Pet Memoir

Guest Blogger: St. Martin’s Press Editor Daniela Rapp

Daniela Rapp has been an editor at St. Martin’s Press since 2003 after stints in the performing arts and the agenting world and considers herself an omnivore when it comes to reading and books. This is reflected in her rather eclectic list of projects, which ranges from literary and commercial fiction, pet and humor books, to serious narrative nonfiction titles. Her recent and forthcoming projects include Dog Talk by by Harrison Forbes, Saving Cinnamon by Christine Sullivan and the Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno.

Pet Memoir

Blame it on Marley. Well, it’s not just his fault. Lava, Merle, Gus, Gracie, Sprite, Cinnamon, and Nubs had their share, as did Dewey, Oscar and Homer (the cats), Alex (the parrot), Christian (the lion), Wesley (the owl), and Freedom (the eagle). These charming, funny, exasperating and inspiring creatures are the reason I am currently inundated with pet and animal book proposals.

Pet memoirs and books focusing on the bond between humans and animals have become increasingly popular over the last few years, although they have been around in one form or another for quite a while: think James Herriot on the non-fiction side, or Black Beauty and Lassie in fiction.

So, why the sudden explosion of these books? To me, there are several factors that have contributed to the proliferation of the genre:

Most visibly, pet-focused TV shows such as the ones offered by Animal Planet are now aired during prime time. This has raised awareness and perhaps also interest in the genre for readers.

As a result of the economic downturn, people have focused more on their families, and pets are certainly considered family members. Annual spending on pet expenditures is currently at an all-time-high (at around $43 billion), and a chunk of that budget will go to reading material.

And lastly, humans have always been fascinated with that special bond between animals and people – we love to hear heartwarming stories of the dog that changed someone’s life, the cat that made everyone’s day brighter, or the bird that was able to communicate desires and dislikes. The wall between us and the animal kingdom is one of the last frontiers, and it is slowly being dismantled, as our understanding of animal behavior and communication grows.

That is exactly what attracts me to the genre – I love reading about wordless exchanges between a dog and its human, the psychological and physical benefits of being near an animal, the antics and tricks pets are up to, as well as the emotional connection that is built over years spent in each other’s company.

One of my favorite examples is the forthcoming Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno – it’s the story of a one-in-a-million feral puppy turned superdog and his owner, and it makes all of us long for that unique relationship. Steve gets it totally right in the writing of his memoir – humor is tempered with emotion, there is a great arc to the narrative, and you can’t help but fall head-over-heels for Lou, the canine hero.

This was also the reason I took on Saving Cinnamon by Christine Sullivan – an account of the nerve-wracking journey of a stray puppy rescued from Afghanistan. I rooted for adorable Cinnamon to make it home every step of the way.

There are many uplifting, poignant, engaging, and humorous pet stories out there, but what sells me on the ones that make it to publication is the strength of the voice and the strength of the bond, every time.

PetCentricAuthors.com is pleased to invite recently published authors of animal-interest books to participate in our promotional campaign. Campaign clients will find our budget-friendly option provides the ability to gain instant media visibility, traffic to their website and provide branding opportunities.

Because an author’s challenge is to let pet-friendly readers know about their expertise and their title, we offer promotional campaigns to motivate pet lovers to buy your book. Our campaign includes the following:

• Podcast of the author and host Charlotte Reed submitted to about 30 podcast directories

• Q & A with the author and pet trend expert Charlotte Reed published on our site

• Blog post about your new title with links to the author and the book website

• Book advertisement on our website

• Announcement about the release of the book sent to our list of pet bloggers

• Giveaway on Charlotte’s Web e-newsletter submitted to our list of about 10,000 subscribers with your url

• Seven (7) Twitter posts the first week the book is released

• Three updates on Facebook announcing the release of the book and/or your signing events.

If you would like more information about our pet promotional campaigns, including pricing, contact info@petcentricauthor.com.

