The Free the Animal Book is on its way

As I reported a while back, I finally entered into a book deal after much consideration and consternation over the past 2-3 years over just how I wanted to approach this. The basic history is that I first began thinking of this in 2008, about a year or so into the whole paleo thing. But I was reluctant and ended up focussing on building a bigger blog audience first. Subsequently, as the blog grew beyond what I’d even imagined, I started and stopped on several book projects on various topics, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do a simple PDF ebook like lots of people do — along with the crazy-ass, hyped-to-the-max landing sales page — pursue a traditional dead tree publisher, go the print-on-demand route, or now…the Kindle / Nook / iBook route. Eventually, I thought I had decided I’d do self publishing, but use a printer and distributor like Mark Sisson did for The Primal Blueprint. But there were so many hurdles with that beyond even the hefty cash investment, and the lead times are still huge.

So basically, I was kinda bouncing all over the place never really getting much done.

Then last month, out of the blue, I was approached by a new kind of publisher that had just launched and raised $1.2 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, SVAngel, Lerer Ventures, Launch Capital, Shopkick founder Cyriac Roeding, Milo founder Jack Abraham and others: Hyperink. Having been involved in a 2-man startup myself, raising $250K seed capital, and giving a couple of dozen presentations to venture firms in Silicon Valley a few years back, this fact made me take notice the most. It is intensely difficult to raise VC when you don’t already have a track record as a successful startup that used other people’s money. In the end, we ran out of seed cash and had to focus elsewhere, even though we had gotten to “stage 2” a couple of times with a couple of VCs. We just could not close the deal. And so, that these guys were able to was very impressive to me.

So, what is Hyperink? Here’s lots of recent press on them. Some excerpts from the article in ForbesHyperink’s E-Book Model Turns Publishing On Its Head.

The book publishing industry has been going through a transformation as physical books move to digital.

Building on that growth, a new start-up Hyperink is a publisher of digital books that are targeted to specific niche audiences. “We’re directly taking on Amazon and trying to disrupt how the entire book publishing industry works,” says Hyperink cofounder and CEO Kevin Gao.

In a change for the book industry Hyperink generally does not select from books that are submitted by authors. Instead, the company finds topics that are in demand through analysis of things like Google search trends. Then it seeks out authors for those topics. […] Instead of spending one or two years to publish a physical book and trying for big mega-hits, Hyperink is going the opposite direction. It focuses on fast publishing–it can churn out a book in a month at one-tenth the cost of physical books, Gao says. […]

For authors Hyperink offers a publishing option that’s better than self-publishing, Gao says. And authors get to keep a larger portion of sales, up to 50%, than they would with traditional books. Hyperink provides typical publisher services such as cover design, layout, customer service and marketing. Hyperink is also targeting experts who don’t have time to write a book. Hyperink hires freelance journalists as ghostwriters to interview these experts and write books for them so that they can become authors. Hyperink distributes the books to Amazon, Nook, iBooks and other sites as well as through its own website.

Fast to market is the chief reason I was leaning toward the ebook route. Besides being plain impatient, I just can’t imagine taking 1-2 years from deal to shelves in a traditional model. For instance, Art De Vany got his deal for The New Evolution Diet in around August of 2009, as I recall. It finally hit the shelves around December of 2010, almost a year and a half later. In 2010, with instant text messaging, instant communication in general?????

And my friend John Durant announced his deal with a major publisher in October of 2010, over a year ago, and it’s still not on the shelves. I wish John all the best and I’m sure I’ll pimp the hell out of his book when it finally comes out, but this is just not for me, for what all I can tell is mostly the prestige of having it sit on the shelf in a brick & mortar place, places quickly going the way of the cave man, if my favorite of them, Borders, is any indication.

And being an entrepreneur and risk taker at heart, hell, why not get in on the leading edge of a deal backed by VC right now? I think it has amazing potential. Still not convinced? Check this out: Why you should be publishing ebooks. It’s a pretty compelling info graphic on the explosion of the ebook market, owing mostly to the Kindle, that has shipped nearly 30 million units since 2009. And ebook revenues are up from $50 million in 2009 to over $400 million in 2011. Wanna guess the trend for the dead tree versions? According to B&N CEO William Lynch, they sell three times as many digital versions as all other print formats combined. And Amazon’s Bezos says that his customers are choosing the Kindle version more often now — which is typically what I do myself. So why not do both? Well, what’s the trend? Why not just drop the massively expensive distribution costs of paper that results in authors getting a very small percentage of the sale?

