Last year, I realized that I really wanted to focus my design expertise on book design. I decided to start by opening up LV Book Design. I created this design business with the hopes of provided self-publishing and indie authors with professional designs that they may not be able to get since they are not going through a publishing company that has designers either on contract or in-house to work on their books.
I'll be honest, it's been a slow process. I worked for a long time on developing and designing my brand, then designing and building my website. I had to write base contracts for each design package I offered, set up an email account, develop a newsletter and figure out how to reach the self-publishing/indie authors. I've been working on blog content over there, in addition to my more regular blog content over here. I also did some "cold calling" by scouring the internet forums and groups for authors and writers, and would just send the ones who seemed to be looking for design help emails offering my services. At the same time, I decided to design and offer pre-made covers to help authors with even tighter budgets (because self-publishing can be quite expensive).
I was hesitant to put up pre-made covers at first. A lot of the ones out there on the internet are, to be honest, horrible. They are amateur at best and completely illegible most of the time. I did not want my work and expertise to be lumped in with this group. Then I had to just step out of my designer-snob moment and ask myself "why, if these are so bad, do they sell?" The answer was because sometimes that's the best a self-publishing author can afford. If you are trying to go the indie route, it's a real struggle–not only for money, but for other resources as well, like time, energy and courage. I created LV Book Design to help these writers, and it would be a disservice to them if I just left them with these options in this price range to choose from when I could just as easily spend time developing some products to help their chances once they publish.
So far, I've sold one of my pre-made covers with that leading to possibly more work from that author. It's a small victory, but I definitely celebrated it. It also made me feel like I really made the right choice offering pre-made designs on my site.
I'm still learning how to run an online design business. Mainly, I'm trying my best to figure out how to get it to those who need it. But I do what I know best. I blog, and over there I try to write posts that writers will find helpful. I want to encourage authors to keep going with their craft as I try to push forward with my own.
So, that's just an update on my adventures in opening a business. I'm still the senior designer at my day job (well, I'm the Assistant Production Director now, but most people who don't have any clue about publication design don't know what that means and it basically boils down to "Senior Designer"), but I dream of doing LV Book Design full time, some day.