Backlist Blues–Hope, Hype, & Hallelujia

I have had 23 pet care and behavior books published since 1992, all by “mainstream” bigtime NYC publishers. In the beginning, my agent commanded 6-figure advances for my books, and some of these books have sold extremely well.

It sucks to start at the top, cuz there’s only one direction to go from there, especially when Internet freebies and economic challenges meet.  The Internet and Animal Planet killed the kinds of books I write–prescriptive, heavily researched, highly reliable info-tainment about cat and dog care, behavior and training. Why buy a book, when you can access the information for free–and who cares if it’s the latest research from reliable sources or just the “guru of the moment” spouting off. Free = good.

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats remains in print and still earns decent royalties, thank goodness. April is National Pet First Aid Month so maybe it’ll get a bump up this month.  And my PETiQuette book still sells steady. The two Chicken Soup books also continue to sell, but I’ll never see another dime from them so I don’t really care (hint: another vent may come on THAT issue!).

Anyway, I have a number of solid-information books looking for a new life (and audience) as Ebooks. If folks want information from the Internet, I won’t fight them–and in fact, I’ll HELP them find some solid, good material at a price this economy can afford. Heck, I think some of these titles now sell on Ebay for $90 or so, and meanwhile I can provide updated information in a format they want at a fraction of the cost to readers or to me.

That’s the logic, anyway.

So I’ve begun the process of preparing the following books for E-book release, Kindle first and then maybe others:

Complete Kitten Care

Complete Care for Your Aging Cat

Complete Care for Your Aging Dog

Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine for Dogs & Cats

The Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care

The Purina Encyclopedia of Dog Care

ComPETability

Updating veterinary medical information actually is the easiest part. The tricky issue has to do with formatting. I don’t know about other nonfiction authors, but it’s always been easiest for me to write each chapter as a separate WORD file. But for an E-book, the entire text must be in a single file.

TEDIUS BEYOND BELIEF!

Next, the file must be converted to html coding, which means all the lovely formatting (text boxes, tables, bold headlines and more) goes out the window. And unlike fiction manuscripts, a nonfiction book often includes line drawings and/or photos with captions. That also poses a challenge. In addition, the beauty and added-value of an E-book includes providing “hot links” not only within the book (to jump from the table of contents to a particular book section) but to product mentions and recommendations.

Currently I have pretty much completed the re-formatting of the “aging cat” book. It took several weeks, with multiple do-overs as I learned what worked and what sucked. I’ll know better how to do the next titles. Watch this blog for an ongoing “how-I-did-it” in the days and weeks ahead.  

amy-the-hopeful

Thrillerfest

I’m going to be at ThrillerFest in July, and I’d love it if you joined me! Authors appear on panels, sign books, and talk about writing, and it’d be fun to see you in the audience. We’ll have sessions every day, cocktail parties every night (included in your registration price), and there’s a full bookshop on site, where authors can sign your purchases personally to you. You can meet this year’s superstar headliners: Ken Follett, David Morrell, Gayle Lynds, Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline, Brad  Meltzer, Linda Fairstein, and our first-ever “True Thriller” recipient, Mark Bowden, famed for his nonfiction Black Hawk  Down. ThrillerFest is Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Register and reserve a hotel room (at a terrific rate for New York in the summer) by clicking on www.ThrillerFest.org and following the quick-and-easy directions. (CraftFest with a “speed dating with agents” is on Weds and Thurs). I hope to see you there!

amy

Betty White, CatChow.com, About.com & Kindle

After last month’s several days in Las Vegas at the Western Veterinary Conference (terrific event, btw), I’m near deadline on the four article assigments that resulted. All will be published by Catnip (a Tufts University newsletter), two on behavior, one covering nutrition and the fourth a fascinating look at kitty neurologic disorders.

The first of three radio shows taped while in Vegas has been posted to the Pet Peeves show–hear from Betty White (yes, THE Betty White!). Future shows feature a veterinary behaviorist offering tips on cat stress reduction, and a holistic veterinarian on the controversy surrounding cat declaw surgery.

Two other big bits of news–check out the updated look at CatChow.com mentors and send me a question. I’m also the new cat behavior contributing writer at cats.About.com, providing a dozen articles, columns and more each month. I hope you’ll visit me at one or both of these sites, as I simply can’t seem to keep this blog updated in a timely manner.

Oh, the other stuff that’s in the works–you’ve asked, and I’ve listened–several of my out-of-print books will be released once again (updated!) via Amazon Kindle. Stay tuned, and I’ll give a shout out when the Aging Dog, Aging Cat, and Kitten Care books once again are available.

Cat’s Holiday Wish–To Go Home

”Mia

UPDATE, 12-16-09–Somebody read this blog and recognized the cat and owner and tonight–MIA IS GOING HOME!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS–May all of your pet dreams (and otherwise) come true!

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Today I received an email plea from a guardian angel  hoping to get Mia the cat back to her proper family. I’ve been given permission to share the information (below) and spread the word. Here’s how she lost her home, and now seeks to be reunited with her loved ones. Can you help?

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My family provides a foster home for Red River SPCA. Nearly every Saturday we take some of our adoptable dogs to PetSmart in Sherman. The adoptable cats that stay in the store come from RRSPCA. It is not unusual for people to approach us at PetSmart while we are showing our animals and ask us for help with rehoming their pets.

That’s where we were, back in July, when a lady brought us her pet cat that she’d had for ten years and asked us to rehome “Mia.”

Her reason was that the doctor had told her that her daughter was allergic to the cat and it was causing health issues with the child and the cat must go.

The lady was in tears when surrendering Mia.  It was plain to see this was one of the hardest things that the lady had ever had to do. She loved her cat so much that she had even had the cat’s name tattooed on her arm.

But the illness continued even after she had given up her beloved cat. So the family ended up in Dallas to a specialist who told them that the child’s illness had nothing to do with Mia the cat.

The middle of October was when the lady called us, wanting her cat Mia back.

We contacted the family that had adopted Mia in July and told them the lady’s story. The family wanted to hold a family meeting and discuss it.  They loved Mia very much and now had had Mia for three months and she was part of their family. We offered another cat we had in replacement. 

We did not hear anything more from the family.. We tried to contact the family a few more times but we did not    hear back from them. So we had to assume that they did not want to part with the cat.

Now it is the end of November and out of the blue the family shows up telling us they had prayed on it long and hard. They said if it had happened to their family, they would want their beloved pet back.

“So here is Mia, please give her back to her family.”

I took Mia and went right to work calling everyone that had been involved in Mia’s adoption, trying to get Mia back to her original family. Unfortunately the computer that held her information had crashed and all was lost. We have no records for contacting Mia’s mom to reunite them. All we can remember is the lady’s first name because it’s similar to my own.

 We believe Mia’s moms name is Aubrey.So here I am writing to ask if there is any way that you can please help. All I need is for you to tell the public — hoping Mia’s mom (or someone who knows Aubrey) is listening — that there is a special Christmas wish out there and Mia wants to come home. If Mia’s mom hears this story, she could call me at 903-327-8477.  I would love to reunite Mia with Aubrey and make this a very special Christmas for everyone involved.  Thank you for your time and a special thanks from Mia, who just wants her mom back! Audrey Rowbotham