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In Which I Fail to Prove That I Don’t Care About Vegan Yum Yum and Herbivore’s Dirty Laundry Exploding All Over The Web

Not on the same page.

Not on the same page.

I wasn’t going to write about this. I thought it was none of my business, and just a boring argument about money between people I barely know (I’ve met Josh Hooten and Lauren Ulm exactly once, and at the same time; they were both nice to me) over a book deal. And it is. But all the kerfuffle surrounding it is just too damn compelling not to share. Some of you already know all about this. Others are probably thinking “who?” or even “who cares?” Sure, it’s a big vegan world, and this is just one little corner of it. But if I read all this stuff, maybe you’ll want to also.

The background: You may recall that vegan conglomerate Herbivore is moving into the cookbook business. Last week, just days before going to press, author Lauren “Lolo” Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum pulled out of her deal, citing “some disagreements we could not work out.” Basically she wasn’t OK with her (unusually high $5 per book) royalties only starting after production costs were covered. Yes, this is fairly standard publishing procedure, but she didn’t know it and wasn’t OK with it.

Now, if her book ever gets published, it won’t be by Herbivore, and it probably won’t look as good as if it had been (unless her new publisher buys Herbivore’s layout, which would actually be a pretty good thing, at least from the customer’s perspective!). Herbivore had invested heavily in promotion and production, and all that time and money is down the drain. Various people are pissed off on their respective behalves. (If you’re like me, the first question that pops into your head is “didn’t they have a contract?” No, they didn’t. Remember kids, contracts aren’t excusively tools for exploiting the talent. A good contract helps all parties.) Anyway, your required reading for all the gossip:

In the end, Herbivore still produces awesome magazines and clothing (and, ahem, art galleries) and will almost surely go on to produce amazing books. Lolo still blogs great recipes and shoots amazing photos of food, and may well go on to produce amazing books. It sucks that this happened. I’m not sure if all the publicity helps or hurts, but if you love the gossip like I do, you want it anyway. Did I miss any exciting coverage or reactions? Leave a comment.

19 Comments

  1. Comment by

    susie

    on #

    This schadenfreude has totally been the highlight of my day!!

  2. Comment by

    homicidalmaniacal

    on #

    Wow. What I take from this is that they are both idiots. Although Josh is a well-meaning, generous idiot, and Lolo is a bratty, selfish idiot. ($5 per book–and she thinks she’s the one getting screwed??)

    Anyway, I hope they’ve both discovered the importance of using contracts from now on….

  3. Comment by

    elainevigneault

    on #

    “unusually high $5 per book”

    FYI: now that self publishing is become more and more of a real option, larger royalties are becoming less and less unusual.

  4. Comment by

    homicidalmaniacal

    on #

    In which case she should’ve self-published instead of taking advantage of massive amounts of Josh’s time and effort.

  5. Comment by

    carlottavaldez

    on #

    I think this entire debacle can be summed up with just that amazing, emotionally charged photo.

  6. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Wow. It’s like Fandom Wank, only with vegans. Vegan Wank?

  7. Comment by

    elainevigneault

    on #

    “In which case she should’ve self-published”
    Well, yeah. But also, he’s saying $5 after costs without saying what the costs are. So, it could end to be more like $1 per book. Or it could be nothing for three years. He never paid her an advance, right? So who’s really taking advantage of whom?

    Ultimately, it’s just that these two are both inexperienced at this. So, they’re learning.

  8. Comment by

    afoolsays

    on #

    There’s a long, boring thread about this on the ppk forums. But if you wade through the pages of people being all “omg you are totally wrong, lolo!” then you’ll find a really great side discussion about the best type of ice cream cones, and all the innuendos that go along with talking about cones.

  9. Comment by

    afoolsays

    on #

    Oh duh you mentioned that thread. That’s what I get for not reading the whole post. You didn’t mention the cone discussion though.

