Availability – January to March
I am full for big projects at the moment. Editing is booked until about mid-March, then I’ll probably take a break from that until my next pre-booked project. At this point, I’m booking new edits for the summer. For the next few weeks I’ll be working ten hour days, and communication is very slow. I can start new cover projects in March. Simpler things like interior layout and ebook formatting can still be booked at any time.
I still do not, and cannot, work weekends.
Why do you have room for some projects and not others?
A quick explanation for this kind of thing: basically, everything I do requires different brain muscles. If I do too much of one thing, I get overworked and tired and need to rest.
For example, I can only spend about two hours per day on an editing project (split into one hour sessions) or I start missing things because my eyes get tired. If I’ve been spending too much time on visual art–covers and promos and social media banners, etc–I literally hit a block where nothing works anymore and I need about a week or two away from Photoshop. Things like ebook formatting and interior layout, though, follow a particular set of rules I don’t have to really think about–it it’s a pattern I can do even when I’m creatively blocked.
Freelancing is also not my only job. My primary focus is on my writing, as that’s where the bulk of my income comes from. I am a writer first; freelancing is supplemental. That means I need to schedule time every day for paid writing projects as well as my own, which have their own deadlines, and that uses its own set of muscles as well. I’m wearing a lot of hats and juggling a lot of things, and I try to keep balanced between different types of projects so I don’t get burnt out.
So ultimately, I keep a mix of projects because it benefits you, the client, if I don’t get burnt out doing just one or two things–this way I can usually stay open and keep at a steady work pace.
New pre-made covers (or a lack thereof)
Okay, so I haven’t updated pre-made covers in a while. That is because I am discontinuing this service.
Straight off the bat: 90% of my clients are wonderful. 99% of my clients who order custom covers only are wonderful. But over half of people who buy pre-made covers are not wonderful. They expect infinite customization on something they’ve paid $50 for, they expect me to help them upload files, when they ask about custom work they expect me to turn around a cover in less than a week, they frequently break my terms of service, they do not credit me as the artist, and usually they want a lot of email back and forth that is costing me time and money I don’t recoup.
Pre-mades served two functions: 1. they allowed me to try some different genres I haven’t been hired for previously (and use pretty stock I’ve bought) just in case future customers might want to hire me but would like an example outside of the usual genres I work in, and 2. since they’re basically done and just require some customization, it’s extra money now and then that doesn’t take me away from current work.
I’ve reached the point where the stress of problem clients buying pre-mades is too much for me. I have serious, incurable health problems that can get very, very bad if I’m under a lot of stress (note: this is also why I’m firm about out of the office days and breaks!). I also have a steady stable of regular clients who are fantastic and I work well with; I don’t need to keep taking work from people who will negatively impact my health.
There are a handful of in-progress pre-mades that have been sitting on my harddrive for months that I will probably finish up when I have some time, and then that’ll be it. The covers will all remain for sale and I’ll still run occasional discounts, but I won’t be creating any new ones. I have discovered some amazing clients through doing pre-mades, people I am delighted to be working with (and hope to continue working with), but this is the decision I have to make for now.
For now, pricing is remaining the same. I’m keeping better track of my hours on design (which isn’t billed hourly like editing, but I’m trying to get a better sense of how much time I spend on projects, and how to better maximize that time) so I’m utilizing the price ranges more than I used to instead of defaulting to the lowest one. But the fluctuation of the dollar and PayPal fees (business transactions + currency conversion) are two things I have to watch closely and some services may have a price increase later in the year to better reflect my time spent on projects.
Remember: your final invoice is based on when you booked the project with a down payment. If you book before a price increase, whether by a week or months, your final invoice reflects the price at that time, not what the current rates are; there will never be surprises on your bill. This is an FYI for clients who might want to book design ahead, though.
I’ll endeavor to start using the blog/news page here more, at least quarterly. Now that the Evil League of Evil Writers has closed, when I have writer-related things I think clients might be interested in, I’ll post them here. (My Self-Publishing 101 with Mama Bitchstress can all be found here and my posts in general related to writing can all be found here.)