Why I should never ever do client work again

Why I should never do client work

Or, A Terrifying Glimpse Into How My Brain Works.

A friend of mine is a self-published author. When she published her first book, she came to me to design the cover and format her book file so it would show up nicely on Kindle.

Hooray, right?

Well yes, except since she’s not rich and she is after all a good friend I quoted her an obscenely low amount and then got sick so working on it became very stressful and drawn out. Nevertheless, we got there in the end and she seemed happy. My cover illustration is now even on display in our local bookshop!

Hooray, right?

Maybe. Now it’s time for book number two, and I’ve spent the last week agonizing about what to quote for it.

Since last time was cover + formatting, and this time it’s just cover design needed, maybe I could just half the amount. But really, I quoted a very low price for just the cover design and then threw in the formatting “for free” in my head because of the whole good friend aspect. Charging half would really be like charging half of my already tragically low amount for the cover design itself.

So then logically I’d have to charge the same as last time, but obviously that’s not going to happen. Also I don’t know how much she made from that first book but with all the expenses of hiring me and having hard copies printed to stock the local bookshop/library I’m guessing it wasn’t much, so maybe I should go even lower than last time to help her out.

Then I start worrying. What do you mean, it sounds like I was worrying already?

If I ask for half of the amount she paid last time, will she think I’m just not putting any effort into thinking up a real quote? If I charge more than that will she think I’m a scammer? If I go too low will she think I can’t be arsed and plan to do a terrible job?

So right now, after a night of forgetting to send her a message about it because I felt ill and was mostly curled up with a hot water bottle, now I MUST send a quote. And I have no idea what I’m going to say.

There are two very important lessons contained herein:

  1. Don’t severely undercharge for your work even if the “client” is your bestest friend in the whole world, because you just get stuck at that price in future.
  2. If I ever start doing proper client work again, I should probably hire an assistant to send off the actual quotes and save me having a heart attack.

Quoting is probably the thing I have the most trouble with in a client-designer relationship, but it’s far from the only thing. Imagine the thought process outlined above, multiplied by how many hats a solo freelancer is expected to wear at any one time.

It’s no wonder I’m so stressed all the time, really.

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