Self-publishing, Kickstarter, and the Food Book Fair

It’s day three of the Food Book Fair and I’m sitting on a high stool in an eighth-floor suite at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. I feel a little vertigo as I look out the large glass window at the New York City skyline. This is by far the coolest room I’ve ever presented in. To my immediate left are Ted and Sharon Burdett of Strand Design. Opposite a flat screen TV is Terry Romero, food envoy for Kickstarter. She’s taking the 30+ assembled guests through a workshop on using Kickstarter and self-publishing to make their food dreams come true.


Ted and Sharon are examples of crowd-funding par excellence. They (more than) successfully crowd-funded their Fourneau Bread Oven, a deceptively simple design and engineering feat that promises to help you bake the perfect no-knead bread. Their campaign (and story) is so fascinating that for a moment I forget why I’m there. Then Terry jogs my memory, “Kent, why don’t you tell us a bit about the difference between offset printing and print-on-demand.”

kickstarter cookbook rewardThis is why I’m here: To talk about the two ways people couple Kickstarter with Blurb.
Fourneau, and its creators, serve as one case, one for which print-on-demand is perfect. There are Kickstarters where the book is a reward. And there are other Kickstarters where the book is the project. I list off some of the most successful book projects, from The Essence of Wine to Peanut Butter or Jelly. “Which,” I say, “is only technically a ‘food book’ because, well, the main characters are food. But it’s just so damn adorable.” Either way, Deborah Kelson succeeded in raising more than $16,000 for printing her children’s book. Raising funds like that is necessary because, while offset brings the per-unit cost of the book down, it requires a larger payment upfront.

There are Kickstarters where the book is a reward. And there are other Kickstarters where the book is the project

Terry weaves together the threads of a successful Kickstarter campaign: solid planning, open communication, good community, and compelling rewards. Ted and Sharon had all of these and reveal all the details in their story of a little bread oven that could. I talk about the benefits of warehousing your book for easy fulfillment—and something about how “plates and blankets sound like we’re talking about housewares, but really, it’s about offset printing.”

Afterwards we talk to individual authors in the hotel lobby. I meet a woman who has a book all ready to go. Writing, recipe testing, photography, and layout are done. The missing ingredient? The risk-adverse publishing industry isn’t buying the idea that a cookbook on fish can sell, despite the strong community and retail presence the author has. She’s thinking crowd-funding and self-publishing might be the way to make her dream come true. Later, as I review the tweets from the event, it becomes clear that she’s not the only one.

Couldn’t make this event? Need more info? Our Kickstarter for self-publishing page has examples, interviews, and more.


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