How Does the 2018 Federal Budget Affect You and Your Family?

If you sat down at 7:30 last night to watch the 2018 Federal Budget Announcement, you may have found yourself a little overwhelmed. With so many figures and areas of taxation to get your head around, we have sat down, dissected and summarised the answers to the question you may be asking – “What’s in it for me (and my family)?”Personal income tax
The Treasurer announced plans for a three-step, seven-year plan:
Step One: Effective immediate, low and middle income earners are to benefit from tax savings of up to $530 per person (or $1,060 per couple).
Step Two: From 1 July this year, the threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket will increase from $87,000 to $90,000, then will again increase in July 2022 from $90,000 to $120,000.
Step Three: From 2024-25, there will be just two income tax brackets for people earning over $41,000 per year: 32.5% for incomes between $41,001 and $200,000, and 45% for incomes exceeding $200,000.
The Medicare levy will remain at 2%.

Your superannuation
Have you ever considered changing your super fund, but found it cost-prohibitive because of high exit fees? Great news in this years budget- super funds will soon be banned from charging exit fees. But you’ll need to wait until 1 July 2019 to make your move.Other changes to superannuation include:The balance-eroding practice of automatically adding life insurance to a superannuation policy, no matter what the age of the person, will end. (To date, super members under the age of 25 pay nearly $200 million a year in life insurance fees through superannuation). Those under 25 are now required to ‘opt in’ to buying life insurance.Companies can no longer automatically deduct life insurance cover for all funds where no contributions have been made for 13 months.


According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, more than 60% of Australians have multiple super funds. So, the ATO will turn their eye to inactive super accounts and merge them with their owners’ active funds.
Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) can now have 6 members, up from 4.
SMSFs with a history of good record keeping will be rewarded by reducing annual audits to 3 yearly audits.
People over 65 can put up to $300,000 into super from the proceeds of selling their home.
First home buyers who have made super contributions under the First Home Super Saver Scheme can access their money for eligible property purchases.

Education
Young people living in rural and remote communities will find it easier to get access to Youth Allowance payments while they are studying away from home (eligibility for these payments is based on parental income).Traineeships
The Federal Government will match funding with the states and territories to provide traineeships and apprenticeships for “high-demand” areas over four years. However, there is one caveat: each of the states and territories needed to sign up for this to go ahead.Ageing Australia
There are a number of changes in this years budget to benefit older Australians. They include:
$1.6 billion over four years has been set aside so 14,000 seniors can stay in their homes rather than go into a nursing home.
$20 million for mental health nurses to support older people still living at home (the Government notes that men over 85 have the highest risk of suicide of all age groups).
$40 million has been budgeted for urgent building and maintenance work for aged care facilities in regional and remote areas.
$33 million has been set aside to address a chronic shortage of palliative care in nursing homes.
A one-year exemption from the ‘work test’ will apply to recent retirees who have less than $300,000 in total super savings.
The Pension Loans Scheme will be available to all Australians over Age Pension age and the maximum payments will increase to 150% of the full Age Pension.
Pension Work Bonus increases to $7,800 p.a. from $6,000.
Finally, the Government has pledged to make the aged-care system easier for families to navigate, simplifying forms and providing relevant online educational facilities.

Access to more affordable medicine: Granted, you will need to wait years for this, but it’s good to know the government will spend $302 million over four years to improve your access to generic and less expensive medicine.Your health
There are plans to allocate $130 billion for public hospitals over five years. The government also proposed a crack down on unnecessary diagnostic tests.Access to your own data. The government announced the establishment of a “consumer data right”. This will allow you to take control of your online personal data and safely share it with credible service providers, starting with the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors.Small business
No budget would be complete without something for small businesses. If you run your own business, the current deduction on spending on eligible assets of up to $20,000 has been extended to July 2019. Another win: streamlining of GST reporting which, in turn, will save money – a welcome change for around 2.7 million small businesses.Craft Beer Brewers. There are around 350 craft brewers in Australia, so chances are you aren’t one of them. However, most consider the tax changes that put small craft beer brewers at a disadvantage to be a victory for common sense. Beer sold in kegs larger than 48 litres have been taxed at a lower rate than smaller kegs, which in effect has favoured large producers. The change brings the lower tax level down to beer sold in kegs larger than the 8-litre size.


