The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!)

The making of a cookbook is incredibly tolling and rewarding. I’m pulling back the curtain on my own process and timeline. 

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy Birthday!

Today, April 9th, my baby turns one!

She came into this world, at 8 inches, 1.5 lbs, and not in the least bit premature. Her name? The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook. 

I experienced a gamut of emotions in bringing this lil’ girl into the world, not unlike bringing a real human into being (that being said, much respect to mothers!). There was the initial shock and disbelief, followed by an immense wave of gratitude, “finally, this is what I have wanted for so long.”

The excitement wore off a bit when I confronted the enormity of what lay ahead. Could I do it? I couldn’t not do it. The path was already set in motion. Waves of nausea and pain followed. There was so little sleep. There were long days, some of the longest of my adult life.

Then, after thoroughly feeling kicked by the whole gestation, after imagining every possible thing that could go wrong, I submitted. Every fear I had about “birth” subsided. I was ready for the baby to be apart from me, for the book to be in the world. In the moment when I finally held her, I wept. I was proud of the book, and come what may, I was proud of the baby I had brought into existence. 

Dramatic? Maybe. An accurate analogy? Maybe. 

I’ve listened to so many interviews, read so many posts from other cookbook authors about how tolling this process is, but how from the outside, it looks like a dream come true. It’s a little bit of both, a contradiction.

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook is One Week Old // www.WithTheGrains.com

About the Book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound | Books-a-Million | Book Depository

If you like to cook or bake, whether you avoid grains or subsist on sourdough, whether or not you eat meat, I made this book for you! It’s a celebration of coming together, of conversing over food, and finding connection. 

The “birthday” of the book falls during a weird time, when social distancing is making connection more challenging. In the midst of these challenges, the real strength of the book is introduction to lesser known grains and flours, the tips for substitutions and wasting less, and for being inventive.

When you do make it to the grocery store and can’t find the staples you know, this book and I will be there to guide you to try other grains that will likely still be on the shelf. I’ll introduce you to teff, the tiny but mighty grain that has fueled Ethiopian marathoners for decades, or I’ll teach you how to turn last night’s rice leftovers into a breakfast option that breaks the monotony. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
Let’s peel back the curtain, shall we?

In the spirit of my “baby’s” birthday, I’ll give you the behind-the-scenes tour of the making of a cookbook, or very specifically, the making of my cookbook Every timeline and process is different, but this is what I had to work with. If you’re entertaining the idea of writing your own, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ve given my very honest feedback to several people considering the option.

Kretschmann Family Organic Farm (Plus, A Puppy!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
November of 2017: An Editor Inquiry

An editor from Page Street Publishing reached out to me to ask if I had ever considered writing a cookbook. The answer was YES! ALMOST EVERY DAY SINCE THE CREATION OF MY BLOG!! Ie: My happiness/excitement/pinch-me feelings reached puppy-petting levels of joy (see above). 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
March 2018: Outline + Contract

We finalized the book outline, I signed the contract, and I entered an intense period of work, since my manuscript deadline was set for the end of June. 😐 Eek!

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
Early Spring 2018: Research/Plan

Recipe research and testing, usually with my former partner and/or Julep in tow (ie: the official taste tester and assistant, respectively).

Personal note: It’s really difficult to look back on that time. I’m forever grateful for Kyle’s support in making my dream come true. He was such an integral part of that chapter of my life. Celebrating this anniversary a year later, like most of life, is a mixed bag of emotions. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
The Spreadsheet, ie: My Bible:

I am very equally a “left brain” thinker and a “right brain” creative (even though that brain theory is flawed), so I had a very elaborate spreadsheet to keep track of everything from the difficulty level, dietary category to the prominent grain featured in the recipe. I later added photo details to the spreadsheet to make sure I covered a range of photo angles and moods. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
May 2018: “Test” Photos 

When it came to the book photos, I had the option to shoot them myself or work with a photographer. I knew I wanted a second set of eyes on the compositions. I wanted someone who would bring the same precision to the photography that I would bring to the styling, and the first person who came to mind was my friend Noah Purdy.  

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I created the vision for the book and styled the images. He mastered light, depth of field, helped with the composition, told me when I needed to stop tweezing food, and he edited all the images. In May, we submitted 20 “test images,” which all became final images and shot the book cover, all while I continued to finalize recipes and the manuscript. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I don’t think Noah could have predicted what was in store for this book project when he agreed to be my photographer, but I’m eternally grateful for the skill, precision, passion and enthusiasm he brought to this book.

I’m also grateful for all the help he lent me in schlepping many, many totes of food and props, for working way into the night, and for ultimately adding a layer of confidence to the final product. “Thank you” feels so inadequate.

