It’s finally here. UPS just delivered the first copy of my second book, Losing Weight with Your Diabetes Medication. The subtitle, “How Byetta and Other Drugs Can Help You Lose More Weight than You Ever Thought Possible,” tells what the book is really about.
The book took a long time coming. I first proposed it to a publisher back on September 15, 2006.
“Have you thought about a book on Byetta?” was my question to Matthew Lore, who at that time was vice president and publisher of Marlowe & Company in New York City. “It is a miracle drug for many people, myself included. As of today, I have lost 80 pounds in the seven months since I started taking it. The book could cover just Byetta or be broadened to include the other GLP-1 inhibitors and could also include the gliptins. You could even get me to write it….”
At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into, because this was destined to be the first book that I wrote alone. Back in 2003 Matthew had asked me to be one of the co-authors of The New Glucose Revolution: What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up…and Down? At the time, the lead author, Professor Jennie Brand-Miller of the University of Sydney and Kaye Foster-Powell already had an agreement with Matthew and needed an American co-author.
My name was still Rick Mendosa when that book appeared. Five other editions — for the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, Taiwan, Italy, and a second U.S. edition in 2006 with my new name (as well as some new material) — have subsequently appeared. This book was about the glycemic index more than about anything else.
I thought that my second book would be just as easy as my first one. Wrong.
It happens that Matthew contacted me originally back in January 1996, less than a week after he got his diabetes diagnosis. “I want to thank you profusely for your on-line diabetic resource guide….Your listing expands the information I have access to exponentially. Everything about this list is fantastic. I’m incredibly appreciative and moved that someone has taken the time to put this out there.”
That was a great start to a long-standing relationship. Then in July 1998, after Matthew had become Marlowe & Company’s senior editor responsible for publishing that imprint’s diabetes books, he wrote me again.
When he re-read some of my glycemic index articles, Matthew wrote, he noticed that in August 1996 I had reviewed the Australian edition of Dr. Brand-Miller’s first book about the glycemic index for people with diabetes for Diabetes Interview magazine (now Diabetes Health). That article, which is now on my website, happens to be my first published article about diabetes as I segued from writing about small business. I closed that review by writing, “The overall importance of The G.I. Factor for people with diabetes can hardly be overstated. The only problem is its availability.”
It turned out that Matthew solved that problem by publishing The G.I. Factor here as The Glucose Revolution. Since then, he has published at least a dozen more of Dr. Brand-Miller’s books on the glycemic index totaling more than 3 million copies now in print. In August 1999 he thanked me for introducing him to the book by taking me out to lunch at a fine restaurant near San Francisco, where we we met in person for the first time.
Over the years since then Matthew and I have kept in touch regularly by email and telephone as he asked me to review his new books. Under Matthew, Marlowe has become the biggest independent publisher of books about diabetes. I often argue that the books that he publishes are much more important and relevant to us that those of any other publisher.
So, when I suggested in September 2006 that he publish a book on Byetta that I would write for Marlowe to publish, I was optimistic. I had already written what were essentially the first drafts of several of the chapters in many articles here at HealthCentral. But we ran into a couple of problems.
The first was Matthew’s fear than a book my just Byetta might look like I “crossed the line from information and even patient advocacy to promotion.” He did not want me to be seen as “simply a shill for Amylin,” the company that developed Byetta.
Matthew also correctly noted that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved Byetta for weight loss. In fact, spokespeople for Amylin have steadfastly and appropriately refused to discuss the weight loss effects of Byetta, although they continue to work with me as I write about other aspects of Byetta, including its first-phase insulin release.
But Matthew had a couple of excellent suggestions. He thought the book would work if I recast it to include a discussion of all the current diabetes drugs to help us to lose weight and also if I made Byetta the “featured player” but not the only one.
I readily agreed. But by November 2006 it seemed that his enthusiasm for the book had waned. Fortunately, at that time I was in mid-town Manhattan, just a few minutes from Matthew’s office, which was then near the World Trade Center. The honchos of HealthCentral, who sponsors these articles of mine, had invited me to accompany them to New York to accept the Freddie Award in diabetes for the best international health and medical media.
When I visited Matthew in his office, enthusiasm for the book immediately rekindled — as long as I enlisted an M.D. as my co-author. I thought that was a good idea.
But that turned out to be a problem almost torpedoed the book. The doctor was willing, but we had a serious disagreement. I argued then — as I continue to do, including an article here on “Diabetes Guilt” — that being overweight or even obese doesn’t cause diabetes. The doctor and I had such a profound disagreement on this point that I called Matthew to say that the book was dead.
But Matthew surprised me. This time he said I didn’t need an M.D. as a co-author. I just needed to get one to write a foreword. He would publish my book in his “patient-expert” series along with outstanding books like The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes by my friend Gretchen Becker.
I replied immediately that I knew the perfect person to write the preface, Dr. J. Joseph Prendergast. Dr. Joe is the endocrinologist in the San Francisco area who inspired me to start taking Byetta.
“My patients have done so well on Byetta,” he wrote in his book The Uncommon Doctor, “that I think it could be the next miracle drug.”
He told me on the phone in January 2006 that 200 of his patients were using Byetta. Their average weight loss since the first of them started was 35 pounds, as I wrote in “Stalking Byetta.” I guessed correctly that Dr. Joe would be willing to help me, since I had volunteered to edit his book, which I knew pleased him.
When I called Dr. Joe, he immediately agreed to write the foreword for my new book. This sealed my deal with Matthew.
Between mid-November 2006, when Matthew and I had our first meeting on the book, and March 15, 2007, the deadline that he gave me to finish it, I focused most of my energy on completing it, while continuing to write two articles a week here. That was a difficult period for me, especially because my wife died just five days after I submitted the manuscript to Matthew.
What I was totally unprepared for was how long it would take for the book to come off the press. Working mostly on the Web, I am more used to writing an article one day and having it appear that day or the next.
Originally, Matthew planned an October 2007 publication date. But then Perseus Book Group purchased Matthew’s company. That slowed things down, but the new publisher still wanted Matthew and his books. Matthew is now vice president and executive editor of Da Capo Press and Da Capo Lifelong Books.
My new book says on the cover that it is a part of “The Marlowe Diabetes Library” while the spine says the publisher is Marlowe & Company and the title page says the publisher is Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group. Sorta confusing, but it is finally in print.
The book is 211 numbered pages plus 25 pages of front matter, mostly Dr. Joe’s preface and my introduction.
The official publication date is February 25. But Matthew writes me that “books are currently on their way to booksellers and wholesalers nationwide and should be on bookstore shelves in the next couple of weeks.”
This is a trade paperback listing for US $14.95 (CAN $16.00). The ISBN is 9781600940453; the ISBN-10 is 1600940455.
Byetta helped me to lose a lot of weight. “Since starting on Byetta fewer than two years ago, my weight dropped from 312 to 181 pounds,” was how I began the key paragraph of the introduction to the book. “From the start, I told everyone who would listen that my goal by October 26, 2007, was to weigh less than when the U.S. Army had honorably discharged me 50 years earlier. That meant weighing less than 195 pounds, which would also give me a BMI in the normal range.”
Since then, I have kept revising my weight goals, eventually appreciating that a BMI in the low normal range is even better. As of today I have lost more than 150 pounds and have a BMI of 20.
If you have type 2 diabetes and really want to lose weight, Byetta can help you too. The only way you can lose as much as I have, however, is to to be awfully heavy when you start.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.