In September 1992, Crown published the hardcover of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. In December 2001, J. N. Townsend Publishing released the paperback edition.
I first queried a Crown editor in April 1991. In her reply, she asked me to cut in half the 44,000-word manuscript, remove all cats but Dulcy, and concentrate only on our relationship.
Two cats—Bartleby and Tybalt—seemed essential, so I didn’t remove them. However, I did delete 22,000 words that didn’t carry the relationship story forward. I pasted the deletions into a file, hoping that one day a second book would be published. That day came in May 2012.
I had always thought that being published a first time would serve as an entrée to a second book. That didn’t prove true. By 2012, the editor was long gone from Crown, and I was unable to interest an agent in the companion book, which I’d titled Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans.
Fortunately, Wayman Press offered to publish it. This small press has much to offer an author. Its main strength is an energetic publisher who knows how to use the advantages of social media and how to use the publishing arm of Amazon. What this means is that both cover and text can be easily changed in today’s world.
This past April I worked with the Wayman designer. The month was busy: I spent two weeks considering whether to move back to Minnesota; company visited for a week; and I put my home on the market.
During that distracting time, the Wayman designer created a cover that seemed quite beautiful to me. On it, Dulcy looked regal. So did the cover. I knew, however, that the title—Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans—was a mouthful for a potential buyer to remember, but I was too busy to think of a better one.
Despite Wayman’s tireless promotion, the book sold poorly between May and mid-September. Then a telephone conversation prompted a change for the book.
As we chatted last Sunday, Judy King, the artist for the first book, said, “Your title’s not catchy.”
“Any ideas for a different one?” I asked.
“No, but you’ll think of something.”
I knew I wouldn’t because as an editor at Winston Press in Minneapolis I’d displayed little creativity at titling meetings. Clearly, I needed help. It came from three friends, fellow bloggers, who had read both of Dulcy’s books and had a fondness for her.
DJan’s two blogs—DJan-ity and Eye on the Edge—are so aptly named that I trusted her instinct on titles. She e-mailed me:
I like the word Habits because it reminds me of your days as a nun. If you really want to change it, maybe you could dream it up, literally. Ask for it to come to you in a dream, go to bed with that in mind and see what pops out of that amazing brain of yours!
Inger, like Judy, thought a change would be for the better. She enhances her blog—Desert Canyon Living—with her evocative photographs. Moreover, she treasures Dulcy. Inger e-mailed me the following in response to my request for help:
1. I woke up with the thought that since the other title works so well, you could follow that format—A Cat's Life: Dulcy's Story—with something to fit the second book. I don't know what, but I thought I would give you this idea to mull over. . . . For the bottom part, I think Dulcy's Legacy would work well, not only because that's what it is. I don't have any good ideas for the top part. I thought A Cat's Advice or A Cat's Habits, but I'm not crazy about either. I do like Dulcy's Legacy though. Of course I'm not attached to it if you or someone else comes up with something you like better.
2. I never liked the cover. I love her picture of course, but I think that the rest of the cover is not inviting. The black and white is so stark. It's elegant, but for the average buyer it may not be warm and fuzzy, the way people in general like their animal stories. The cover for A Cat's Life on the other hand just screams, “Buy Me!”
Ah, now I’m thinking of both title and cover change. So I contact another blogger friend—Fishducky. Her blog—Fishducky, Finally!—always brings laughter into my life. Moreover, she’s a fine artist. She e-mailed back the following:
I hadn't thought about the title or cover picture before because I was so pleased to read another of your books! Now that I think of it, I agree with Inger & DJan. A warmer & more inviting cover would be a good idea. I like Dulcy's Legacy incorporated in the title. You don't want people to think it's another self-help book.
Once again I was fortunate that Wayman Publishing was the press that published Dulcy’s companion book back in May. The editor there liked the title A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Story. It showed the book’s relationship to A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story and labeled the twelve habits as her “legacy.” Inger’s suggestion seemed like a true inspiration to me.
The Wayman designer worked on a cover that DJan, Inger, Fran, and I all liked. By this past Wednesday the book was ready for its re-issue on the Wayman site and on Amazon. Here’s the final result of all this collaboration. I hope you like it.
And, of course, I hope that visitors to Amazon who are looking for a new cat book in which the cat speaks for herself will find A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Story, purchase the paper copy or download the e-book, and enjoy meeting the sweetness and wit of Dulcy—the cat with whom I lived for seventeen-and-a-half years.