Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Curious Interview: Caleb Warnock

We're excited to bring you words of wisdom and whimsy from Caleb Warnock, author of bestselling nonfiction title The Forgotten Skills of Self Sufficiency used by the Mormon Pioneers (Cedar Fort, 2011). Caleb has been writing since he was old enough to string letters together and has been teaching the craft nearly as long. In fact, his online classes brought all five of us cabinet members together. We are ever grateful for this and happy to call him a teacher, colleague and friend. (Some may or may not be grateful to call him a cousin).

CabinetYour book,  is a bestseller--congratulations!

Warnock: Thanks! That the book has sold this fast was unexpected for both me and my publisher. Happy days!
Cabinet: Tell us preparedness newbies what first small step can anyone take to move them toward self reliance? 

Warnock: Buy the book, of course! Knowing what to do is most of the battle. If you don't grow any of your own food, start. If you don't grow any of your own vegetable seed, my book will tell you the five easiest vegetables to get started with. 

Cabinet: Have you had any surprising moments during your popular garden tours? 

Warnock: Many. My chickens were video-interviewed without my knowledge (I didn't find out until the video was blogged.) My FM100 interview has brought me fan mail from all over the world, and seriously spiked the interest in touring my garden. People are taking my advice, and sending me photos of what they've done to their gardens, and their pioneer yeast baking.

Cabinet: Do you have any marketing tips for would-be bestsellers? What works? What flops? 

Warnock: Lucky for me, I have a team of marketers behind me courtesy of my publisher. I have two publicists (working with them is a whole story by itself). Bookbuyers from around the world came to the LDS Booksellers Association conference, and speaking to them (twice) was nerve-wracking. But apparently it went well because they started buying the book! 

I have learned in book signings that you are wasting your time if you sit there and stare at the floor. I speak to every single person that comes by. If I can get them to pick up a book and leaf through it, I have a 50 percent chance of them buying it -- this is because they listen to my explanation of the book while they look at it. One of these days I'll do a whole blog about what I've learned about making a book-signing a success. 

Cabinet: If you could be any nutritious plant, which kind would you be and why? 

Warnock: Hard question. This year my favorite in my garden has been my fresh figs -- yum. I'm very partial to my Noir des Carmes cantaloupes. My stevia is the thing that most people find the most surprising about my garden -- well, that and the Egyptian Walking Onions and the mangels and all the winter vegetables. 

When I die, I want to be reborn as my cat -- then I can just wander my garden all day. And I won't have to weed!

Cabinet: What is your next project? We hear rumors of fiction... 

Warnock: Ah, yes, the fiction. My editor has asked for rewrites on "The Given Son" which is a good sign. Now if I only had time to do those rewrites.... Apparently my kissing scene needs to be drawn out, says my editor. 

I have a natural yeast cookbook finished with a co-writer that there is a lot of interest in, so we are trying to see if that is going to be regional or national. 

And I'm working on a book that will teach people how to save seed vegetable by vegetable, and how to do a winter garden, since those topics seem to be what people are most fascinated by. I've had to practically open my garden to the public because people don't believe that you can grow fresh food 12 months of the year. But you can, and people have for centuries. 
Cabinet: Do you feel branding is necessary to market today's authors and books? 

Warnock: Who knows? This is my first book, so I don't know that I had any "brand" but people have loved the book. I think more important than branding is to actually know what you're talking about, and to be useful.  People appreciate people who are useful.

Cabinet: Do you still teach writing classes? We hear you hold like...five jobs? 

Warnock: I am one of the very few lucky people in the country who is over-employed. 

I have owned WritingInDepth.com for 12 years, and it is still going strong (where we teach online writing classes) and I teach every Wednesday for the American Fork Arts Council, and I teach corporate writing for Utah Valley University, and I sell vegetables, eggs, and pure open-pollinated seed out of my garden. I work full-time as a journalist for the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, and I write books and go to book signings. 

I have a privileged life. Very few people spend their life doing what they love every day, and that is what I do. I'm also a step-father and grandfather and husband. Those are my favorite jobs. 

Some people invest in the stock market. I've invested in education and family and my return on my money is enviable. :)

Cabinet: How can our readers find you? 

Warnock: Great question! Glad you asked. :) My book is available at amazon.com and everywhere books are sold in the West. My blog is CalebWarnock.blogspot.com, and I try to answer all emails at calebwarnock@yahoo.com. Thanks for the interview! 

Cabinet: Our pleasure! Thank YOU.


  1. Ooooh, I'll have to get this one for research purposes!

  2. Totally worth the purchase price in fascinating details alone. PLUS, the writing itself is beautiful. So much in one little book.

  3. Great interview, Caleb. The book sounds amazing and I'm thrilled to hear it's doing so well.