If a cat can get a book published, it should not be that hard for a human! It was just a matter of having a good platform and putting together a killer book proposal. You have probably heard that advice before and yes, it applies to felines just like it does to you. Let me tell you how I did it.
The platform: I was one of the original cat bloggers. I first went online with http://www.sparklecat.com in January 2003. In September of that year, I began my monthly advice column, which quickly became the most popular section of my blog. After doing it for a while, I realized I was considered a cat expert, and on top of that, unique in that I was a cat expert who just happened to be a cat! Now, this did not take all that much imagination. You humans, I’m sure, can do just as well. Just make a list of your passions and areas of expertise. If you find you are lacking in the area you want to write about – go out and learn more about it. If you lack exposure, go get it: start a blog, network with others in your field, the same way I networked with other cats online. Be willing to speak to groups about your topic. (Somehow I managed to avoid doing that last part, being an indoor-only kitty. You humans don’t have such an easy excuse.)
The publishing: My first book came out on a micro-imprint created by my human. We realized that three years’ worth of advice columns was enough for a book. If you do not want to go through all the effort of micro or self-publishing – setting up a company and accounts with distribution channels, etc., – you can use a print-on-demand company. My human has a couple of decades of experience as an editor and has been self-employed in media and publishing for a long time, so we didn’t need a POD company. My micro-published book was good enough and got enough attention that my human’s literary agency agreed to represent a sequel and sell it to a traditional publishing company. But to do that, we had to write a great book proposal.
The proposal: This is basically a marketing kit for your book. It not only sells your book to the publisher, it tells your publisher how to sell it. Yes, I think it’s odd that humans in the publishing industry have to be told how to do things, but that is just the way it is. Michael Larsen’s classic, How to Write a Book Proposal, is still a great resource. My human made sure that my proposal had all the necessary elements: the marketplace for my book, comparable books (the most successful in my genre, which is cat books), positive reviews and press about my first book, marketing and event ideas, plus a chapter outline and sample advice from each chapter. She also added a Q&A with me and dressed up the proposal with photos of me at the beginning of each section, plus one of my wise quotes. The interesting thing about the latter part was that Adams Media, the publishers who bought the book, decided they wanted to sprinkle these sayings throughout the finished book, which was a great idea. You never know where a book proposal is going to take you.
I went through all the same basic steps to get my book out there, just like you humans: I had a platform, I decided how I wanted it published, and since I went the traditional publishing route for my second book, I had my human put together a well-thought-out book proposal. Not so different from a human author!
Sparkle is an award-winning author, blogger, advice columnist and supermodel. She is also a cat – a ruddy Somali of champion lineage, in fact, whose father, GC Tajhara’s Miles Davis, was twice on the cover of Cat Fancy. Sparkle’s first book, Dear Sparkle: Advice from One Cat to Another, won the Wild Card category at the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival and honorable mentions in several other contests. She also recently came home with the Pettie Award — the pet blogging equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Cat Blog. Sparkle lives in Los Angeles with two humans, two feline roommates (both rescue cats), and (unfortunately) a dog.
Dear Sparkle: Cat-to-Cat Advice from the World’s Foremost Feline Columnist (Adams Media) is her second book.
You can visit Sparkle’s blog at http://www.sparklecat.com.