Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Stephen Tiano, Freelance Book Designer, Page Compositor, and Layout Artist

Stephen Tiano is a new publishing friend out in Long Island, New York, whom I have met through this blog. His job is to take raw text from editors and make it look great. He has his own blog, too. I'll let him tell you all about what he does:

Tell me how you got into publishing, what your education and training were ...

I actually got into publishing as a proofreader/copy editor for a small legal publisher. I left that first publishing job to finish my degree in English during the day and went to work nights at a computer typesetter as a proofreader of math and science. So I came to book design and layout with a fair idea of how finished pages ought to look. Also, I wrote my first story at the age of four and two-and-a-half bad, unpublishable novels by the time I was twenty-one. The latter did not deter me, as a fortuneteller in NYC told me I wouldn't have my first book published till I was about forty--and, she added, it would be the first of many. Having supported myself through college as a fortuneteller, I put a certain amount of stock in what fortunetellers said. I believed I'd make my living one day from "my" books. Little did I know that it would not be from authoring them, but from their design and layout. But I was left with an appreciation of a writer's work.

The place I worked at nights was an oddly run place, in a bankruptcy reorganization for what seemed like forever. I found myself thinking that if I got the equipment one day, I could do what they did, only correctly and sensibly.

what you do ...

I make books. That is, my design and production work result in pages that go to press and become books. What I try to do is make pages--and occasionally covers--that invite readers in to where the writer's words take hold till they finish reading the book. This means staying out of the way and creating clean pages that make it easy for readers to stick with the book.

what a typical day is like for you ...

Well, as a freelancer, I spend a certain amount of time each day--sometimes hours--trawling for more work. A long time ago that meant mailing out resumes and printed copies of work samples. Thankfully, the Internet and e-ail came along. I can look for jobs and projects in newspapers and boards throughout the country. Also, twice each year I send out an e-mail inquiry seeking book design and production work. I used to attach my resume and work samples. Now I attach my resume and include a link to my website, which has work samples posted on it.

When I have a book going, especially in hot weather, I like working at night. The house is quiet and, since I'm a bit of a night owl, I get a lot done working with darkness outside. I like to have two books going at once when possible, as it keeps me fresh and working longer when I can switch off.

and what you would recommend to others who want to do what you do ...

Read books. Both on the subjects of design, layout, and typography, as well as off. Any book is an example of design and layout choices. Be prepared to trawl for work all the time.

3 comments:

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