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Monday, August 29, 2011

The New Homemaker Big Book of Crockpot Cookery


Author: Lynn Siprelle
Genre: Non-Fiction Cookbook
How long it's been on sale: 4 months
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: linked on my website, giveaways
Total sold so far: 28
Link to book on Amazon: The New Homemaker Big Book of Crockpot Cookery

Product Description:

At The New Homemaker, I've provided practical homemaking advice for the last twelve years. My readers ask three questions over and over:

* How can I save money on food?
* How can I save time on cooking?
* ...And how can I do either of these and still feed my family decent food that they'll love?

The answer lies with an appliance your mom probably had in the '70s--one that may be lurking in the back of your kitchen cabinet right now, in fact--the crockpot! Your crockpot can save you both time and money, and makes family-pleasing meals at the same time.

Maybe you came here hoping to find inspiration beyond a pot of beans. After all, how many crocks of beans can you cook up before your family cries, "Enough!" That's why I've put together this collection of 250 crockpot recipes, recipes for every kind of meal you can imagine, including:

* Breakfast
* Drinks
* Appetizers and Dips
* Hearty Soups and Stews
* Roasts and Chops
* ...Even Dessert!

Did you know you can actually bake a cake in a crockpot? Yes, and I'll tell you exactly how to do it with your favorite recipe.

SAVE TIME: Crockpot cooking is easy to plan ahead, and you're free to do other things instead of standing over the stove tapping your toes.

SAVE MONEY: Cheap cuts of meat are actually BETTER for crockpot cooking than expensive ones! Buy an inexpensive brisket, use one of the brisket recipes and you may find out you prefer brisket to steak! Long, slow cooking can turn even the toughest chicken into a meal to be remembered. Leftovers are easily frozen, saving even MORE time and money. And they're sometimes better than the original meal!

SAVE DINNER! With a crockpot and this guide, your family will eat better than they ever have! You'll be serving them hot, nutritious meals that they will positively GOBBLE down! 

First 300 Words:

Introduction

Thank you for buying The New Homemaker Big Book of Crockpot Cookery! Crockpot, or slow cooker, cooking doesn't just save time. It saves money! You can use cheaper cuts of meat, for example. These cuts--briskets, flank steaks, stew meats, stewing chickens--are actually meant to be cooked for a long time over low heat. It brings out their best flavors and makes them fork-tender as well.

You may note that many of these recipes call for canned creamed condensed soups and powdered soups. I myself don't like these products. They contain a lot of chemicals, too much sodium and MSG, and other dubious additives. You can make your own creamed condensed soup quickly and easily, and then you'll know exactly what's in it.

Condensed Cream Soup Substitute I:

1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat, add the chicken broth and milk a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil. Stir constantly until it thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Add saute'd chopped celery, celery seed, leftover chopped chicken or saute'd chopped mushrooms to make various creamed soups. Substitutes for one can of condensed soup.

Condensed Cream Soup Substitute II:

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant reduced sodium chicken or beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper

I don't care for this as much because of all the gunk that's in the bouillion, but it does work and it is quick. Put everything into an airtight container, give it a good whisk, and store. To use, stir together 1/3 cup dry mix and 1-1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add whatever you need to get the soup you're going for (chicken, mushrooms, celery, etc). This mix is equivalent to nine cans of condensed soup.

Vicki's Comments: I'm not fond of the cover, it looks like a painting and most cookbooks have photographs on them. I think a professional photo would do this book a world of good. I went to istockphoto.com and typed in "crock pot" in the search box and found quite a few great photos that would work well for this book.

The description is too long, and I get lost in it. Most people know what a crock pot is, I don't think you need to introduce them to one. It also doesn't tell me how many recipes I get with this book. That is one of the *most* important things you need to tell a potential buyer. I do like the list of things you can make in your crock pot. I think the description can be trimmed down to just the essentials, which should help with sales.

I didn't find anything wrong with the recipes in the sample, and I think this recipe book would appeal to a lot of people. My guess is the cover needs to be redone, and trim up the sample a bit.

What do you guys think?

22 comments:

  1. When I was getting married, I was bombarded with cookbooks and most people I know have a bazillion laying around. I personally don't use them often, and I would have a hard time convincing myself to buy another. It's a moderately tough sell with things like cooks.com now readily available.
    But, when I do use one, I like pictures of the completed dish so I know if I kind of hit the mark. Does it look good? If yes, I'll try it.
    Has anyone in your immediate circle tried these recipes? If so, you may want to include mini-reviews from the people you know.

