My memoir, Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself, is the story of my deep dive into severe depression and how the only thing that saved me was my dog. The book took seven long years to write, and my heart and soul are on those pages.
Dog Medicine was first published by a small press called Think Piece Publishing in November of 2015. Working with a small press was a wonderful experience, but we didn’t have the budget for bookstore distribution. Selling the book online and developing a great social media platform were our only ways of getting the book into readers’ hands.
The initial reaction to the book surpassed any expectations. On launch day, my friends and family went online to buy the book, but every website listed it as sold out. At first, we thought it was a typo or a distribution error. After some double checking, we realized that every copy available online had sold!
Newly interested literary and film agents wanted to know if the book had been reviewed. The truth was that it hadn’t been reviewed yet. So we went straight to Kirkus. When we got our Kirkus review, my publisher sent a jubilant e-mail with the subject, “Kirkus raves!!!!!!” It’s worth noting that he had never, ever used five exclamation points in a row. We had been legitimized, and thanks to Kirkus’ thoughtful review, we felt as if we had yet another reason to believe that our success was not a fluke.
The book had been out for three days, and I was on my self-funded book tour when my cell phone rang. The literary agent I’d spoken with months earlier was calling to tell me that she had an offer from Penguin Books to buy Dog Medicine! Penguin books! The publisher I’d always thought of as THE publisher! I will never forget that moment—my stomach flipped as I stood on Southwest 5th Avenue in Portland.
We have a new launch date for Penguin’s gorgeous edition of Dog Medicine: July 19th, 2016. They have an incredible team of publicists and sales folks who are getting the word out, and the Facebook page is almost at 14,000 fans. I recently had the incredible opportunity to read the Penguin audio book at a recording studio. Unbelievably, the book has been bought in six countries and will be translated into at least four languages.
But mostly, I am feeling extraordinarily grateful that my story will have the chance to reach even more wonderful readers. I’ll be hitting the road for a 14-city tour in a few weeks, and—much to my delight—the book won’t just be online, it’ll be in actual bookstores, on actual shelves, all over the world.
Julie Barton is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer who has been published in the South Carolina Review, Louisiana Literature, the Huffington Post, and more. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Kenyon College, a master’s degree in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a master’s degree in women's studies from Southern Connecticut State University. Her debut memoir, Dog Medicine, will released by Penguin Random House in July 2016.