Iram Allam – Book Designer

What is your specialism within book publishing? 

My specialism in book publishing is designing book layouts and typesetting.


Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?

Easy to read and attractive book layouts for all genres.


What led you to go freelance? 

I was made redundant from Macmillan Publishers in July 2018 when it was decided that they no longer wanted in-house designers. I used my redundancy payment to set up my business by buying a new iMac and printer. 


Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix? 

I do work mainly for book publishers and I still work for Macmillan Publishers who were my last employers. But I also design plate sections and family trees. However I have also recently branched out to company reports.


What’s the best part of doing what you do?

I love the flexibility that freelancing gives me and it means that I can pick my children up from school every day. As both my children are at school it means that I can work while they are at school. While working in-house the work could be rather mundane and monotonous; being freelance has given me more creative work and the time to do it.


What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey? 

When I first started out I was cold calling (emailing) people to try and get work but I’ve realised that work comes from recommendation and word of mouth. Its a slow burner building up clients but I'll get there!


How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually? 

The only book I have to read currently is Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. I’ve had a couple of false starts but I will read it.


Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I have actually never read an ebook! It will always be physical books for me. This comes from being an avid reader from a very young age to 20 years experience in book publishing. 


Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing? 

I only started getting interviews after gaining a post-graduate publishing qualification. I did a course that taught me everything about publishing but if you know where in publishing you want to be you could do a more specialised course. I would also suggest getting unpaid work experience, as even though I didn’t use this route, I did see some people getting jobs this way.


What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book? 

Without hesitation my favourite children’s book is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. In fact I pretty much read everything she wrote growing up. I don’t have a favourite adult book but I really enjoyed Labyrinth by Kate Moss. I enjoyed the mixture of history and the going back and forth between past and present. I remember having designed the HB layouts for Orion Publishing, I then had to design the rerun for the PB and I was desperately trying not to read it as I was still reading the HB and didn’t want to know how it ended! I also like the other Kate, Kate Morton who uses similar plot devices.

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