Finally
While not all of these changes are likely to affect you personally, you might give them your ‘tick’ of approval:
Multinational companies now to be policed and stopped from shifting profits to lower-taxing countries (they do this by loading up local operations with debt).
Online hotel booking websites based outside of Australia will now be taxed at the same rate as Australian businesses, ending the inequality that currently occurs between international and local booking providers.
Companies that are currently ‘pushing the boundaries’ and taking advantage of the research and development tax incentive scheme will be stopped. This will ensure funding goes to genuinely innovative spending.
A $1.3 billion plan to support Australia as a ‘global leader’ in medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
The ATO will turn an eye to the ‘Black Market Economy”, with more audits, ‘mobile strike teams’ and a ‘Black Economy Hotline’ for the public to report suspicious activity of businesses attempting to avoid paying tax.

Budget Questions?
If you have any questions, your mortgage broker is always ready to help.

Book Trailers: Compiling & Arranging Elements for Effective Results

In book marketing, there are numerous promotional avenues. There’s Facebook, media interviews, book signings, book tours, news releases, and speaking engagements. These approaches are straight forward and rely on communication skills found in most writers. Book trailer is an animal of a different sort. It demands an assortment of skills and resources, mainly condensing the story to its most tantalizing elements and embellishing it with photos, videos, text, voice over, sound effects and music. It’s complicated, time consuming task, and if you hire someone, very expensive. Yet with some simple strategies, guidelines, and resources you can produce an effective video with little or no money. That is, if you have a video camera/smart phone and an editing program, things you likely have already and don’t know it.

Defining Goals

First, let’s look at what you want to accomplish with at book trailer. In general, you want to promote book sales. However, being more specific you want to hook the viewer with unique and enticing information so they will watch the entire video. If you lose them before you’ve completed your pitch, there’s little chance of a book sale. As such, you require new and fascinating information throughout the video, information that not only holds their interest, but moves them toward buying your book.

Another goal is to make your trailer shareable, that it moves on from your initial viewers to their friends and followers. If your video resonates, it’s possible it will spread beyond your contacts. It could have an afterlife that spreads exponentially through social media. If you ask, you get. So, it makes sense to make this request, please share, toward the end of your video.

Compiling Elements

What types of things go into a book trailer. Normally, trailers answer potential readers” questions such as: what’s the book about, what’s the genre, is it any good, plus something about the author. Such things are usually found on the inner flaps of the book or on the back cover. If not, the following template used by producer Nat Mundel to create loglines that land movie and TV deals will help in that regard.

TITLE OF BOOK is a GENRE about NAME OF PROTAGONIST, AGE, ONE OR TWO VIVID WORDS DESCRIBING THE CHARACTER who wants HIS/HER IMMEDIATE GOAL. When THE INCITING INCIDENT happens and ONE MAJOR PLOT POINT, he/she goes on a journey to ACCOMPLISH GOAL and discover/realize/find THEME.

The above template is a great starting point to help you distill your book down to two sentences. It clarifies the genre, offers a mesmerizing shiny object that grabs their attention, and provides enough to leave the reader wanting more, all in a few brief sentences.

A logline is a one or two sentence description of your story that boils down its basic premise in a way that’s concise yet evokes emotion in your reader. It highlights what is most unique about your book. Specifically, the logline provides the author with a way to focus on the three main anchors of their writing.

Who is the protagonist?

What do they want?

What is at stake?

Once you have the logline sketched out, look for some escalation in the book that ups the stakes. It could be a confrontation or complication that takes the story in a different direction. The outcome should be unclear. It could also be the discovery of a new evidence, a red-herring, or a revelation that gives hope to reaching the goal. This section presents an emotional argument for buying the book and sets the hook before the prospect is reeled in. Most importantly, it sets up a question in the viewer’s mind about how this story continues.

The next section is more specific. It could be a brief discussion about the character traits of one of the main characters and how this reflects on the story. This might include character faults, misplace dreams, or foibles of the heart. It answers the question why. It could also be about the location or period of the story and what effect it has on the characters. Another consideration is the social or morale setting and how this affects the direction of the story. This section pulls the viewer deeper into the story, both emotionally and literally, asking the question, “Why did this happen?” It can also facilitate a love-hate polarity that further draws the viewer into your story.

The last section is closing the sale. By using adjectives commonly found in reviews it could imply the benefits of reading your book. It could present some additional arguments such as testimonials, reviews or awards. Being on any best seller list likewise deserves mention here. Acknowledgements for use of photos, videos and music are also shown in the section. You should also make a request to share this video. The most important part of this section is stating prominently where the book can be purchased. Various images of the book should be used in this section to imprint cover art and book’s title.

