Anna Morrison is a book cover designer who has spent several years as an in-house designer in some of the biggest publishing houses, including HarperCollins and Random House. She has been freelance now for three years.
What do you like best about working freelance?
Freelancing allows me to have more choice of the hours I work. The 9 to 5 (or the 9 to 6, 7, 8) just wouldn’t work for me at the moment, and although I probably work a 30-plus hour week in total, it’s on my terms. I can also choose where I work (a lovely studio with other creative types) and which jobs I do. So I guess the best thing about freelancing is the choice and flexibly it offers me.
What do you like least?
I feel like I can never take a break: my laptop comes with me on every holiday and weekend away (much to my husband’s horror). Also, I hate chasing invoices.
How do you tell potential clients about what you do?
I send emails to art directors and senior designers. I feel it is really important to target the right people by doing a bit of research about the publisher so you know whether your work would suit their books. I also do a send-out once a year: last year I printed tote bags with my details on to launch my new website, which seemed to go down well. I use my blog and twitter to show off my work and the work of other designers I like too. I have met so many other lovely book covers designers through twitter: it’s a really great point of contact for people who freelance and a fantastic way of keeping in touch with publishers.
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone looking to start freelancing in the book industry?
I would definitely recommend working in-house first, both for the experience and as a way of getting to know people within the industry. But if you have already done that, my advice would be to try to set out a plan and timeline with each client on potential projects so you both understand what is expected of each other within a realistic timeline. (Expecting 10 visuals for the next day is NOT realistic!)
Which piece of work are you most proud of?
Probably my cover for Invisibles by Ed Siegle, the very first book cover I did after going freelance. It was for an independent publisher, Myriad Editions, who are really lovely to work for and are very open to new ideas. That said, I do have a few covers being published this year which I’m very excited about…