Today, I’m really excited to bring you something very cool—a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for THE RULES cover.

When I was a copywriter and a project manager, I attended a few photo shoots, but they were more product focused. You know, “Check out this breast pump; new and improved with THREE buttons.” Or, “Look at the happy people who are now so much happier because they have the right homeowners’ insurance.” Or whatever.

Those projects weren’t simple by any means, but if you think about it, an image for a book cover has to do so much more. The image, in combination with the cover design, has to convey the tone of the story, an idea of the genre, possibly something about the main character or characters, and some kind of emotion. Not to mention the ever-elusive “hook.” Something that makes readers want to pluck it off the shelves to take a closer look.

I must be upfront—I have absolutely zero artistic ability. In my photos, people end up with their heads cut off. And I think we’ve all seen how dangerous I can be with a Sharpie and a piece of paper:

This is the placeholder I created for the Body & Soul cover.

So I asked Christian Trimmer, my amazing editor at Hyperion, if we could document the photo shoot for THE RULES. I wanted to see how it went from an idea to an actual cover, and I thought you guys might find it interesting as well! Christian graciously agreed and took a whole bunch of fun pictures during the casting and shooting process.

The beginning…

Whenever I start with a new story, I create a file for pictures. I grab photos off the internet or from magazines that remind me of the story or the people in it. It’s my lazy way of making a story collage.

Sometimes, I’m casting characters. (I almost always have actors picked out to play the roles in the movie in my head.) Other times, I put a picture in the file simply because it reminds me of an idea or emotion from the story.

In this case, I found an image from a movie poster that, I felt, really spoke to the isolation and fear Ariane feels throughout the story. Not to mention the whole “wanting what you can’t have” thing. 😀

I sent that image, along with several others, to Christian. This book, I think, is a little tricky when it comes to cover concepts. It’s science fiction, but it’s not set in space or even the future. It has romance (Of course! You know I can’t write books without kissing in them), but it’s also very much a story about identity.

So, Whitney Manger, the fantastic designer who created the cover, worked on over a dozen different comps (like mock-ups of potential covers).

I’ve gotten permission to share three of those mock-ups with you today. So neat! None of these three ended up being the final concept, but they’re all very cool in their own way. And it’s interesting to see which details were chosen for each and the way the common elements in them (Ariane’s pale hair, her unusual eyes, etc.) were executed differently.

(Click on the image a few times if you want to view a larger version. That goes for all the images in this post, actually.)

In this one, the DNA strands/bar codes (which I love) are present and her eyes are two different colors (you really get a sense of her “otherness”), but there’s no Zane.

Again, Ariane has the pale hair and strange eyes, but we’re also getting the “shattered glass” effect, which both alludes to her escape from the lab as a child and her fractured identity.

This one has so many cool details. First, it’s based on a scene in the book where Ariane’s ability goes a little haywire in a hallway at her high school and some lights explode (not a spoiler; it happens in the first chapter). Second, it’s the only one that shows the key necklace around her neck, which is an important item to her personally.
In the end, the chosen concept was one that had its roots in the movie image I loved. It ended up being the concept that everyone felt best represented the story.

With an agreed-upon concept, the next step was to find a photographer and start casting. Ali Smith was the photographer chosen for this project. Her work is gorgeous. She did the trailer for FEVER by Lauren DeStefano, among other amazing projects. Be sure to check out Ali’s site and her blog.


Ali Smith, Whitney Manger, and Marci Senders
(fellow designer and head of YA design)
at the start of the casting process.

Casting begins! Models waiting.(Faces are blocked to protect the innocent…well, sort of! 🙂 Actually, it’s more that if they weren’t hired for the job, it seemed unfair to show their faces here.)

Ali reviewing a portfolio.

Kaitlyn’s comp card. Kaitlyn was cast as Ariane.

Monte’s comp card. Monte was cast as Zane.
On the day of the shoot…

Kaitlyn in hair and make-up with JSterling.

Monte dressed as Zane with Whitney, Marci, and Ali.

Another one of Monte as Zane. 😀

Here is a description of Zane from Ariane’s perspective (she doesn’t particularly like him, but she’s not unaware of his charms):

“Lacrosse player, son of the Wingate Police Chief, favorer of nineties rock and those preppy button-down shirts. He was good-looking and almost freakishly tall but built with enough muscle to keep from appearing strange. He was everything I would have found attractive—tall, broad shoulders, dark hair and gray-blue eyes…”

And—get this—Whitney, in talking to Monte at the photo shoot, discovered that he was a lacrosse player, just as Zane is. Talk about spot-on casting!