You will note that each section provides new and revealing information. It pulls the viewer in, creating an investment in different aspects of the book. Primarily, it creates that pressing question, “How does this story continue?” And that’s the bait that hooks your viewer and causes them to buy your book.

While there are other templates, the above format serves fiction books well. It answers the questions book readers ask and provides the information in a straight forward memorable fashion.

Writing your script will be a major task in that it demands a different style of writing, one that is denser and more compressed. Your script should contain both the narration and the card or graphics displayed on the screen. You should know that narration spoken over images is processed easier and quicker than the graphics competing with it. Thus, words on the screen tend to be brief, short phrases or individual words designed to be memorable, imperative and engaging.

Narration, on the other hand, relies on the human voice-to emote, phrase, emphasize and resonate- to develop deeper meanings. Its task is to tell a complicated story briefly and compellingly; or to highlight characters, situations and conflicts. Writing has to quickly and powerfully present the “saleable” qualities of your story, such as the characters and conflict(s) while hinting at likely outcomes. It might also convey the tone, style, and quality of your book.

Narration should use a recognizable vocabulary, figures of speech, and accepted language. Also, avoid long sentences and complex ideas, as the viewer’s attention is split between images, graphics and narration. If there is dialogue that explains a crucial story point, allow the narrator to take on that character and for greater impact, post the dialogue on a white screen.

Avoid wall to wall narration as this will soon dim the viewers’ interest. To take its place and vary the content, mix in moments of sound effects, graphics and/or music. Likewise, consider the use of live video with sound as this will too enliven your presentation. In the closing section, some narration can be used to punctuate key selling points even with same information shown on the screen.

How you end your trailer is indicative of its success. Final impressions like the initial ones are of greater importance and more memorable. So, with what impression do you want your prospect to leave? What indication of finality would work? It could be a musical ending over the image of your book cover and its tagline. It could also be a sound effect used earlier that congers up a certain feeling. Another choice is the sudden, startling glimpse of the killer’s silhouette, knife raised ready to strike accompanied by a woman’s scream. Whatever your choice, you want the viewer to go away literally and emotionally wanting more.

Now that you have scripted your book trailer, you need to come up with visuals and sounds that embellish them. Visually, these could be text, photos, videos and visual effects. Sound wise, they could be dialogue, voice over, sound effects or music. These embellishments should tease the viewer’s imagination to where the trailer plays out in the viewer’s head more so than on the screen.

Before you start searching for images, define what specific embellishment you want and approximately where they will be placed. Such a predetermination will reduce your search time and help maintain the focus of your video. In doing this process, compile some sort of record keeping so the inserts are labelled as to location within your script and where they can be found. Some embellishments may have alternates, ideas that might work provided the right image, sound or music can be found. I would designate these alternative with suffix a, b, c, etc.

In a normal 60-90 second book trailer, who might have the following number of embellishment inserts.

Voiceover: 60 seconds, 100 words max; 90 seconds, 150 words max

Text, titles, captions & listings: 85 words

Photos: 12 photos + various photos of book cover used 4 times

Videos: 2 Videos; 1 stock, 1 live action (About 5 seconds each)

Sound Effects: 3 sound effects + transitions as required

Music: 3 tracks (could be from same selection)

Visual Effects: 2 for moving text; 8 for photo & video transitions

Many of these media inserts can be found online. Sites like unsplash.com, librestock.com, and gratisography.com offer high resolution images that you can download for free. Another site for free music and sound effects is YouTube.com/audiolibrary/. You can find free public domain video clips at archive.org. For music go to freestockmusic.com. You will need to create a free account and can download various types of music for free with no royalty restrictions. Other media resources can be found on Google by searching for royalty free photos/videos/sounds. Do not use copyrighted materials.

If you feel uncomfortable about using your own voice, you can use a professional voiceover artist as found online. There are numerous voices from which to choose and demos are available on each artist. For voiceover narration on the 150-word example previously mentioned, costs would be about $25 on sites like fiverr.com music & studio/voiceover services. A special script should be compiled for the outside narrator, which indicates how you want the narration and dialogue to be read or expressed. These directions should be placed in parentheses prior to the words spoken.

