Well Fed, Our Way

For the first half of my life, I was a pleaser. I really, really needed everyone to like me – even if (especially if?) I didn’t like them. Then I hit my late 20s/30s, started training hard and eating right, joined the Roller Derby, got a few tattoos, and finally went through a teenage rebellious phase that I suspect will last the rest of my life. Which is why, despite the fact that it might have been easier – at least in the short run – I decided to self-publish my cookbook Well Fed, instead of pursuing a traditional publisher.


The Big Guys

In 2005, I was very fortunate to get a book deal with Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, for my book Rollergirl: Totally True Tales From The Track. I was over the moon! I put on my best rollergirl-author outfit and flew to Manhattan, then I got in a yellow taxi with my literary agent (!) and we rushed to a meeting with an editor on a nosebleed-high floor of a skyscraper near Rockefeller Plaza. It was like living a movie for a few days. But the glamour eventually faded to a realization that I was one itty-bitty cog in a giant machine that didn’t care about me so much. My ego loved saying “Simon & Schuster,” but the reality is that I was ultimately disappointed in the way my book was marketed, and I will most likely never see a royalty from the publication of my book. I swore if I ever tackled another book project – and after the pain of pushing out that first one, I wasn’t sure I would – it would be a project Dave and I did together, and we would do it on our terms.


Our Terms

When Dave and I committed to the idea that we could do a cookbook, we decided the only way it would make sense was if we did it exactly the way we wanted to. It was going to be a labor of love (and pain, but mostly love) that would be smushed into evenings and weekends. I have a dayjob at a web agency that I can’t retire quite yet, so writing, photographing, producing, editing, and publishing Well Fed was going to happen around the edges of “real life.” We knew it would be challenging, but we also fell in love with the idea of creating our ideal book. A work that would make us proud, with no compromises, and not pesky number-crunchers getting in the way of a good idea. Finally, after two decades of bending to the whims of clients, we were going to form a team of creative people we could trust and let everybody just do their thing.

And so we did!

We researched the options for self publishing and immersed ourselves in learning more about our respective parts of the process. Dave consumed photography books and bonded with his camera, tripod, reflectors, and the idiosyncracies of light. I read as much as I could find about good food writing and how to construct useful recipes, then I started banging pots and pans. We invited Melissa and Dallas of Whole9 to write the foreword, and they did us one better, giving us the Whole30-approved blessing when they saw the recipes. We enlisted Kathleen Shannon to sprinkle her special brand of fairy dust on the graphic design, and recruited a handful of copyeditors and proofreaders to make sure the end result would be as polished as possible. And then we all worked relentlessly for six months.

Now the result of our efforts is in the hands of CreateSpace, a self-publishing and distribution service that’s part of Amazon.


Why CreateSpace

There are several advantages to self publishing, in general, and to CreateSpace in particular. Here are the things that swayed our decision.

1. Creative control. With CreateSpace, we’ve had complete control over the creative process. I suppose that’s a double-edged sword because there’s no one to stop us from doing something stupid, but it’s been challenging and rewarding to trust our instincts. Sink or swim, it’s all us, and that feels good.

2. Print on demand! Because CreateSpace prints on demand, as soon as we flip the switch, you’ll be able to buy the printed version of the book on my site and on Amazon. There’s no pesky pre-order period, and the book will never be out of print. It’s just there, waiting for you, whenever you want it. Cool, right?!

3. We’re the publisher. We own all the rights to the content, now and forever, which means we can do whatever we want with it. For now, that means we can make a printed, softcover edition and a PDF version available, so you can pick your price and your format.

4. No corporate rules and templates. Most cookbooks follow a fast-and-easy-to-populate design template. It makes a lot of sense from a production stand point, but we wanted something more handcrafted. By doing it our way, we were able to create recipes that look like this (click to see it in all its glory):

Plus, we have front-of-the-book stuff that’s just how we hoped it would be, a cover that makes our hearts sing, an index we love, and a table of contents that looks like this:

Release Date – December 6?