A test shot for lighting.

Ali reviewing the test shots.

A test shot of Kaitlyn.

Ali giving direction to Monte and Kaitlyn.

*Swoon* After seeing this image, I wrote a scene in my draft of the sequel where Zane does that. So romantic.

Monte and Kaitlyn between shots. Note that she’s standing on a box to give her extra height. (And she’s 5’9! I’d need a stack of boxes.)

JSterling touching up Kaitlyn’s make up.

My absolute favorite of all the behind-the-scenes pictures. Look at those smiles! So cute!

I’d imagine that it must be a little awkward to be in these romantic poses with someone you’ve just met. You know, “Now that you’ve introduced yourselves, please cling madly to each other like you can’t bear to be separated.” But Kaitlyn and Monte make it look easy and very real!

A pose very similar to one chosen for the cover.

And here’s the inside scoop about the process from Christian:

“Ali took hundreds of photos over the course of four hours. She and Whitney then poured over them, selecting the ones they thought were the best (in terms of character and tone). The shoot was on a Wednesday. By Monday, Whitney had put together five comps. We narrowed that down to two and shared them with Sales. They made their choice, and we reached out to Ali to touch up the image. She then sent the hi-res image to Whitney, who placed it into the cover template and added all the cool effects. We had a final galley cover by end of day the following Wednesday.”

The final galley cover…

I love this image and cover so much! The blue tint and the DNA strands (or bar codes, if you prefer) give it an otherworldly/science-fiction feel. The title appears to be broken—so very appropriate. And yes, Ariane looks sad and mysterious. But somehow there’s also a little badass “you don’t want to mess with me” attitude in her expression as well, which is PERFECT. The cover will likely be tweaked slightly before the finished book is sent to print, but the changes should be pretty minor.

THE RULES (Project Paper Doll, Book One) will be out on April 23, 2013. I hope you all will check it out!

Huge thanks to Christian Trimmer, Ali Smith, Whitney Manger, Marci Senders, JSterling, and, of course, Kaitlyn and Monte!

10 comments to “Behind The Scenes: THE RULES Cover”

  1. Kim Meyer
    · October 2nd, 2012 at 3:14 pm · Link

    Stacey!!!! This is so awesome!!!

    • Stacey Kade
      · October 2nd, 2012 at 3:24 pm · Link

      Thanks! Christian took all these amazing photos of the photo shoot, which was awesome! And then I was so surprised–and grateful–that they let me share the comps!!! It’s just such a cool peek behind the curtains. 😀

  2. Dani @ Refracted Light
    · October 2nd, 2012 at 4:34 pm · Link

    Hello Zane… 😉 I cannot wait to meet you. And Ariane too. After seeing all the covers passed over plus the final one, I’m very intrigued by all these pieces of her character!

    Loved seeing the process! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Stacey Kade
      · October 2nd, 2012 at 4:37 pm · Link

      Right? He’s gorgeous! 😀 And I love that one of the two of them smiling–so cute. I put an ARC in the mail to you yesterday. Should arrive late this week or early next. 🙂

  3. Dani @ Refracted Light
    · October 2nd, 2012 at 4:36 pm · Link

    P.S. – Maybe I missed this info in the post, but is a book trailer being filmed with these two as well?

    • Stacey Kade
      · October 2nd, 2012 at 4:38 pm · Link

      No, I haven’t made any arrangements for a book trailer yet. Not sure what I’m going to do about that. And I doubt it–I don’t think I can afford them! 😀

  4. Karen
    · October 2nd, 2012 at 6:51 pm · Link

    That was so much fun Stacey! Thanks for posting it.

    How cool is it that the photo shoot gave you ideas for scenes in the book??

  5. Petra
    · October 4th, 2012 at 9:20 pm · Link

    Love seeing how the cover developed. And the end result is great. 😀

  6. Inky
    · October 10th, 2012 at 3:56 pm · Link

    That’s SOOOO COOL! I love getting inside digs. 😀 Thanks for sharing! Love the cover!

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <img src="" alt="" class="" width="" height="">