The Making of Set To Kill’s Cover

Set To Kill was a cover that took a few tries to get right.

Originally, I was going to try my hand at illustrating the cover, but decided against it. Illustration can be so time consuming and this one would definitely be a lot of work. And frankly, I just didn’t have the time.

The concept involved having an image of Sean A. P. Ryan on the cover holding the Hubble award. One of the biggest problems is finding a suitable image of Sean that Declan would approve. That didn’t happen, so I tried an image where the face wasn’t visible.


This was a picture I was looking at using. The image would be cropped and the apple replaced with the award. There was a problem though, ┬áthe image is wider than it is tall. I could have made it work, but this would have been the entirety of the cover and I didn’t want that. The book is funny. This would have been entirely too serious.

On to an entirely different concept. The book is loosely based on the fight over the Hugo Awards. Declan wanted dogs shooting at each other. Sorry, Declan, that just wasn’t going to work using stock photos. Instead, I found a picture of destroyed hotel similar to one in the story.


It’s typical protocol for Sean to destroy everything within proximity to him so this was the perfect setting for the cover. I got Declan to agree to a dog guarding the Hubble Award. At first I thought of putting it on a pedestal, but I couldn’t get the proportions correct so that the award was visible.

Next idea was to have a puppy guarding the award. That should be easy, right? Good luck getting Declan to agree on a dog. Every puppy picture he liked was an image I couldn’t use. I proposed this dog:


Nope. He didn’t like that dog.


or that one.


or that one.

After quite a few pictures, I came across this adorable puppy:


Finally, a picture that passed. I just needed to remove the boots from the picture and add the Hubble Award.

So, I put them all together, added the Wyvern Con banner on fire that I used in the Sad Puppies Bite Back Cover and I had the image. Yay.


Last was the text. Against my better judgement, I used the same fonts as the It Was Only On Stun cover that Declan designed himself. It’s not a bad cover, but seriously? Comic Sans and Times New Roman? Those are both giant no-nos for graphic designers. So…I used them. And surprisingly they don’t look half bad. They add to the comedic factor of the cover.

This is one of those covers that makes you stop and go “What the heck?” and then crack open the book or flip it over to find out.

Personally, I just like the puppy on the cover.

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