By Kim Tedrow
When physicians diagnosed a 33 year old Ray Audette with diabetes, he
had already suffered eight years with rheumatoid arthritis and walked
with a cane. When they told him there was no cure for either condition,
and that he was facing a lifetime of limited mobility and insulin shots,
he went into what may be one of the most production states of denial in
recent history. Refusing to accept the doctor's prognosis, he
researched his diagnosis. Learning that both of his conditions were
immune system disorders, Audette explored the history and etiology of
diabetes in particular, and of immune system disorders in general.
His research led him to the field of Paleonutrition and the writing of
S. Boyd Eaton (The Paleolithic Prescription. New York: Harper & Row,
1988), from which he learned that diabetes first appeared in the human
population at the advent of agriculture. Audette then decided to mimic
the eating habits of our pre-agricultural ancestors, eliminating what he
calls "the fruits of technology," which include grains, dairy products,
anything fermented or processed, sugar, and many vegetables that,
without domestication, can not be consumed in the wild. In other words,
Audette took the food pyramid of the standard American diet, eliminated
major portions of it, then stood it on its head.
The results were no less than stunning. Within a week, his blood sugars
were normal, and within a month, his rheumatoid arthritis was in
complete remission. He continued his quest for knowledge about
Paleonutrition and agricultural diet related disease, and in 1994
announced to his wife, then pregnant with their son Grayson Haak, that
he was quitting his job to write a book.
Realizing that he was neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, and that
his work was sure to draw criticism from the medical community that
touted the health benefits of a less meat, low-fat, high carbohydrate
diet, Audette self-appointed a peer review team, which included Drs.
Alan S. Brown, Michael R. Eades (author of Protein Power), Vaughn Bryant
of Texas A & M University, Loren Cordain of Colorado State University,
and the man whose writing led him to Paleonutrition, Dr. S. Boyd Eaton.
Each member of this team contributed information and research in the
fields of Paleonutrition, anthropology, and the science behind the
health benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet.
Audette, with co-author Troy Gilchrist, self-published the first edition
of Neanderthin in February 1995, in a print run of 1500. This November,
in its fourth incarnation, Neanderthin: Eat Like a Cave Man to Achieve a
Lean, Strong, Healthy Body, was published by St. Martin's Press. While
on the surface, this may look like a Cinderella "self-published to major
house" publishing story, the actual journey from self to mainstream
publication was one of hard work, continued research, and what has
become known as "guerrilla marketing."
The first edition's initial public attention came with an article
published in The Dallas Observer in July 1995, at which point he had
sold only 600 copies. Within a couple of months after the article
appeared, the first edition sold out. Ray took the book, with
additional research and feedback from people using the diet, to a second
printing of 1700 copies. He purchased an ad in Radio/TV Interview
Report, (published by Bradley Communications) that advertises authors
and other potential talk show guests to 4500 talk show hosts, and the
phone started ringing. Audette was granted approximately fifty
interviews as a result of that ad, and the rest is, as they say,
More important than these initial marketing efforts, however, was his
foray onto the Internet. Audette set up a web site for Neanderthin with
ordering information, contact information, frequently asked questions,
and joined several low-carbohydrate mailing lists and Usenet groups.
He enrolled in the Amazon.com Advantage Program to favorable reviews,
and achieved a sales rank of above 3,000 (top 1/10 of 1% sales), at one
time achieving a high rank of 500*. He registered an ISBN, which allowed
him to sell the book on sites such as BarnesandNoble.com and
Although the Internet activity didn't initially sell a lot of books,
Audette created what he called an "Internet Buzz", particularly among
the low-carbohydrate mailing lists. These discussions spawned more
lists devoted to Paleonutrition. When the second edition sold out in
less than a year, the third edition of Neanderthin was published in
June, 1996, in a print run of 7000 copies.
"It is daunting," said Audette in a recent telephone interview, "to look
at what seems like an insurmountable number of books stacked in your
basement, and realize you have to sell them one by one. The Internet is
not broadcasting, not direct mail marketing, but somewhere in between.
The desire to create an Internet buzz, via a web site, e-mail, lists,
and newsgroups," he went on, "is where your attitude has to be. With
desktop publishing and the Internet, if you have a book in you, you can
find a market and an audience."
When the third edition began to sell out after two years, Audette
decided not to self-publish a fourth edition to preserve his cash flow.
His wife went did an Internet search for an agent in the Dallas area.
He signed a contract with a well-known agent in Dallas, but saw no sales
activity for a year, and his contract was terminated. Unphased, Audette
contracted with another Dallas area agent, Jim Donovan, who sent a
proposal to several publishers. In three days they received an offer
from St. Martin's Press. Donovan countered the offer, doubling the
price, St. Martin's accepted, and the deal was signed.
On the evolution of the book through four editions, Audette remarks,
"The Internet 'grows' a book. In the trenches of the weight loss
community, I learned what's difficult and what's not, what works, and
what doesn't." In the years between the first and fourth edition, in
his continuing research and interaction with people struggling to lose
weight and heal disease with Paleonutrition, "Neanderthin" grew from a
forty page manuscript to a nearly 200 page hardcover book.
The new edition includes a full section of recipes, many contributed by
his Internet community, more peer-reviewed research that supports the
connection between disease and grain consumption, as well as a full
bibliography. As he promotes Neanderthin, Audette is at work on a
second book, tentatively titled Darwin's God: The Evolutionary Advantage
of Religion." He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Renee Solinger,
and their son, Grayson Haak.
Kim Tedrow is an editor for iUniverse.com.
* After the interview
on CBS's 48 Hours Show, Neanderthin shot all the way up to 25