Happy Herbivore Blog

How I Got My Book Deal

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

I get a lot of emails from people asking about book deals -- specifically, how I got mine, how someone can get theirs --- what's my story?

It was 2009. I'd been blogging for about two years and Happy Herbivore had a modest, but growing audience. I contacted my now publisher about The China Study. I loved the book so much that I wanted to promote it, and I asked if they'd mail me a copy to giveaway on my blog. They graciously gave me a few copies and I hosted a giveaway. During this period, I became friendly with the contact I had at the publisher. We had some common interests, and emailed a few times. A little while later, I asked her if she knew anything about cookbooks. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to write one (yep, admitting that out loud), I was mostly just curious about the process. 

They didn't do cookbooks there, so I didn't feel like my question was inappropriate or crossing any lines. She wrote back that she knew nothing because that wasn't their industry, but she'd ask around the office to see if anyone knew of a book I could read or an old colleague I could talk to. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect the publisher himself to contact me asking for a proposal!!

Turns out he'd wanted to do a cookbook for a while, he was just waiting for the right person with the right book idea. That was me, it was fate. 

I stayed up all night with my friend Lisa putting a proposal together -- not even knowing what a proposal is supposed to look like or be like. (I still have the proposal and maybe someday I'll be brave enough to put it on this blog, typos and all). 

I figured it was a long shot, and I still didn't even know if I wanted to do it IF it worked out. I knew what writing a book would mean: lots of hard work, lots of hours and money, with little to no return on my investment. I figured, "cross that bridge when I come to it" and two and a half months later, the bridge appeared. They offered me a book deal. 

I debated long and hard with myself about the opportunity... I decided to do it because it was something I was so passionate about. I wanted, more than anything, to show how easily, affordable and delicious low fat plant-based eating can be and I knew that writing a book was the biggest and best opportunity to accomplish that, even if it meant having to quit my job, move into a tiny apartment, and scrape by for the next year -- all the while working harder than I have ever worked. (Bless my sweet, sweet husband who agreed to letting me do all this -- he gave up our comfortable lifestyle so I could chase my dreams).

Little did I know, it takes a year to put a book together when you count all the revisions, edits, final proofs, pictures and so on. What I thought would take a few months, took many months. After three months I had to go back to work so my family could survive financially, and so I was literally working 40hrs a week at one job, while spending every waking free moment on my book. And we were still barely getting by. There was so much sacrifice that I often felt guilty -- my husband and dogs had given up so much for me. I'd given up so much for me. But I was chasing my passion. It was something I HAD to do, whatever the cost. 

And even once the book was finished, I realized the challenge and journey had just begun. Getting a book published is a tiny, tiny first step. We had absolutely no idea whether the book would sell, or not sell. So many books fail and flop. I had no idea what would happened to mine and what it would mean for me. I felt like I'd spent a year holding my breathe.

Thank god, with the help of my wonderful and supportive fans (and their word-of-mouth campaign) my book made it. 

But it wasn't a grand solution. I've mentioned a few times before how there is very little money in writing books, even if your book is a best seller. The reality was, I wasn't out of the pool, I was still swimming and splashing around hoping to find shore, or at the very least, a life raft. I spent another year scraping by and working like a mad woman while trying to write another book. 

There were more than a handful of moments where I laid sobbing on the bed saying I couldn't do it anymore. I'd worked so hard for so long and I was so tired of being so broke. That yes, writing healthy recipes was my passion, but gosh darn it, how much longer could I go on living like this? Working like a mad woman? Barely being able to pay my bills? I was 29! I was more financially stable in college!

So then, on some particularly bad days, I'd think about quitting.... just deleting Happy Herbivore and moving on. Going back to being a lawyer and stop working so hard for pennies... but I could never bring myself to do it. 

The universe always seemed to know I was on a ledge, and just then I'd get a really nice email. or a tweet. or a message on Facebook that saved me. It was always innocent, as simple as "Thanks for your great recipes Lindsay!" and suddenly, I would remember why I did what I did. It was for you, for my fans. I did it all for you. It was all worth it because I had you. 

I couldn't quit because it was my passion, it was my passion to help others eat healthier and I was doing it. It was my mission to show that eating healthy can be realistic, approachable, affordable, and delicious. I had to keep going, keep doing, whatever the cost. It didn't matter, I couldn't not do it. I HAD TO DO THIS.

and that's my single advice to anyone who wants to run down this path: it has to be about passion. Chasing the dream, whatever the cost. 

Read More:How I Make a Living (Hint: It's Not Blogging).

and Herbies, Thank you.

Vegan Anywhere: Small Town Herbies Survival Guide

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

When someone tells me they can't be plant-based (vegan) it's rarely "oh I can't give up [animal product]" and usually more like "because I live in [place]." 

