Caroline Calloway Said Her New Book “Scammer” Is “So Profitable"

Also in this week's newsletter: I can't stop scrolling through this woman's feed of extremely cute snacks.

A stay-at-home mom makes these perfectly polished and extremely kawaii treats on Instagram for fun

I can’t stop scrolling through this Danish woman’s food art Instagram feed. It’s so crafty, and cute, and just cartoony enough to be the perfect kind of escapism I need during the dead of winter in Chicago.

More remarkably, I discovered that the woman behind the account (@foodbites) is a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom of three children in Denmark. She told me the account started off entirely as “a hobby” and remains one to this day.

Her name is Sine, and she wants to remain as anonymous as possible. She started @Foodbites in 2016 to motivate herself to eat healthier. It currently has over 322,000 followers.

“My first [of] many photos were of salads and smoothies,” she said. “Over time it evolved into the food art feed that it is today.”

I discovered Sine’s account like many people do: via the Discover tab. I thought, Surely this is some passion project of a food styler or industry pro. But while Sine has a background in advertising, she has no professional training in food design.

“I guess through lots of trial and error I have learned what works and what doesn’t. So I’m self-taught, you could say,” she told me.

Sine has done a few sponsored posts in the past. However, she has no plans to make her account a full-time job. She said beyond all else, it’s the “friendships” and “the extremely positive” community she’s gained that have been the best part of the account.

“Nothing makes me happier than receiving messages from a mom saying she and her kids love scrolling through my feed together,” Sine said. “Or that they’ve made something for a birthday party inspired by me and it was a success.

“Above all, I hope my feed makes people smile, whether they are a follower or a passer-by.”

Here’s a challenge: Scroll through her feed and try not to crack a smile or a squee. If this doesn’t do it for you, alright, go back to Twitter.

—Tanya Chen

Caroline Calloway answers my questions about her book Scammer

Last week, Stephanie had the chance to chat on the phone with Caroline Calloway about her upcoming self-published book, Scammer. Here’s what she said (her answers have been edited for clarity and length).

Why did you decide to write Scammer and why now?

I really was just so excited to be one of the first writers who had the opportunity to put the experience of going viral down in words. Because I’m a writer first and foremost, and what’s happened to me happened to a lot of internet celebrities as well as actual celebrities — but none of them have ever, even if they had the writing skill, chosen to share their account of their time in the news publicly. And I just thought it was such an exciting opportunity to write about. No one really knows what it’s like at the eye of the media hurricane when everyone’s talking about you.

You’re self-publishing Scammer and only producing the number of copies sold. Why did you decide to do it this way? Did you shop it around to publishers?

I’d always thought that people can not like what you make, but at least if you make something and the people who you made it for like it — what’s the worst that can happen? Turns out very bad things can actually happen. You can go viral as a scam. And that was just a hurt that really lingered with me, and it was really sort of choking me creatively. And one way I have been working through it is just churning out such an impressive amount of content daily on Instagram. I don’t want to be afraid of sharing stuff because I’m under a level of scrutiny that is so unusual. Fuck that. I’m gonna make stuff. I’m gonna make a lot of stuff. And self-publishing was the quickest way to get this out there. That’s why I self-published. To get it out quicker and to keep making stuff and to address the hurt of the last year.

Do you have an exact release date yet?

We don’t have an exact release date. It could be as late as April, but I think my management has purposely chosen that date because it seems like it may be much sooner.

How many copies have you sold?

[My manager] is in charge of the exact numbers, but it’s been so profitable. Especially by doing it by the business model that I selected. We’re only printing what people pay for — which, if you’re going to self-publish, is the only business model I would endorse for an entrepreneur because it’s not just low risk, it’s zero risk. I think self-publishing could be the merch of the literary world. I think as the media landscape and freelance journalism changes, savvy businesspeople and ambitious writers will see that there is so much potential in self-publishing.

What about your second book, And We Were Like, which is under contract with Flatiron? When is that coming out?

That one will definitely come out, but I don’t know if it’ll be second. Self-publishing turns around quite fast, I can self-publish in three months. Whereas Flatiron has put so much money into my book, and I’m such an investment for them, they’re not going to want to release my book without utilizing all of the strength of publishing I listed before. I’m hoping to have the manuscript for that done in May, but that’s just a personal deadline. But even if it’s done in May, it’s unlikely it could come out anytime before winter 2020.

—Stephanie McNeal

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