“How I Got Published” — Josh Dean, Author of SHOW DOG

In preparation for my forthcoming humor book, Red Dog / Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political (Running Press, July 2012), I will be featuring interviews with other dog book writers each week. It’s very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This week it’s Josh Dean, author of SHOW DOG: THE CHARMED LIFE AND TRYING TIMES OF A NEAR-PERFECT PUREBRED (February 2012, It Books), a book praised by USA Today, The Guardian, and many more. Josh is a writer whose work has appeared in GQ, Outside, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Inc., ESPN the Magazine, and many others. He is almost certainly the first person in history to play in both the WEPA Elephant Polo World Championships and the Quidditch World Cup. (Sadly, his teams won neither.) Josh lives in Brooklyn and the Catskill Mountains of New York with his wife and son. He will hopefully not be dog-less for much longer.

GIVEAWAY: Josh is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: AnnieMac won.)




Currently own dogs? Tell us their names, breeds and one amusing fact per dog.

Actually, no. As I wrote in my bio, I’m a dog person without a dog. I’m desperate for one, and my two-year-old adores them, but I travel quite a bit for work and until he’s a bit older and is a bit more self-sufficient — meaning my wife won’t have to stress over both dog and child every time I’m gone — we’ll just make do with all the neighborhood dogs we play with in the park most mornings.

What is your book about?

It’s basically a year in the life of one particular show dog, with all sorts of digressions about dogs and humans and the lives we live together. Lots of people said nice things about it. Maybe the best and most apt was Craig Wilson at USA Today: “The literary answer to that laugh-out-loud movie Best in Show.”

What inspired you to write this book?

It’s an idea that was gestating in my brain for years. I think it probably dates back originally to Best in Show, honestly. I’m a journalist who loves subcultures and colorful characters and I guess I just knew that the true story of America’s dog shows would be nearly as fun and entertaining as that film. And it was.

What kind of writing, if any, were you doing before the book?

I’m a magazine writer, and have been for more than a decade. I was also an editor, and my last full-time job was as Deputy Editor of Men’s Journal, a magazine I left in 2005. I also co-launched the dearly departed and much-beloved PLAY, the NY Times Sports Magazine, and I guess if I had to pigeon-hole myself I exist mostly in the men’s and sports writing world. That said, I write about many things – travel, people, cars, business, even some science. The smartest thing I ever did was choose to not specialize in any one topic. Life is far more interesting when you bounce around.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve seen through the process of seeing your book(s) get published?

It’s an exciting and mysterious business that is far more frustrating and confounding than I thought. Even though everyone told me that the onus of PR and marketing today falls on the writer, I think I still wasn’t prepared for the extent to which that is true. It really is on you to make your book successful – to find your audience and activate them.

Tell me about a fun moment or proud experience you’ve had with your book and readers since the book was published.

I love that we authors are so accessible today. Any happy (or mad) reader can find us easily online and reach out – and that’s been fun, to hear from readers who enjoyed the book. The feedback is so immediate, and you can have interactions that I think make readers happy too. I know many of them seemed to be surprised that I would reply – but I try to write back to everyone. When you spend two years of your life on something, it’s nice to know that your work is appreciated.

What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?

I maintain a Facebook page for Jack, the show dog at the center of my book. Technically, it’s his page, but it’s actually me, and I’m trying to grow an audience there. I also started a blog related to the book, and I’m experimenting now with making appearances at dog shows. I did one in Louisville, and that was great. Next up is Harrisburg. I think I’ll try to do one every six weeks or so. Reaching dog book readers outside of the show world has been more difficult. I feel like the book still isn’t as widely known as it should be. If you like dogs, you’ll love this book, I promise.

Favorite of these dog movies? — “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Shaggy Dog.”

Ha, that’s easy. Best in Show.

Where can people find you on the Internet?

I’m at www.joshdean.com. The book is www.showdogthebook.com. The book’s blog is www.showdogthebook.blogspot.com. And on Facebook, you can “like” Jack The Show Dog.

What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

My primary job is still and probably always will be magazine writing. I’m working on a story for ESPN about a legendary player who was in the process reviving the Welsh national soccer team when he committed suicide last November, and two different business features for Inc. I’m also in the early stages of what I hope will be a pretty ambitious story about the destruction and rebuilding of a small town in the Catskills that was devastated by floods caused by Hurricane Irene. I’m also looking for my next book. Got any ideas?


