"During the two years spent conducting 200 interviews to compile The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married, I was focused solely on excavating the stories of long marriages, the day-to-day challenges, the bursts of euphoria, the heart-breaks and the mystery of how couples manage to stay together until death do they part.
"I didn't start thinking about what a cover might look like until two months before my publication date I got a rough copy of what the art department at my publisher, Gotham Books, had in mind. I opened an email of a J-peg with 'Your cover -- what do you think?' in the subject line, and got teary, it was perfect, it was right. I had not been asked for input because my editor wanted me to 'just keep writing' to make a tight deadline, but it was as if she had read my mind.
"I love my cover, and so does everyone else -- the media, my girlfriends, my sister, my husband, my boyfriends. The woman pictured is of a certain age, you can't tell if she's 20 or 70 because she without a face, and lopped off right around the shoulders. She wears a little black, sleeveless dress that all of us own or wish we owned. My cover model is Everywoman and she appeals to any woman, from a new bride to an edgy grandmother.
"The image is mysterious, sexy, but not too sexy, provocative, but not risqué, appealing, but approachable. Most importantly, the picture tells potential customers 'Pick up this book, now! You want to know what’s inside these pages.'
"What I particularly adore is something very subtle that many readers may not even notice. But as a wife of 23 years with four sons I surely did: The dress seems pulled on in a hurry, as if this wife was rushed. There are wrinkles on the sides of the garment; this wife still needs to stand in from of the mirror for a few minutes and straighten herself out. I imagine that she is like a lot of us who try and balance marriage and work and children and life. Then after taking care of everyone else, we realize we only have five minutes left before we need to leave the house for an event or a dinner party. We throw ourselves together in a rush, putting on our dress at the same time we are putting on our mascara.
"Finally, I feel like my cover shot is comforting to all women as we age. In a book that focuses on what it takes to make a long marriage last one of the most important qualities that successful couples share is a sustained crackle of sexuality; they still turn each other on! Sex is not only for the very young.
"So now I'll get to the shiny red apple the anonymous woman is holding in her fingers tipped with matching red nail polish!. The apple is titillating, and holds the promise of juicy contents within, of which The Secret Lives of Wives is full of, along with more traditional tales of marriages.
"That woman, who could be any of us, in that black dress binds us all together as wives, no matter how different are our husbands or our survival strategies and secrets."
Thanks, Iris! I love the way you've described the cover and the subtle things it says.
What do you guys think?
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Melissa Walker is the author of five Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy, Lovestruck Summer and 2011's Small Town Sinners. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily and the awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot, as well as the blogger for readergirlz.com. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.