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Writing a cookbook – a timeline, part 1

In the French Kitchen with Kids cover on eatlivetravelwrite.com(aka: “WHEN is your book coming out?”)

You all must know I have a book coming out in just over two months right?

(hey did you know if you pre-order now, you can get a lovely bonus bundle of recipes? Details here)

Many of you have been along for the ride since August 2016 when I announced the book deal and I’m sure many of you have been scratching your head at JUST HOW LONG this is taking (trust me, I am too!). Because I’ve been asked so many questions (really, it’s impossible to know just how long of a process this is until you’re doing it), I thought it might be interesting to share a short version (i.e. without ALL the details and drama) of the timeline of birthing a cookbook.

October 2015: Somewhere amongst the busyness of a food blogging conference, I started chatting with Zoe Maslow, editor at Appetite by Random House.

November 2015: I met with Zoe to chat about the “possibility” of writing a book. Had submitted some ideas before this meeting. Chatted about what a book might look like. Mostly I chatted about the things I loved to write about (France, French food)…

(voice inside my head: I love writing. I can do this)

December 2015: I submitted some sample chapters to Appetite which both Zoe and the publisher looked at.

February 2016: Met with Zoe who informed me that for various reasons this particular concept wasn’t going to work out. Appetite wondered whether I might be interested in writing a kids’ cookbook. Went away and thought about it and figured I might as well submit a proposal, right? I mean it wasn’t committing me to anything…

(voice inside my head: But it IS. You, Mardi, will become emotionally attached to this idea more than you could ever anticipate. Even though you say you don’t care if it works out or not, you kind of do and you know it).

March 2016: Submitted a proposal for a kids’ French cookbook. Went away to France for 2 weeks and told myself I wasn’t going to think about it.

(voice inside my head: but you DID think about it. All the time. Started thinking about recipes, what the book might look like. Started getting really attached to the concept. Yes you DID!)

(end of) May 2016: received offer from Appetite to write French Food for Kids (as it was so titled, way back when)

(voice inside my head: SEE IT’S REAL!)

June 2016: Contacted Kyla and Dara to discuss whether they would be interested in working on this project with me.

(voice inside my head: PLEASE make this work out. I can’t think of a better team to work with)

end of June 2016: Confirmed details of photography and styling with Kyla and Dara. Accepted offer to write the book. Gulp. Ran off to France to consume copious amounts of rosé and work on recipes whilst keeping this a secret. Actually, really? I was mostly just drinking rosé and wondering what I was getting myself into!

(voice inside my head: Ok, girl, now you’re REALLY committed. You gotta do all the work now!)

Nerac night market on eatlivetravelwrite.comend of July 2016: received official contract. Left to walk 200km of the Camino the next day, contract unsigned because I needed to take some time to read it properly. Did not the contract on the Camino with me.

Walking from Najera to Santo Domingo e la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comearly August 2016: signed contract (witnessed by Neil at our little post office in Nérac) and sent it off to Canada, entrusting it to La Poste and crossing my fingers it would actually arrive!

10 August 2016: Book deal made public. Gulp.

(voice in my head: Ok, we’re doing this!)

mid-August 2016: Arrive home in Canada. Get used to the idea that “I’m writing a book”. Because of some logistical challenges scheduling the photoshoots in order to meet the deadline I had been given (Dara wasn’t living in Canada at the time) I found myself organising a photoshoot just 2 weeks after I returned home and less than a month after signing the contract officially.

(voice in my head: this seems a little… ambitious)

Prop shopping on eatlivetravelwrite.com(prop shopping at Rustica in Toronto…)

end of August 2016: First photo shoot. This was WAY early on in the process and if I’m honest, my whole vision of the book was not fully formed at that point. Clearly I did an ok job of communicating my vision (such that it was) with Kyla and Dara because the photos from that week blend in seamlessly with the rest (it’s clearly going to be more of a challenge to do a series of photo shoots over a few months as opposed to shooting the entire book in one longer session). Phew.

September – December 2016: Finalised and tested nearly 70 recipes “in my spare time”. Massively cut back on all other commitments in order to do this. Basically, I went to work, blogged and developed and tested recipes. And tested them again. And again.

(voice in my head: Hey you! You like to second guess yourself, right? Perhaps this project isn’t the best fit for you…?)

Quick and easy ratatouille on eatlivetravelwrite.comDecember 2016: Callout for recipe testers. Over 100 people responded (!). Started to organise how I was going to manage all those people and recipe feedback forms. Thank god for Google forms.