  10. Comment by

    Patrick Kwan

    on #

    $5 royalties per book?!?! That’s a lot, especially for a small publisher. Most cookbook authors are lucky to even see $1.50 for their first cookbook – they can earn more by getting copies at wholesale from the publisher, then doing signings and talks and selling the books at retail price him/herself (this is what many cookbook authors do to make extra money).

  11. Comment by

    homicidalmaniacal

    on #

    Yeah, I get the feeling that the people who don’t know publishing are going “Well, sounds like they both have a point…” and the people who do know publishing are going “Holy shit, Lolo has has no idea what an incredible deal she just flounced out on (and Josh is nuts for being so insanely generous in the first place).”

    Ah well, the real world is going to bite Lolo on the ass soon enough. Hopefully she’ll learn. (And maybe start speaking for herself instead of letting her idiot boyfriend dig her deeper and deeper. What comes off particularly galling is his refusal to acknowledge that he’s wrong when everyone who does know publishing is pointing out that recouping costs first is completely normal, and $5/book is an awesome deal.)

  12. Comment by

    foodfightgrocery

    on #

    This is such a really dumb thing to waste time and energy on. Stupid gossip column shit. Geez. Just prolonging an irritating time for both invovled parties. Leave it alone and get to more important things. Pretty please.

  13. Comment by

    Coppe

    on #

    Thanks for the comprehensive guide!

    Shame this happened, though. At the end of the day, it just seems a loss for both sides.

  14. Comment by

    elainevigneault

    on #

    $5 per books sounds good.
    But $5 per book after costs is a meaningless statement unless the costs are clearly defined. It could easily mean only $1000 and only paid after three years.

    My husband is an author for a niche publisher. Luckily they have clearly defined contracts. $5 per book is a good deal. But like I said, if it’s “after costs” and those costs aren’t clearly defined, an author could make nothing, nada, zilch.

  15. Comment by

    babaganoush

    on #

    It’s so incredibly stupid to me that this is becoming such fodder for gossip all over the internet.

    No one has actually talked to each of the parties honestly, people have only heard what they’ve disclosed publicly, which is probably not very much and is probably a veiled version of the truth. So to keep prodding this whole things along with posts about it is really stupid.

    I’m willing to bet it had to do with a lot more than money, but that’s an easier way to explain it to the public than to tread on personal territory or to get into the person details that are NO BODY’S BUSINESS…

    This isn’t a goddamn article about Brittany or Lindsay. These are real people who will read this and feel depressed that they are getting drug around by people who don’t know anything about the actual happenings.

  16. Comment by

    homicidalmaniacal

    on #

    LOL! Because Britney and Lindsay are cybernetically animated Barbie dolls? All gossip is about real people.

  17. Comment by

    babaganoush

    on #

    Yes, of course Britney and Lindsay are “cybernetically animated Barbie dolls”. I’m truly that stupid and thank you for pointing it out to me.

    If you think the media representation of anyone is actually a real representation of that person and not just what the voyeuristic public wants them to be, than you are sadly mistaken.

    With this situation, B & L aren’t going to read, and thereby be offended by, each blog that talks about them. But in this case the parties at hand probably will. Which changes the context from gossiping to perpetuating mudslinging that should remain behind closed doors. All this crap does is promote bickering and in-fighting and create upset within our small, fractured community.

  18. Comment by

    homicidalmaniacal

    on #

    Um, did you miss the part where Lolo herself set the gossip rolling on the PPK forums? It’s not like SuperVegan is the paparazzi digging through these people’s garbage; they’re the ones who spilled their melodrama all over the internet, and they’re the ones who have to deal with the consequences (oh no, Lolo did something stupid, announced it in public, and got called on it! The horror!)

  19. Comment by

    endlesss

    on #

    wow… I had no idea… was just wondering why VYY froze and still hoping it would come to life again. (( reading this, I see it won’t, and to me personally it’s a loss. I did love that blog. how sad…

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