That’s where I’m placing my bet. For better or worse. See, I know exactly what book I want to publish today. Two years from now? Not so exactly.

As it stands, I’m working with 2 editors and a professional journalist. The journalist is combing through the blog as we speak to use some of its content, and I’m writing new material, transitions, an introduction and a concluding chapter. This initial book will cover mostly the diet, health and fitness aspects in a simple and concise way and will be of a style that can be recommended to friends, family, co-workers. Subsequent books will delve more deeply into things like intermittent fasting and yea, even my evolutionary-based ideas on psychology, religious belief and social structures. So in the time it takes to get one dead tree book to market with a major publisher, I can punch out five books available on Hyperink, Kindle, Nook, iBookstore, and Createspace, Amazon’s print on demand service (so yes, a dead tree version will be available for those who must — it just won’t be sitting on the shelves in the local B&N).

We’re on a fast track, burning midnight oil, and the first draft should be ready sometime next week. It’s highly likely that it will be available sometime within the month, though I’m not privy to the actual publication schedule.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Jeff on December 10, 2011 at 15:08

    Just throw in a couple of “fucks” so we’ll really know it is you.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 10, 2011 at 15:14

      I just gave instructions to the editors this morning to edit all that stuff out in the blog material we’ll be using. And my original writings won’t have them either. I think there’s a distinct difference between a free blog and a book for purchase. I really don’t want those who would be offended by vulgarity be disappointed in the book on that score, and having paid for it with their hard earned money.

      I simply have to respect the fact that asking someone to buy implies a different responsibility on my part, unless of course I gave a warning in the marketing material, which, for essentially a diet and health book strikes me as rather self defeating and non sequitur.

      Sorry. But hey, perhaps I can do an “unleashed” or “raw” version later on.

      • David Csonka on December 10, 2011 at 15:47

        I’m still waiting on my copy of the 2011 “Paleo’s Raw and Unleashed in L.A.” DVD, starring Dick Nikoley.

      • Lute Nikoley on December 10, 2011 at 16:50

        Good choice in my opinion, if that counts for anything.

      • Sean on December 11, 2011 at 03:51

        Your blog is generally a lot more off-the-cuff, a ‘paleo pub’ as Kurt characterized it so well, than a book ought to be, so it makes sense to tone it down. If it was going to be a brobook</i) that would be different, of course, but I doubt that's what you are shooting for.

        Anyway, good luck and congratulations.

  2. dean on December 10, 2011 at 15:10

    Very happy for you my friend. And it doesn’t surprise me that you would be on the cutting edge…can’t wait to purchase my copy!!

  3. Jeff on December 10, 2011 at 15:22

    I guess I can mumble my own “fuck” as I read the book. Won’t be quite the same but I understand your point.

  4. Bay Area Sparky on December 10, 2011 at 15:31

    Serendipity? Coincidence? Something else?

    Regardless, this is the perfect medium for your message. It seems right, feels right, and is very appropriate.

    Congratulations and Good Speed to market!

  5. David Csonka on December 10, 2011 at 15:45

    Awesome news Richard, I can’t wait for it to come out. Congrats

  6. Primal Toad on December 10, 2011 at 16:53

    Another paleo book… we will never be able to get enough! For real! The more awesome primal/paleo books, the better. It will only help. I can assure that yours will kick ass.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  7. VW on December 10, 2011 at 17:26


  8. Justin on December 10, 2011 at 21:30

    Wow I’m really looking forward to the book. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your success!!! :)

  9. Dan Linehan on December 11, 2011 at 01:23

    Wow, really shows how much of a difference working with the right small team can make..

  10. Razwell on December 11, 2011 at 08:09

    That’s great, Richard. Good luck to you.

  11. Richard Jones on December 11, 2011 at 10:06

    That’s great Richard. I cannot believe how fast publishing tech has gotten! Its absolutely amazing. This is the first I have heard of this style of publishing/writing and I’m sitting at the edge of my seat to get a copy of your book. It’s going to be great I’m sure.

    Best of luck and best wishes in sales,


    • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 10:12


      The way of the future. I sit here watching my book being created in real time via a shared Google doc. I feed into from blog posts relevant to the outline and an editor and journalist take it, chop it up, slice & dice, reword and put it into the book in front of my eyes while they ask questions, clarifications, transitions and such in the sidebar that I provide, and that gets into the book as well. Totally cool.

      Just fed them a bunch of info from Fat Head the Movie on the history of the obesity epidemic, Keys, McGovern Commission, FDA Guidelines et al.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 12:22

        I just learned that the professional journalist doing most of the piece together of the masses of info and supplemental writing I’m doing was the editor for Lierre Kieth’s The Vegetarian Myth.

