It’s hard to believe that New York Times bestselling author Jane Green leveraged Kickstarter to fund her new cookbook, Good Taste. Although the campaign ends on July 14, devoted fans and celebrities like Martha Stewart and Jodi Picoult have supported her via social media and she easily surpassed her self-publishing goal of $45,000 within the first five days of her campaign. Drawing on stories from her life and the food that runs through them, the book combines recipes with photos and her witty storytelling.
We caught up with the versatile author to chat about venturing outside her comfort zone, leveraging new media to fund her project, and carving out time and space to write amidst her busy schedule.
GalleyCat: As a bestselling author, why did you decide to self-publish your cookbook?
Jane Green: I have been incredibly lucky with my novels but I had absolutely no idea if anyone would be interested in a cookbook. So I started to think about self-publishing.
I then realized that with Kickstarter, I [would] have to put this book together myself. So I did the test recipes and I found the photographer and an art director. I wanted my fingerprints on every page and they really are. Everything about this book has been chosen by me.
GalleyCat: It sounds like you really enjoyed this process. And as a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, was this a passion project? Were you thinking, “I love cooking so let me try this out?”
Green: Yes, 100 percent. I put recipes in a couple of my novels and they’ve always been well-received and this is a long-held dream of mine. I did sort of get into a conversation with my publisher a couple of times about how much I’d love it and they didn’t bite.
GalleyCat: How does it work exactly – will everyone who donated get a book?
Green: We funded in five days which I did not expect at all. That was kind of extraordinary but what it means is that we can now proceed with the printing. We’ll fulfill the books, we’ll be sending them out in October and so it’s the same as pre-ordering a novel in a bookstore. You can buy my book for $25 and you’ll get it in October.
This is a limited edition print run, it’ll be a collector’s edition. Because we’ve funded it, we’ll be able to publish all kinds of lovely things. I would love to do another cookbook, maybe a slightly different version. I may either do it myself or I may look for a publisher next time around.
GalleyCat: What are your thoughts on self-publishing? It sounds like you’re really enjoying this process and you’ve gone through the traditional route for so many years.
Green: It’s been a fascinating learning curve. What I’ve come to learn with self-publishing is that if you want to provide readers with something of equal quality, it requires the same amount of time and expense. I could have self-published and thrown something together and turned it up online but I didn’t want to do that; I wanted to create something that looked really beautiful and had lasting value.
GalleyCat: There can be a stigma with self-publishing. You’re an established author, you’re trying this route – has the stigma changed over the years and if so, how?
Green: I think that the stigma is very, very much in place and I think that the entire model of the publishing world has changed and doing what you’ve always done and expecting to get what you’ve always got no longer works.
GalleyCat: Let’s talk about social media because it seems like with the Kickstarter campaign and your Facebook and Twitter feeds, you’re really engaging with the reader. Has social media also changed the face of publishing?
Green: The whole thing now is about connection. Ten years ago, you wrote a book and you never expected to find out anything about the author. Now with social media, everyone wants that connection. I think our readers want to be invited into our lives and brought on the journey and be part of this whole process.
GalleyCat: Do you envision more e-books in the future or different ways of publishing houses getting involved beyond traditional books?
Green: My e-books sales have overtaken everything else, so I think all the marketing has become very much driven by the author now because of social media. The way that I run my Facebook and my Instagram [accounts], I can’t have somebody else doing that for me. It’s got to be my voice.
GalleyCat: What advice do you have for writers hoping to leap outside their comfort zone?
Green: When you stay stuck in the same groove, your creativity can dwindle. I definitely felt that I was on a bit of a treadmill and actually, stepping out of my comfort zone and using my creativity in a completely different way has just brought this incredible passion back into my life, which has spilled into every area. I’m energized in a way that I wasn’t before so if you’re a creative person, and we writers tend to be, the more cases we can express that creativity, the better. Actually, my next novel comes out on Tuesday, June 23 – Summer Secrets.
GalleyCat: How do you manage to carve out time to sit down and actually write when you’re so busy?
Green: Right now I’m busier than ever before and my whole writing routine has had to change because I have so many things going on. In the old days I’d write during the morning and I’d be done by lunchtime and be mom in the afternoon. I can’t do that now. Sometimes I can get away with a week here or there but now I have to go on these self-imposed writing retreats. Twice a year I’ll go off to a little inn in New Hampshire and I’ll just go and for five days I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I wouldn’t look at anyone, I’d just be in a room with my computer and I will write.