When I set out to create a new Pet Travel (Book) Tuesday feature, I promised accountability to keep myself on track with writing. I also promised transparency to elicit feedback on the book’s content — and the process itself — from my readers.
In order to achieve the first goal, I’m adding a new subfeature, aptly titled…
The Accountability Moment: It’s Monday morning and I need to post something about pet travel for tomorrow. I haven’t done a thing on my book, which I fear I haven’t explained sufficiently. Aaargh.
I look through the pet travel chapter of AM I BORING MY DOG, which has some elements of what I’m planning, but I don’t want to recycle material just for the sake of posting something. And I haven’t done any new research that would help me move the book forward.
I can see that balancing the immediate need to earn a living with writing something that may yield future income is going to be the toughest part of this project.
Then I look through the proposal for the book, which has been kicking around for a long time. The fact that the publisher of AIBMD has not even bothered to respond to it — I sent it to the editor last September! — is just one of the reasons I’ve decided to publish it myself.
Okay, I’ve got it, and it’s a way to achieve transparency too. I’ll post part of the proposal, annotated for blog clarification in boldface. That’ll help explain the book and why it exists and get me psyched. I hope. What with having been bootlegged, I feel a bit too queasy to post a chapter outline, but I think a general introduction and synopsis should be safe.
One revelation: I promise to devote a chapter to traveling with cats, because 15% of pet travelers do that. And I know at least four of them personally.
The pet industry is huge and, apparently, recession proof. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers’ Association (APPA), pet owners spent $45.5 billion in 2009, 2.3 billion more than they spent in 2008 and almost double the $23 billion they spent in 1998. That number is projected to reach $47.7 billion by the end of 2010.
Those figures include essentials such as food and veterinary visits, but leisure expenditures are also increasing, with more and more people taking their pets with them on vacation. According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, an estimated 29.1 million Americans say they have traveled with a pet in the past three years, with dogs constituting an estimated 78% of companions and cats taking second place at 15%.
And the APPA says the hospitality industry is paying attention:
Many hotels across the country are adopting pet-friendly policies. Several chains have announced new pet-friendly policies that include everything from oversized pet pillows and plush doggie robes to check-in gift packages that include a pet toy, dog treat, ID tag, bone and turn down treat. Some even have a licensed dog masseuse on staff.
I propose to provide practical information about taking your pet on the road within the context of reporting on the pet travel industry, including some background about its origins and predictions about its future based on current trends.
How this book will be different
There are plenty of destination- and activity-specific pet travel guides — Dog-Friendly New York, say, or Hiking with Your Dog in Colorado — and a few broad general overviews, but there’s nothing similar to what I’m proposing: an in-depth exploration of the topic that covers such things as the laws that govern it (interstate transportation of livestock, for example) as well as useful information on every aspect of pet travel, including suggestions of the best websites to consult and the best guides for specific destinations.
For example: In the chapter on airlines, I will sketch the general picture and then send people traveling with a small pet in the cabin over to DogJaunt.com to get specifics about seat size, airport relief areas, etc. In the hotel chapter, I’ll suggest they consult GoPetfriendly.com to find out about size limitations and additional fees that various lodgings impose. Car travel? FIDOFriendly has an annual review guide of pet friendly autos…
I plan to interview key people in the pet hospitality industry, such as those who influenced policies about accepting pets on airlines and representatives of pet-friendly hotel chains. I will assess how the policies are working out, what the problems are, and how things are looking for the future, including statistics as well as anecdotal evidence.
I will also include interviews with pet owners [and especially my blog readers] to find out what problems they’ve encountered, and provide plenty of examples of the right way and the wrong way to approach pet travel.
But most of all, I’ll draw on my own experiences — and make it fun.
Does this help explain what I’m doing — or just confuse you further? Does it sound like a book that would interest you? Brutal honesty welcome. It’s not too late to try to get a job in the food service industry.
And if any publishers — or advertisers or investors — are reading and this project sounds good: Financing gratefully accepted.