“Cover Model? Who, Me?”

Victoria Schade Dog Life, Writing

I wrote my first book over 10 years ago. It’s a sort of dog training guide, and working on it was nothing like working on my first novel.

Writing my novel was like hanging out with my cool boyfriend every day. I couldn’t wait to see what we’d get up to.

Writing my first nonfiction book was a slog. It was grown-up homework, every damn day.

That said, the bonding concept was something I had to put on paper, so I worked hard to try to do the amorphous concept justice. But that meant assigning words to something that seemed indefinable. (I’ll go to my grave saying this: the love your dog has for you versus the bond you share are two different but related concepts. See? That’s hard to define.)

Once I bled out the 60,000 or so words it was time to think about the cover, which obviously was very important to me. My publisher sent over some perfectly lovely options.

Dogs. Feet. Beach.


But not what I’d envisioned. I explained my concept to them then decided that pictures were better than words (says the writer) and staged an example photo shoot to try to show-not-tell them. I was going for an image that said, “We’re partners in this world.”

I set up my paper backdrop (I used to do tons of photo shoots with my dogs) and gave my husband a few tips for using my fancy camera. My sweet boxer Sumner was a willing model, as always.

Though he wasn’t used to posing with a dork, clearly:

At first he was a little dubious:

Then he started to get the hang of it:

I knew we were getting closer to my vision when we snapped this one:

Closer still:

Aaaannd, PERFECT!

I thought the above image would very clearly convey to my publisher the vibe I was going for. Imagine my shock when they told me that not only had it conveyed my concept, but that they wanted to use that very photo!

I love the fact that my special boy (who has a starring role in the book) is a cover model, and that my husband was the one to snap the image. It was an unexpected and wonderful end to what had been a torturous writing experience for me.

I could almost forget the pain of writing it.