There’s one bit of not great, but not really bad news… the only hitch in this master plan is that we’re still sorting out the publication date. If everything goes smoothly over the next few days, Well Fed will be available early next week – and we will all celebrate with gusto. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to send all your positive energy our way so that our press check today and tomorrow is as smooth as a fresh batch of Sunshine Sauce.

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you should totally do that! I’ll keep you updated on all the latest news – and should have some freebie, downloadable, fun thingy-ma-bobs exclusively for newsletter subscribers soon.

OK! Commence sending good vibes now. 3-2-1-GO!


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  • Bethany says:

    Mega positive vibes coming your way from Brooklyn!! xo

  • Holly says:

    So excited for you! I really think the way you are going about everything is so smart and I think you found some great partnerships (all of Kathleen’s work makes me swoon — I’m a superfant!) and you have a supportive community here. You are golden!

    Sending you good vibes, and you know I can’t wait to read it. I’ll gladly spread the word once it’s ready for order!

  • Oh girl you KNOW I gotchu covered, mmmkay?!?

  • Tim Huntley says:

    Outstanding – Lots of positive energy flowing your way.

  • Kate says:

    I am so excited to see this join “Paleo Comfort Foods” on my shelf! Your website has been the source for so many recipes that I now make on a regular basis, I can’t wait to see them in cookbook form – and more power to you for making all of that happen “in between” your real life. Please tell me you are going to do some celebrating afterwards – sounds like you deserve it!

    • Mel says:

      I love the idea of Well Fed next to Paleo Comfort Foods — Jules and Charles are good peeps, and they have good taste, too.

      We will be celebrating by not making a new cookbook for a while 🙂 And yes, on Dec. 10, we’re gathering friends and family to officially toast the publication and eat some Well Fed recipes.

  • Emily Rose says:

    Best of luck in the next few days!

    Glad you posted the chili recipe – now I know what I’m making for dinner tomorrow 🙂 Oh! And this might sound weird, but… I always save a little of the leftover chili in the fridge to scramble with a few eggs the next morning. Surprisingly good, especially with diced onions and guac. Try it!

    • Mel says:

      That chili is really comfortingly good! I wish I had some bubbling right now. And I’m with you: chili scrambled with eggs totally kicks ass. LOVE IT!

  • Devon says:

    It’s so on my Christmas list!

    It looks beautiful and I’m ready to hit -purchase!

  • Cate says:

    I am real, real, REAL excited about dis book. I’ll be devoting all the energy from my yoga practices to you from now until it’s published (okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration but chya get mah point).

    As a designer, I am also super flipping stoked about the layout. It’s rad and fun and gritty while being polished. Me gusta! Plus, a little area for notes on each recipe? yes please! I haven’t been this excited for a cook book since “Nourishing Traditions” made its way under my christmas tree many moons ago.

    God speed good woman!

    • Mel says:

      Save some of that yoga power for yourself… but I welcome whatever you want to send us 🙂

      Thanks for the sweet words about the design. Kathleen really put a lot of care into each page. I’m really touched that you’re excited… thanks!

  • Amanda Arthur says:

    Hooray! Love that you are doing it your way (even if my head spins to think of having the ability to conquer this huge project on top of working, exercising, and living life)- wishing you the best as you enter the home stretch! And before you think these wishes are coming out of completely unselfish good will, part of it might be because I just read your table of contents and need. this. cookbook. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      It’s been a little nutty around our house for the last few months, but we’ve done a pretty good job of slowing down to take care of ourselves when we need to… until this week. THIS week, I’ve been a nutball.

      I’m delighted that you need this cookbook! Thank you for the support!

