How social media can make (or break) a cookbook

Eat. Nourish. Glow. cookbookSocial media plays an increasingly larger role in our everyday lives as it continues to supplement and even replace news formats like newspaper, television, and radio. Not surprisingly, it has become a catalyst for new products, and no example illustrates the power of social media more than the case of the cookbook Eat. Nourish. Glow.

The first book from nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert Amelia Freer enjoyed modest success when it was initially released in the UK. The cookbook became an overnight sensation, however, due to one Instragram post by British crooner Sam Smith. In March, Smith told his 3.6 million followers via Instagram that Freer's cookbook had changed his life.

The book exploded after the Grammy winner's endorsement, rocketing to the number one spot on Amazon overnight, and wiping out the entire stock of the publisher (Harper Thorsons) within 48 hours. With no U.S. edition available, Harper turned to Harper360, a recent program designed to publish English-language titles globally, to meet the surprise demand. The paperback version hit the bestseller list within two weeks of its April 14 US release.

Contrast this story to that of Belle Gibson, the once-popular blogger who also shot to fame via social media. Her inspiring tale about beating cancer by following a healthy diet recently unraveled when the entire story proved to be a lie. Gibson's metoric rise began in 2013 after she announced on social media that her brain cancer had been cured not by conventional medicine, but instead by following a healthy whole-foods diet.

Whole Pantry cookbookShe quickly amassed millions of followers and her Whole Pantry app became a best-seller. Her cookbook was poised to do the same, and Gibson promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from both the app and book to cancer charities. This spring, after several charities complained that they hadn't yet received any of the promised contributions, and after her friends chimed in with their own reservations, Gibson admitted that she had fabricated the entire saga.

Former fans of the blogger vented their disappointment and outrage via the same social media network that had propelled Gibson to fame. The cookbook's publication, along with sales of the app, were quickly halted.


  • Foodycat  on  5/4/2015 at 4:22 PM

    Not entirely a fair comparison - unless the implication is that Amelia Freer just hasn't been found out yet. They both have had phenomenal success as a result of social media followings, but one is a self-confessed fraud and liar and one is not.

  • darcie_b  on  5/4/2015 at 6:47 PM

    I am not at all saying that Freer is a fraud - just showing how powerful social media can be - for good or bad.

  • veronicafrance  on  5/7/2015 at 8:10 AM

    It does say "*Contrast* this story to that of Belle Gibson" implying that the two are not comparable even though both found success via social media. Although in Freer's case it sounds as if it was luck rather than self-promotion!

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