I've been plant-based (vegan) everywhere -- on a small Caribbean island for a year, in Africa, while traveling to some 35 cities, towns and villages across Europe and now in a Colorado ski town of 12,000 (Denver is 3.5 hrs away). I've managed for well over a year without a Whole Foods, Trader Joes and even Amazon... and I'm not alone.

I posted the question on Facebook -- any Herbies in remote areas or small towns? and tons (tons!) of people replied, offering to share their insights, experiences and tips for making it work, no matter where you live. 

----------------------------------

"Easiest thing is not to think about the foods you can't eat, but what you can eat. I eat a much wider variety of foods now than I ever did when I was eating animal products even though there is no place to eat out here and the grocery store sells very few "special products" (i.e. Daiya cheese, soy yogurt, etc.)" 
- Janet from Eastern Tennessee (population: 14,000).

"The toughest thing about being vegan here is that the grocery selection is quite small. The variety of produce is very limited and things like tofu products are not available at all. I would tell any small town dwellers that it is very possible to be a healthy vegan in a small town. Most people think going vegan is restrictive, but even in this small town, I have a greater dietary variety than my omnivorous friends. There are so many fantastic fruits, vegetables, grains, spices and flavor combinations that you might never think to try. My advice boils down to "just for for it!"
- Nicole from Littlefield, TX (population: 6,000)

"The toughest part is finding fresh and nutritious food. My one and only local store had a poor selection of produce and a very small "health food" section. The prices are outrageous. I did find a co-op and signed up for fruit and veggie deliveries, though. If you are in a small town, try to find a couple of people in your area and band together. I go on HH's Facebook page a lot. It is helpful to see that I am not alone." 
- Christine from Big Pine Key, Florida (population: 5,000)

"Our local grocery store sometimes carries items like tofu, tempeh and Smart Dogs, but it's inconsistent. There's an adjustment period and it may seem difficult at first, but it's actually fun learning about new foods and challenging yourself to be creative. The one dish I can eat in town (couscous with roasted asparagus) normally comes with salmon. The restaurant was happy to fix it without fish and they lowered the price for me. Don't be afraid to ask!" 
- Jennifer from Oriental, NC (population: 800)

"Being in a farming community, [eating vegan] goes against what most people do for a living, lots of pig, turkey and duck farming. I find it easy to be here because I'm reminded daily when I see animals being transported. I don't know any fellow vegans where I am, that would be a bonus and maybe then I'd be invited to dinner." - Tia from a village in Norfolk, UK

"Most of the time produce is moldly and/or almost outdated at the supermarket. Or it's so expensive I can't afford it. My advice is to commit to your health and make it happen. It's difficult, but not impossible, and a support system is absolutely necessary, even if it's only online. If HH ever has a "Best Supportive Herbie" Award, I'd like to nominate fellow herbie Meridith Larson. She helped me and continues to help me be a herbivore."
- Crystal from North Dakota (population: 7,141)

"We used to have to drive 70+ miles to shop for groceries but last April I opened the first and only food coop in town (a 5 year-long effort). It's not too difficult being vegan, even in a small town. The key is making your own food as much as possible, so that you don't have to rely on pre-made food, which is going to be impossible and hard to find in rural areas. I also recommend getting involved with the local health food store or coop, if there is one, as there might be fellow vegans and you could support each other. Most of all, don't get discouraged by what other people think or say about you. Be the vegan beacon in your little town!"
- Monica from Sierra Vista, Arizona (population: 40,000)

"Plan your meals and shop locally when possible. Drive to a larger city or town (with a bigger selection) once or twice a month to buy what you can't find locally. Larger grocery stores are starting to carry more and more items."
- Rich, located in central NC (population: 50,000)

 HH's intern, Nicole, was our correspondent on this - so big thanks to her and all the Herbies that wrote in! 

Fat-Free Vegan Molasses Cookies (Gluten-Free Molasses Cookies)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

Today I'd like to share my favorite gluten free cookie from Everyday Happy Herbivore. These molasses cookies are soft and fluffy and super easy to make. 

Soft Molasses Cookies | yields 14 cookies

*gluten-free*

1 c oat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
 ½ to 1 tsp baking soda (see note)
 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
 ⅛ tsp allspice, nutmeg or ground cloves
¼ c mashed navy beans
 ¼ c molasses
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp brown or raw sugar (optional)

Note: For a less puffy and more dense cookie, use only ½ tsp baking soda. Use the full 1 tsp for very soft and pillow-like cookies.

To make oat flour, whiz instant or rolled oats in your blender until it reaches a flour-consistency.
Mix 1 cup oat flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices together in a mixing bowl until well combined.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
Set batter aside to rest while oven heats to 350F.
Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 
Drop 14 spoonfuls of batter on to the cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch.

Per Cookie: 47 Calories, 0.7g Fat, 9.9g Carbohydrates, 0.8g Fiber, 3.5g Sugars, 0.9g Protein