Some of you might remember when, about a year ago now, I announced I was writing a cookbook. You might remember I said it would be called Veneto: Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen, and that it was going to be published in July 2017 by Faber. Some of you might also recall the long premise, and the fact I said it had thus far been a rollercoaster of emotions.
Well, the process has now come full circle. And I’m here today to give you a bit of exciting news.
Back then, I was deep in the midst of finishing the manuscript. I was also ready to catch a flight home to Veneto to spend the summer with family, cooking, testing recipes, photographing. I spent a large chunk of said summer travelling around Veneto in my cranky car in an attempt to capture what’s good and real about this lovely, unshowy land.
The process of writing and styling and photographing a cookbook has been challenging at times, but I’m glad I decided to go for it. I wanted Veneto to tell a story that would feel personal, and to do so not just through my tales and recipes, but also through my images.
When I finally submitted the content, I was invaded by a sense of exhaustion and euphoria. “I’m done. I’ve done it.” I thought. But boy, was I wrong. In fact, I was only halfway there.
From then until now, the book went through many stages of editing (you know, those millions of track changes on the right-hand side of a word document), copyediting, proofreading and indexing. Then, it was passed to the designer, Anna, who laid out the 288 pages in a way that looks beautiful and flowy and engaging and sensible.
And then, just when I thought it was really done, we had to choose a cover.
Here it is, the front cover of Veneto!
As you can see, it’s neither a photo of food, nor a landscape, nor a picture of me on a gondola holding a head of radicchio. Rather, it’s an aged wall in a rusty shade of orange (like you’ll find on some old Venetian houses – see photos above), decorated with an embossed fruit-and-leaf motif with elements of Venetian design in it. It’s bold and bright and I can honestly say that I love it.
Choosing a cover is possibly the most important step in the life of a book, as well as one of the most daunting (and exciting! and terrifying!) moments in the life of an author. You’d want the cover to sell, of course. But also, to be evocative and relevant, and to stand the test of time.
There is usually a phase that happens behind the scenes. The publisher kick-starts the process and works on mock-ups in-house before presenting some (fairly definitive) options to the author. In the case of Veneto, we had decided early on to abandon the photographic route in favour of a design cover that, we thought, would do a better job at representing the spirit of the book. I am glad we did.
From the first email I received with ‘Veneto Cover’ as a subject (oh, the feelings!), to the image you see here, the concept didn’t change all that much. To help the design team understand my vision (because the author always has an opinion), I had created a mood board with a few clues: colours, architectural elements, shapes, key ingredients, patterns etc. There was certainly some fine-tuning to be done (like agreeing on the shade of orange), but nothing major.
It was important for me to have a cover that would feel quintessentially Venetian, and that would embody the many souls of the book – the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the humble and the grand. What I love most about it is the juxtaposition between the classic decorative pattern and modern font; and between the warmth of the wall and the white of the overlay. (The back cover reflects this pattern and style, as does the spine, so no matter which side you’ll look at it, the look and feel will be the same.)
So…What do you think? I truly hope you like it. Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be back soon with more news, a bit of behind the scenes, lots of thanks, and a recipe preview, so stay tuned (or subscribe to post updates using the sign-up box on the left)!
Veneto will be released on 6th July 2017 but it’s now available for preorder! Head to this page for pre-order links, dates and for news on book events and more.