There are some media inserts you may want to produce yourself. Your book cover, for instance, may be shot straight on, from the spine angle, and upright/slanted. Closer angles on the book cover’s artwork may also be relevant to your script. Background for these book photos should be on neutral or white poster board with some shots allowing room for text.

Other images that create the essence of the scene can also be produced with photos or video. Such inserts should be ambiguous allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks. Examples might be: a fearful eye wondering what’s behind her, a sound of footsteps approaching, two hands lovingly overlapping. Other inserts might be the scream from an open mouth, a hand clutching a knife, two lovers moving away through a park, a freeway clogged with traffic, a back lit image of the menace, a shadow of a hand holding a gun.

These images and sounds can prod the viewer to use his imagination and the results are more persuasive than using realistic images. Most video cameras have excellent sound recording ability, especially when using an external mic. Therefore, consider using your camera as a sound recorder and capturing just the sound by hooking up only the audio connections.

You might also want to consider a behind the scenes video section relating to research, character creation, establishing a story location, or target audience. Images with voiceover might be author at computer: medium side shot, fingers typing, author’s face looking at screen.

Now that you have compiled and downloaded or captured your trailer elements, how do you put them together. Before you start the editing process, let’s look at the setup of editing programs. The main feature will be the time lines. This is where video/audio clips are laid in and cut to the desire length. There are additional time lines below used for narration, sound effects and music. In the more expensive editing systems there are additional time lines to layer in and sync up additional media materials.

Source materials can be downloaded from the web or capture off your camera. These items are stored in a project file and would include video clips, photos, sound effects, narration, and music. These items are placed into the time line in their proper location where text and titles can be superimposed on the visual elements. Additional adjustments such balancing audio levels, transition effects, and color balance smooth out the cuts and give it a professional look. When combined together these elements make up your book trailer.

There are numerous video systems available with vary capabilities and range from free on up. PC users can edit using Movie Maker which comes installed with Windows while Mac users can edit with iMovie. If not installed, they can be download for free from Microsoft and Apple respectively. The Movavi 14 is also available free from movavi.com or the Movavi 14 plus version goes for $39.95. The Pinnacle 21 editing system is available from pinnaclesys.com for $49.95. More elaborate Pinnacle systems are available at higher prices. Corel® PaintShop® Pro 2018 and VideoStudio® combination which edits photos, designs graphics and makes movies is available through paintshoppro.com for $150.00.

These editing systems come with tutorials schooling you as to their capabilities and operation. While the free systems come with basic editing features, spending a bit extra can offer more creativity plus more imbedded effects and media resources. It all depends on the complexity of your trailer and the quality you want.

Arranging Elements

Now that you have all your script and media elements at hand, you can begin the editing process, pasting them into your time line. But where do you begin. I would start with the element that is the most consistent, be it narration, visuals or music. In the example I proposed, narration would be the element that is least likely to change much. So, you would lay that in first. Be aware that you may have to add pauses or even quicken the pace. This can be done by either adding room ambiance or cutting out pauses between sentences. When you record your narration, record a minute or so of room ambiance without talking and use this to extend pauses.

Next, start adding your visuals that support or embellish your narration. The length of these visuals will depend on their complexity and the time it takes to read superimposed text. If the text complements the narration, then the visual time can be reduced. Avoid overwhelming the viewer with too much information. For emphasis, space the narration to allow the viewer time to concentrate on a lengthy or important text.

A device often used in infomercials is duplicating narration and text on a plain background. This ups the comprehension and makes the information more memorable. This also varies the flow and increases the viewer’s concentration. This device works especially well when text rolls out on the screen one word at a time, an effect possible on more elaborate editing systems.

There will be a tendency to overplay the images and text. Too much information muddies the waters. Remember that you want the viewer to imagine a great deal of the story. By hinting what the book is about, you let the story develop in the viewer’s mind. Utilize the idea that book readers have imaginative minds and enjoy filling in the blanks. It’s a good idea to slow the pace to allow time for important images and ideas to form in the viewers mind.

Try to have a couple of video clips in your trailer. These are usually without sound, yet the screen motion stirs up thoughts and emotions not possible with still photographs. They likewise increase the attention span and make subsequent information more interesting.

Pace is an important factor in book trailers. Too slow, you lose your viewer. Too fast and your information get lost. There’s a happy medium and it depends on relating new and interesting materials that engage the viewer. That’s why sketching out your script is so important, as it forces you to see your trailer as an informative and entertaining book talk on video. Your script allows you to see the progression of your story building, pulling the viewer into an imaginary world.

