Author Spotlight: Celebrity Chef – Ludo Lefebvre on Creative Control

When star Los Angeles chef and impresario of pop-up dining, Ludo Lefebvre, wanted to create a new, 10th anniversary edition of his first cookbook, Crave, he turned to Blurb. What did he get? The creative control to create the book he always wanted. And by working with the volume order team to do an offset print run, his book is back on Amazon.

How did your project begin?

My first cookbook, Crave, a Feast of the Five Senses, had been out of print for about five years and was coming up on it is 10th anniversary. The book had some basic and classic recipes and told the story of my training in France. Looking back, the original publication was probably premature. I was lucky to get the book deal but I didn’t have a huge national audience, so it seemed perfect for a refresh and relaunch in 2015.

What was the purpose of the project? What did you want to do with the book?

It was all about putting the book back in the marketplace, and into my restaurants. My other book, Ludobites, is more of a specialty book that memorialized the moment when the “pop-up” was so hot and told the story of how my business model developed. The recipes are great, but a little more challenging than those in Crave. We wanted a user-friendly book in the market place. Something that also resonated and was more in line with a traditional “french chef”.

Is there anything you wanted to do differently with this version of the book?

The photos in the original edition were all taken on film and the style was very much from the early 2000’s. For the update, we wanted glossy, clear, simpler food photos that were drool-worthy. We also decided to change up plating styles of many dishes. In the original version most dishes were plated very much like we do them in restaurant. The recipes are approachable, but the plating sometimes made them seem unapproachable.

How did you change the book with the newest edition?

It was about shooting new photos and gently modernizing the book for today. In working on the new layout of the book, we also realized that some of the basic recipes, such as vinegars and jams were placed in random chapters, obviously to accommodate the layout that had been developed by the publisher/editor.

Since we were able to play with the design we were able to move all of those recipes to the appropriate chapter, to make a better book this time around.

How did you find Blurb?

A business associate of mine knows Eileen Gittins, Blurb’s founder. He said we had to go with Blurb. I trust this person very much so it was an easy decision.

What made you decide to go with Blurb?

In additional to the recommendation, I was very impressed with the team at Blurb. Everyone was very responsive and it was clear early on that they would be there for us and find solutions to address the unique nature of our project and our super short time frame.

How long did it take you to complete your project?

I started talking to Blurb in July and we had proofs of our full color 252 page book in our hand by October. We were really on an accelerated time frame to try to align with press opportunities.

What was the hardest part?

Only, the factors that were out of anyone’s control, like the labor slowdown at the Long Beach port that caused a shipping delay.

Was there anything that surprised you about the project or that you would you do differently next time?

What surprised me was how easy it was to do ourselves. Blurb really made it a streamlined process. The shipping delay was really the biggest issue. If I had to change something I would been more realistic in my “release date” giving myself flexibility for matters out of my control, e.g., labor slowdowns.

What is the hardest thing to convey to the home cook when creating a cookbook?

It is important to make the home cook feel that a recipe is approachable. It does not have to be easy, many home cooks like to be challenged, but has to be approachable and seem realistic. I feel like this can be accomplished through photography and recipe intros.

How did you promote the book?

We relied mostly on our internal subscriber base, but timed the release date to the start of season 3 of The Taste on ABC. That way we were able to tie some of the promotion into appearances on behalf of the show. We were also able to cross promote the show during book promotional appearances on national shows, such as rachel ray and the talk. The release date was during the holiday season, so we focused on inclusion in holiday gift guides. Social media promotion was a very important part of our strategy.

We started the promotion of the book early by running a crowd-sourced cover-art campaign through Talenthouse. It was a fun way to find the cover art, but also a great way to start spreading the word of the book upcoming book release. We are thrilled with our cover.

How has the reception to the book been?

The reviews have all been positive!!!!

Crave by Ludo Lefebvre

Was distributing the book to places like Amazon something that you wanted to do?

Amazon was important to us because we did not have a sales team out in the brick & mortar space. Whether for the good or bad, most people who look for a book will search for it on Amazon.

Do you have another book project that you’re thinking of doing?

We definitely have many more book projects in the future, but right now we are focused on opening restaurants.

Thank you Ludo Lefebvre for taking time to talk to us about your project! Inspired to start your own cookbook project? Get started today.

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