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com
Just one corner of the props, groceries and tools I brought for my book cover shoot (all schlepped from my third-floor apartment!).

The Making of a Cookbook
May 2018: Shooting the Cover

The day we shot the cover stands out as one of the most mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting days I’d had in a long while, but the end result was everything I hoped it’d be.

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

What my publisher pitched as a cover versus what I wanted/created (with many more design tweaks to come):

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
May-June 2018: Finalize & Submit Manuscript

Finalize recipes, write manuscript. Submit manuscript for developmental editing. Celebrate submitting my first ever manuscript with champagne and seafood at Merchant Oyster Co!

Side Note on Goal Setting:

In an effort not to be completely consumed by stress, I set goals and set intentions for celebrating those goals. I try to use this practice with all big projects. It helps me to pause and feel the weight of the accomplishment instead of sprinting toward the next mile marker. My celebrations usually involve champagne!

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

July 2018: Developmental Editing / Photo Planning, Ongoing Exhaustion 

Some days you drop the yogurt, and it’s a metaphor for your overall level of exhaustion and “near” burn out, and hopefully, all you do is laugh and call your four-legged kitchen assistant to report for her duty. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
August – September 2018: Photos, Photos, Photos!

So many photo shoots and final edits!!!! Long days of grocery shopping, cooking/prepping, lots of prop schlepping, long nights of styling and shooting! We shot in a studio, in my home, in my driveway, in a friend’s yard… anywhere we saw the perfect textures or backdrops. 

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Above: Ingredients and props for a night of shooting. Cookbook creation is also muscle creation (I live in a third-floor apartment!)

Below: Me totally taking over the studio kitchen for one night of shooting (about 4-6 recipes).

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Behind the Scenes: Prepping a Cupcake Spread

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Shoot Location: My bedroom (it gets great natural light)

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Result: Creamy Chocolate-Amaranth Cupcakes with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche (pg. 187)

Behind the Scenes: Shooting for Texture/Scenery

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Result: Apple Season Layer Cake (pg. 175)

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
Hands down the best photo shoot:

Julep makes a few cameos, but there’s a recipe dedicated to her. Be sure to check out the Pup Sweets, a gluten-free treat you and your fur baby can share (pg. 192).

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
September 2019: Copy editing

ie: Did you mean teaspoon or tablespoon? Boil for how long? Very intricate editing!

2018 Year in Review + A Big Announcement // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
October 2019:
Physical pages and last chance edits

This was the first iteration of my book I held. Meanwhile, I went back and forth with the designers about countless visual details in the book. 

2018 Year in Review + A Big Announcement // www.WithTheGrains.com

2018 Year in Review + A Big Announcement // www.WithTheGrains.com

Fast forward…

After obsessively working on the book and very little else, there’s an abrupt shift to relative silence as the book goes to print. Then…

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook is One Week Old // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook is One Week Old // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook
April 9, 2019: My “Pub date”

My book hit shelves! It was pretty surreal. Kyle and I toasted champagne [secretly] in Barnes & Noble because all of my hard work, all my sacrifices, all his sacrifices and support, were finally a tangible book on a shelf. 

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook is One Week Old // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Making of a Cookbook 
April 25th: Launch Party at Gather 

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! This book is all about my love for bringing people together to share food, so that’s what we did. Check out the launch party cocktails inspired by my recipes.  

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook Launch Party // www.WithTheGrains.com

And then… more bringing the book to life through conversations, shared tables and shared meals. We may be distanced now, but my hope is I will get to share this book with more people in person. I can’t wait to meet you and get to know you!

The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook Launch Party // www.WithTheGrains.com

and lastly, tonight…

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

April 9th, 2020: The One Year Anniversary

This celebration may not look like what I expected it to look like. It’s bittersweet to celebrate without the man who stood by my side through the intensity of the book process. He gifted me this, a framed copy of his receipt from that day in Barnes & Noble, and it will forever be one of my most cherished gifts. 

Although bittersweet for many reasons, this day is worth celebrating, so celebrate I will!

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I will finally open and enjoy the wine featured on my cookbook cover: a Winzerhof Stahl Pink Spark. I bought it because of the beautiful cork system, and I will enjoy it because it was hard earned.

The Making of a Cookbook (My Book is One!) // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’ll shower, wear something that makes me feel special, do my hair and celebrate virtually with some of my closest friends from college and with Julep by my side. Keep on cooking, my friends. There is something so sacred in feeding ourselves and when possible, each other. 

Cheers!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, Quelcy! I’m exhausted just reading about that. Your “baby” is amazing, though, and I use it at least once a week. The stying and photos are beautiful, too.

    1. ha! I appreciate that. It was a very, very exhausting but rewarding project, and it means a lot that there’s a copy in your beautiful kitchen! 🙂

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