On June 23, bestselling author Jane Green published her 17th novel, Summer Secrets, with St. Martin’s Press. In the time she spent preparing for the release of the book, she also had another project in the works—her first cookbook, which she is self-publishing with funding from Kickstarter.
Good Taste went live on the crowdfunding site on July 11, and Green reached her fundraising goal in five days. The author of Tempting Fate, The Beach House, and Jemima J (which, like all of her books thus far, hit the New York Times bestseller list), had no shortage of experience and contacts in the traditional publishing industry. But, for a brand new kind of book, she thought that Kickstarter presented certain advantages.
“I honestly didn't know if the readers of my novels would be interested in a cookbook by me, and rather than go to a publisher and hope they might offer me a deal, I decided to go directly to my readers and see if they actually did want it,” said Green of her decision to go the self-publishing route. “If there weren't enough people to reimburse the expenses I have already incurred in bringing this book to market, then I would know that the cookbook wasn't valid, and no-one would have lost money, apart from me,” added Green.
Green spread the word about the campaign by reaching out directly to devoted fans, and garnered support from celebrities and authors including Martha Stewart, Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult, and Lee Woodruff.
In the cookbook, Green combines stories from her life and the food that runs through them––from caring and cooking for a friend with breast cancer, to supporting her blended family with six kids and several animals, and her family’s recent move into an antique cottage on the water.
The Kickstarter campaign will run through July 14. Green has incentivized backers with rewards such as a book club Skype chat with Jane (for $100); an outing for tea and flowers in New York City (for $750); and lunch with Jane, author Jen Lancaster, and author and comedian Lisa Lampanelli at the Soho House (for $1,000). She is also sending copies of Summer Secrets to qualifying contributors. Money raised in the campaign will go toward Green’s balance of costs to publish the cookbook, and funds raised beyond the goal will expand the book’s print run.
In addition to allowing her to take the temperature on the potential readership for the cookbook, Green said that self-publishing had the added benefit of giving her complete control over the project. “My food, I styled, I chose the photographer, the art director, even drew the sketches throughout the book,” said Green. “It has allowed me to stay in touch with my readers and really involve them in the process of publishing a book.”
Though she has cooked her entire life, Green went to culinary school five years ago in a “bid to understand the science behind cooking.” But her inspiration for pursuing a new kind of project extends beyond her love of food. “I love creating the kind of home where my friends and family can gather and feel nurtured, and safe, and loved,” said Green. “I feed people because it's how I show my friends I love them, and I do so in a home that makes everyone want to kick their shoes off and curl up on a sofa as soon as they walk in.”
Green is currently testing recipes for a second cookbook, which will expand into entertaining, and she may revisit Kickstarter when the time comes to bring it to market. “I certainly wouldn't rule crowdsourcing out,” said Green. “I have loved how I have been able to connect with my readers because of it, but if there was a publisher who I connected with creatively and visually, that's an option too.”
While the way Green published the book was different than her experience over many years of traditional publishing, she also found a key difference in sitting down to tackle a novel, and producing a cookbook. “Doing the cookbook was creatively stimulating in an entirely different kind of way. It was also collaborative, whereas writing novels, apart from the occasional chats with an editor, just isn't,” said Green. “Working as part of a collaborative team was huge fun, and has taught me so much. Where one of us was weak, another would be strong, and the sum total of the parts has resulted in a book far more beautiful than I could ever have produced all by myself.”