Wendy Lyons Sunshine—Tender Paws: How Science-Based Parenting Can Transform Our Relationship with Dogs

May 27, 2024

Cover of the book Tender Paws: How Science-Based Parenting Can Transform Our Relationship with Dogs by Wendy Lyons Sunshine showing a cute dog on a white background, with the author’s name and book title in blue and purple letters.

Tender Paws


Wendy Lyons Sunshine
Health Communications, Inc., May 28, 2024
Paperback, $16.95, eBook, $12.99, audiobook, $19.59
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0757324956
eBook ASIN: ‎B0CL59WY2Y
Audiobook ASIN: B0CSZBFGB6

Sunshine reports:

After a parenting book helped me rescue my relationship with a difficult shelter puppy, I went on a journey to see if there was a scientific basis for my experience. The deeper I looked, the more evidence I found that science-based parenting principles and techniques that benefit at-risk kids also can benefit dogs.

Portrait photo of Wendy Lyons Sunshine and her dog Bernie in an outdoor setting.

Wendy Lyons Sunshine and her dog Bernie
Photo by Nancy Guth

I previously collaborated on two books. This was my first solo book project, and it took years to come to fruition. I rewrote the proposal several times and had it reviewed by industry experts. Even though I received interest from agents, my platform was too small.

I pitched a related blog to PsychologyToday.com, and writing it allowed me to dig deeper into the subject matter. My goal was traditional publication.

When agents still didn’t bite, I opted to submit directly to smaller publishers that didn’t require an agent. In short order, I found a wonderful partner. My publisher, Health Communications, Inc., pulled me out of the slush pile and offered me a contract within days of submission. I nearly missed seeing HCI’s offer letter, as it landed in my spam folder!

The advance was modest, but I am well satisfied with my marvelous editor and a professional operation combining the benefits of a smaller imprint with the reach of a big distributor (Simon and Schuster). HCI also sold audio rights to Recorded Books. I auditioned to narrate my book, got the gig, and was paid extra for that. This was my first professional experience working in a sound studio as “voice talent.”

During the writing process, I interviewed dozens of dog professionals and enthusiasts via Zoom, including some internationally, and I gathered a cross-section of fascinating and heart-tugging stories. I also went down myriad research rabbit holes. Organizing my own personal narrative, as-told-to stories, case studies, and background from hundreds of citations was a bit daunting. Fortunately, Word’s navigation pane allows drag-and-drop, and Zotero citation manager made the iterative process manageable.

I suggest authors consider in advance whom they might approach for blurbs and jump on appropriate opportunities. For me, getting an endorsement from Dr. Temple Grandin was a huge shot in the arm.

Contact info:

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Banner image adapted from original photo by Wendy Lyons Sunshine.

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Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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