The Making of the UnSub Cover

One thing about working with Declan on covers is that he doesn’t give me much lead time when he plans to publish.

We have a good arrangement, he lets me read his books in advance and I don’t complain about his waiting until the day before he needs a cover to let me know. (Okay…I don’t complain much).

So a few weeks ago he gave me Codename: Unsub. It’s a sequel of Codename: Winterborn, which came out in 2013. I did not do that cover.

Because I didn’t do that cover, one of the challenges for doing Codename: Unsub was to come up with a cover concept that blended, not necessarily match, the cover of book 1.

Here is the cover for Codename: Winterborn


It’s a fairly generic cover that hits on the thriller side of things, but doesn’t even hint at the post apocalyptic setting of the story. It does however hit to the location of a key plot point in the story.

The entire plot of Codename: Unsub is set in San Francisco. The most iconic thing in SF is the bridge. However, the bridge doesn’t play any part in this novel. It does however have the Transamerica Pyramid Center as the Mercenary headquarters. I can work with that.

Like in the first cover, I wanted to have the building lit up. I found this rather boring looking picture. It does however have the lighting effect that I wanted.



From there I used the magic of GIMP to crop the picture,  darken it up and make the lights stand out brighter. I also added a beacon to the point, similar to the light on the top of cover 1.

With the artwork part done, I needed to work on the text. This is the part I hate the most. I could, with lots of effort figured out which of the six million typefaces was used on cover 1, but I didn’t really feel like it. Instead, I chose one that was similar in some ways and different in others. I slapped a black band behind the text and set it up similar to book 1.

And ta-da! The final cover.



Codename: Unsub comes out on Friday. Which, btw just happens to be my birthday. There may or may not have been some arm twisting to get Declan to publish this on that date.

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