        No wonder she seemed so familiar with stuff as I saw her organize and edit.


  12. Eric on December 11, 2011 at 12:23

    How many authors in this style of publishing would be found by there blogs? Seems to me it would be almost all of them.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 12:26

      Not sure I know what you mean. However, in reading over the writing guidelines for Hyperink, it seems they have a strong preference for controversial writing, which is perhaps why I got tapped if they were searching to do a book on Paleo diet from noticing its increasing popularity in Google Trends.

      • Eric on December 15, 2011 at 10:52

        Well, they tap into niche markets by seeking out “experts” to author books, right? In what other ways does hyperink track down potential authors besides blogs?

      • Richard Nikoley on December 15, 2011 at 12:07

        I’m not sure, though I’m sure there’s many ways to find “experts.” I do know that when they came to me, it was for a new program they were calling “blog to book.” Essentially, you comb through the blog, select the best posts, edit the crap out of them, add lots of fresh material and transitions, and you’ve got a book in far less time because the foundation for it has already been written.

        Still a lot of work though. I’m at it for three days straight, cat napping, no change of clothes of a shower (don’t get anywhere near me), and eating mostly tuna, sardines and boiled eggs. But, I have managed to keep my mind in the groove.

        ….Well, a few more chapters to edit and draft #2 will be a wrap.

  13. Miki Ben Dor on December 11, 2011 at 12:41

    Way to go Richard. The fact that they chose the subject of Paleo based on their research is an encouraging sign. Quite a few Paleo books in the top 10 of the diet and nutrition list on Amazon Kindle list. Something good is happening here

    • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 12:46

      Yep. There’s never any guarantees but I feel very fortunate to have been very patient with this, build the blog, wait for a deal I was happy with, and see it take shape so quickly and in such a cutting edge way.

      I often refer to it all as “The Virtue of Procrastination,” which is to say that some of the best successes of my life have come through procrastinating action on ideas I’ve had, such that you either drop them eventually, or they become more compelling over time, you refine your ideas, and ultimately execute fare more efficiently with less waste of time and resource.

  14. Steve on December 11, 2011 at 13:10

    Congrats. I’ll be buying.

    I’m sure you’ll cover a lot of familiar territory, but your readers may be new to it and so it all bears repeating. Especially the whole food history/conspiracy bit. Could you write a book that’s all about logic, science, facts? Sure. But what grabs the reader is the controversy and stories of the people who got it right or wrong. I’m sure that’s why Taubes, Davis, and all the rest cover that stuff. The challenge is to recount it without appearing a nutbag. I’m sure your writer is sensitive to all that. Good luck!

    • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 13:19

      As it’s going now, Steve, all references are in-line, i.e., links to other sources, many secondary (like Stephan, Masterjohn, etc.).

      I’m going to explain that in the introduction. Basically: I can provide references to support any idea I want to present to you but what I’d rather have you do is think for yourself. If it sounds unreasonable, dismiss it, but if it sounds reasonable it does not matter what references I provide because you still have to determine if it works for you.

      • Steve on December 11, 2011 at 15:36

        One of the best ideas I’ve incorporated in my journey is self-experimentation. In a sense, all dieters try one thing or another and usually suffer failure. But in the paleo realm, which is chock-full of free-thinkers and science nerds (even those of us who didn’t go into the sciences but are science-oriented), it is more reasoned, with a spirit of discovery, and then follow the evidence. In other words, not just casting about and hoping for the best. The theory behind paleo is so compelling (for anyone who understands evolutionary theory and human evolution). But testing our individual reactions to various foods and with meal timing is something many of us do and continue to do. I am currently doing one meal a day and I’m liking it.
        The hardest sell for my friends, who are willing to try low-carb, is to get them to try to quit the wheat and sugar for a trial period. I think people can’t imagine trying IF until they’re completely off the wheat and sugar. When someone won’t try 30 days, I say that’s proof of addiction.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2011 at 16:19

        Steve, let me issue you a challenge. Go over to Don Matezs’ blog and look at the last two posts, look at the ref matrial if you like, and let me know what you think.