January 2017: First recipes sent out to testers. SO nervous for people to see them. In the end, of course the recipe testers’ feedback  made the recipes better but it was still nervewracking to have them “out there”. Testers submitted feedback and photos.

Croissants tested by a recipe tester for In the French kitchen with kids on eatlivetravelwrite.comQuick croissants from In the french Kitchen with Kids on eatlivetravelwrite.com(always a thrill when someone makes your croissant recipe and it works perfectly!)

January – March 2017: I continued to tweak recipes as tester feedback came in (in the end I had 56 testers – friends, family, colleagues, students and their parents, a whole cooking club at school one term dedicated to testing recipes for me). At the same time I was working on information for the headnotes and sidebars (so many sidebars!!!).

Rolling rough puff pastry with kids on eatlivetravelwrite.comMarch 2017: Kyla, Dara and I headed to Lyon to spend a week shooting our final images at Plum Lyon. This was SO MUCH WORK but also the best fun.

Madeleines photographed for In the French Kitchen with Kids on eatlivetravelwrite.comMarch 19-25th 2017: My second week of March Break (sadly I had to fly home straight after finishing the photo shoot – no time for any vacation!) was spent finishing the writing. This involved the frontmatter (introduction, section on cooking with kids, ingredients, equipment etc…) as well as some extra research for headnotes and sidebars. I LOVED this part. I really love research and writing so this felt like a break for me. I had to force myself to stop testing recipes at this point. Except that time I made brioche the night before the manuscript was due….

(voice in my head: You also need to admit that you finished the introduction on the morning you submitted the manuscript…)

Brioche ring on eatlivetravelwrite.comApril 3rd 2017: Manuscript submitted!!!

(voice in my head: You did it! Well done! Yay! You can relax now!)

(voices in the heads of everyone else who has written a book: Um, you’re not done by a long shot but hey, enjoy the moment now!)

In the French kitchen with kids manuscript submitted on eatlivetravelwrite.comAs the title of this post suggests, this is only part ONE in this book birth.

These first 18 months definitely presented me with the steepest learning curves of my life (and that’s saying something considering I moved to Paris on my own pre-Internet and had to figure out life in France and all its administrative glory all on my own!). There is more to come – next week, stay tuned! – which will hopefully explain all my “Ok, this time, I think I’m REALLY finished” statements over the past 13 months!

And actually, I really AM (nearly) done. Because you can pre-order the book now and you’ll have it in just over 2 months!

How to pre-order In the French kitchen with kids

Buy In the French kitchen with kids on Indigo (Canada)

Buy In the French kitchen with kids on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store closest to you – affiliate link)

Buy In the French kitchen with kids on The Book Depository (worldwide – affiliate link)

Buy In the French kitchen with kids on Barnes & Noble

Buy In the French kitchen with kids on on Indiebound

Pre-order now and get an exclusive pre-order bonus recipe bundle!

1. Pre-order In the French kitchen with kids and then forward the order number (no need to send the whole email confirmation, just the order number!) to inthefrenchkitchenwithkids@gmail.com

2. Receive a bonus bundle of recipes to get you cooking in the French kitchen (with kids) right away!

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Thank you for your support! Stay tuned for more details about the book (launch) leading up to July 31st!

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Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!

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8 Responses to Writing a cookbook – a timeline, part 1

  1. Mr. Neil May 24, 2018 at 17:17 #

    I get exhausted just READING the summary! 😉

    • Mardi Michels May 24, 2018 at 19:17 #

      Yeah, writing it made me realise just how much was involved (and this piece doesn’t even go into detail!)

  2. Geoff May 24, 2018 at 18:01 #

    Clearly, writing a novel is so much easier.
    Also, a cookbook is always going to be difficult because, of necessity, there will be recipes and then photographs. Great stamina, Mardi

    • Mardi Michels May 24, 2018 at 19:17 #

      Oh I would imagine writing anything other than a cookbook would be easier just because there are less moving parts but hey, what do I know? 😉

  3. Lucy May 25, 2018 at 08:05 #

    Amazing journey! Your photo shoot at Plum was the perfect way to kick off the season last year and I cherish every memory. So happy the book is coming out soon!

    • Mardi Michels May 25, 2018 at 12:08 #

      The shoot at Plum Lyon was the icing on the cake, truly! (or maybe the glaze on the éclairs!) Xo

  4. Audrey May 25, 2018 at 08:37 #

    What a great post! It is so fascinating to read about this whole cookbook process … and it really shows how passionate you are about it. I love the concept (french food for kids), and think it is a great way to make French baking/cooking more approachable to anyone (not just kids!). Great job Mardi, I can’t wait to have your book in my hands. 🙂

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