Siue is the author of the awesome vegan desert cook books “Lickin’ The Beaters” and the forthcoming “Vegan Chocolate and Candy”, as well as being the only person I’ve ever met who can make a chocolate cake using potatoes! Check out the website dairyfreedesserts.com for more information -including free recipes.
Last Hours: Why publish vegan cook books as opposed to doing a cooking zine? Do you want to talk briefly about why you chose this format and the differences in publishing a book as opposed to a zine?
Siue: Actually I did two vegan cooking zines in the 90’s – Marcie’s Book of Vegan Recipes for Non-Picky People. For me there wasn’t too much of a difference between Marcie’s and Beaters. I wrote, edited, laid out, took the back cover pictures, and did the index for Beaters. I distro-ed it myself. The difference was scale – while I would print maybe 20 copies of Marcie’s at one time, I did one print run of 880 copies of Beaters. I learned how to use Quark for Beaters (only well enough to get the job done.) I got my friends to edit the book and tried to make sure there wasn’t as many mistakes as there were in the zines. The reason I made Beaters into a book was because at that time there wasn’t any vegan dessert books in existence and my friend Jim was discovering and sharing the wonders of self publishing through his website nomediakings.org. I don’t think I would have ventured along the book path if it hadn’t been for him paving the way. I had no idea that the skills you learn doing a zine can be directly applied to publishing a book. In the end, the only thing that wasn’t obvious, that is still daunting and a bit of a mystery to me now, is the cover. (How do you know how many centimeters to make the binding side?) A zinester friend of mind took care of the cover for me.
LH: You were saying that with Lickin The Beaters, you did the distribution yourself. Was distroing it much different to distroing zines? Is there the same kind of network?
S: Distro was by far the hardest part of self publishing for me. At that time (2003) there wasn’t much of a network for indie books. These days a lot zine distros are getting into books as well, but back then I had AK Press in the USA, Marginal (now defunct) and Great Worm in Canada and a handful of very small zine distros (half of whom ripped me off!) Most of my books I sold myself at zines fairs, veg fairs and through the mail. I consigned a bunch of books at indie book/record stores and food co-ops wherever I was living. It took me two years to sell them out, which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t put too much effort into it.
LH: Do you want to talk about the reprint of Lickin the Beaters as well as your new book? Will we be able to get hold of copies in the UK?
S: Beaters is going to be reprinted by an imprint of AK Press in the USA. Since 2003 I’ve been working on the next installment: Vegan Chocolate and Candy. The Book Publishing Company will be publishing this one. This is the first time I’ve worked with a publisher. It is VERY different than doing it yourself. The biggest difference I’m noticing is that it takes a lot of time to hash things out. And then you have to wait for your place in the cue. I’m very lucky that they became interested in my second manuscript because I’ve been moving around a lot lately and there is no where to put 1000 books. Plus, thanks to AK and BPC having great distribution you WILL be able to find these two books in the UK and Australia! I think I sold 10 Beaters to your side of the world on the first run, and I think there are a few more vegan dessert lovers than that!
LH: Toronto seems like a very easy city to be vegan. If you locked yourself out of your house in the morning with $30 in your pocket and there was no one to let you back in until 10pm, where would you eat lunch and dinner?
S: This is a good question. Is it MY $30 or YOURS? Am I working at the time? Toronto is good for eating vegan, most definitely. And depending on your budget you have a wide range of selections. If it’s my money I will spend it on a $4 Coconut Grove green beans and squash roti for lunch. Since these things are honking big, about a pound of food, I won’t need anything else until dinner. For dinner I will pop into one of the gazillion sushi restaurants around town and get some edemame (green salted soybeans) and a roll or two of tofu/veg sushi. That’ll be about $7. If I had some sugar cravings (like I almost always do) I’d probably get a flourless cashew cookie from Fresh – $2. If you gave me the $30 I’d immediately head up to Live where I’d get some mighty nice raw food – like a raw lasanga. For a snack I’d have a make-your-own slice at Magic Oven – the only pizza joint in Toronto where you can get vegan cheese (plus caramelized onion and pecans on a spelt crust!). For dinner I’d go to Vegetarian Haven and try out their “Pastrami Pad Thai”. I might have some money left over and I’d go back up to Live and have the most delish vegan cheesecake ever made by human hands!