Writing a cookbook – a timeline, part 2

So…. you might remember the “Writing a Cookbook” timeline, part 1. The post where I explained what happened from October 2015 when I first chatted with the folks at Appetite by Random House to April 2017 when I handed in the manuscript.

Soooo, right, manuscript is in – I’m done right? All finished. Yeah, right, for about 1 week 😀 Seriously, if I thought the actual process of writing the book was intense, nothing could prepare me for all the work that lay ahead of me, even as the manuscript sat on my editor’s desk. And, judging from the questions I’ve had over the past 15 months and the looks of incredulity because “it’s STILL not in the store?”, I’m guessing it’s not something many of us have much idea about, unless we find ourselves writing a book!

So… after April 3rd 2017 when the manuscript was submitted for the first time, what was I doing?

Kids maing croissants on eatlivetravelwrite.com(a shot I took during the first kids’ photo shoot. Ended up being the inspiration for the cover!)

mid April 2017: Spent a day in a photo studio with five of my Petits Chefs, shooting “little hands” images to complement the finished dish images taken by Kyla. The “little hands” felt like the finishing touches on a series of already fabulous images. At this point, I was all like “Yeah, nearly done!!!”

(voice in my head: you are SO not finished!)

April – May 2017: Spent a little bit of time learning how to use Photoshop so I could submit the images I shot in the correct format (I typically use Lightroom so, you know, no learning curve at all there. Ha!)

end of April 2017: first round of edits is in (see, I told you there was barely any time to relax!), due at the end of May.

mid-May 2017: the dreaded author images are taken (I hate having my photo taken!).

end of May 2017: Finished edits on the images I shot and submitted all photos – lifestyle, finished dish shots and a handful of other “lifestyle” images – basically as well as recipe photos you need images for other parts of the book like the front matter (Introduction etc…) and the inside front and back covers.

end of May 2017: Sent back my first round of edits. Ouf!

early June 2017: request for “design inspiration”. Basically the book’s concept pages are about to start being designed and there are a lot of things to consider – colour palette, fonts, white space, overall page layout and a general feeling for the book. Because I don’t do things by halves, I submitted a 13-page document covering everything from ideas for a cover to the specific fonts I wanted (the night before school finished).

late June 2017: second round of edits is in. I leave for France avec edits, which I am told are “light” though I know it is not the last round of edits. So… another summer of “book stuff” (it’s ok, I was expecting this – at this point, I’d asked about what the next few months would look like in terms of time commitment and timing for me).

Nerac night market lights on eatlivetravelwrite.com(ok, there were some night markets as well…)

late July 2017: hand in second round of edits. I spent a long time on these ones (longer than I anticipated) because I took advantage of having lots of time on my hands to really think through questions and comments (time, in writing a cookbook, is a huge luxury). Really happy with how the copy was looking at this point.

end of July 2017: head off on the second stage of the Camino

Shadows on the Camino Frances Day 12 Belorado to Villafranca Montes de Oca on eatlivetravelwrite.comearly August 2017 (yes, in the middle of walking that summer’s stage of the Camino!): First draft of concept pages are sent to me (though I’m supposed to be taking a break from thinking about the book). Back to thinking about the book as I walk. This is the first time I’m seeing what the designer has interpreted from my thoughts and requests about design elements.

mid August 2017 (the day after I return from France): Due to having to fly to Australia unexpectedly, I end up working through third edits of the book with my editor in person. This is an efficient practice that I wish I had been able to adopt through the whole process! Still can’t quite believe I’m finding things to edit but there you go (to be honest, I’d still be editing NOW if I could LOL!)

late August 2017: Manuscript sent to copyeditor (this is a different person from my editor who won’t have seen the manuscript until this point).

mid-September 2017: Copyedited manuscript is returned. It’s a fair amount of work (actually a lot more than I was expecting) – lots of queries and comments to respond to, clarification to give – all at the same time as not adding any words as we’re quite tight in terms of word count.  I resign myself to the fact that for Thanksgiving this year I’m giving thanks that I have a 3 days weekend to get this done!

mid October 2017: The on-sale date of the book is moved up from late August 2018 to July 31 2018. What this means at this point is that any deadlines moving forward that might have been a little flexible are no longer so flexible.

mid October 2017: After what was a tough edit for me, I return the copyedited manuscript. I get the go-ahead to ask Dorie Greenspan to write the foreword <3

October 2017 – March 2018: I’m gathering advance praise for the book. Basically this means asking people if they will write you a blurb by reviewing an early copy of the manuscript. I shoot for the moon and receive fabulous blurbs from David Lebovitz, Clotilde Dusoulier, Gail Simmons, Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh, Laura Calder, Ann Mah and Jacques Pépin (!!!). Dorie sends her foreword and I’m humbled.

