Judging a Book by Its Cover: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

PosterSee that messy desk?

Ooops! Let me start again…

See that colorful poster over the messy desk? The one of the eye-catching book cover?

That book cover is mine.

It belongs to the novel you'll soon see in bookstores–June 1, 2010, to be exact–all over the country.

It will also be inside Target, which makes me very proud, because I feel that the story–about a marriage disintegrating, and what others who are close to it project their own fears into it–would relate to many of us who shop there.

This cover was blown up to a size that is close to 2 feet by 3 feet. Since a book's cover is the first consideration for a book lover's impulse buy, unfortunately for me (but fortunately for you, since, hopefully, you'll be lugging it to the beach with you I hope I hope) it won't be that big when see it in the store.

When you see it, will you pick it up?

My publishing house, Simon & Schuster, is betting that you will. And since they're the horse that I"m riding in on, here's hoping they're right. They created a cover that implies people in a very public neighborhood setting, in close proximity–husbands, wives, lovers and other strangers–and yet they are aloof. As Woody Allen would say, "friendly, but not familiar."

And that's the crux of the story: does, as the adage goes, familiarity breed contempt? Does it kill passion?

Do we fall out of love when we reach the point that we know too much? If our partner's actions are mundane, are we boring, too, for putting up with it?

In this book, the divorce of a community's "perfect couple" sets off a rash of soul-searching for those who are on the outside looking in. These neighbors reason: if it can happen to them, how about me?

The only one who doesn't want to consider this is my heroine, Lyssa. She gets close enough to witness the destruction, and feels immune to the arrows of outrageous partners behaving badly–

Maybe because it hits too close to her own marriage.

Which brings me back to my cover. On the bench (which wraps around the whole book) are these four people. The middle two are in each others' arms, but what are they thinking about? Are the other two who share the bench with them strangers, or acquaintances?

The cover lends itself to the darker side of the story, although there is a lot of humor as well. (That's just the way I write.) Divorce is not murder or mass destruction, but it is still the death of trust and love; it is the destruction of a union that held hope.

What does it say to you? I'd love to hear your comments. 

At first I didn't like it. I wanted something softer. In time, though, I
grew to appreciate its edginess. And in person, the colors are rich,
which make it eye-popping as well. 

A note: for those of you who presume that authors get to choose their book covers, think again. Maybe if your first name is Dan, or your last name is Grisham you do, but for the rest of us, when it comes to a book contract, you may get "consideration" — in other words, they may take your opinion as to what you'd like to see on the cover — but the publisher has final say. His/Her decision takes into account the reaction from the sales team, which is out in the field pitching it to their accounts (who, by the way, swing a big stick, too, when it comes to covers).

From concept to cover,

—Josie

http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA




Secret-Lives400w
 
Josie's
Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it
TODAY
!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in
the
bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money
and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled
observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly
entertaining reading."

Jackie
Collins
, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Pre-order
today
:

From Amazon

From Barnes & Noble

From Books a Million

From Borders

From Copperfield's

From Your
Local Independent Bookstore

From Powell's

From
Target

Jane Friedman on 6 Sure-Fire Ways to Make an Editor Love You

Womanbook The always-introspective Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest has come up with a column on "3 Sure-Fire Ways to Insult Someone in Publishing." 

After you read what she writes, if you're published, you may wince if (like me) you recognize yourself in some of what she says. But then again, publishing isn't a perfect world, and mistakes do happen. There are too many bad book covers and books tossed on the shelf for authors to smile benignly and leave the marketing and promotion of their books solely to the publisher.

If you don't get involved, odds are slim you'll break out of the box as a publishing success — and be marketed again.

To put it bluntly, some of us who've been published have learned the lesson "Burn
me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me" the hard way. That said, I love the second part of her article, in which she gives wonderful tips about how to work in tandem with your pub house on marketing and promoting your book. This includes:

1. Ask questions about the business.
2. Ask what you can do to make your book or project or idea more successful.
3. Ask about the publisher's strengths and weaknesses, and where your help can really make a difference.

4. Share your action plan for marketing and promotion, and ask the publisher for specific things where they can meaningfully and realistically help you (usually things you know they've done to assist other authors).
5. Ask for examples or models of what other authors have done that have led to success.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. (Do not hide out, do not point fingers, do not blame.)

We're all in this together,

—Josie


SecretLivesfaux

Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives
Simon & Schuster/Pocket
(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores

September 2010