Nicolette Seeback Shares Insights Into Designing Book Covers

The sixth graders gained insights into the creation of book covers from Nicolette Seeback, Senior Designer at Macmillan/Henry Holt & Company, who has designed book jackets for many authors. (Ms. Seeback also happens to be the daughter of Coach Seeback at Allen-Stevenson.)
Ms. Seeback’s visit tied in with the Mystery Story project the sixth grade boys have been working on since autumn with their English teacher Pete Haarmann. For several months they’ve been reading, taking clues and predicting outcomes for a series of mystery stories in class. Learning to create characters by discussing character traits and writing sentences that display these traits in actual situations has also been part of the process. They have also talked about setting and clues and have shared their drafts with the class, critiquing each other’s stories for constructive feedback.
The cover is a big part of this project. This is why it was particularly helpful to have Ms. Seeback in to show the boys how to focus on key elements of their story to entice people to read it. She advised the boys to think about their target audiences, figuring out “Who is the ideal reader?” She said she asks herself when designing a cover, “Is it true to the book?”
Ms. Seeback reminded the boys that this is all about “your story”. You are writing your own book. She said, “It’s about your process and how you interpret the details.” She explained that as part of the design process, “Your plans may change, you have to make it up as you go and that you should experiment with your tools.”
A few of the design concepts Ms. Seeback shared to help guide the boys with their own designs were: Size relationships, cropping, layering, separation, negative space and repetition. She also discussed literal vs abstract and simple vs complex design. Lastly, she described the application of color and how it makes one feel, as well as the use of different fonts.
Before she left, Ms. Seeback walked around the room to chat with the boys about some of their early book cover designs. The boys were grateful to get feedback from an expert!

Allen-Stevenson’s distinctive “enlightened traditional” approach educates boys to become scholars and gentlemen.