cookbooks in an old washtub, canner or crate. For a modern wedding look, place cookbooks on a small shelving unit that will become a piece of furniture in your new house. Put this on a shower registry so you have it for the wedding!  A classic and elegant design may include placing cookbooks in individual gift bags with a few chocolates or other goodies and then arranged on tables. A fun twist is to have young members of the bridal party hand them out.

As a final touch to a perfect day have someone take a copy of the book around to be autographed & signed by loved ones and friends for your kitchen. Having grandma autograph her famous cookie recipe, a note from mom about love next to her recipe for pot roast, and a drawn picture of a cat next to your niece’s recipe for a jam sandwich will be treasured for years to come. Make sure to keep a few extra copies for your future children!

Start your wedding favor cookbook today at or request a free guide!

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Anatomy of a Cookbook

All books have a beginning, middle and end. That’s what we learned in school but what about cookbooks? My English teachers, in preparing me for life, somehow missed the chapter on how to write a cookbook. Let’s see if we can shed light on this topic. Cookbook Specialists has a recommended “standard” cookbook layout that fits well for most cookbook projects.

  • Front Cover
  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Personal Pages
  • Dividers & Recipes
  • Value Added Sections
  • Index
  • Sales Page
  • Back Cover


Covers are the window to the soul of a cookbook. The cover is the first thing people see, so choose a cover that matches the theme of your cookbook. Cookbook Specialists has pre-designed covers, you can create your own or submit a photo/ image and have a custom one created. When choosing your cover, keep your title and subtitle in mind as they may lead you to the perfect fit.          

Back covers are a great place for displaying a photo, poem or brief description of your book. It’s fine to leave the back cover blank but if you need a place to spotlight a photo, this may be a perfect fit.

The insides of the front and back cover are often overlooked. There is a charge to print in these locations, but it’s a cost effective place to locate dedications or an important photo.

Title Page/Publication Page-

A standard title page is simply a repeat of the  title and subtitle from your cover in a font that matches the theme of your book. You can request a custom title page of text at no charge. Title pages customized with images have a small per book charge added.

Table of Contents-

This page lists your categories and what pages they start on. It also lists additional sections at the back of the book such as value added sections and indexes.

Personal Pages-

Cookbook Specialists offers five free personal pages starting on the back of the table of contents. While these pages have an unlimited number of possibilities, keep in mind there are charges for images on these pages. If you have more than five pages worth of material, talk with a Cookbook Specialists customer service representative about the cost of adding additional pages.

 Dividers & Recipes-

The dividers and recipes are the true body of your book. Recipe pages are laid out using the format and typestyle you select from our list of options. Dividers keep recipes sorted into categories for easy reference and designs can be selected from Cookbook Specialists pre-designed list or custom ones can be created. The backs of the dividers can also be printed. Talk with a Cookbook Specialists customer service representative on how to submit text/photos for custom dividers.

Value Added Sections-

Cookbook Specialists knows that sometimes to increase the value of a book it may need just a little something extra. We have five sets of Value Added Sections to choose from that can be added to the back of your book in order to add bulk and additional content.

  • Cooking & Nutritional Tips
  • Gifts from the Kitchen
  • Household Hints
  • Kid’s Kitchen Crafts
  • Nutrition for the Soul

Each section is 16 pages packed with useful information. If you have a low recipe count or feel a little something extra is needed to round out your book consider adding some of these sections.


Cookbook Specialists provides a free alphabetical index of your recipes divided by category to help people quickly find the recipe they are looking for. We also offer a Contributor Index listing recipes with page numbers under each contributor’s name. There is a charge for adding a Contributor index, but it is a very nice addition to community-based cookbooks.

Merchant Ads-

For those that choose to sell merchant ads, they will be placed after the index. Full page ads appear first and then half page then finally quarter page ads. Merchant ads are a great way to help fund the printing of the book and boost your profits.

Sales Page-

If you plan to sell your book, use the sales page to list contact information for the purchase of additional copies. You can choose to list the name of a person, organization, a mailing address, email address, website and phone number.

You are now at the back cover of your book. We hope you enjoyed your tour of the cookbook anatomy. As we mentioned above; this is the standard layout that we have found works best for most cookbooks, however, we are happy to discuss customized options to create a cookbook that will fit your needs.