Guest Blogger: Storey Publishing Publicist Amy Greeman

Amy Greeman is currently Publicity Director at Storey Publishing and has worked in publicity for the last 18 years for such organization as HBO, Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Simon & Schuster. She has owned dogs all her life and is currently owned by a Wirehaired Dachshund.

Pets and Books, Books and Pets

Book Expo America is essentially a bookseller’s trade show, but really, it’s so much more than that. Held annually, for the last few years in New York City at the Jacob Javitz Center, BEA is a polyglot of booksellers, bookstore owners, media escorts, librarians, journalists, television producers, publishing executives, publishers, warehousers and distributors, authors, literary agents, really, anyone with even a pinky-toe in the world of words will be there. For years, those of us in publishing bemoan the drop-off in attendance that is usually forecast a few weeks in advance, but when you’re on the floor it often seems like a non-stop whirl of activity, meetings, snacks, and free books. This year promises to be very exciting with Apple’s iPad adapting e-books and applications for those books – I’ll be interested to see how that looks and what books will take off in that format.
For pet books, it’s been a year or two of shifting perspectives. It seems as though the “nuts and bolts” of feeding, training, and behavior education have given way to celebrities with dog books. Cesar Milan has made an empire of his strategies in interpreting canine behaviors, Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog,” will have a new book shortly, and even a non-name in the animal world, Beth Ostrosky Stern (wife of shock-jock Howard) will be promoting a dog-care handbook she’s written. I’ll be interested to see if books for dog- and cat-owners are still viable right now with no big name attached to them. One of the truisms of publishing in this era of economic uncertainty is that many people will spend money on their children that they wouldn’t spend on themselves, and I wonder if pet-owners and caregivers feel the same way about their animals. Storey Publishing has slowed down on acquiring books on dogs and cats because we’ve found that the books we specialize in, technique and breed books, don’t really sell as well as those flashier celebrity publications, and we aren’t really willing to branch away from our mission statement to accommodate that market segment. But it’ll be an exercise in adaptability to see if the market will return to that “nuts and bolts” plan. Tell me what you think! What’s your prediction for the future of pet books?

On Wednesday, I launched PetCentricAuthors.com, the first internet site dedicated to learning more about authors and pet books. PetCentric Authors features book reviews, podcasts and interviews with authors and publishing industry experts.

Authors and their recently released titles that are highlighted on the website include: LeashesandLovers.com founder Sheryl Matthy’s Leashes and Lovers – What Your Dog Can Teach You about Love, Life, and Happiness (L&L Media, 2010); photographer Jean M. Fogle’s Tricks for Treats (Bowtie Press, 2010); Search and Rescue handler Susannah Charleson’s Scent of the Missing (April 2010); North Shore Animal League spokesperson and wife of shock jock Howard Stern, Beth Ostrosky Stern and her new book, Oh My Dog (Gallery Book, May 2010); and Steve Duno’s, Last Dog on the Hill (St. Martin’s Press, June 2010). The site also will review children’s books, mysteries, photography books – any books pertaining to pets.

The site also hosts this blog that promises to have  interactive content including Twitter interviews, giveaways, contests and videos. My first guest blogger is Storey publicist Amy Greenman. Ms. Greenman comments about BEA and wonders if it takes celebrity panache to publish a pet book these days.

As the author of The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Pet Dog Etiquette (Adams Media, 2007) and the producer of The Business of Pet Writing Conference, I think that I identify a need to promote and market animal-interest books and their authors in the marketplace.

Both PetCentricAuthors.com and the Pet Bookshelf Blog fill a gap in the publishing industry. Currently, no other site evaluates and reviews the breadth of pet publishing, nor does a single location offer a range of top-notch pet books. We just officially launched, but there’s already tremendous buzz from authors and publishers. Everyone is sending us books for evaluation.

Our book reviewers are pet-owning librarians, pet trend experts, retired school teachers and journalists and authors who are dedicated to promoting the animal-human bond.