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  2. I agree with Vicki about the cover. I'm sure the food is delicious, but the picture featured on the cover doesn't look very appetizing, especially when the weather's warm. That type of book may have increased sales as it gets cooler. I use my crockpot more during the wintertime.

    You do mention that there are 250 recipes, which is important information. The description should be pared down a bit, though. I rarely read more than two paragraphs of a book description myself, and then I skim over the other information quickly if I'm still interested.

    Your $2.99 price certainly is a good value, but I'm not sure if there's much demand for cookbooks on the Kindle. The device's small screen and greyscale graphics are a big drawback. It may present nicely on a larger device with color (such as the iPad) with a Kindle app, though. For me, cookbooks are very visual.

    I love my crockpot, but I'm not sure if they still enjoy the popularity they once did. I still have a number of crockpot cookbooks from the 1970s, and I'm not sure if I need another one. But if younger people are using crockpots, perhaps you can somehow target that demographic--young, busy mothers and working women too.

    I hope you sell MANY books!

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  3. Gah, you're right, it does say how many recipes! I totally missed that. Maybe make it stand out more?

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  4. Yes, the cover is definitely a problem. It looks like beans with bits of bone in it. You start out saying that beans can be boring and then you put a picture of boring old beans on the cover. A nice pot roast or stew with bright carrots would be better. A picture of a crockpot would be even better.

    I don't mind the length of the blurb as long as you're providing information as to what the buyer is going to find inside. For fiction, I like a shorter, tighter blurb. Not in your case.

    In your second recipe, you called one of your ingredients "gunk." This does not inspire confidence. I would leave out the recipe or say something like "I prefer not to use bullion cubes, but I'm including the recipe for those of you who do."

    I wouldn't think cookbooks for the kindle would sell very well. Do you have any photos of the dishes? If you have color photos, you might want to put it directly onto B&N since they have a color Nook.

    Thanks for the condensed soup recipe.

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  5. The cover actually looks a bit unappetizing to me, so I would strongly suggest replacing the image. And the description is definitely too long. I prefer to see descriptions under 250 words which seems to be about the most people will read and make it something more interesting than talking about crockpots in the 70s or beans. Mention a delicious sounding recipe that is unusual. Or unusual uses you suggest for them.

    I don't mind the word "gunk" by the way. Everyone knows that bouillon granules have "gunk" in them. I won't use them for fear someone has sneaked in some gluten.

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  6. Vicki, it's definitely a photo, not a painting, and Margaret, that's not a bone, that's an avocado slice. :) Having said that, I am more sure than ever before that the cover needs reworked--again.

    I actually like having cookbooks on my Kindle; it makes having the recipe in the kitchen easier than either a print-out of something from the web or heaven forfend the laptop itself.

    I'll work on shortening the blurb. When I wrote it, it was recommended to me to make it long. So I did. :)

    Thanks, folks!

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  7. J.R., yeah, I'm going to keep "gunk" because my whole point was that the first recipe was healthier but the second one was more convenient but less healthy because of the bouillion. I'm gluten-intolerant, too.

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  8. I think the main issues have already been discussed. The current cover is fairly bright and flat. Although I wouldn't recommend using the same image, just punching up the color saturation and contrast might help. The image should reflect the type of cooking, so I would suggest going for something where the color, composition, etc. enhance the concepts of depth, warmth, and richness (as in flavor, not money).

    As for the blurb, you're identifying the goals of saving the buyer time and money, but the book won't do that if the recipes and descriptions are long-winded, and a lengthy blurb might suggest that. You're already looking at shortening it, which is good. I would also envision your optimal audience for sales and think about the types of communication that are most suited to that audience. My guess is that you probably won't sell many to people 40 and older, because they probably have a crock pot and cookbooks to go with it, but somebody who is in their 20s or early 30s might be more interested.

    With that market in mind, hone your message to readers who are (stereotyped as?) impatient, expecting instant gratification, strongly self-oriented, etc. Don't start with your credentials, background, or anything about you; instead, start with the benefits they will get from your book. Maybe something like: "Fast, healthy, and flavor-packed -- without hassles and on a budget! Whether you're cooking for just yourself or you're feeding a family, these 250 easy recipes will free up your time and have you eating like royalty, with the help of one common kitchen servant: A crock pot." OK, maybe that's over the top (and getting wordy), but you can probably see what I'm getting at. Sell them on why they should slow down and see what you have to offer, before detailing what can be found in the book (and even then, keep it short and easy to skim).

