Whew! The book went to press a little over a week ago, on October 7. The Ten Speed Press crew gave it one last look, made a few minor adjustments, and then sent the files into production. The next time that I see the book will be in 2012, when Asian Tofu comes back printed and bound, ready for release on February 28.
Among the final tasks was polishing the jacket – the first thing you’ll see when you hold the book in your hands. Book jackets are not just about being pretty. They are integral to how a work is packaged, as if they’re a thoughtful gift wrapping job.
Ideally, a jacket conveys the essence of the work, provokes reader interest, and says something about what’s inside. It serves as a communication tool whether you have the book facing up or down, slid between other books on a shelf, or opened to the back or front cover.
Given those factors, there’s a lot going on in the jacket that you see at the top of this post. Art director Betsy Stromberg and editor Melissa Moore consider each element for the jacket’s front, back, spine, and flaps (the ends that fold over the hard cover). In the image above, imagine it as a long piece of paper that you wrap around the book. The far left would be the inside flap of the back cover.
And if you've been keep up with the production process of this book, you'll notice that the cover has changed a touch with the final version: the “Asian Tofu” title in white. It's easier to read and pops more than the reddish-brown used in the earlier version.
Book Jacket Endorsements
One of the most important parts of the book jacket is the endorsement section – advance reviewer comments. Such comments are commonly called “blurbs,” which seems to reduce their value despite their vital role in lending credibility to a work.
During the production process, Melissa and I reached out to a select group of individuals, asking if they would review Asian Tofu for a potential endorsement. If they agreed, Melissa sent the initial proof pages.
Even though potential reviewers may be my colleagues and friends, I never want or expect them to say something inauthentic. They should be as objective as possible. Readers will immediately spot overly sugar-coated pronouncements. I approach the blurb process with utmost professionalism.
Frankly, not every person who agrees to review my work ends up blurbing. I don’t take that personally. It takes time to peruse a book and craft a statement.
Yowza, for Asian Tofu, reviewers submitted these generous comments:
“Serious tofu lovers (and that includes me) will be amazed by the recipes and lore in Andrea Nguyen’s masterful new book. Those more skeptical will become immediate converts to one of the world’s most elemental, versatile, and delicious foods.”
— James Oseland, editor-in- chief of Saveur and author of Cradle of Flavor
“Andrea Nguyen’s exquisite book restores tofu to its proper place—one based on deep craft, elegance, and imagination. Here is tofu in its Asian context where it is deeply appreciated for its goodness, not the promises for health we Westerners have endowed it with. An altogether gorgeous work, Asian Tofu not only answers whatever questions you might have about tofu, but is graced with the author’s adventures on the tofu trail.”
— Deborah Madison, author of This Can’t Be Tofu! and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
“Andrea Nguyen has done it again, taking another subject that crosses many cultural lines—and can be a touch intimidating—and demystifying it, making one immediately want to try these techniques and recipes. The Homemade Tofu Tutorial at the beginning is inspiring and worth the price of admission alone.”
— David Kinch, chef-owner of Manresa restaurant
“This book is worth buying just for the glorious Tofu Chicken Meatballs in Lemongrass Broth. But it is full of other tofu wonders from up and down the East Asian coast such as Soft Tofu and Seafood Hotpot and Savory Tofu Pudding. It will find much use on my shelf.”
— Madhur Jaffrey, actress, cookbook author, and TV journalist
If you don’t know these people, they are among the most respected authors and chefs in the industry. I was honored -- flat out stunned by their thoughtfulness. We promptly added their comments to the back portion of the book jacket:
Other Early Responses
Bound galleys of the book were also been sent out to various media outlets. This is traditionally a quiet time in the book making process but with social media these days, you never know.
In late September, acclaimed author and Martha Stewart Living columnist, Lucinda Scala Quinn, gave the book this shout-out:
A few weeks later, Food and Wine magazine’s test kitchen tweeted that they’d worked through one of the recipes:
Who would have thunk that tofu would draw such positive? It’s pretty darn cool. Okay, I’m totally stoked.
For more information, hop over to the Asian Tofu cookbook overview page, where you can read the book description, check out the list of incredible folks who comprised mighty team tofu, and get details on availability and pre-ordering the hardcover and e-book editions.
That said, we're now plotting and planning cool enhancements for the digital book. Stay tuned and thanks for your support and interest!
More posts on cookbook making:
- Asian Tofu Update: Second Pages and Photo Proofs!
- Asian Tofu Update: Cover Evolution
- Asian Tofu Update: First Pages
- Behind the Scenes of the Asian Dumplings Photoshoot (with photographer Penny De Los Santos and stylist Karen Shinto)
- Creating Ethan Stowell's New Italian Italian Kitchen: Interview with editor Melissa Moore (for more details on how cookbooks are made)
- How to Get a Cookbook Published