  • Tom R. says:

    I have not even considered buying any of the Paleo cookbooks published to date. I’m standing in line (so to speak) to buy yours. Much positive vibes…

  • Marjie Scheib says:

    So excited for the release. In my world I pray so I am praying for you, Dave and your whole creative team and process. Just like Tom R. I have not purchased a Paleo cookbook to date but yours is my Christmas gift to ME! Yippie woo hoo and all that jazz. Savor the moments.

    • Mel says:

      Thank you so much, Marjie! I’m honored that you’re starting your paleo cookbook collection with Well Fed. And thanks for the reminder: I need to do less stressing and more savoring!

  • Jules says:

    Sending much love and many good vibes your way. Much admiration for you and Dave and how you’ve gone about things!

  • Meredith says:

    I too am sending good energy your way. (But it’s really a selfish act — I CANNOT WAIT to have this cookbook in my hot little hands!)

    Ditto Marjie’s “Christmas gift to self” sentiment!

    When it finally is published, please be sure to tell us which avenue is best for purchasing (i.e., will you make more money if we order it directly from Amazon, or from your store?).

    • Mel says:

      I love that your motivation is somewhat selfish — ’cause I love that you’re excited about Well Fed. It’s really fun to think of you guys flipping through the pages!

      I will remind all of you when the time comes, but the best way to support me is to buy it through my store on this site. Thank you for asking!

  • Brittany says:

    As promised several months ago, this cookbook will be a birthday gift to myself – I cannot wait! I’m so happy to see this come to life and such a huge supporter of your efforts to spread the good paleo word in your own bad-ass way. Just reading the chocolate chili page, I am already over the moon about this cookbook! Yahoo!


    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I think Well Fed will make a great birthay gift! Thank you so much for always being so supportive and enthusiastic. I really appreciate it!

  • Lauren says:

    I’m so happy I found your site (thanks NomNom!) and I can’t wait for your book!! I too am in my late 20’s and started working out, eating clean, getting tats and blogging about it! I would LOVE to create a cookbook someday. Keep up the good work!!

    • Mel says:

      I’m glad you found me, too! That Nom Nom is a good egg, isn’t she?!

      I’d be glad to share “lessons learned” when you’re ready to tackle a cookbook project. We really learned a lot over the last 6 months.

      Keep us posted on how you’re doing! Glad you’re joining our tattoed/paleo club!

  • Liat says:

    Sending good vibes! I think this might be the first paleo cookbook I purchase.

  • Paula B says:

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to browsing through your new book!

  • Sandra says:

    I am drooling at the table of contents–I can’t wait!

  • Sue B says:

    Yay!! So excited!! Been reading your blog for awhile now and very excited! I’ve been paleo for a little over 2 years and have enjoyed watching your journey with food and crossfit as well! Congrats!! Just shared on my FB and will again when comes out & I get my copy (&PDF- so cool!)
    Best Wishes!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for sharing the cookbook news! I really appreciate it… and I love that we’ve kinda been tracking with each other. Thanks so much for the support!

  • Kathleen says:

    This post (and all the comments!) gave me goose bumps! I’m actually a little speechless at the moment.


    • Mel says:

      It’s pretty great, isn’t it?! We have such an awesome community here. I’m very blesses to have such a wonderful crew here with me.

  • Kelly says:


  • Tina says:

    Go, baby, go! I know I’m buying it and pretty sure I’m getting at least one or two copies for friends!

  • Juniper says:

    So excited this will be ready for Christmas! My mom and I talk about you and your recipes all the time. We call you “The Girl” for short–we always call each other to exclaim about the latest recipe we’ve tried from “The Girl.” My boyfriend eats more vegetables now than he’s seen his entire life, a lot of them thanks to your fantastic recipes!

    Sending you good wishes and great thankfulness from snowy Montana, right before I sit down to a bowl of pizza soup. Cheers and good luck!

    • Mel says:

      OMG! I love my new nickname — that’s totally awesome. And I love knowing that you and your mom are cooking my recipes. That’s great news about the boyfriend, too!

