Designer Interview: Stephanie Anderson of Alt19 Creative

Welcome Stephanie! Can you tell us how you became a book cover designer?

I’ve been a graphic designer for 30 years, working independently and with corporations. In 2010, I was independent but need a little extra income from a secure job. I happened upon a job with a publishing company. And that’s when it began. My background in business collaterals, especially my work in Adobe InDesign, came to be a great service for the publishing company. I spent my time mainly working on interiors for nonfiction books along with an occasional cover. After 10 years with the company, I decided to pursue my own thing, allowing me to move more toward cover design and fiction interiors.

What part of book cover design do you find most compelling?

Since I also do interiors, I love creating a cohesive book product for my clients — cover, print interior, eBook formatting, and teasers–a total branded look.

Many authors are mystified about how cover designers work. What is your creative approach when taking on a new project?

The first and foremost thing I identify during the process is (sub) genre. Since I work in romance, there are varying levels to it. I want to make sure the cover we design portrays the right feel (whether sweet, clean, spicy, erotic, funny, etc.) for the book. I also like to know what covers the author likes in their genre, and most importantly to me, ones they don’t like.

What do authors need to know to have the best outcome when working with a professional cover designer?

Although cover design is very important, some authors feel if their book isn’t selling, they need to change the cover immediately. Sometimes that may be the case but there are so many other factors that go into it these days. Indie authorship is becoming pay to play if you are new. Don’t automatically discount your cover if its not selling your book. There are often other things at play. And general Facebook opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Do you have a favorite project in particular? What about that experience made it unique? 

It’s still in progress as we have one book left. It’s a series for author Danielle Keil, a YA author. I’ve done the cover, interior, eBook, and teaser graphics for each book in the series. I love the branded aspect of this series.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Stock images (favorite pasttime is to get sucked into the stock image vortex). Other covers. TV shows and movies. Anything really. In high school, I was on yearbook staff. I designed the cover for our yearbook my senior year based on a tag that came on a piece of clothing I purchased. Inspiration is all around.

What do you enjoy most about being a book cover designer?

Creative outlet! and When an author emails back and says I LOVE IT!!!

What book cover trend do you hate?

Typography is my thing and I really don’t like when the last letter of a word is just as big as the first letter but all the letters inbetween are smaller. It makes me twitch. I don’t understand why this has become a thing because it just breaks all my typography rules.

What are your top 5 favorite fonts? Is there a font you hate that everyone else seems to love?

Futura. Adelline (I’m also a writer and I use this fun font for one of my series). Yana. Bookmania (interiors). ITC Esprit (interiors).

HATE: anything with too many flourishes. less is key. Midnight Tales is a newer one that people love that I just haven’t found appealing. It’s a bit too flourishy for me.

Typography serves a function – it’s meant to be read. It can be decorative, but ultimately, it needs to be readable.

Do you have any “fur babies” who assist in your design process? 

I have two puppies. Zeus and Luna. Zeus is 4 months. Luna is 2 months. They are “half” siblings in that they share the same dad. They are Great Bernese (a mix between a Great Pyrnesses and a Bernese Mountain Dog). They lounge around in my office when I work.

What does your creative/workspace look like? What tech/computer do you use? 

I have a fairly large office with an l-shaped desk and a window that looks out into a pond that sometimes has a gator in it (I live in Florida). I’m a PC girl that likes her desktop with three monitors. I also have a drawing tablet attached and an iPAD that I use Procreate.

Do you have a favorite genre or theme to design for and why is your favorite?

Illustrated/vector style covers in the romance world. I also love contemporary YA books.

You’ve also published books as an author. Which came first? And does being an author yourself help you to communicate with the authors? 

Book design came first. I love writing but I’ve never mastered the marketing game with writing (I like to think I’m in a black hole with Amazon).

Also, I’m getting ready to release But How Does it Print? by Stephanie Anderson. It’s a 500 plus page guidebook on ideas for fancy print interiors.

Do you listen to music while designing? What are some of your favorite tracks to listen to? 

I do listen to music while working. I have a Pandora station that I’ve built it for over 10 years now. It’s a mix of 90’s grunge, 80’s retro, and modern alternative rock music.

Is this your dream job? If you weren’t designing book covers, what would you be doing?

Absolutely dream job. When I started doing book design, I had wished I found it at the beginning of my career.

Connect with Stephanie Anderson of Alt 19 Creative here:

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