Happy holiday news, everyone! My publisher officially made The Banh Mi Handbook public by releasing the cover online. It just recently happened and my friend Traca posted about finding the book listed on Amazon. Yes, the cookbook won’t be released until July 2014 but it’s available for pre-order through booksellers.
We’re all really excited about what we’re creating. Having made that benchmark in the bookmaking process, I thought I’d give you the skinny on how things came and are coming together.
With regard to the cover image—what attracts most people to a book, designer Betsy Stromberg initially envisioned a delicious banh mi simply set on a well-worn cutting board. However, during the book photo shoot, photographer Paige Green took the above image. We all stood back to check it out. The sandwich seems to just float dreamily against the background, like something you want to sink your teeth into immediately. Ten Speed Press liked it too so team banh mi pivoted and went with that for the final cover.
The cover is one component, and the insides of the book is the rest. After I reviewed and tweaked the copyedited version of the manuscript, my editor, Melissa Moore, did her pass. During the last couple of weeks, Betsy, Melissa and I have been huddling on the design, layout, and even size of the book.
The Banh Mi Handbook is a small-format book, conceived for you to hold, gift, and have fun with. Some of my favorite cookbooks are small, focused cookbooks on brownies, quick breads, and the like. You can learn a lot of such works, and they’re portable and affordable.
The cool thing about the design of this banh mi cookbook is that its dimensions are 7.5 inches tall by 8.5 inches wide. That wide format allows the book to subtly echo the general shape of the sandwich. (The dimensions of Asian Tofu sort of mimics that of a block of tofu!)
This week, I’m reviewing the designed pages of the book. We technically call them “first pages” and they will be tweaked by a handful of people before being sent to press in February.
At this stage, I proofread, trim and suggest layout changes. I mark things up with a mechanical pencil, and my favorite Magic Rub eraser is my constant companion.
Nope, you can’t do this work on the computer. Frankly, I find hand writing comments and using the eraser to be a refreshing change from typing on a keyboard. Melissa, Betsy, a proofreader, an indexer and other folks at Ten Speed Press will also be involved.
As always, it’s a bit challenging because we have a limited amount of space, and adhere to certain layout out and design guidelines. I don’t want to cram in a bunch of text or photos to look smart or clever. That may seem overwhelming, especially for something like a sandwich. My goal is to help people succeed in preparing good banh mi. A well-made cookbook offers a balance of practical information and artful inspiration.
Every book is an adventure. I hope you’ll like The Banh Mi Handbook as much as I do. Sorry it won’t be out sooner but we’re doing our best. The book is printed and bound in China, and we’re aiming to get it to press soon after Lunar New Year. As you know, Asians take weeks off to celebrate and if we don’t make our production deadline, we’re pushed further down the queue, Melissa says.
Before I forget, a zillion thanks to the recipe testers: Diane Carlson, Alex Ciepley, Jay Dietrich, Georgia Freedman-Wand, Alyce Gershenson, Petra Gördüren, Candace Grover, Doug Grover, Andrew Janjigian, Robyn Laing, Thien-Kieu Lam, Thien-Kim Lam, Laura McCarthy, Josie Nevitt, Karen Shinto, Terri Tanaka, Maki Tsuzuki, Dave Weinstein, and Lea Yancey.
That’s the scoop. Look for The Banh Mi Handbook wherever you see books sold. If you don’t see it, ask for it!
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