Book designers? What do they do? An interview with Stephen Tiano
Everyone always talks about the cover of a book, but how about the interior? I’ve got many self-published books through Print On Demand, and I have to tell you… They don’t always look that pretty on the inside! In fact, they often look like someone simply printed the eBook, stuck a cover on it, and that’s that. They don’t all look like that though, so I knew some people did take care of the actual interior.
I don’t really believe in coincidence, so I wasn’t at all surprised that I met Stephen Tiano, freelance book designer and layout artist, around the time I was pondering that exact question. Lucky for me, Stephen agreed to be interviewed about his job and what it entails exactly! Without further ado, allow me to introduce him.
Hi, Stephen! Welcome! Could you tell us a little about who you are, and what you do? And how long you’ve been doing it?
Hullo, I’m Stephen Tiano. I’ve been a freelance book designer and layout artist for over 27 years. In that time, I’ve worked on about a hundred books—when I first started, it was just laying out books using templates provided by the publishers, but eventually I started creating the designs and templates for these books, and I’ve been doing so for the past 20 years. I come to this fairly well prepared: before book design, I worked in publishing and typesetting as a copy editor and proofreader. So, I not only have a very good sense of how words and pictures should appear on the printed page, but I often catch little things that a copy editor or proofreader has missed.
Even though we still say ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, this is precisely what we do, and having a solid cover is the topic of many a discussion within both the traditional and indie communities. But you’re a BOOK designer, not a COVER designer. What does being a BOOK designer entail exactly? How is it different from being a cover designer?
Well, I’m not an illustrator for starters. But I do design covers using art that is supplied or that I source. While I’m not always hired to do covers, I think it makes more sense to hire me to do both the interior pages and the back cover/spine/front cover. See, I think the covers and spine, along with the interior pages, should be approached as an organic whole.