Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting the Manuscript Ready

This past Thursday, I announced that A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story is now available as both trade paperback and e-book. I also relayed a few tidbits about how the book came to be. Today’s posting begins a series about writing that memoir and getting it published.            
          First a promotion note: Two other blogs have recently shared stories about the book. If you have the interest and the time to visit them, you’ll learn more about how Dulcy's memoir came to be.

·      An author herself, Elisa Hirsch—The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom— invited me to write two guest postings about A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. Yesterday’s details the actual channeling of the book, how it got published, and how I spent the royalties it earned. Today’s tells the story of how Dulcy and I met in March 1989.

·      I beamed when I read the two reviews of Dulcy’s book that Inger Wiltz posted on her blog—Desert Canyon Living. In November she enthused over Dulcy’s story. This past Thursday she shared her excited response to the news that the book is now available.

            Now let’s begin the ongoing saga of the next few postings.

            Many of you have had books published or are in the throes of writing a book and seeking publication. Today’s publishing world differs greatly from that of twenty years ago when I found an editor who was willing to take a risk with Dulcy’s book. Yet some similarities still exist.
            Beginning on July 8, 1989, I sat at the computer for an hour each morning. For two months, Dulcy remembered our life together. Ultimately I channeled over 65,000 words. I didn’t want to delete any of them; all seemed necessary. However, the manuscript was too long to be a gift book. The truth is—Dulcy was wordy. Reluctantly, I donned my editor’s cap and cut her verbiage to 44,000 words.           
            The manuscript was now, I thought, in “great shape.” So for the next six months I sent out numberless queries. With no Internet, this was done by “snail mail.” Months passed while my query letters moldered in slush piles.
            Finally, an editor at a prestigious Boston publishing house requested the manuscript. Almost immediately she rejected it with the terse comment, “Not for us.” All the other editors I queried simply sent back form rejection letters. While I remained undaunted, a question niggled: Was the manuscript perhaps not in as great a shape as I’d thought?
            To find out, I sent it to ten friends. All, knowing how Dulcy’s loss had devastated me, tempered their critiques. All that is except for two friends who thought I deserved the truth of their response. One advised me to place the manuscript in a safety-deposit box, leave it there for five years, and then retrieve it to see if it contained anything of value. The other chanted, “Bor-ing! Bor-ing! Bor-ing!” when I asked for an opinion of the writing.
            I refused to accept their judgment. Months earlier, as Dulcy paused in channeling her memories, I stood, took a turn around the room, stopped by the kitchen window, and spoke aloud. “This book’s going to be published,” I heard myself say. “And it’s going to be published by Crown. And it’s going to touch many people’s lives.”
            All three predictions ultimately came true: Crown published Dulcy’s memoir and it did, indeed, touch many lives. The letters I received bear witness to that.
            But before that, a Seattle friend asked a momentous question: What had Natasha, Dulcy's mother, purred that made her so determined to turn me into a one-cat woman?

            I wondered myself until Dulcy surprised me with a series of poems for her memoir. They explained many aspects of her response to me and to our life. My taskmaster had given her handmaiden orders—type these poems! I did.
            Next Tuesday, I’ll share the story of finding the editor who offered me a contract.
                                                            (Continued on Tuesday . . . )


  1. Interesting memoir concept. If you are interested in doing a guest spot at my memoir blog in order to get more word out about this book, please let me know. This is certainly different than anything I've had on my blog so far.

    Linda Hoye discusses adoption
    Wrote By Rote

  2. Not being an author, I never realized how difficult it is to find a publisher. I'm so glad you hung in there. Dulcy's book HAD to be published. She--& you--are gifted authors!

  3. Dee, I have to help my hubby with some business stuff today and tomorrow perhaps. If I don't have time today, I will go back and read all your posts that I missed on Monday when he goes to LA. Just wanted to ask you and perhaps your readers to please check my blog out today. It's another promo for my friend who will appear on TV tonight. Thanks.

  4. I have ordered your book and look forward to finding out all there is to know about Dulcy! I can't wait! :-)

  5. I've never written a book or dealt with finding a publisher, but have read a bit about it so I am not surprised. It's a tough industry and gotten tougher over the years.

    I submitted short stories to literary magazines and waited for months for replies. Many never bothered to ever reply or they sent a form letter of rejection. I was thrilled if they wrote a couple of words or a comment on the side or bottom of the rejection letter. I sent a story out to around 30 places and eventually it was published three times, so that's not too bad, I guess. (You have to let them know if it is published anywhere else, too, and the second two said they'd publish it anyways.) Rejection is a big part of writing. But it is sure exciting to be published! I can't imagine how thrilling it must be to have an entire book published! will be waiting to hear more!! :)

  6. Not being a writer but seeing the "process" that many go through to get their words published, I can understand that it is not easy. To have gotten past all the red tape to have your manuscript of love printed by a reputable publisher is quite an undertaking that you did successfully. Dulcy would be proud!