GIVEAWAY: Josh is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: AnnieMac won.)



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19 thoughts on ““How I Got Published” — Josh Dean, Author of SHOW DOG

  1. andreadorn

    This sounds like a great read! I’m working on the cat version myself. I’d love to win yours.

    I’m so glad that you are responsible enough to know that a dog isn’t right for you at this point. I waited years for one myself and finally got the one that was meant for me. Wish you luck when that time comes for you and your family.

  2. Writes4laffs

    Another dogless dog-lover enjoying the neighbourhood pooches. Your book sounds great. Look forward to reading it! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. 🙂

  3. BlueZebra

    I love dogs! I have a mini Australian Shepherd female, a standard Aussie male, a female Boarder Collie mix, and a male cattle dog. I love them all to pieces, but 2 of them can be brats.
    Sounds like an awesome book!


  4. shadesdown2001

    I love reading stories such as this one. It really makes me think back of how stupid I was to be so ignorant in 2006 and have my very first book published by a very VERY bad company. It was a middle grade fiction titled: Jack and Dennis’ Amazing Vacation. Now, I wish I would have gone with a more reputable publishing company instead of being so uneducated and not thinking of the chances of losing out on an otherwise great opportunity.

    Jack is also the dog’s name in my book. I am also a dog lover. My family and I rescued a Jack Russell mixed with Beagle in 2004. He has been the best pet we have ever owned. We named him Chance (as in second CHANCE at life.) I am a huge fan of Call Of The Wild, one of the best books I have ever read. I had that book and Chance in mind when I named the dog in my children’s book and came up with “Jack.” “Jack” Russell and “Jack” in Call Of The Wild.

    I love reading these kinds of success stories such as Josh Dean’s. It lets me know that there is a glimmer of hope out there of becoming a successful author.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Doropatent

    I sympathize completely about being a dogless dog lover–we’re in the same situation. Also “Best in Show” is among my favorite of all films! Congrats on getting your book ‘out there’–not an easy process these days.

  6. Miro

    I agree that both writing and life are more interesting if you don’t have to specialize, yet the pressure to do so (develop a brand) is strong. How do you manage? Previously established connections?

  7. Lady Courage

    This looks like a fun book! The Aussie on the front is gorgeous, too.

    I feel for ‘ya being a dog person and not having a dog. That’s a tough place to be! Sending doggie snuffles your way, from my pups to you!

  8. AnnieMac

    Dog lovers without dogs, this is a terrible state,. please accept my condolences..
    We have nine dogs–disposables that people have thrown away and they come to us, often in the form of litters. They become our devoted servants. After days of figuring out their pack status where I am always the lead pack dog; they settle in to their community. Their days consist of what could be heaven on earth, ample food and water, companionship and the opportunity to stretch out on the drive and bask in the sun. Their occupations are that of sentinels; they bay and bark as strangers pull into the drive. Often the distant sirens stir some ancient memory and they serenade us with howls that bring back memories of the dogs who once ran in the moonlight and answered to no man.

  9. Sky

    Aww, I want this book. I am a dog lover without a dog too and it can be pretty pathetic at times. And that sweet pup on the cover is so handsome. Looking forward to reading it, whether I win the giveaway or not!

  10. rochhamp

    I really like the comment you make about expanding your writing experience into many different styles. I am interested to see you book about the Catskills. As far as Show Dog goes, did you ever show dogs in your youth, and if so what kind? I look forward to reading your books.

  11. amberpolo

    Best is Show is a great movie. But The Shaggy Dog is the best movie ever made.
    Looking forward to reading “Show Dog.”
    amber@ amberpolo .com

  12. Lina Moder

    I haven’t heard of this book though I’m a HUGE dog lover (but I have mutts so I’ve never gone to dog shows:) It would be very interesting to read about this particular niche of the dog world.

    Josh, you should cover the pet-therapy niche next – the dogs (many are rescue dogs and mutts, which I’m very proud of!) that go to hospitals and schools to help people and kids in need.

    Thanks so much for this great interview and the giveaway.

    linamoder at gmail dot com


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