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  • Dennis DeRobertis

Creating the First Little Brown Spider Cover

That first one is always the hardest...

The Little Brown Spider sitting on a callout saying, "Cover Evolution"

Which Way Will I Go?

There were a lot of lessons learned doing the first Little Brown Spider book. From scrambling with a new page size after all the illustrations were completed to not realizing the cover size difference between hardcover and paperback books to thinking my cover title design was "good enough," there were many bumps along the way.

I started working on the cover in the spring of 2019. I initially used a program called Comic Life (since I go about the writing of my kid's books with comic book storytelling elements in mind). I then moved over to a program called Gravit Designer, now owned by Corel. I still use Comic Life but have since moved all my graphics and publishing work over to the Affinity suite of applications, which are fantastic and worth a look if you're in the market!

I probably had ten to twenty different versions from each application and printed out a solid tree's worth of test pages. Move a pixel here. Move a pixel there. OK, print. Look at it. Think about it. Sleep on it. Come back the next day and change something else, or, in several cases, start all over.

I ended up with dozens and dozens of files and cover designs. Like the main character in the first LBS book, I didn't know which way I was going. Then I wised up...

Knowing When Good Enough, Isn't

Being a small, independent publisher, I'm very cognizant of expenses. Whenever I can, I take on a task before hiring someone else to do it. Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn't (though it always gives you a better understanding of what's going on). The main point is to realize when it's not working out.

I ended up hiring three resources for the cover. Mind you, this is just the text and title, not the image. One didn't hit the mark at all, though I value that experience as it taught me what to look for when evaluating design portfolios. The next person I hired was very good. Delivered on time and two different versions to pick from. Though it was solid, professional work, it just didn't grab me the way I wanted it to. The third, and final, artist nailed it.

Getting it Right for a Book Series

Knowing there would be other books in the series, it was important I was content and comfortable with the final product. I could have gone with the second artist, but it would have gnawed at me that something just wasn't right. I'm happy that I took the time and expense to get what felt right, especially since the look and feel would be used on subsequent books.

Here's a quick vid of most of the major cover designs!

See you next post!

- DennisD.


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