I mentioned yesterday that I’ve put together an eBook containing the popular ‘Conversations with my Cat’ posts from this blog, adding in some new and unpublished posts, notes and commentary.  That eBook should be available for purchase soon – but to build a little momentum, I thought I’d take a look at the evolution of the cover for the eBook today.

Your cover is so important.  I remember being part of a conversation last year with an author who was, in fact, in tears over the cover of her book and felt there was little or nothing that could be done about it.  (Turns out, there was – cuz the editor didn’t care for it either, so a new cover was done)  Of course, when you’re going the ‘do it yourself’ publishing route, there’s only you, so you need to get it right.

I went through a few different versions of the cover and wasn’t happy with any of them, so I took a break – but more on that in a second.  Let’s take a look at the very first concept art for the ‘Conversations with my Cat’ eBook cover:

Click for a larger view

Couple things.  First – when designing stuff, I like to go pencil/paper first.  There’s a freedom to it that I like.  Second, I still say I can’t draw worth a darn.  Third, this was a decent concept piece but in the end, I felt it was too close to the Shadowbytes art and I didn’t want to go there.  Still, I had an idea to work from.

The second piece went in a completely different direction in that I used an actual photo:

I am not shy of touting my mad Photoshop skills, but I didn’t really bring it in this version.  Essentially, I took a photo of Shadow the cat perched on my desk in an attempt to point out to me that I was paying too much attention to my laptop, and not him.  Pulling that into Photoshop, I did a little magic, pulled him from the background onto a new layer, then did a blur on the background so he’d stand out a little.  The text was added and tweaked a few times to include a Stroke and faint Drop Shadow.  But it didn’t wow me.  I sent it around and it didn’t wow friends, either.  A second and third version of this were done.

Version 3 – click for a larger view

With the 3rd version, I lightened the background, dropped the Stroke and Drop Shadow and replaced them with a more prominent Glow effect.

All said and done, it felt very self-pubbed to me and I didn’t like that one bit.

I decided to go back to the drawing board, as it were, and instead of working in Photoshop, I moved to Illustrator.  Here, I started playing around a bit more and, rather than working with a photograph, started drawing.  The result we’ll call Version 4:

Click for a larger view

With this one, I was much closer to the original concept of minimalism.  Lots of white space, which I like.  There were a few things I wasn’t sure I liked, but decided, once again, to send it out and get some feedback.  Universal support for the cat I’d drawn.  (Side note: Shadow the cat often has his tail in the ‘question mark’ position, which is why I did this in the illustration.)  Nearly universal dislike for the ‘with my cat’ font choice and the ‘by Patrick Hester’ font choice – both of which I wasn’t sure I liked myself, so I set about changing them.

Which brings me to the ‘final’ cover for Conversations with my Cat

Click for a larger view

So – there you have it!  Evolution of an eBook cover.

I hope to be able to offer the eBook for sale very soon, so stay tuned.


1 Comment

  • Nicole Feldringer Posted November 29, 2012 7:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Patrick. I’m always super curious about cover art and self-publishing, and it’s cool to see your process. Good luck with the e-book launch!

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