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
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.