Scheduling and Patience

mischievous cats

My weirdo cat just knocked my pen off my desk for the 3rd time today.

I love my cat, but she can be an arsehole. *laughs* I am trying desperately to focus on a client project and my cat is demanding my attention. This is one pitfall to working from home.

Another struggle when it comes to a home office is time management. I have flexibility, but I also have to keep up the household, laundry and so on while trying to juggle commission work from clients. Not an easy feat I assure you.

This year has been particularly tough with so many of my clients being very active in their writing and marketing, and therefore needing more than usual amounts of design elements from me. I’m grateful for my prolific clients, but I fear that now I have too many to successfully oversee.

So, what is the answer? I cannot seem to get the message out enough that I am constantly working on multiple projects at all times, therefore I cannot immediately jump on something new when a client contacts me. I have to schedule all new projects about six weeks out. And at present, I think it is time to close the schedule until November.

Today, I can showcase three new cover designs as both authors have released them on social media. All three titles are coming to Amazon within the month.

For Ian Tink releasing in September.
For Leena Maria out in eBook format now on Amazon. Paperback coming shortly.
For Leena Maria out now on eBook via Amazon. Paperback coming shortly.

I have nine more cover designs to complete by October 1st, as well as several marketing projects to complete by the end of September for a variety of clients. All well and good, other than I also have to pace myself. Thus I will not accept any new projects until after my October vacation. I am full up. I am grateful for the work, but I have reached my maximum work load.

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The Necessity of Coffee

Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay

Ahhh….that strong cup of dark magic that I consume each and every morning. I can’t imagine sitting down at my computer to face my email inboxes without it.

Seriously, I’d frighten off every client and potential client if I even attempted to respond to inquiries without first consuming a copious amount of coffee. And nobody had better try and tell me that fairy tales do not exist – I find mine every morning as I stare down at the steaming swirl of liquid magic in my cup each and every day.

The next step to my day is finding my creativity…my mojo…in order to develop designs for my clients. However…..design isn’t something that can be pushed, rushed or forced. Non-designers had best learn that. Do NOT make the mistake of trying to push a designer into ‘cranking’ out anything quickly. Sometimes we can (and do) create a design in short order – but that is not the norm and should not be expected of us creatives. And I have spent years learning my trade, and I have a very hard earned degree in graphic design. Design is ever evolving as well. But there are rules we professional graphic designers do follow….other than when a few hardheaded clients insist on using jpegs that they found on Google that are just perfect for their print project (billboard, catalog and so on)…..but I digress. I do not play at it when it comes to my commercial projects. I take design seriously. I’ve been working as a professional designer for over a decade now. I’ve earned my street cred. Seriously. And so below are a handful of quotes by smart people in the design world….for when I need a little kick in the arse to get going…

Design is…..

…intelligence made visible.” — Alina Wheeler, author

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou, author, poet, civil rights activist
“Design adds value faster than it adds costs.” — Joel Spolsky, web programmer, writer, and creator of Trello
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc.
“The more I deal with the work as something that is my own, as something that is personal, the more successful it is.” — Marian Bantjes, designer and author
“Design is not a single object or dimension. Design is messy and complex.” — Natasha Jen, designer and educator
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou, author, poet, civil rights activist
“Design adds value faster than it adds costs.” — Joel Spolsky, web programmer, writer, and creator of Trello

…and finally:

graphic design
The true value of a professional designer.

Timing is Everything in the Publishing Business

So you have written a book, or formed a new company, or want to revamp your identity/brand as an author…fantastic! Congratulations on writing your masterpiece. No doubt it took you several laborious months (or even years) to write, edit and edit again until now you are ready to share your literature with the world. So what now? You need some professional help if you want your book to look its best, right?

The greatest advice that anyone can give a new author is to hire professionals to help them best present their manuscript to potential readers. Get your manuscript professionally edited, formatted, and a solid cover design before uploading anything to retailers. A great place for overall self-publishing advice is HERE by Helen Hollick as my area of expertise is book cover design and marketing.

And coming to my main point directed at authors on self-publishing a novel – plan ahead. I cannot stress enough that those of us working as professionals within the publishing business are often carrying multiple jobs within any given week, and we schedule new projects several weeks (sometimes months) into the future. Mainstream publishers often take months (can be a year) to process and release new titles as well – even assisted publishing companies need time to process new submissions.

Please do not assume that when you are ready to get your book on Kindle, you can instantly get it formatted, copy edited, and a cover designed within days. You might get lucky and find a few folks who are willing to do a quick job for you, likely you’ll pay a rush fee, but overall do not count on or expect that. Think of all the other authors who have been patiently waiting to have their manuscripts properly processed for publication – you place the professional in a tight spot when you ask us to rush your job ahead of those who might have been waiting a month or more for their own manuscript to be taken care of.

I recommend contacting publishing professionals up to two months ahead of the time you plan to release your book. Give as much notice as you can so the professionals can work you into their busy schedules without added stress of short notices. While you might have taken months, even years, to write your book, designers and formatters are constantly processing books for numerous authors at the same time to meet demands within the industry.

And if the professional you have contacted is indeed booked up for the next several weeks, this is a good sign that they are in high demand and actually know what they are doing. I would be wary of someone who isn’t busy in this business! Also, look for professionals with a formal education in their field – this especially refers to book cover designers. They should have at least a two-year degree in graphic design to truly understand formatting, typography, and layout: all key elements in designing a successful, balanced, and professional book cover. This does not refer to traditional artists whom you can license artwork to be used for your cover design – you will still need a graphic designer to properly set your typography over the artist’s artwork.

We publishing professionals are your partners in this business and wish to do all that we can to help bring your manuscript to press. All that we ask is for common courtesy and patience as we are busy individuals balancing work and life on an often insane schedule. Coffee usually plays a big part of our days too. *laughs* That and wine! *cheers*

October Updates and the arrival of Autumn at Avalon Graphics

Autumn photo

Autumn is my favorite season and if I  had my way, I’d spend every waking minute of it out in nature enjoying the beauty of it. Alas, not this year as I’ve found myself busier than ever between work and personal matters. And keeping up a blog seems to be something that I simply cannot find the extra time to do either! I very much admire my friends and colleagues who regularly blog despite their busy careers and family lives! How do you do it?!

 

Updates:
I am currently working with several clients on projects ranging from book covers to book trailers to interior map illustrations and marketing materials. And I still feel that I’ve never truly caught up from being offline back in August while moving house. But it is a blessing to be in such high demand these days and I thank all of you who have commissioned me for design services during these busy times.

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