The modern way to publish a cookbook - use crowdsourcing


We like to stay au courant with new ideas - especially those where technology and cookbooks interesect - so the idea of going straight to the consuming public to finance cookbooks intrigued us.

First, a little background for those who may not have followed the use of internet sites for crowd-funding. While not a new concept per se, the internet has made it much easier to use contributions from a large  pool of people to fund projects - these may be creative, philanthropic, entrepreneurial, civic. Essentially, the creator makes a pitch on one of these sites for funding and people contribute money. In return they may receive a share of the equity, copies of the creative output, production credits, a tax deduction, or other remuneration.

Some of these sites (there are over 450 of them) are designed specifically to replace conventional venture capital in starting businesses; others are designed to encourage creative projects, and others are less restrictive. One of the biggest in the creative area is Kickstarter. Kickstarter does not allow investments; it treats contributions as donations. So it is not a place to make money, but rather to encourage creative content - but contributors often do receive rewards or acknowledgments. 

Kickstarter has become known as one of the most popular sites for celebrities; in fact, Braiser ran a recent article How Celebrities are Ruining Kickstarter. But whether for a celebrity or not, the process is pretty much the same. Per Wikipedia,  "Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected. Money pledged by donors is collected using Amazon Payments.  The platform is open to backers from anywhere in the world and to creators from the US or the UK."

Which brings us full circle and back to food. Kickstarter has become a popular source for funding food-related content. To best understand how it works, here's one example called Short Stack Editions. Founded by a former food editor for Food & Wine and Everyday with Rachael Ray, it is self-described as " a series of small-format cookbooks about inspiring ingredients, authored by America's top culinary talents. Each edition is a collectible, single-subject, 50-page booklet packed with recipes that offer ingenious new ways to cook our favorite ingredients...Our authors will be paid for each copy of their book that we ever print, guaranteeing that their hard work will pay off, again and again, as we sell more of their editions." Their first three books will be on Eggs (by Ian Knauer), Tomatoes (by Soa Davies, an associate of Eric Ripert's), and Strawberries (by Susan Spungen).

They started on May 17 looking to raise $50,000 by June 16. To date, they've raised $83,370, thereby exceeding their goal. Minimum donation is $1.00; they have seven funding categories. The first category, $5.00, will earn you their undying gratitude and a refrigerator magnet. The seventh category, $1500, includes the volumes, a class, a free cookbook, and other benefits.

So for those of you tempted to start a food project, or looking for a fun way to get into the ground floor in one, it might be worth your while to take a look at the crowd-sourcing. Besides looking at Short Stack Editions as an example, here's the food page on Kickstarter that lists other food-related projects.


  • TrishaCP  on  6/11/2013 at 8:16 PM

    Interesting. I have to say, I have seen some really questionable food-related projects on Kickstarter. (One popular food blogger wanted to basically fund a vacation across the US using Kickstarter- it was allegedly for research for a cookbook that already had a publishing deal. It was eventually cancelled for undisclosed reasons.) But self-publishing a cookbook makes sense.

  • FuzzyChef  on  6/14/2013 at 1:21 AM

    Given the total disaster area which mainstream publishing currently is, I'm glad that some authors have the initiative to work around it and keep writing.

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