Avoid cheesy effects which distract from your message. Simple transitions like fade-in, fade out or cross-fades keep the focus on the trailer’s purpose, to create an awareness of your book and a desire to buy it. Keeping the clarity of this goal in mind determines the success of your book trailer. Sometimes, people become enamored with a certain phase or image that if lost would make the video stronger. Be conscience of this fault and seek outside consultation to rectify.

Use the same font throughout, but vary the font size. Be aware that your text will be read on computer screens plus mobile devices. As such, font size must be readable and this may limit the length of text placed on the screen. Rather than minimize the font size, extend the text to the next screen using ellipsis (… ). The font size of the text should be indicative of its importance. For instance, in the last section, the acknowledgements for use of images or music would be smaller than places where the book could be purchased.

When superimposing text on an image, delay entry of the text ever so slightly so the viewer’s attention is on the image first, then on the text. Such a delay ups the comprehension as you control where the attention is focused.

Selection of music likewise requires some guidelines. Be aware that your perspective book buyers are already indoctrinate by seeing numerous TV and film productions with music. Your tastes and sensibilities in music may differ from your perspective audience. It’s therefore wise to select music reflective of the genre of your book. If it’s a scary murder mystery, that’s the type of music that would support that type of story. The music has many functions. It can create mood and atmosphere, portray emotions, reference a time or period, or create unreal situations. Music can serve several purposes that are either important on the emotional side of the movie or help/enhance the storytelling.

Using wall to wall music diminishes its impact. Fade out your music at various points and replace it with sound effects. Then at the appropriate moment bring back the music to elicit a new perspective or emotion. In this way, by isolating the music’s entrance, you make it more effective and allow it to support a new idea.

To help smooth out your cuts, allow the sound to slightly precede the visual. This allows the mind to process one element at a time and also creates suspense as to what the sound means. These micro overlaps create that, “What going to happen next?” mentality that subconsciously pulls the viewer in deeper.

Subtle use of sound effects can create the proper atmosphere or instill a menace is present. Wind blowing through the leaves or the footsteps of an approaching mugger help prod the imagination to where the story becomes a fixation. In addition, sound effects help break up the sameness of media elements and create higher expectations about the book and its contents.

As you continue with the assembly process, you will note that adjustments and corrections have to be made. You’ll also find that certain sequences don’t work, they don’t move the viewer toward your goals. This is a normal part of editing. It’s like writing a book, where much of the time is spent rewriting.

Before you make big changes, save your file. Then prior to making changes rename and save the file. In this way, you have a backup should your file become corrupted. In addition, should you find that you prefer your original better and it only needs minor corrections, then you still have that version.

The last section is where you close the sale. You offer in text and/or voice-over more arguments for buying the book and where to obtain it. As I mentioned before, these could be a complementary statement about the benefits of buying this book using adjectives commonly found in reviews along with a listing of testimonials, review quotes and/or awards. Also shown in this section are acknowledgements for use of photos, videos and music. The most important part of this section is stating prominently where the book can be purchased. Various images of the book/cover should also be featured in this section. It also helps to place somewhere in this section a sticker-like graphic reading, “Share this Video.”

Once you have your final version completed, let it sit for a few days then come back to it with fresh eyes. Look on it as a book buyer and judge if it meets your expectations, that it strongly encourages the purchase of your book. If not make corrections. If it does, then pass it on to people who will give you an honest evaluation. Don’t corrupt their judgment with additional information. Simply state you want their response to seeing your video book trailer, whether it’s positive, neutral or negative. Request specifically what they liked or disliked. With this consensus, make adjustments as you see fit.

Distribution of Book Trailer

When your book trailer is ready for distribution, you still need to prepare copy to go along with it. For YouTube you should have a description of your trailer that includes the title of your book, author’s name, and what’s it about. To make your video stand out, write a unique description with a catchy, enticing headline. Likewise, add tags. These allow users to find your video by linking common words associated with your video. If done properly, such copy greatly increases the likelihood of finding your video on a Google or YouTube search and having your link opened. This description and information can likewise be used on other video hosting services such as Facebook and Vimeo. Check Wikipedia.org for complete list of video hosting services.

To upload your video to YouTube, follow the instruction found at wikihow.com/Upload-a-Video-to-YouTube. Similar instruction for other hosting sites can be found online. Some editing systems have programs that simplify this uploading.

