Ruby and the Blue sky – the cover story!


In December 2015, I decided to self-publish Ruby and the Blue Sky.  I then dedicated my summer break to researching the how, where, what and who. Interspersed with daily yoga classes and some beach time for sanity, of course.  I found Jane Friedman‘s articles particularly helpful.

Having mapped all the information. I decided I would publish using IngramSpark for ePub and print on demand softcover, for broad distribution, and also with Createspace for Amazon and Kindle only. When it came to production, I discovered the 25 years professional marketing experience I’ve acquired were a massive advantage; I’ve been organising digital materials for quite some time.

I enlisted friends with the right professional skills to help with copy editing and proofreading and undertook the internal formatting myself, using a low-cost Book Designer template. But the cover was a different story and no place for a DIY approach.

In the eBook age, covers have only become more important. Book covers need to not only look good on a display, when some kind bookshop decides to take a punt on promoting it, and on a reader’s coffee table, they also need to look great on a smartphone at the size of a stamp.  I know enough about the importance of design to know I needed a pro.

Keelys website
Some of Keely O’Shannessy’s other cover designs

There are numerous online cover design services for authors but, if I was going to invest, I wanted a rapport with the designer and to support our local design talent  here in Aotearoa New Zealand.  I also realised that while I know lots of talented visual artists and graphic designers, book design is a real specialism.  Google delivered a couple of local book design experts, among them Keely O’Shannessy.  I loved so many of Keely’s other covers she became my first choice, instantly.  I rang Keely, asking if she’d have me. Keely was keen, and affordable. A friend in the book trade highly recommended her and the decision was made.

I wrote a brief for Keely, telling her what I needed and my thoughts about marketing the book. Then sent it to her, along with the manuscript. This was the first time my fiction would ever be the basis for someone else’s creative process, in a different medium.  Keely turned the theme, mood, idea and protagonist of my novel into art.  She sent me half a dozen options, exploring the treatment in various ways, and we quickly agreed the one we liked best.  We made a few tweaks and Keely set about finalising the illustration, also her work, and extending the design across the spine and onto the back cover.  When it was time to upload the interior pages for publication, I added the jpeg (for eBooks) and PDF for print on demand, alongside them.

While I’m waiting for the printed proof I’ve printed a copy of the cover and wrapped it around another paperback. It gives me goosebumps whenever I go past the kitchen table.


Ruby and the Blue Sky is the debut novel from Katherine Dewar; a tale of fame, power, sacrifice – and tea. On sale worldwide from 15 July 2016.

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