      • Steve on December 11, 2011 at 17:19

        I wasn’t aware of Don Matesz until now. After a quick look, several comments:
        1. He appears to be a vegan advocate. I don’t get the vegan vs. paleo animosity. They have more in common with each other than either does with the SAD. Both, done properly, should eliminate processed foods and sugars. Some vegans undoubtedly make grains a cornerstone of their diet but that isn’t necessary to be vegan. I think someone eating the SAD will improve with either diet (vegans need supplemental B vitamins), simply by eliminating sugars and processed foods.
        Many people think paleos (if that is a word) sound silly talking about caveman stuff, but if someone asked you what you eat and all you said was that you shopped the meat and produce departments of the store, or ate protein and vegetables, they wouldn’t think that too extreme.
        I flirted with vegetarianism, thinking Peter Singer has some good points about needless suffering, but ultimately the animal in me won out. I think vegans are more dogmatic than paleos. Maybe there are more moral philosophers or religious in the vegan camp and more hard science people in the paleo camp. Just guessing. But I’m a naturalist/humanist/atheist, and I somewhat buy into Sam Harris’ thinking about natural ethics, i.e. we are what we are and what we generally consider “moral” is actually what we’re already hard-wired to do. Hope I haven’t butchered Sam’s position too much.
        2. He does the old appeal to authority bit. Their experts are better than our experts. It is striking how low-carb and paleo authors seem predominantly to not be medical doctors (although several clinical doctors are prominent) or nutritionists. No surprise there. How could someone get through the current system with this belief and not face repercussions? Notice it is usually private practice and older/retired doctors who are paleo enthusiasts? They don’t face blow-back. Another analogy to atheism: those most willing to admit their belief system are those who don’t face family/job discrimination. Those I value most, amongst all of the various paleo/low-carb experts, are the hard science folks, like physicist Gary Taubes. A knowledge of the scientific method and way it should work and no investment in the status quo beats a hundred nutritionists. And I am always suspect of chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc. I think those fields are usually not supported by good evidence and the willingness of someone to go into those fields without the evidence makes me question their judgment. I’m sure I’ll get some irate comments for that comment.
        3. He goes after protein. That is low-hanging fruit, in my opinion. The early paleo folks, like Loren Cordain, have emphasized protein. I don’t have his expertise, but I think our protein needs are quite low. I favor a high-fat, moderate protein approach.
        4. Vegans and paleos both look to our ancestral past to justify their approaches. We interpret the data differently. Both produce results, if done right. I will say, and I know it isn’t scientific, that when I go to my local food coop, I see lots of “nuts and berries” folks there, and they look old, washed out/grey, and unfocused.
        5. My exploration of diet began with a look at my family history. Northern Europeans turned Iowa farmers. I discovered that my great- and great-great-grandparents all lived into their 80’s. They weren’t vegans. They ate homemade food (canned meat, sauerkraut, homemade wine, etc), supplemented by store-bought sugar and flour. My grandparents lived into their 80’s, but only with significant medical intervention; they developed heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, etc. My mother died of a stroke at age 43 and my father died of congestive heart failure at 58. That is a dramatic drop in lifespan. I know this isn’t a significant sample, but I can’t avoid recognizing a dramatic change in the quality and types of foods consumed, which I think caused my grandparents to need medical intervention (by-passes, medications, etc) to live to their parents’ ages, and my parents died decades younger. When nutritionists and doctors say everything my great-grandparents ate was bad for them, I recognize this as BS. If I could be promised to live to 85 with little or no medical intervention, I would take that.

  15. Steve on December 11, 2011 at 17:40

    He also takes Cordain to task for being absolutist and overstating matters. I won’t defend Cordain if the quotes are accurate. I suspect Cordain made attention-getting statements because he needed to make an impact given the weight of conventional wisdom, and went too far. Such as by saying we’re all designed for a paleo diet. Two problems: there is no designer (but that is a rhetorical fault we all easily fall into: personifying evolution), and there is no one paleo diet.
    BTW, I really like Rose’s Fifty-five theses website. He may overstate our potential lifespan, but I like the clarity of his discussion of evolution.

  16. Steve on December 11, 2011 at 17:56

    On the vegan vs. paleo divide: I have seen a few episodes of “The Chew” (not a very good show IMHO). Constant banter between Dr. Oz’s outspokenly vegetarian (vegan?) daughter and bacon-loving Michael Symon. Anyone else notice Symon’s physique is much better than Oz’s daughter’s?

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  18. Darya on December 15, 2011 at 15:13

    Congrats dude :)

    • Richard Nikoley on December 15, 2011 at 15:18

      Thanks, hottess.

      I was just tweeting about how many Paleo books link modern dietary advice to the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin. None. Until now.

      Still wiring it, though. May end up as just a link, but do you see what I see in there?

      Of course, I’m very weird, likely borderline Aspergers.

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