COVER GIRL: Henry Sene Yee Knows What He's Doing

The first time I saw the jacket for Dave Cullen's COLUMBINE, I was stunned.

As an agent, I tend to notice when the author's name is not on the cover. But the vibe of the jacket is so haunting in its austerity, I soon began to think it was genius. Now I see it everywhere - its simplicity, its color scheme, its moody quality. I see these jackets and think of Columbine.

Last week in the Comments, Jane Hammons wrote in that designer Henry Sene Yee has a great blog where he describes his creative process and all the politics that go into book cover designs. As it turns out, Yee is behind the COLUMBINE jacket. Read about his decision making process for this cover here. The book recently went to #3 on the New York Times bestseller list.

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Comment by Jane Hammons on July 22, 2009 at 6:35pm
Confession: I am a total nerd about book design. That's probably obvious, but I thought I would just say it and get it out of the way. Here's a post by Sonya Chung, freelance writer and teacher about her experience as a first time novelist and her book jacket design. Her novel Long for This World is due out in March 2010.

She also blogs about being a first-time novelist, though she's published a number of short stories.
Comment by Michelle O'Neil on July 20, 2009 at 9:21am
The Columbine cover is genius. What a fascinating process. Thanks for passing Yee's post along.
Comment by Erin Hosier on July 19, 2009 at 10:59am
Jane, that is most excellent! So glad this is happening. I agree his blog is especially good and I just love how candid he is about the process. In terms of design, that dude is living the dream. Please keep us posted.
Comment by Jane Hammons on July 18, 2009 at 2:57pm
I recently asked Yee if he would be willing to answer questions from students about his work and process. I'm teaching a comp course at UC Berkeley in the fall in which students will be required to read and write about visual texts. I thought because Yee is so articulate about the way in which he visually imagines an image after reading a book, and then works to revise it as he goes, that it would be interesting for them (and, ahem, me) to make connections between writing and revising. He has agreed to correspond with the class. Once this begins, I'll ask him if it's ok to put some of his comments here--though he may also blog about this on his blog. He was very excited about doing it. Which I thought was cool.
Comment by Alec Niedenthal on July 17, 2009 at 9:27am
I love this blog post!

Erin Hosier told me to love this blog post!

But I do love this blog post!
Comment by Hope Edelman on July 17, 2009 at 9:08am
Thanks for the link to the Henry Sene Yee blog. It's really interesting to follow his thought process with that cover. I've been noticing how many covers in the past few years show stark images against sky-blue backgrounds--in addition to The Great Wave and The Last Supper above, there was also James Frey's A Million Little Pieces and Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place. Robin Romm's The Mercy Papers, too. I find these designs really appealing myself--clean and elegant, yet also colorful and unexpected--and clearly many, many other readers do as well.


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