Saturday, July 12, 2008

Literary Agent: Forget About Highlighting 'Low-Carb' In Your Future Books

Ever since I wrote my self-published debut book Livin' La Vida Low-Carb: My Journey From Flabby Fat To Sensationally Skinny In One Year in October 2005, that "itch" to write another book has been growing and growing. I've bounced around ideas in my head these past few years for books with low-carb success stories, user-friendly low-carb research studies, a best-of-the-blog compilation (which I'm currently working on), and the most requested one from readers has been a low-carb cookbook (which I would LOVE to write!).

I have talked with quite a few publishers since 2005 to let me write books for them. Of course, my biggest obstacle is the fact that the theme of my books is "low-carb" and that's become taboo among editors lately. Dana Carpender, the most famous low-carb cookbook author out there, was forced to remove "low-carb" from the title of her column (which she no longer writes for as of January 2008 because of the editor's deemphasis on "low-carb") and prevented from putting "low-carb" in the title of her latest low-carb cookbook (Every Calorie Counts) for the first time in her writing career.

Dana told me in this blog interview as well as my upcoming podcast interview on Monday that she is moving away from using "low-carb" in favor of low-glycemic load (which she'll be releasing this Fall in conjunction with Rob Thompson) or controlled carbohydrate, but it's all basically low-carb. I can certainly understand her reasoning to get the low-carb message out there in a stealth manner because at least the message gets out there.

But I am not in that camp. I still think "low-carb" is viable considering my various sites and online projects garner nearly a million visitors a month. Not too shabby for an idea whose time has supposedly passed already. This is why I refuse to sidestep the term "low-carb" and proudly name it and claim it in the name of just about everything I touch--"Livin' La Vida LOW-CARB!" Wouldn't my blog be dead as a doorknob if nobody was interested in hearing about "low-carb" anymore? One would think.

So, with that knowledge in hand, I approached a literary agent recently about finding a publisher for a "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Cookbook" to gauge their interest. Most publishers just want to know if you have the marketing mojo behind the books on their label and I've told them all about how enthusiastic all of you guys are about the healthy low-carb lifestyle. But, as you will see from these candid remarks I received back from this literary agent, they just don't care because somebody out there has fooled these editors into thinking low-carb is dead.

Dear Jimmy,

Thank you for your kind words about our agency. Your cookbook query came my way and I'm afraid we would not be interested at this time in representing a low-carb cookbook. We have an extremely full list of projects currently, and we are taking on few new clients, regrettably. It's also a volatile time in the publishing industry, and I can't say with conviction that a low-carb book would be appealing to publishers at this time.

I will say that I do know the term "low carb" itself has lost favor with editors, so you might consider other ways to title your book that focus on healthful eating rather than highlighting the low-carb focus (but that's just a thought and you may disagree!).

Kind regards and we appreciate your interest in our agency.

So there you have it! They're not interested in "low-carb" and it's the same thing I've seen over and over again as I've approached publishers. That's too bad because I REALLY believe in my heart of hearts that a publisher brave enough to give me or another low-carb author a chance to show them what we can do with a "low-carb" book using that exact term in the title would not only sell well, but exceed their flimsy expectations. I wouldn't need any marketing help from the publisher either. Who's gonna take that chance on my future low-carb books?

In the meantime, I will go back to self-publishing my books and proudly put "low-carb" in the title of every one of them. The best way to show these publishers how wrong they are is to prove they can sell despite that term. I'm looking forward to releasing my "best-of-the-blog" trilogy later this year and that low-carb cookbook in early 2009. THANKS for all of your amazing support of "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."

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Blogger Gary J said...

These editors are a bunch of sheep. But the time will come again and they'll be scrambling for new low-carb titles.

7/13/2008 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's ironic how health professionals and enthusiasts are currently recommending what's ultimately a lower-carb diet than was recommended, say, 10 or 20 years ago, but they're finding new ways of labeling it. I personally believe the reason for this can be traced back to the fiasco Dr. Atkins was put through in the late 60s and early 70s. I'm waiting for the day the health industry's official "stance" is to reduce consumption of grains and increase consumption of protein. Even when that happens, what do you want to bet they still won't refer to it as "low-carb"?

7/14/2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Of course they won't call it "low-carb." It'll be "nutrient-dense" or something universal like that. But you know what will be great is when carbohydrate restriction is generally recognized as "healthy" one of these days. I think it'll happen in my lifetime...whether publishers agree or not!

7/14/2008 11:48 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Do you think countries can afford to feed the entire populace on a low-carb, higher protein diet? I'm not sure ... just wondering.

I blogged a bit today about this problem and more or less when the publishers started getting skitterish. I mentioned you...hope that's okay.

7/14/2008 10:34 PM  
Blogger Sherrie said...

Good for you Jimmy!

7/18/2008 12:36 AM  

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