Animal Media Group, an independent media and book production company that is looking to ramp up its presence in the book trade, has signed a two year distribution deal with Consortium.

Consortium will start distributing the Pittsburgh-based company's titles to the trade in the fall, beginning with five frontlist titles and eight backlist ones. AMG plans to publish four-to-five titles in 2017, beginning with two in the Spring of 2017.

AMG is a subsidiary of Animal Inc., and is composed of a book group and film group. The company has a staff of 17 and is 40% employee-owned. The company was founded in 2001 and began as a film and visual effects production house focused on TV commercials, film (both documentaries and features), Web series, video, and animation.

In 2012 the company published I was Always Beautiful by Rocky Braat, a photobook companion title to Blood Brother, a Sundance Film Festival award-winning AMG documentary about Braat’s work at an AIDS orphanage in India. (All proceeds from the book go to support Braat’s work with the orphanage.)

AMG director of publishing Howard Shapiro (who is also an AMG author), said I was Always Beautiful launched the AMG Book Group, which is focused on publishing books tied to the film and media projects produced by the film group.

“We want to merge the projects from both groups,” Shapiro said. “We want our film projects to have book companions and for our books to go to film. We believe that merging both groups together will lead to new opportunitites."

AMG books include memoirs, novels and art books. The house has also published two graphic novels, Stereotypical Freaks, a high school coming-of-age story, and The Hockey Saint, a YA graphic novel about the chance friendship between a hockey star and a young fan. Both books were written by Shapiro. A third graphic novel by Shapiro, Hockey Karma, will be published in the fall.

An example of how combining AMG book and film projects can create new opportunities for the company, is Downward Dog, a live-action situation comedy featuring Martin, a philosophical talking-dog, and Nan, his hapless millennial mistress. Originally created in-house as a series of short Web episodes by AMG’s Michael Killen and Samm Hodges, the series has been picked up by ABC Comedy and will begin airing on the network in 2017.

Shapiro said AMG plans to release Downward Dog My Dreams & Fears: Haikus and Illustrations, a tongue-in-cheek tie-in book of haikus and cartoons, ostensibly by Martin, the series’ insightful canine hero. Shapiro said the book will be released in advance of the TV show once its premier date is announced.