Written by Donna Lander | 2016
“I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” - Shelby (Steel Magnolias). Taking this to heart, I pour myself a tall, glistening glass of sweet iced tea and cut a slice of plump peach pie to enjoy while I devour the book, Sunday in the South, by Ginny McCormack. Oh, what a “30 minutes plus of wonderful” it turns out to be! I experience the sweet blessing of comfort in the gentle words, masterful photography, and delectable recipes. Whispers of my childhood waft through my memory as I turn pages and a wistfulness settles on my spirit as I consider for what am I longing?
I realize I long for yesteryear, when life seemed simpler and less complicated, when time slowed and families made time for each other. Sunday in the South calls to the spirit of relationship, of making time for simple pleasures, of gathering around the table to enjoy amazingly flavorful food prepared with love and effortlessness. This captures the heart and soul of McCormack’s purpose, who designs the book as if she is the one to read it, as a “lifestyle or coffee table” cookbook. This non-traditional, inspirational cookbook appeals to first timers and seasoned cooks alike and distinguishes itself from the plethora of others on the shelves. Sunday in the South contains many tips and suggestions for entertaining, especially helpful for those with little experience in this area: how to cut and arrange a floral display for the centerpiece; how to set an elegant table with linen, dinnerware and cutlery; how to make the perfect cup of coffee. It also contains reflections on southern life and culture; fantastic recipes; and the final bow on the present…..the piece de resistance…..the creative layout of photography and quotations. Open the book and “welcome home!”
Even the title, Sunday in the South, suggests Ginny’s desire to bring back the lost art of the Sunday dinner. Her personal experience crafts a cookbook that brings inspiration to others. Through personal experience, she understands the pressures of daily family life and busy schedules, and wants to connect readers with ways to maximize their time and bring beauty to the dinner table. The encouragement to focus on relationships and time together with loved ones, to present food which looks beautiful in the way it is served, brings Ginny joy. She shares her personal family recipes so any person can cook with ease, as well as make the food a presentation of art. The food is important, and should be a factor in coming together, but not the controlling factor. Food can be “take out” placed in a crystal dish, or home cooked and prepared for hours served in a ceramic bowl, as long as people commune over a relaxing Sunday dinner.
Ms. McCormack’s idea for a book about reviving the tradition of a southern Sunday dinner launches out of another creative outlet, her spot on a nationally broadcast show for Family Net TV. After eighteen years as a stay at home wife to her husband and mother to her three children, Ginny “stumbles” across a career opportunity that changes the trajectory of her life. While at a Pampered Chef party, she meets another guest and through animated conversation, the other guest is intrigued by Ginny’s enthusiasm for food and cooking. This guest happens to be a producer for a television show in Atlanta and invites Ginny to host a Home Segment of the show. She presents tips on issues of the home, cooking ideas, decorating ideas, tips for cleaning and organizing, etc. and over time becomes adept at speaking in front of the camera, and in turn, in front of live audiences. The opportunity leads to three and a half years of working for television, and halfway through that adventure, the idea to develop a cookbook is birthed. In her spare time, she begins to collect and compile recipes while envisioning what her cookbook will be. Ginny zeroes in on “balance,” a mix of recipes which can be easily prepared at home and easy to find ingredients from the local grocery store. The everyday food anyone can make in ordinary life situations and make it look spectacular. She selects her target audience, which is women like herself: homemakers, mothers, professional women balancing home and careers, and begins crafting her masterpiece little by little. Determined to complete her dream, Ginny purchases her own graphic arts software, fine tunes her writing skills, selects the theme, hunts for quotations, enlists a photographer, practices laying out the photographs, and generally “does it all” until she gazes with satisfaction at the final product 1 ½ -2 years later. McCormack evaluates every item, scrutinizes every piece, and pushes herself to be excellent, knowing she is creating a piece of art. The desire to produce a book that her clients would delight and find pleasure in motivates her to keep thinking “like her customers,” to place herself in their shoes and ask “what would I want in a cookbook?” Customers can be thankful for the intersection of two lives and the subsequent conversation while at a home party for kitchen utensils and tools.
