Behind-the-Scenes of Well Fed Weeknights

Here’s something you might not know about my husband Dave and I: We’re indie publishers! We decided in 2011 before our first cookbook Well Fed that we were going to dig in our heels and self publish our book so it would be exactly the way we wanted it. (You can read more about why here.) Since then, we’ve only become more committed to our company Smudge Publishing, LLC, and we’ve seriously upgraded the quality of our books and process in the last five year.

A few weeks ago, we went to Bang Printing in Brainerd, Minneapolis for our press check.

I thought you might like to see some behind-the-scenes snaps from our trip. It was a whirlwind jaunt across the country, and we packed a lot of work and as much fun as we could into a few short days.

As all good adventures do, our trip started with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call to get the bus to Boston to catch a plane to Minneapolis. Smudge was not happy to be woken up three hours before her usual time.


We finally arrived in Minneapolis around dinner time. After dropping our bags at our AirBnB, we headed to World Street Kitchen for dinner where we feasted on crispy Brussels sprouts tossed with red onion, fish sauce, and fresh herbs, followed by rice bowls with lemongrass meatballs, pickled veggies, and a spicy secret sauce. I might also have eaten coconut milk ice cream from Milkjam Creamery next door.


After some much-needed sleep, we drove north to Bang Printing in Brainerd to do our press check.

One of the many advantages of self publishing our Well Fed cookbooks is that we have them printed in the United States!

Most big publishers have their books printed in China because it’s far cheaper, but we decided that keeping our business in the States is a priority for us. I love our team at Bang printing! They’re always super welcoming and smile indulgently when we get excited about the work they do every day.

The first stop was a check-in on the cover which is always very exhilarating. Holding the cover makes the whole thing seem more real.


This is the very nice man who adjusted the inks just right so the colors in our book will be true to life.


And this is the sad discard pile, where bad pages go to be recycled.


This is the giant printer! That whole thing that looks like a white city bus is the printing maching. Those square cut-outs in the bottom are doors into the belly of the printer so the print man can check the inks.


Our book is printed in signatures. i.e., groups of pages that are bound together. One signature is made up of 24 pages, which you can see right here (12 pages on front, 12 pages on back):


It takes 12 of those 24-page signatures to make the 288-page book. As the signature pages are printed, they’re stacked in big piles of 10,000 like this:


To produce all the copies of our book that we ordered, they had to produce 24 of those stacks of pages. It’s literally a wall of paper when they’re finished. And it begins with giant rolls of paper like this:


After visiting our book-to-be, we got a tour of the warehouse where Well Fed and Well Fed 2 are stored. This is where the loose books are kept for orders that I place for individual sales to people like you:


And these are the books that are shipped to bookstores. All of the boxes you can see, starting with the shelf just above my head, are Well Fed and Well Fed 2. It’s a little bit like the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, no?


That trip to Bang was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. But the adventures weren’t over yet. the next morning, I met with three fabulous women from Experience Life magazine. On my left are Jill Patton (Senior Editor) and Maggie Fazeli Fard (Senior Fitness Editor); on my right is Jamie Martin (Editor-In-Chief). It was planned as a “business meeting” to talk about Well Fed Weeknights, but it was really just a lovely chat over food and coffee with motivated, smart, awesome women.


My takeaways from our trip: Visiting with people in person is always a good idea, eating in new-to-me restaurants is awesome for inspiration, and a good cuppa tea might be the secret to everything.


I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how our books get made. I would really appreciate it if you could support our indie publishing by pre-ordering Well Fed Weeknights. As a self-published author, I encourage you to support independent bookstores—but I also know that there are great deals online. Use these links to pre-order wherever suits you best!

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | BAM! Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble | BookPeople
Hudson BooksellersIndie Bound | Indigo | Powell’s | Target | Walmart

You can also order signed copies from BookPeople in Austin, and they ship worldwide! Just click this link place the book in your cart and indicate “SIGNED COPY” in the comments field during checkout. BookPeople is a damn fine bookstore. I’m thrilled to be doing a signing there on November 9 (7:30 p.m.) and so excited they’re making signed copies available to everyone.


Be sure to treat yourself to the 70-page sampler that includes 18 new recipes you can start cooking right away!


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