The ARCHIVED Cover: Behind the Scenes (and a winner!)

First of all, I cannot put adequately into words how happy I’ve been by the response to the cover and copy. When I try, it just comes out as this strange hum-squeeeee (incidentally, alpacas hum when they get nervous). But you guys. Thank you. Thank you for making the reveal so wonderful and exciting, thank you for re-posting, thank you for coming up to me at BEA and telling me how much you loved it…thank you for all of it.

It was a busy week in Victorialand–BEA was SO much fun, and I’ll do a proper reflection on that soon–but as promised, this is a behind-the-scenes look at THE ARCHIVED shoot (yes, I was so very lucky to have my Mackenzie Bishop cast and shot, to get that epic side profile jusssssst right).

First, to recap, the finished cover:


So before a cover becomes a cover, there is usually a comp. A comp is a mockup the designer makes using stock photos so that they can help convey the direction they’d like to go in. Depending on the mockup’s reception in-house, the designer will either get to move forward, or need to tweak, or perhaps even go back to the drawing board. I don’t know the exact number of different comp designs THE ARCHIVED went through because I was mercifully spared from seeing the cover at that stage (it’s no fun when you get attached to a comp and then for one reason or another it gets scrapped/reworked) but I DO know that they tried *several* directions before settling on this one.

And wow, am I happy with where they landed.

The comp didn’t look TOO different from the final cover, but the main change was the girl’s face. Mackenzie Bishop is a teenager, and one who has recently lost her little brother, but she’s also Keeper, tasked with hunting down often-violent Histories (lives of the dead, records in human form), and we all wanted to nail not only her features, but this careful balance between vulnerability and ferocity.

Once the comp was approved in-house, my editor and designer cast Mackenzie Bishop, and setup the photoshoot. I really have to stress how lucky I feel to have gotten a shoot for only my character’s side profile (as opposed to a cover that needs a specific pose/setting/etc). It’s a testament to the level of dedication to detail that went into the cover. The cover was designed by Tyler Nevins, and shot by master of lighting Michael Frost.

Meet my Mackenzie! How fierce does she look in that reflection?? (click to enlarge)

Because we knew from the comps that her hair was going to dissolve into the smoke, they were extraordinarily particular about getting the bits around her face into wavy tendrils.

Lighting is everything in this cover, and you can see how wonderfully they lit her face to get the halos on Mackenzie’s hair and the contrast on her cheeks and chin. This was such a cool thing about the comp, and I’m SO glad they were able to recreate it in the shoot.

And here’s a glimpse of one of the resulting photos!

Add in smoke, a key (Tyler actually GAVE me the cover key at BEA!!!!), killer titling, and a deliciously spooky and dimensional background, and voila.

I asked my cover designer, Tyler, to share his thoughts, and here’s what he had to say:

I really enjoyed The Archived, and was particularly affected by the dark, heavy, and threatening atmosphere Victoria created in the Narrows, a supernatural network of stone corridors between worlds.  I was interested in the way the main character, Mackenzie, travels between worlds with this sort of vertigo-inducing sixth sense, and wanted to suggest that without being too realistic.  I hope my design helps pique the interest of potential readers.  I’m really excited about this book and am honored to be a part of it!

So there you go! A little look behind the scenes!

And now, to announce the winner of the first Archived key…


Allison Jenkins!

Thank you ALL for helping to make the cover reveal so much fun! And if you are not Allison, do not fret! Many, many more keys to be given away in the months leading up the THE ARCHIVED!!!


9 thoughts on “The ARCHIVED Cover: Behind the Scenes (and a winner!)

  1. aviatrixkim says:

    Thanks for this! It was really fun to see a play-by-play of the making of a book cover. Cheers!

  2. Megan says:

    I love seeing how book covers are made! It’s so interesting! (Also, I can’t wait to read the book itself!)

  3. ceciliajbh says:

    Congrats to Allison! Bet she is excited…:>

    This was all very interesting, Victoria…thanks! Covers really do have a lot of “pull” as to which books get picked up and maybe eventually read. I think you have a winner with this cover!

    Thanks for keeping us up on the latest with “The Archived” & I’m really looking forward to reading it.


  4. That is such a cool look at how the different elements all come together. Congrats on such an amazing cover!

  5. Thank you V for sharing your new cover shoot! I love seeing how things–especially gorgeous covers–are made.

    But AHHHHHHH & SQUEEEEEE, I WON!!! This deserves all the exclamation points & squeeing!!! I’m going to go flail and dance around some more now 🙂

  6. trishawolfe says:

    This. is. Gorgeous! I can’t stop staring at it…*want* Congrats on a beautiful cover!

  7. capillya says:

    It’s a fantastic cover. So glad you’re happy with it, and it was great seeing some of the BTS!

  8. […] a comment here and I’ll get you in touch. Find out more about the development of this cover here. The book comes out in January 2013 – pre-order here. Great job Ty! It looks […]

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