A pet's memoir? Dee Ready offers her reasoning in today's guest post.
I woke, suddenly alert, on the morning of July 8, 1989, and felt compelled to go downstairs to the computer. Once there, my fingers began to type. A few seconds later, I read the words given to me: “At the end all that matters is love, my love for my human and hers for me. I have planted the memories of our life together in her heart. She will find them there when I am gone and they will comfort her.”
Momentarily, I sat puzzled. Why was I saying these words? Then I realized that it was Dulcy, not I, who was speaking. She and I had lived together for seventeen and a half years. Two days before, the vet had euthanized her because of kidney failure. And yet she was speaking through me. These words had to be coming from the deep center of myself where Oneness dwelt. And surely, Dulcy and I were one.
This was the beginning of the book that came to be called A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. She channeled the book through me over a yearlong period. By mid-October of 1989, she’d completed the story of how she’d selected me, trained me, and turned me into a one-cat human. The following spring she gave me a number of poems to add to our book. They revealed her outlook on my foibles.
A Cat’s Life was Dulcy’s final gift to the one she loved unconditionally.
And my gift to her? Getting her book published.
For a year I sent out query letters and received back only rejection of Dulcy’s story. Then, in April 1991, an editor at Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, suggested that I delete half of the 44,000 words and concentrate only on the relationship between Dulcy and me.
Overjoyed by her words of encouragement, I needed only three days to prepare the 22,000-word manuscript. The fourth day I sent it to her. Several weeks passed and then on July 8, the editor called to offer me a contract. Oh, joy in the morning!
A year later—in late September 1992—Crown published the hardcover of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. It was then I responded to Dulcy’s gift by promoting her book in every way I could. I set up thirty-six readings and signings, five local television appearances on noon news and daytime talk shows, interviews with the three major newspapers, and a reading on Minnesota Public Radio. Later, a vice president at Crown credited me with selling most of the nearly 14,000 books that readers bought in the following months.
I was disappointed when Crown did not choose to publish the trade paperback. So once again I sent out query letters. In December 2000, J.N. Townsend published Dulcy’s story in trade paperback. Once again, I set up signings and readings.
A few years later, Townsend reverted the rights to me. At the same time, the publisher offered to give me the 670 remaining copies if I would pay the postage. This generous offer made all the difference, for it was then I realized I could sell Dulcy’s trade paperback on my blog.
Beginning this past December, my blog has featured ten postings on Dulcy’s memoir. The postings relate all the intricacies of getting published and promoting a book twenty years ago. These postings end with the difference between getting published in 1992 and doing so now.
Of course, one of the real differences now is the possibility of self-publishing and electronic books. Taking advantage of this, I hired one of my nieces to type the manuscript anew for me as all I had were the 1991 floppy disks. She also prepared the text per the directions on Amazon/Kindle.
Thus far, readers have purchased thirty trade paperbacks through PayPal and twenty-three e-books. Now let’s admit that selling 30 paper books out of 670 doesn’t seem like much. But perhaps Dulcy’s book will continue to sell as new readers come to my blog. That, at least, is my hope.
Having a little discretionary money is wonderful, but that’s truly not why I’m selling this book. The truth is that Dulcy’s story is a memoir that reveals the deepening growth of a relationship between a human and an animal. Between Dulcy and me.
It’s her love letter to me. And until the day I die, I will do all I can to introduce readers to a cat named Dulcy who enriched my life for seventeen and a half years, gave me a story to treasure, and has abided with me since her death in 1989. I am blessed.
Thank you, Dee, for your moving story. Dee Ready can be found at coming home to myself