      I’m SO envious you’re in Montana. I would love a good snowstorm right now.

  • Stacy W says:

    This looks AWESOME!!! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

  • Jill says:

    I can’t wait!! I am going to see if someone (my husband, maybe?) will get this for me for Christmas! I have loved all of my recipes I have gotten from your site. Most of the paleo recipes I have made come from here. We made the Cranberry Waldorf Salad for Thanksgiving and everyone, paleo and non, loved it! Prayers for everything to go smoothly in the next few days!!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the support, Jill! So glad you know y’all liked the Cranberry Waldorf Salad. That’s a good one, isn’t it?!

      Maybe I should make some kind of ecard you guys can send to your near and dear to remind the to buy you a copy of Well Fed 😉

  • SnazzyGina says:


    My birthday is the 18th of December…so I’ll be getting this for SURE!

    Sending LOTS of good ju-ju your way….

  • Rochelle says:

    Positive vibes enroute, now! Hope all goes well and can’t wait to see the cookbook. We’re anxiously awaiting some yummy new Paleo food ideas!


  • Barbara says:

    I am soooo excited for your book- lots of positive thoughts headed your way, though i feel a bit guilty since my motivator is all about me wanting the book asap! I’ve been in a paleo cooking rut and am really looking forward to spending some time in december with your book. Great title (and cover)!

    • Mel says:

      Whatever your motivation is… I’ll take the positivity! Thanks for the compliment on the title and cover. We’re really pleased with it, and I love that both the name and the cover are the result of brainstorming with some of my favorite people. Whenever I look at it, I see them. So nice!

  • sarena says:

    SO so exciting, cant wait. positive vibes headed your way. I wish I could make the chili, it does look awesome. But alas, no nightshades for me

    are they used frequently in you book??

    • Mel says:

      Only a few of the recipes really need nightshades: chili, a layered eggplant casserole. Most of the recipes are nightshade free or can easily omit the nightshades without any diminishing of flavor — and if you want, I can give you a complete list before you buy. Let me know.

  • Leah G says:

    So excited!! I am going to tackle another Whole 30 in January so the timing for this book is perfect! Congrats girl!

  • Erika says:

    Sending positive vibes! Cant wait!!! Its #1 on xmaS LIST 🙂

  • Laurial says:

    Looking forward to this…I *really* need some sauce recipes. Trying to find ranch dressing without canola/soybean oil/corn syrup in it is IMPOSSIBLE, I say!

    • Mel says:

      I’ve so got you covered! There’s a ranch dressing recipe in Well Fed, and it’s stupid easy to make… no junk, tons of flavor. YAY!

  • KimA says:

    Kudos for doing this your own way! Good vibes to you!

  • AustinGirl says:

    Sending y’all good vibes on this! I cannot WAIT to lay my grubby little paws on this AMAZING cook book!! So excited!!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, AustinGirl! We’re supposed to get our proof copy on Saturday or Monday, and the waiting is really testing my patience. Yeesh!

  • Mel,

    You rock! You are my favorite blogger by far. You respond to your readers. You put out blog posts that are real and not superficial. On top of that, you are supplying us hungry paleo eaters with incredible recipes. Lots of hugs and thanks goes out to you.

    • Mel says:

      Hannah! Thank you so much for your sweet words. I’m going to be strutting all day thanks to the “favorite blogger” comment. I’m super excited for you guys to see the cookbook — just another week or so… whew!

  • Look at all these comments! Look at all this love Mel! We can make it happen.

  • Chowstalker says:

    Ron and I were going through your blog (again!) yesterday and lovin’ the book layout – everything from the photos to the design, crackin’ up at the smudgedates, wishing we would have met Dave in LA, and taking turns saying ‘she’s so cool”.

    • Mel says:

      Patty, you always say the sweetest things. Thanks so much for your support and general loveliness. Can’t wait for you to see the real cookbook!