The conversation that turned everything around builds her faith in God and builds her own self-confidence as she ventures step by step into new territory. Finding a publisher proves to be the next new step in her journey as she completes the book. This daunting task causes Ginny to fear rejection from major publishing companies. She finds that most authors of similar situations as herself admit publishing with big companies does not turn a reasonable profit, as most of the money funnels to promotion and distribution expenses. In the end, there is little reward for the amount expended. McCormack chooses to look into the other option of self-publishing. One of her acquaintances at church has experience with self-publishing and connects Ginny with TSE Worldwide Press. The right moment at the right time, and Ginny selects TSE for her printing needs.
Nothing can compare to the moment McCormack holds the first bound copy in her hands after one and a half years of hard labor. The printing process produces a remarkable cookbook of amazing quality, dynamic color and excellent paper, all of which Ginny internalizes while holding her “baby.” Another equally memorable moment happens upon McCormack receiving the news that the Biltmore Estates gift shop of Atlanta, GA, requests her book to be sold in their store. The request then leads to book signings at the estate, and more subsequent re-orders.
The joy of fulfilling book order requests builds as Ginny accepts invitations to speak at small conferences and organizations, and displays her books in specialty boutiques and small gift shops around the Southeast area of the US. McCormack discovers America’s Mart Trade Show in her home town of Atlanta, and rents a 10×10 space to display her books. This exposure begins to get her name and product to buyers, but truly builds after a Showroom invites her to be a part of their permanent exhibit. As a result, their product representatives include her cookbook in their product displays as they travel the country selling their products. Now her books can be found in specialty boutique stores around the nation. Beyond specialty shops, a great amount of time and energy is put into social media promotion for Ginny’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other accounts. A small beginning explodes into an avalanche of exposure which now includes over 2000 stores and many social media sites.
Ginny believes in small business and chooses to focus on these “main street stores,” the small “mom and pop” repositories where clients find treasures and special, different gifts. These clients seek specific items, have discerning tastes, peruse for that strong, quality product which is a little higher end in its essence, and will pay for the “extra” uniqueness’s of the gift. The average customer purchases multiple books usually as gifts because the retail price is reasonable. They also purchase because of her personal touch! Ginny frequents the gift shops as part of the promotion for her book, and receives tremendous satisfaction from interaction with customers. The opportunity to connect with friends while engaging and discussing the topics of her cookbook brings her joy and happiness, the intent and purpose of Sunday in the South.
Connection with customers prompts McCormack to continue the venture of writing and she soon publishes her second book, Seasons in the South. In the beginning she didn’t foresee writing beyond one book, but with the success of the first, and the plethora of ideas continuing to pour out of her, she excitedly dives into the challenge. The third of the series is in process and more will continue to come as the series expands. New expansion permeates beyond writing for Ginny McCormack. Southern Sisters Home brand launched in 2015 and Ginny brings her southern roots to life in her line of classic, fresh, southern-inspired linens. She also catapults a revival of her blog with Southern Sisters Home continuing the tips and recipe suggestions she started with her cookbooks. Her plans for future endeavors include publishing the 3rd and 4th cookbooks, writing a similar book on Southern living and lifestyle, producing smaller or shorter books on singular topics, and involving her daughters in writing for the books and participating in promotional ventures.
From one venture to another, Ginny purposefully pursues her passion and as I listen to her story I am almost breathless. Would I be able to accomplish something like her? Ginny advises those who choose to pursue a dream in self-publishing to go with your ideas. Take the idea floating in your head and create its purpose: for whom is the book for? Decide if the book will be for a few family and friends or if you want it for the mass market. Is the idea marketable to the public masses? Is there common appeal? There must be a business aspect if it will be for the mass market, not just for expressing creativity for creativity’s sake.
The dream can become reality, just as it did for Ginny McCormack. She takes her desire and purpose to revive the southern dinner hour and brings it into our homes in the form of a motivational, educational coffee table cookbook. Gather your friends and family, sit around the table of delectable dishes, and enjoy the comfort of simple pleasures. Welcome home!
Visit www.GinnyMcCormack.com for more details!