One of the easiest ways to get into selling products is to produce an electronic recipe book. These books can range anywhere from a short, 20-recipe PDF to a full-sized cookbook available as a PDF or as a Kindle book. I mainly did full-sized cookbooks and almost every cookbook I wrote we sold both as a printed cookbook and as a digital one.
Electronic books come as either a PDF you sell yourself, or an ebook such as Kindle, iTunes, or Nook. Our general breakdown for our books was 79% of sales were from printed books with the remaining 21% from electronic books. The Kindle accounted for 19%, iTunes for 3%, PDFs for 1.5%, and 0.4% for the Nook.
The majority of our focus was on printed cookbooks, but electronic books still brought in thousands of dollars a year for us. The exact numbers varied widely for each book, ranging from $50 a month to $1,000 a month. Most fell in the $100 to $300 a month range. This could easily have been increased with more of a focus on the electronic versions.
These books also continue to bring in money, meaning if you publish multiple ones, the profits stack over time. Last year we made $700 from electronic sales of a book we published in 2012 (and another $2,250 from print sales).
Creating the electronic book is a relatively easy process if you already have recipes written that you'd like to use. It's easy to look online and find a few designs for simple ebooks that can be implemented with a basic understanding of Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. If you want to go for a fancier design, you can hand over your book to a consultant at Upwork who can make it look very professional.
We use E-junkie to handle the money collection and delivery of the PDF ebooks, which makes the process super easy to set up using a simple "Buy Now" link anywhere on your website. And submitting the electronic file to the Kindle and Nook is very easy. iTunes is a little harder but not too bad.
If you do a PDF recipe book, I also highly recommend testing out having it printed by CreateSpace (now Kindle Direct Publishing) so it is available on Amazon. Printed books turned out to be much more lucrative for me than selling PDFs ever was.
Examples to Spark Ideas
What cookbook subject looks best to you? Let me know in the comments below.