October 2017 – December 2017: The work on manuscript is more or less complete (there were a couple of sections that needed more reworking simply because of the design and layout of those pages but for the most part, I didn’t touch the words during this time). I enlist the help of the fabulous Lisa Orgler to illustrate the front matter and provide icons for the different sidebars that are included (tips for cooking with kids, baking tips, general cooking tips). I’m THRILLED with Lisa’s work on this (though I knew she’d be great – she designed my liquorice allsorts blog banner way back when… and did the banner for our French vacation rental home website. We LOVE her work!).

early November 2017: The manuscript and images are starting to be laid out and we realise there is not enough room for all the recipes (this is no surprise to me as I know my recipes “run long”). Over a weekend when I’m in charge of social media for a conference Neil’s running (read: my head is elsewhere), I’m asked to cut 10 recipes. TEN!!! My babies!!! In the end, I had to be ruthless, but I was appeased by the knowledge that those recipes could still be put to good use (pre-sale marketing/ publicity, pre-order recipe bundles etc…).

In the French Kitchen with kids - inside the book on eatlivetravelwrite.comEarly December 2017: I receive the first printed pages of the book (known as First Pages or 1P). This is the first time I’ve seen the book on paper (!) and it’s my chance to get in there and work the design until it’s perfect. Because of the on-sale date being changed, deadlines here are extremely short and I find myself making big decisions about design questions in the heady days of late December when my brain’s fried. Manage to keep it together to get my feedback in on time and a few design items are reworked at this point. This is also the first time I’m seeing what the entire book looks like in terms of the photo layout, which images have ended up being chosen etc… There’s a little room for changes to be made here in terms of design but not much… At this stage, I’m also going through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb – still finding a few mistakes here and there and trying NOT to re-test recipes at this stage (for me, this was hard!).

mid-December 2017: the COVER is brought up pretty much for the first time. We have an image we all love as inspiration but it needs re-shooting. Preferably by early January (!). The holidays make this a bit of a challenge but I’m luckily able to book Kyla, her studio and two Petits Chefs for a shoot date mid-January.

French Santa decoration on eatlivetravelwrite.comChristmas holidays 2017: I’m in Nérac but spent a bit of time over this period planning the cover shoot. Also organising to print and send hard copies of sample chapters to blurbers during massive blizzards where even UPS just wasn’t delivering on some days! Good news is they all made it and all blurbers sent back amazing blurbs in good time.

Croissant thief on eatlivetravelwrite.commid January 2018: Cover shoot! With a very clear vision in mind (both Kyla and I), we spend around 3 hours in-studio to get the perfect shot. The cover hand models (two legit Petits Chefs) are amazing and loved learning the process of shooting a specific image for a book cover. They also loved getting to eat croissants through the shoot! In LOVE with the cover. It’s exactly what I imagined it would be from the beginning.

mid-January 2018: Uh, a new author image is needed with very short notice. Luckily my portrait photographer is also my neighbour and we set up a shoot with a couple of hours’ notice and nail the shot (as much as I’m ever going to say I nailed a head shot).

Mardi Michels author(Photo credit: Steve Polak)

January 24th 2018: Cover is revealed! Everyone loves it! Pre-orders can commence!

In the French Kitchen with Kids cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comend of January 2018: Second Pages (2P) has arrived! This is the next version of the book, printed and takes into account any changes I requested at 1P. We’re getting down to crunch time so there are less and less things I’m able to request changes for. Also going through the words one more time at this stage (I swear I would just keep doing this until there were no more words to edit if I could!)

early February 2018: 2P goes back to Appetite with a few design changes requested (and crossing my fingers it’s not too late). At this stage there are photos that don’t fit full-page size so we’re talking about cropping those to fit them in. There are also still a handful of edits to do (trying to fit all those words in!).

mid-February 2018: First meetings with Marketing and Publicity (gulp! It’s getting real!). The Index appears for proofing for the first time!

late February 2018: Third Pages (3p) is here with only a few things to check and review. Pretty short turnaround on this as I’ve known since the start that the book needed to go to print sometime mid-March. At this stage we’re also discussing the minutiae of the cover and all the copy there (back cover and inside flaps) and how to fit in all the awesome blurbs (a great problem to have = too many blurbs!)

mid March 2018: The book goes to print!

(I’m going to skip a couple of months here but basically during this time we’re working on marketing and publicity, getting together the bonus bundle of recipes for people who pre-order and other “business” like that)

mid-May 2018: First copies of the book arrive in Canada. From this point on, I have my copy on me at all times (seriously, ask me!)

So, WHEN can you buy the book? Right now, in fact. And you’ll receive it in just over a month (gulp!).

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!

Thank you for your support! Stay tuned for more details leading up to July 31st!

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