There are also video syndication services, however their fees are beyond most authors’ budgets and when term payments run out, your video is removed. While posting them yourself is time consuming, it negates this problem and they remain on the Internet forever.

There are numerous other ways of getting your video seen. Facebook and Twitter postings with links to video with a brief description is one way. Also use LinkedIn updates with reference to your trailer and its location. Another place is reader forums pertaining to your genre or audience market.

Your own website is another place to not only post your video, it should likewise serve as a depository displaying more information about the book and a bio of the author. Also consider email distributions to followers, friends, acquaintances, and of course family members.

If you have an author’s page on Amazon, this is another place you can post your video. However, there are numerous restrictions which are posted at https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?ie=UTF8&topicID=200649570. On your author page, you can also share video interviews, book signing videos, and other videos with readers. Your videos should focus on specific features of your books or your experience as an author.

Also consider news releases, either email or letter, to journalist, book critics and book bloggers. Another good source is free or low-priced newswire services. It just a matter of filling out the form with the proper entries. Such postings can up your web presence as well as improve your Google ranking.

Most authors expect the trailer to pull in a lot of interest when actually, it’s all the efforts promoting it that do the heavy lifting. If nobody knows about your trailer, you can’t expect much. However, if a whole lot of people see your trailer, a percentage of them will end up buying your book. It’s a numbers game. Likewise, if you strategically place your trailer in all online/offline places where your prospective book readers hangout, good things happen. The desired goal is to get the viewer interested, either in making the purchase or in finding out more.

While this article covers the basic considerations in creating a book trailer, there is a great deal more to be learned. One way of increasing your knowledge is to look at book trailers available on the internet. You will discover there are numerous ways to create video trailers, whether it be through emotional implications, character driven, or story plotting. You might also consider a more impressionistic approach that strongly communicates the aesthetic of the book while only hinting at elements of the plot. Likewise, in using photographic/video-graphic images, avoid showing people, or at least not showing their faces in a clear way. You want your viewer’s imagination to build the characters as they would when reading your book.

By looking at numerous trailers, you will find editing techniques that will make your video stronger, like the slow zoom-in or the use of title cards. In particular, watch how the juxtaposition of images and/or music provides a feeling or thought different from what they emit by themselves. Also, be aware how pace, the unveiling of new and unique information, affects the degree of engagement.

While book trailers get few lifetime views and have notorious low conversion rates, they are superior on sales landing pages increasing conversions up to 80 percent. That might be the place where a book trailer best contributes to your sales. In addition, book trailers can make a lasting impression, they’re easy to consume, easy to share, and they stay on the internet forever. A book trailer can be a valuable addition to your marketing campaign, especially if your target audience, your potential readers view it. Homing in on that fact could reap huge benefits and increase your ROI.

In closing, it is better that your book trailer to be super simple, ultra-clear, and thoughtfully aligned with the imagery. The intent of the trailer is to illicit a sale, to get the viewer interested, either in making the purchase or in finding out more about your book. To do that, you must allow the viewer to imagine and collaborate in the making of your book trailer.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

Choosing Your Book Format: Hardcover or Paperback

In the past, the decision about a book cover followed a steady pattern with traditional publishers. Most big name traditional publishers would print a book in hardcover, and then some months later, the paperback version would come out. This process was followed for a couple of reasons. A new book, especially by a well-known author, was a collector’s item. The first edition of a hardcover book was something to treasure, and it was often of the highest quality and made to be aesthetically pleasing, including having a dust jacket. People who wanted a book they could treasure for the rest of their lives would buy a hardcover book. But not all readers could afford hardcover books, so a cheaper mass market paperback would eventually follow. Depending on how much value the readers perceived that the book would hold for them, they might opt to buy the hardcover or they might wait for the paperback. On occasions where the hardcover did not sell well, the paperback edition was never released.

As the world of publishing has changed in the last couple of decades, more publishers have begun to bring out only paperback versions for books perceived not to be of such great lasting value, especially in terms of genre books like romance novels and mysteries. This move saves the publisher money and also makes the books available to a target audience that might not have paid as much for a hardcover of a mystery that can be read in just a few hours.

Now that self-publishing has become so popular, and because traditional publishers are struggling to remain financially stable, more and more books are being printed solely as paperbacks because it’s the most affordable choice. However, hardcover books are still chosen for significant titles by traditional publishers, and some self-published authors also choose hardcover books, often in addition, but rarely in place of paperbacks.