  7. I, too, am not a writer but have certainly read that it is often a nightmare process to have a manuscript accepted for publication. Some never succeed despite their undoubted ability to write well. You were fortunate indeed and I am so pleased I will have my own copy to enjoy at leisure once it has escaped the lengthy postal service's clutches :)

  8. Dee, I love that you listened and channeled Dulcy's thoughts. It's interesting when we get that nudge that won't stop until we act. Being open to these things is such a valuable contribution to our life here on Earth.

  9. Glad to see you persevered, despite all the rejections and negative criticism. That is one of the most difficult aspects of getting published, don't you think?

    I remember one well-published author telling workshop participants how she dealt with that issue. Knowing the odds of getting a read, let alone an acceptance letter, each time she mailed a query letter or manuscript, she first sat down and decided to whom she would send the next letter/ms, should this one be rejected. She wrote the new cover letter with all but the date, addressed the envelope and put postage on it.

    If her submission was returned with a rejection note, she dated her prepared cover/query letter, dropped everything into the envelope, and mailed it immediately.

    Interesting side note. One time, she inadvertently mailed the same ms to two editors. Within days of each other, she received not one, but two acceptance letters--with advance checks!

  10. Arlee,
    I'm glad that I'm going to get to guest post on your blog on January 14.
    Now I just have to get something written!

    I'm so glad you recognize Dulcy's gift for finding the exact purr and meow! And an occasional yowl!

    I hope some readers went to your blog. You've done so much for Dulcy and me, Inger, that I'd like to return the favor.

    I'll get your book in the mail on Tuesday--I'm running a little behind! So you'll probably get it on Thursday or Friday. Thanks so much for ordering the book and I'll add the two names in my message to you above the Dulcy's and my autograph.

    Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! I'm glad that you too, Rita, have experienced the thrill of being published. I almost collapsed into an easy chair when the contract came in the mail!

  11. Arleen,
    I think Dulcy, caught up as she is in the Holy Oneness of All Creation, is proud of my efforts to get her story to readers. Many of them have told me that it is a true love story.

    I do so hope that the postal service delivers the book to your home before Christmas. I'd like to think of you reading Dulcy's story during the holidays.

    Like you, I absolutely believe in that nudge--the voice deep down within each of us that brings forth joy.

    Thank you for sharing that story about the author's method of dealing with rejection. I think she had the right idea. And I loved the last paragraph in which you describe how she got two acceptance letters and two separate checks for the same article from the same publisher! Wow!

  12. We just published our Viet Nam book through a self-publish company. It was a process! But it didn't involve the complexity of finding a place that would say, "This one is right for us."

  13. This is such a wonderful story. The revelation about Crown is so neat :0) Thanks again for guest posting; that was fun.

  14. Hey Dee!
    I finally got your book and can't wait to dig in!
    LOVED this post and am eager to hear the rest of the story.
    Still sounds like not much has changed since this was published except with email, people get told no faster.

  15. Linda,
    I'm so happy for you that you and Art got your book published. It is a process, but you're right, trying to find a publisher is, for most of us today, neigh on to impossible.

    Yes, the "revelation" that happened on July 8, 1989, saw me through the months of rejection letters.

    So glad the book arrived. It's true, Jenn, that the writing part of the publishing process hasn't changed much. But,oh, the promotion part! Wow. Wait until I get to that posting and you'll see.

  16. I'm so excited to do my review and our interview!

  17. Good for you, Dee. Its easier to give up that to face rejection over an over.
    You should be quite proud of yourself.. I'm sure that Dulcy is.
    Hugs n smiles,

  18. Ah, Dee, it seems your persistence and belief in yourself and in Dulcy eventually paid off. Publishing has always been hard word. Almost as hard as the writing at times. I think it is even harder today. I'll look forward to the rest of the story.

    PS I have Dulcy's Story on my wishlist.

  19. Hi! I dropped in from Melynda's. I'll order your book as soon as I can. I'm following you, too, and I hope you'll follow me. I think you might like me as much as I already like you.


  20. Melynda,
    Thank you for interviewing me and for posting the interview on your blog. I'm so blessed to have a friend like you, Melynda.

    I like to think that Dulcy is proud of me. I know she loved me with a deep and abiding affection.

    Thank you for putting Dulcy's story on your wishlist. I hope you get your wish soon!

    Thank you for stopping by! It's so wonderful to meet a new reader of my blog. I will come to yours next Wednesday when I complete a copyediting project that has a looming deadline. Look for me then! Peace.