November 2, 2023
Behind the Scenes of Bella Grace
Words by Christen Hammons
The idea for Bella Grace began many years before it finally came to fruition through a series of short conversations about simple pleasures and ordinary magic between our creative director and publisher, Kellene Giloff, and myself. In between our various tasks, we would make quick comments about our shared love of something seemingly mundane and remark that we knew other women felt the same. “Wouldn’t it be great to make a magazine about this?” we would ask each other, but at the time, it felt like it was just a dream, as we had only ever published art and crafting magazines. But the idea of it was something we couldn’t shake, and so we put our heads together to decide what Bella Grace would be. We agreed that, ultimately, it would be an experience. A luxury. Something that would offer a brief respite from the busyness of life.
Though I’ve worked on hundreds of issues of different magazines in my career, none of them have a creative process quite like Bella Grace. While our publishing team can take a short break from our other magazines, Bella Grace is one that we are constantly working on in some manner. We thought it’d be interesting to share a little about how it gets put together, from start to finish, so our readers can get an inside look at how one of Barnes & Noble’s top-selling magazines gets made.
Everything begins with submissions, which we receive daily. Each submitted story or photograph is confirmed and filed into a folder for whatever issue it’s intended for. Once a submission deadline has passed, each submission is printed out so they can all be reviewed together as a whole. As editor-in-chief, I add notes to the submissions for our creative director to review as she selects the content for an issue, calling out the stories I love and those that show promise.
From there, she takes the stacks of submissions home and goes through them, carefully choosing which stories will make it into the next issue and marking those that might fit better in a future one. Once the stories have been selected, she returns them to our editorial team, and while we work on editing the works, she scours a variety of sources to look for just the right selection of images for each story. While we happily consider photography submissions, most of the photographs featured in Bella Grace have been thoroughly talked about and chosen for each story.
Our designers then get to work laying out each story along with the coordinating photographs. Each layout is printed out and taped to large boards and reviewed several times over by our creative director, making as many changes as necessary until everyone is happy with the final product.
One thing that sets Bella Grace apart from most magazines available on newsstands is our heavy book jacket cover. The thickness of the cover helps protect the magazine from being tossed into purses and tote bags time and time again (something we encourage!) while giving it the feel of a well-loved hardcover book. The beautifully designed quotes that you see at the beginning and end of the magazine are chosen to appear there because we feel they set the “mood” of each magazine, and our art manager works diligently to lay them out so everything lines up perfectly with the book-jacket flaps.
Something else that is different about Bella Grace is the paper we chose to print it on. Each issue is filled with worksheets designed to explore the themes of some of the stories even further, and we wanted to use a paper that would hold up well to being written on. We also think the pictures look especially lovely printed on the matte texture.
As soon as we finish an issue of Bella Grace, we start the process all over again. Though its production is a lot more involved than many of our other magazines, it’s more than worth it when we get our latest copy in the mail or hear from a reader who has been touched by a particular story, because we ultimately make this magazine for you.