Archive for April, 2016

More from Book Design 101

Add comment April 14th, 2016

And then there’s the downside to freelancing as a book designer so far away from my clients.

The waiting.

Drives me crazy.

Every book has judgment calls on my part, where I make a decision in the first pass on how I want something to look. Then when I get it back for corrections, I find my vision’s either been confirmed or else the client’s called for a change.

Sometimes, however, it’s simpler. Like a book’s textfiles show the placement art or graphics (photos, drawings, etc.). Now the way a lot of authors do it is to just place the graphics in the Word file–MS Word is how I get text 99.99% of the time. This is the wrong way to do it. The art never places correctly at fine resolution that way.

The better way is to just note the placement of the graphic, whether it’s a photo or something else, and then send any and all artfiles, at correct resolution—600 dpi for line art and 300 dpi for photos or grayscales; for extra credit they should be in .tif format–either individually in email, or by uploading a compressed folder of them to a cloud storage sight like Dropbox, or to an FTP site.

This is not to say folks who send things this way are awful people. But best practice–a better, more efficient workflow–that results in the best looking pictures goes the way I described above.

And it keeps me from banging my head against the wall. (Kidding. I’m kidding.)

Big Takeaways from Over 25 Years as A Freelancer

Add comment April 7th, 2016

Sounds funny to say, I suppose, but now after giving up the safety net—i.e., a secure, full-time day-job—that enabled me to freelance as a book designer/layout artist for more than twenty-five years without any worries caused by the uncertainties of steady work and paydays that go along with freelancing, I have had more than one epiphany about the whole “game”.

The first one is not entirely new. However in the spirit of giving something to people new to freelancing I repeat it now: If you don’t have enough work to support yourself, and the projects you get don’t pay you enough money for a proper living, try raising your prices. I was given this advice early on in my freelance career. It seemed counterintuitive. I mean, I could not find enough clients to pay me x, and now I should try to get hold of additional clients to pay me more than x?

But that was the conversation I walked into on an online forum for freelancers, so long ago I know longer remember the forum’s name, though I do remember the first name of the woman who ran it: Betty. Over an extended period of time—weeks, I think I remember—a couple of seasoned professionals kept at it, making the case that it was true that no paying client would take a freelancer, especially a new one, seriously if they didn’t take themselves seriously. And the first way to demonstrate that you take yourself, your skills, seriously, is by presenting yourself as someone who commands good rates, professional rates.

That worked for me. It was the start of my being held in some kind of professional regard. And looking back, I see it differently now, to wit: How can you expect others to value your work highly if you don’t. Nevertheless, over the years I have found it necessary to remind myself, again, of this truth.

My next revelation is the more surprising, however.

When I left my day-job, forgoing the safety net it provided, I was determined to freelance full-time. I do not believe I am old enough to just pack things in and retire from all the kinds of work I’ve done for most of my life. I intended to hit the ground running, spending a good part of my day on self-promotional activities. I was positively committed to this plan and the ultimate result: more freelance book design and layout work than I had ever had before.

But a curious thing happened. Reminiscent of the kind of creative visualization the circle I was in spoke of some thirty or forty years ago, a boatload of work simply showed up before I could do anything additional in the way of promotion or marketing my services. At the risk of sounding airy-fairy, I don’t need to be able to explain how or why in order to buy into the notion that my being 100% on-board somehow attracted all the new work.

I recommend highly committing wholeheartedly to your work.


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