In choosing a book cover format, authors should think about the way the book will be used, the practicality of the cover choice, their own printing costs, what price the market will bear, and how potential readers will view the cover. Following is a breakdown of guidelines for choosing a book cover format for self-publishers.

Hardcover
If you are publishing your first book, you probably should keep your costs low until you know your book will sell, so you are better off opting for a paperback over a hardcover book. That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. Hardcover books are often a good choice for:

  • Children’s Books-because children might be rough with their books so these covers will give the book greater endurance.
  • Cookbooks-because a hardcover book can more easily lay flat on a kitchen counter for quick reference while cooking.
  • Coffee Table Books-hardcover books are easier to hold than paperback books because coffee table books tend to be larger than the average size of 6×9 or smaller used for most paperback books.

While most nonfiction titles and novels will do best as paperback books, you might also ask yourself what perceived value your readers will find in the book. How important is your book, and how important will your readers perceive it to be? Putting your ego aside, you need to understand that your readers are probably not going to place as great a value on your romance novel as they will if you write a biography of Mark Twain. The type of cover you use will speak to the reader, telling him how important your subject is. Remember, readers do judge a book by its cover.

One final advantage to a hardcover book is the amount of “selling” text you can place on it. It is possible to print a nice looking hardcover book without a dust jacket so that the front and back material are the same as if you printed a paperback. However, most hardcover books are printed with dust jackets, which allow for more text to be printed on them. A good formula for text on a dust jacket is to fill the back of it with testimonials you’ve collected from other authors or experts in your field. Then the inside front flap can provide a description of your book that might even run over onto your inside back flap. The inside back flap can also provide space for a short biography of the author and room for a color author photo. Room for more text means more space to sell your book to the potential reader.

That said, if you’re like me, you may find the dust jacket gets annoying while you read the book. I have a tendency to remove the dust jacket while I read, but if readers do that, it doesn’t hurt anything once the book has been sold.

Finally, think about the cost to you and the customer. A paperback book is more affordable to authors and readers. However, a hardcover can be produced sometimes for as little as four dollars more, and that cost can be passed onto the customer by selling the book for five dollars more so you still make a profit on the hardcover. The question is simply: Will people be willing to pay five dollars more for the hardcover edition?

Paperback
The paperback cover is most affordable, and except for the few exceptions listed above, it is probably the best choice for any book, especially novels and self-help books and other nonfiction titles. Again, your book will be judged by its cover, so people may perceive your paperback book as of lesser value-meaning they might actually think the content is of less value too-than if it were a hardcover. However, there is no longer any sense that people are “slumming” by buying paperbacks. I don’t know the percentages for a fact, but I would guess that at least 90 percent of books are printed solely as paperbacks today, especially among self-published books.

You have a little less space on a paperback cover to write text that will sell the book, but you can generally fit on the back cover all the information that you would include on the inside flaps of a hardcover’s dust jacket. If you wish to include testimonials, you can place them inside the front cover as the opening pages. I have mixed feelings about placement of testimonials. Many readers will read them in choosing to buy the book, but others will go to the book description first-most people will buy the book because the topic interests them more than because someone famous said the book is great-but having both can only help so it’s up to you whether or not you feel your testimonials deserve back cover space. Often you can fit just one or two short testimonials on the back cover with the description and author bio to balance everything out.

French Flaps
I’m seeing more and more books published with French flaps. This format is basically a hybrid. It is really a paperback book, but the flaps are an extended part of the paperback cover that fold inward to serve as a dust jacket without being removable. French flaps provide the same space as a hardcover for book descriptions without the expense of a hardcover with a dust jacket. A book with French flaps does cost more than a paperback, but depending on how many books you print, it will probably cost you less than a dollar more per unit.

I believe a lot of authors are choosing to use French flaps because they believe this format makes their book look more professional or significant than if it were simply a paperback. Readers may be impressed with the look of French flaps and even see them as a novelty, but frankly, I find such books annoying to read-the flaps have a tendency of wanting to flip up, making the book somewhat unwieldy. This format feels pretentious to me, like such books have delusions of wanting to be hardcover books.

Making the Choice
Personally, a standard paperback is good enough for me with the few exceptions of books I’ve listed where a hardcover is preferable. While I have offered some guidelines here for choices, no two books are the same and special circumstances may exist that would make one cover a better choice than another. Every author must choose for himself which book cover will best suit his book to promote its value as well as be most desirable in format and price to potential readers.