I started reading some blog posts this morning of some friends and authors, and realized since 2016 has been a huge year for me, I’d like to write a post about my year!
2016 has been huge for me. Huge.
I graduated from college in 2010 (I think. God, I’m bad with dates). I studied Graphic Design (surprise!) with a major in print / illustration. Back then, I never would’ve thought I’d be where I am today.
My first job in the industry wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was tedious, a little weird, and a bit slack. My most recent “office” job was for a large, corporate industry located here in Canada, and I worked in Advertising. Again, it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t creative enough, and I wasn’t proud of any of my design work even though the job wasn’t exactly difficult.
But in that time, I found a website for people who liked to read and catalog their books: Goodreads. I’ve met people on GR who are now my friends for life, people’s shelves I creep religiously for book recs, people whose reviews I trust above all others, and people who want to chat about books.
Two and a half years ago, the MMRG had its annual Don’t Write in the Closest event. I have author friends. I tried my hand at making a book cover for a friend. And then another, and another. I submitted a prompt, and the incredibly lovely and talented Anyta Sunday snagged it up, and wrote one of my favorite short stories I’ve ever read, Bird Meets Cage. So I made a cover for that. After, I started some books covers for a few other authors, like the fantastic duo, K.A. Merikan. It all started to build from there.
The past two years have been hard for me. I worked full-time at my corporate office job, and then I’d come home and immediately situate myself in front of my computer to do some book cover design work until I was about ready to fall asleep at my keyboard. Rinse and repeat.
The idea of quitting my 9-5 office job was terrifying. I couldn’t really leave a stable job when there are other designers out there who’d kill for my position. Could I? I couldn’t leave a steady pay check to follow a dream, right? What if the self-publishing industry took a turn for the worse? What if I break my wrist and can’t work? What if I one day wake up and suck at designing book covers? What if people stop hiring me? What if I struggle with money?
In the end, I asked myself: am I happy? The answer was obviously no. I was miserable. I missed my family, I missed spending time with my boyfriend, I missed having time for myself. I missed playing video games or having one day on the weekend where I did absolutely no work.
Could I be happy? Could I try hard and do something I love for a living? Yes.
So on September 9, 2016, I gave my two weeks notice and said goodbye to my corporate office job.
And here I am! This is what I do for a living now, guys. I love it. I love my job. I wake up every morning thinking: I love my job. Some days are tough, some days I suck at designing, some days I work way too much, and some days I don’t work at all. I love working with each publisher I work with, and I love working one on one with some really, truly amazing (and kind) authors. So far (knock on wood), no broken wrists, no money problems, no falling sky.
If I get my way, this is what I’ll do for the rest of my life.
Before the year is done, I want to thank all of my friends on Goodreads who championed my book covers over the years. I want to thank all the authors who gave me a chance back when I barely knew what I was doing, and to the authors who still give me a chance now. And I want to thank anyone and everyone who recommends me or my design work, who retweets kind words about my books covers, who likes my Facebook page, and who puts my name in the acknowledgements of their books.
Things I want to accomplish in 2017:
- Work more! I really love my job. I’m not joking. Designing book covers can definitely be a tricky, time-consuming process, but it’s fun!
- Get better at backing up my work. I have a brand new external hard drive. Back up your work, Natasha! Back. It. Up!
- Clean up my fonts. I’m picky about fonts and I have a lot that I like but don’t love and therefore, don’t really use. I should get on top of cleaning those up.
- Set up a more advanced ‘request form’. Sometimes the info provided is only the tip of the iceberg.
- We’re moving in a few months and I’ll get myself my very own office (wee!), so I want to get that all set up, and I want to buy a book shelf so I can put my books there instead of scattered about my apartment.
- Consider getting a work Instagram. God, I’m old.
- Work more on pre-made covers. In fact, I’d like to have at least 20 at one time available. They’re fun and therapeutic to design.
- Read more! Nudge, nudge, Lanyon. If you write it, I shall read it. It’s written in the stars.
- Start some kind of contest or giveaway program.
- Make some time-lapse videos, or how-to videos, or update my blog more frequently where I can answer design-related FAQs, or give short tutorials (not that I know a lot, just that I’d like to help out new designers if I can)!
Lastly, and most importantly, improve my designing skills. I can always learn more, I can always get better. I’m far from perfect, and I need to keep improving.
A few of my favorite covers from this year to remind myself when I’m feeling like I’m total garbage at designing things: