Q3 2017 Availability Update

Essentially, I am not available right now.

For at least July, I am not taking any new work from new clients. Existing clients can book as usual with the understanding turnaround time might not be until August with bigger projects. I’ll look at taking new clients next month.

Editing is basically booked for the rest of the year at this point–I think I can take something in October.

I did have a death in the family early May, and that week and the weeks leading up to it left me out of the office quite a bit. Clients had release schedules I needed to meet, so I had to triage, and that’s left me with a handful of May/June things to finish this week.

I’m out of the office most days the first week of July, and when I’m in I’ll be working rather than answering email. Thank you for your patience.

Q2 2017 Availability

Although my availability page is updated monthly, here are how the next few months are shaping up.

Editing

I’m booked up through June July, now taking clients for July late-July/early-August. I typically only take one edit a month–that way I have a few regular clients I can squeeze a project in for last minute, and it gives me some breathing room to include both pleasure reading and plenty of writing in my schedule. It seems to be the service that fills up the fastest, so please book in advance (and if you request to be penciled in, I’ll need a down payment unless we work together regularly, and I need to be kept informed if the delivery date is going to change).

Cover Art

A few cover projects will probably be completed in the next couple of weeks, so I’m taking new covers for late May and beyond. Unless you have a very short turn around time requested (like a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months), I can usually take new covers at any time.

Websites

Websites are another large-scale project that typically should be booked a few months in advance. I have one I’m working on this week, but that’s it for the next few weeks, and I can take another later in May.

Formatting (Interior and eBook)

I can typically take these at any time.

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ICYMI, last time I covered why some types of projects end up booked up while others done, and why I am no longer doing pre-made covers.

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Pricing

Pricing has not changed; I am looking at restructuring some of my fees come fall. Remember that projects like cover art have different fee ranges because the more times I’m sent back to the drawing board or have to customize images, the more time is spent on the cover, and that’s reflected in charges. That’s why you may get one cover for $99 but another for $129.

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Out of the Office Days

Right now my out of the office days vary. I’m on the board of directors for a not-for-profit, which has taken me out of the office the past few weeks, and I don’t expect it to settle into a rhythm until later in May.

My one-hundred-and-two-year-old grandfather also recently had a fall at home and is in the hospital. I’ve been up to see him a couple of times and he’s doing well, but at his age with a broken hip, there’s no telling how the next few months are going to shape up. Please have patience when sending inquiries–replying to email can end up eating a huge chunk of my day that is better spent actually working on projects for clients, so if I’m out of the office for a few days a week, when I’m home I’m probably busy working and will get to answering inquiries when I’m sending drafts and things off to clients.

Q1 2017 Availability and Other News

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.

What I’m available for and my out of the office days are always listed on my site here (updated usually twice a month) and I try to check in periodically on my Facebook page.

 

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.

 

Pricing

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.)

2016 Availability Update

Unless I specify differently at a later date, this will serve as my availability for the rest of the year.

August: Booked solid. Ten hour days, seven days a week.

September: Due to how busy August is, I’m not taking new clients or new projects in September other than from people I’ve already made arrangements with. I’m developing chronic wrist pain again from long hours at the computer and I risk serious injury if I keep up this pace, which is bad for all my clients. The latter half of September, I’ll be on holidays for two weeks, and entirely unavailable.

October: I return to work October 2 and clients are already booking. I can take one copyedit of a short or normal length novel mid-month (70K words or less) and a couple more covers, but that’s it for large design and editing projects.

November: I am really hoping to take this month off of freelancing to focus on my own writing. Unless that plan changes, that means I am not taking any work at all.

December: I’m currently booking projects for this month. Do note it’ll be a lighter month with the holidays, and I’ll be taking few clients. My holiday weeks are typically the last two of the month, and I have a holiday rate of $35/hr on top of my normal charges if you insist on having work done during this time.

The exceptions to the above: Outside of holidays, which I absolutely do not work at all during, I can usually take smaller design projects like ebook formatting (providing the MS is not in really rough shape), interior formatting (provided it’s a simple novel layout and nothing complicated with illustrations, footnotes, etc), and customizing pre-made ebook covers any time. Turn around time will be a few business days to a week or two, depending on my current workload. You never need to ask if I have time to customize the titling on a pre-made cover, for example (but if you need a full-wrap add on, please check my availability as that’s more than a few minutes to do).

Editing is currently being booked into 2017. Please book projects ahead of time, and allow 6-8 weeks at least for turn around.  If you want a faster turn around time, I can do this but it’ll involve a rush charge.

End of the Year Pre-Made Cover Sale

coversale

 

To celebrate the time of year when no one hires me, I’m having a huge pre-made cover sale.

Like, enormous. Even new covers are on sale. Older ones are $10 off, putting some at just $39. Stock up now and get them customized later!

Look for more pre-mades next week!

There are also some new ones, two of which are experiments.

About half of the people who buy pre-made covers end up wanting to go to print and to have a full-wrap done. I also sometimes see an image that would be perfect for a full-wrap, but it gets cut off.

Once in a while, I’ll be offering some pre-made full-wrap covers. You still get the front ebook cover, but you’ll also get a customized spine/back cover when you’re ready to go to print. Here’s the first one:

StarsinHerEyes

It’s priced outside the usual $49 – $69 pre-mades go for here, but is still a steal (and on sale!).

Next experiment: pre-made series covers.

If you want sequel covers based on a pre-made, most of the time that’s doable. Sequel covers are bought as custom ebook covers with the 10% discount.

If you’re writing a YA SF/F trilogy with a pretty blonde heroine, though, you’re in luck! You can get all three for $149 during this sale (that’s over $100 in savings).

ChildoftheMoon ChildoftheStars ChildoftheSun

If there’s interest in this kind of thing–series covers and pre-made full-wraps–I’ll consider doing more in the future.  And, as I’ve said numerous times, if you don’t see pre-mades you like from artists, start ordering custom work. We’re guessing what we think might sell, which is why you tend to see a lot of the same genres represented. When we see a market for other genres, we try new things.

Finally, I’ve recently switched to a new host. So far so good, but if you have any problems at all, please give me a shout.

The holidays are also upon us. I will be out of the office from Christmas until early next week. I can try to check in on email–and new orders are always appreciated–however I might not be able to get back to you for a few days. Thank you for your patience.

New Pre-made Covers & Updated Availability

Those paying attention to my availability page know that I’ve had a pretty sucktastic year with multiple deaths in the family, continued health problems, and then my mother broke her knee and required surgery. I’m her only child so much of caring for her and running her errands falls on me, which has taken me out of the office most days for nearly six weeks now.

I’ve also taken over as the literary heir for my aunt who passed, and while I’ll get into it in more detail next month at the Evil League of Evil Writers: writers, consider who will inherit your literary estate. I, luckily, know how to navigate publishers and knew what to do with her work. Your family might not. SO GET ON THAT RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, Mum is doing well and although I still run her errands, I don’t have to walk up to her place four times a day now. I’m knocking things off my work to-do list at present, and I appreciate the patience from clients–new and long term–who have been so incredibly kind and thoughtful. At present, work can be booked at any time, but I can’t start new larger projects until September. Custom cover art wait time is currently three to four weeks, and interior design is around one week. Most ebook formatting–unless the MS is in really rough shape–will take a few days up to a week, and pre-made covers can be customized in two or three business days.

HotnessAnother note about pre-mades–there are half a dozen new ones in the shop.

I actually had decided not to do pre-mades anymore. 95% of my clients are fantastic to work with, but of the remaining 5%, those who give me the most grief are ones who bought pre-mades. There’s been a rising trend of writers jumping from artist to artist, buying pre-mades because they’re cheaper, and then wanting infinite customizations, complaining when there isn’t an exact pre-made for their obscure genre available, and expecting lightning fast turn around times on the off chance they do want custom work.

I’m ill, I have to keep my stress level down or I will get sicker, and I don’t have the energy for that. However…last week I ended up selling pre-mades to a couple of people in a row who were incredibly pleasant to deal with, and it made me rethink my decision not to make new ones.

So yeah, there are some new ones. I mostly wanted to add a few IR covers and a bit more diversity. The unfortunate thing is that, with pre-mades, I look at what I get hired to design most often and what ones sell the most, and I make more of them. And that is usually het romance with white people or m/m romance with hot white male torso.  Interracial romance, science fiction,  lesbian, historical, and other covers just don’t come up as often if at all. So, as a plea to writers who don’t see pre-made covers in the genres they write: sometimes you have to break down and order custom work. Show artists that the market is there. Look at more than pre-made galleries: also check the writer’s portfolio and see if they have work done in the genres you write. If budget is a concern–and I totally understand when it is–discuss that with the artist. I have absolutely no problem taking a writer’s budget under consideration and I’m always looking to save my clients money (because, spoiler alert, I like happy clients!).

It is also worth building a solid relationship with one or two artists instead of going to whoever is currently cheapest. The rapport I share with some of my regular clients is among my favourite aspects of this job–I like seeing the same names pop up in my inbox, I like working on series covers, and I think they like having someone they know they can trust with their work.

I don’t care if that artist is me or not–not every writer and artist make a good team. But you owe it to your writing to have beautiful cover art, and your career will be infinitely easier if you surround yourself with a solid self-publishing support system.

You’ll find more of my thoughts on that subject here.

Coupon Code & Advice

ByAnyOtherNameYou can currently get 15% off any pre-made cover with the coupon code vetbill–use when checking out.  (Feel free to buy now to reserve a cover and have me customize it later.)  Obviously, I have a vet bill, plus one coming up next month. 😉

There are also a couple of new pre-mades from my last bout of insomnia–some historical and romancey ones. Have a look!

As most know, I am also a writer in addition to all you see here and I’m the co-founder of The Evil League of Evil Writers. I’ve started a new series of blog posts there on self-publishing basics. They post every other Monday.

Thus far:

The second part of Hiring An Editor will be posted in two weeks. After that, I’ll be covering hiring a cover artist, ebook distributors, choosing a printer, and probably some basic promo advice.

You’ll find the complete list of posts under this tag.

Because of a slew of bad things in April (deaths in the family) and New Doctor Stuff, April was a very slow work month; I’m currently in catch up mode. At the moment, editing is booked until mid-to-late May, however I only have two covers in progress. I am taking on new design jobs, including covers, interior layout, and websites, along with ebook formatting.