For a free sample cookbook that shows each of the above features or for more information on publishing your cookbook please contact us at 1-800-383-1679 or request a copy here.

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Updating Old Recipes

Vintage Recipes

Grandma’s recipe is a family favorite and a must have at every reunion, but as time goes by many family recipes are lost. Preserving recipes by placing them in a family cookbook is a great way to ensure that they will be around for generations to come. However, making sure a recipe can be recreated from the original is another thing altogether.

A generation or two back, many cooks measured ingredients with eyes and hands rather than measuring cups and spoons, and baking times were judged by smell and a quick peek rather than setting a timer. Today’s young cooks and those of tomorrow will be more reliant on exact instructions when cooking or baking. Figuring out grandma’s formula now will take the guess work out for people who never had the chance to taste the dish first hand.

Take time to recreate important heirloom recipes in the kitchen while making notes. This is a great way to make sure all steps are recorded. Ensure that all ingredients have measurements and there is a clear description of what they are. For brand name items, you may want to include a brief description of what the item is as some products may be discontinued or changed. Note the sizes of packages or cans as they may change over time so include the number of ounces a container contains.

Be descriptive in the directions. Include information like the size of baking pan needed and how items should be combined. Include a brief description on how long to stir or whip something and what it should look like when done. Finally, make sure baking and cooking times/temperatures are listed along with a description of what the final product looks like and how it should be served/stored.

There will always be some factors that can’t be controlled in recreating a recipe to make it perfectly like grandmas. Ingredients may change over time and even the difference between farm fresh and store bought can change the flavor, but by updating grandma’s recipe now you will ensure it will be enjoyed for generations to come. 

When including grandma’s recipe in a cookbook consider placing a scanned image of the hand written version on the front or back of a divider then start that category off with the recipe printed out. Including handwritten recipes in a cookbook is a great way to preserve a loved one’s handwriting. With many schools no longer teaching cursive writing, providing a printed version of the recipe is a great way to ensure it will be readable in the future.

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Preventing and Finding Typos When Typing Recipes

Typos can easily hide in recipes. Spell check catches misspelled words, but sometimes our subconscious or auto-correct alters our attempt at typing ‘bake’ to ‘back’. Then there are those words that no matter how hard we try, we always type them wrong. Here are some tips to help find these errors and get them corrected before submitting your cookbook order.

proofreading recipes

Read everything out loud. – When reading recipes out loud we are forced to really read the words that are there. It is easy to overlook mistakes when skimming through a recipe because our mind reads the word as it should be and not as it is written. This simple trick can catch the majority of incorrect words, incomplete sentences and missing directions.

Proofread recipes as you enter. – Take a minute to proofread recipes and clean up abbreviations as you enter them. This makes the proofreading process easier when you are done entering.

Keep a list of commonly misspelled words handy. – Whenever you look up the spelling of a word jot it down and create a cheat sheet. Examples would be words like jalapeno and cannelloni. Also note spellings of brand names like Jell-O vs. jello and Chef Boyardee.

Use the recipe PDF for proofing! – Did you know you could print off a copy of your recipes to proofread? When you log into your account click on the ‘recipes’ tab. Next, select the ‘cookbook categories’ sub-tab. On the left side you will see a“Create a PDF of your Recipes.” Clicking on this icon will allow you to email a copy of your recipes to yourself which you can print off and proofread. Seeing the recipes on paper may help you to spot typos.  

Search the words that are troublesome. –So your fingers always seem to type ‘back’ instead of ‘bake?’ Take a few minutes to search that word in your recipe PDF. Once you download the PDF save it to your computer desktop or in a folder. Now you will be able to search for incorrect words using the find feature. Open the PDF and hold down the control button and the F key to activate the search box. You can also bring up the search box by selecting Edit from the tool bar and then clicking on Find.

Type the word you often misspell for example ‘back’. You will then be able to go through the recipes by clicking next and see that word highlighted. Don’t forget you will need to login to your account to make corrections in your recipes.

Get a second set of eyes. – Print off the PDF of your recipes and have someone else read through them and mark errors that they find.

Step away, relax and try it again. – Sometimes the best way to find mistakes is to take some time away from your cookbook project to rest your eyes and clear your mind. Have a cup of coffee, take a walk, chat with a friend, or even take a nap. When you return to working on your recipes you will be more likely to not only find mistakes, but also make fewer mistakes as you work.

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