    On another aspect of sales, right now it looks like your marketing is a bit limited, although "giveaways" could imply a lot of different things, so it's hard to know for sure. However, I expect there are many creative ways you could get your work in front of a lot of people. You might approach various parts of the crock pot supply chain (from the manufacturer down to the local non-chain retailers) to see about including a coupon for your book with crock pots (what better market than a person who just bought one?). Non-profit organizations often hold fund-raising auctions and look for donated items to auction off, and you could offer a free copy of your book (which might encourage them to find someone to donate a crock pot to create a product bundle). If you have a local county fair or something like that, perhaps a copy of your book would be a good addition to a prize package for a cooking competition -- it shouldn't hurt to ask, right? If none of these ideas are workable, maybe they'll trigger a different idea, but the main thing is to keep an eye out for creative marketing opportunities.

    BTW, I'm a fan of crock pot cooking, so I hope you do very well with your book!

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  9. How's this--any better? Can't post either a link or a picture, so you'll have to cut and paste I'm afraid...

    http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/files/imagecache/product/crockpot-cover-8-30-11.jpg

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  10. Lynn, I like that MUCH better!! Very good! :)

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  11. The new cover is miles better IMHO. But I would like to see a list of the recipes at the beginning and the condensed soup section putting in after this. If people only skim the beginning, I'm guessing they would want to know what recipes they will find inside.

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  12. Thanks for the feedback, guys. I dramatically shortened the blurb, too:

    Fast, economical, healthy and flavor-packed, crockpot meals can save you money, time and hassle--and your family will love them! You'll get 250 crockpot recipes for every meal:

    * Breakfast
    * Drinks
    * Appetizers and dips
    * Hearty soups and stews
    * Roasts and chops
    * ...Even dessert--you can bake a cake in a crockpot with your favorite recipe!

    SAVE TIME: These recipes are easy to plan ahead, and the crockpot does the work--you're free to do other things instead of standing over the stove tapping your toes.

    SAVE MONEY: The cheap cuts of meat in these recipes are better for crockpot cooking, and are more flavorful than expensive ones. Once you taste these dishes, you may find out you prefer brisket to steak!

    SAVE DINNER! With a crockpot and this book, you can make tasty, nutritious and inexpensive meals while you work, play or sleep.

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  13. Shaun, the actual beginning of the book is a table of contents. If I listed alllll the recipes it'd go on for pages! :)

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  14. Much better cover and blurb! :)

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  15. I love the new cover too. Be sure to have a recipe in there to match it. When I see a cover pic that looks really appetizing, I always look for that recipe first. :)

    With the economy the way it is, I'd focus marketing on some money saving forums and sites and I'll bet you will do well. It looks like a good and helpful book.

    Your book makes me want to buy a crock pot! I wish you much success.

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  16. Ah, my mistake. Sorry. Much better blurb by the way :)

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  17. I have to say I am intrigued by the claim that you can bake a cake in a crockpot. That alone might tempt me to spring for the book, though I can't boil toast without burning it. New cover is great!~

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  18. Much better cover, but I do agree to be sure there is a recipe in there that matches it pretty closely and put a note which one it is. I also tend to look for the recipe on the cover. LOL

    I like the blurb MUCH better as well. It would tempt me to buy the book. In fact, if it has at least some gluten-free recipes, I may just do that. :-)

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  19. I enjoy reading cookbooks, more than cooking part, so the original blurb wasn't an issue for me.
    To me, these two versions suggest a vast difference in the amount of recipes included:
    A.) That's why I've put together this collection of 250 crockpot recipes, recipes for every kind of meal ...
    B.) You'll get 250 crockpot recipes for every meal:

    The price of $2.99 is in line with my budget! (28 eBook sales in the first 4 months doesn't sound like a bad thing either.)

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  20. I kind of like the rather irreverant use of words like "gunk" in cookbooks, although your tone in the whole cookbook would need to match it. Looks like some good stuff in there! I hope the shorter blurb and snappier cover increase your sales.

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  21. Lynn, I am the same "anonymous" person who commented earlier. I really like the new cover photo and book description!

    I do think you'll see sales pick up as the weather gets cooler. I wish you all the best!

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  22. @Gail, whoops! You're right, that's very different. Should be something along the lines of "250 crockpot recipes spanning every meal." Thanks! And thanks for all the good wishes, folks.

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