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.
23 thoughts on “Pet Travel: The Book Proposal”
Congrats on the book idea. I’m sure it will be a hit if it is written with the same humor and wit of your blog posts. And a chapter devoted to traveling with a cat is a good idea, because we all know pet friendly and cat friendly are not the same thing. As we find people who are traveling with cats on our travels, we’ll send them to you so they can leave some tips. Good luck!
Thanks, Rod! And nice to have you back on the road, connecting with people who’ll provide cat anecdotes.
I think it sounds great! I would definitely buy it!
I like the idea of posting your book proposal online. I would love to hear if this works for you.
So far, so good. No one has told me to go into food service… yet!
What about a section on Canada, especially the border areas?
I won’t be including specific destinations. But I will be including information about hotel chains and many of them — such as the Fairmont — are Canada based or popular in Canada as well as in the states.
Very brave to tackle your next BIG thing in such a public way. Kudos.
Thank you. I never quite know the difference between brave and foolhardy but I’m hoping for the former.
Since it seems like humor is one of your strengths, and could make this book stand out, might I suggest starting your overview with a humorous hook? Then go into the stats.
I also hope you’re going to give your book a similar humorous title (Will My Dog Hate Me if I Take Him on a Boring Trip! lol) I especially like your part on making this book different, and your own experiences. How about a chapter on traveling with fearful pets? Looks like you’re off to a great start!
I hear you Peggy but as someone on both sides of the editorial desk I’ve learned that what publishers want first is stats: Why should I publish this? It’s kind of a dry style.
And I took this verbatim from my proposal to the publishers of Am I Boring My Dog — who, I would hope — know my writing style! (The rest of the proposal was a bit more humorous)
Next week I’ll debut the title…
I’m enchanted by the idea of this book, and I can’t think of an author I’d rather read on the topic (and that includes myself!). You sound a little regretful about self-publishing, but I really think it’s brilliant in this situation. The hazard of including on-line resources in your text is that they might be defunct by the time your book winds its way through the traditional publication schedule — I’ve seen that in a couple of existing dog travel books. However, since you’re publishing this yourself, you can easily keep the resources current and relevant. (And thank you for including Dog Jaunt in your list of resources!)
Mary-Alice, that’s very generous (as always).
There’s really only one problem I have with self-publishing (my annoyance at the publishing industry aside) and that’s not having a solid chunk of time — because of not having an advance — to write the book. Although it had its agonizing moments, as all writing does for me, I LOVED being able to devote most of my time to writing Am I Boring My Dog, being able to write it sequentially and not worrying about constantly being distracted by other writing assignment as I am now. That’s really why I’m committing myself to this public discussion.
If you — or anyone reading this –know any good writing grants, please send ’em my way!
It would be wonderful if your book could tie the knots together. Information is very scattered and it is hard to find a good overview. I think it is great to refer to other sites or books for more detail, that is many times something I find myself doing, and always wishing somebody made it easy for me (true, I am lazy!).
Your idea to bring some real-life stories into it is very good. That way it is not only “theory” but you can as a reader also get inspired by what other real people did before you. Bringing a part of social media into book form so to say. Like you are co-creating your book now.
Love the angle to take it from inside the pet travel industry. But hardly know that well enough to know what that will bring. But it would be very interesting to read about.
Isn’t co-creation great! I hope you get a lot of helpful feedback in the comments.
Thanks for the support. I like tying knots together and while I did that with Am I Boring My Dog, I only had Frankie (and my BFF Clare’s dog, Archie) to use as my main examples. Now that I’ve been blogging for a while — and reading other blogs — I’ll have a lot more anecdotes, which will be fun for everyone!
I think this idea is fantastic. You have a great style and following here online which should transfer well to a self-published book. Especially on a topic that relates so closely. Especially after seeing the book grow in this space. I think you are very brave as well.
After driving across the country with a cat in the backseat, I am definitely interested on finding a better way to travel with a cat. Because I don’t know if I could ever do it again.
Aw, shucks… Yep, I figure I already embarrass myself on a regular basis so this can’t be worse, right?
I’m assuming that, in your case, the cat drive was part of a move? I actually have a friend that did this for vacation!
This clarifies things and thank you for that! Great idea to use your book proposal! I look forward to your pet travel Tuesday posts – and all the others too! – this is going to be a very interesting journey you’re taking us on:)
You’re a thoroughly entertaining and informative writer so silly publishers, but the industry seems to be in a creative destruction cycle stuck more in the destructive zone. But having control over this process should be informative – annoying/challenging without the advance $. If I come across any grants, I’ll let you know!
Know what might be handy? A quick reference guide for animal shelters in major cities. If a pet gets lost it would be handy info to have at an arm’s reach before panic sets in. It is something that I would use since I don’t have a cell phone that can connect to the internet.
And of course, an I-Pod guide so everyone can take this along. Seriously, do you know Mike Gerrard, who spends winters in Green Valley? He just published Snakes Alive ( a collection of his travel essays) himself, AND created a Kindle version. Although I cringe at a lot of self-published books (being a reviewer I get bombarded) his demonstrates that it can be done right.
No, I don’t know Mike Gerrard, but I’ll have to check out his book. I’m very interested in all models of self-published books and hope to get various people to come on and blog about their decisions to self-publish — and which format to use.
Once you have assembled all of the material facts for traveling with pets to different countries, you might consider a cheat sheet that can be downloaded and/or copied. Keep in mind that countries do change their rules, so don’t feel like you have to include every country in the world. And forget Thailand. They eat dogs. Or, maybe you should have a list of countries where stray or lost dogs can become dinner. But don’t go there.
On the subject of piracy, I see no reason why you have to publish every comment that you like, but don’t particularly feel like sharing with the world.
Books, as you know, take on a life of their own. Plot your destinations. Pack Frankie’s bag and go. The story will write itself. Just don’t forget your laptop and your camera.
And blog as you travel.
One other thought (sorry). It’s not that easy, for example, to import a dog into the US from another country. That might be another book.