  • Amy says:

    I’m SO FREAKIN EXCITED about Well Fed! Its the only thing on my Christmas list so far 🙂 Best of luck!!!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Amy! I’m glad you’re excited… but you better add, say, some diamonds or leopard print Converse to your Xmas list, too! 😉

  • De23 says:

    Congrats on getting everything in and fingers crossed for proof copy delivery tomorrow! And I’m so glad you ended up loving the index. All the recipes look drool-worthy, but I especially want to see “fried apples with bacon and pecans.” Sounds like the best thing in the world!

    • Mel says:

      The fried apples are pretty awesome — and Whole30 approved, which is totally kickass. There’s nothing in them that you couldn’t eat on a regular ol’ day. YAY!

  • Mom says:

    Hey Honey! Dad and I always have your back. We can’t wait to see you next week and receive our signed copy of your beautiful book. You make us so proud. xxoo

  • Mark says:

    I know it’s early days, but any idea how international (UK) distribution will work? I really want a physical copy coz the design’s so good.

    • Mel says:

      We’ll be selling through Amazon, so you should be able to buy the book through my Amazon store and have it shipped to you. If there’s any issue with international shipping, you can buy a copy directly from me, and I’ll mail it to you myself! We’ll work it out… and I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about how the shipping works.

      Thanks so much for your sweet words about the design!

  • Lady A says:

    Hip hip hooray! I’m so excited for you! Lots of positive vibes for your little baby!

  • Waiting on the edge of my seat!!! 🙂 Can’t wait, Mel!

  • Sarah says:

    Can’t wait for the book, Melissa! Your recipes have almost single-handedly gotten me through 2 Whole30s.
    Totally addicted to the beet salad…

  • Rhea says:

    I love your blog and your site. Thanks!
    A question: If jicama is a legume why is it Whole30 accepted?

    • Mel says:

      That’s a great question, Rhea.

      I turned to Melissa @ Whole9 for the answer. This is what she said:

      “The potential downsides of legumes are all found in the SEED. The anti-nutrients, inflammatory compounds, phytoestrogens (in the case of soy) and, in the case of many legumes, carbohydrate density are all packed into the seed.

      When you eat jicama, you’re eating the ROOT – which has none of the same issues as the SEED. (As an aside, you’d never, ever eat the seed of a jicama – it’s actually quite toxic.) This is the same logic by which it’s okay to eat bean SPROUTS (the grassy part that grows out of the seed), but not the beans themselves.”

      Thanks for asking — now we all know the answer!

  • Chowstalker says:

    I knew that about jicama but failed to apply the same logic to bean sprouts! Good to know.

    But I still don’t like them. 🙂

  • Brandy says:

    Cant wait to get my hands on your book! I’ve been off the eating-right-training-hard bandwagon for a while and am working on getting back on. So excited to see al tha amazing progress you’ve made!

  • ARC says:

    I’ve totally been stalking Amazon for this book this week. Can’t wait to see it 🙂 I need some help in the meal-planning department. When we don’t have a plan, I end up ordering pizza (ugh.)

    • Mel says:

      You are going to LOVE the meal planning stuff in Well Fed. Seriously. I give you some base recipes and lots of easy to cook ideas to really spice things up.

  • Melissa M says:

    Can’t wait! Good vibes are still coming at ya from here in SC.

  • Lynn says:

    Just bought mine today – pdf – and am thrilled at the format and the handholding that I’m going to need as my whole family dives in starting Tuesday. (Yes – but at least I have a date out of DH and DS and we’re going to do it!) Seriously, I have bought several cookbooks that are primal/paleo but this is by far the best for the newbie that I am. Thank you thank you and blessings in the new year!!

    • Mel says:

      Lynn! Thank you so much for your sweet compliments on Well Fed — and best wishes to you for an awesome transition to paleo for 2012. Stay in touch and let us know how you’re doing!