Jamesabels wrote:have you ever posted anything on finding work?
Interesting… that's probably worth a proper blog post at some point in the future, but to try and give a succinct answer:
I'm afraid I don't have any special insight. The bulk of my income is derived from two publishers, and my "in" with them was chiefly dumb luck: they were looking for a fill-in letterer in a hurry and my samples were top of the pile. In both cases, the samples had been out for so long that I'd actually forgotten about them.
Obviously, if you don't actually have any samples out there, then even dumb luck is out of the question.
TBH, I'm lucky in so far as I have a wife with professional qualifications and we don't have any kids -- I imagine there are plenty of people whose domestic circumstances would make it impossible to live on what I make in a year. It's largely a matter of doing a LOT of free work and hoping that some of it turns into paying work. The first year I made any money, I'd say that about 75% of the work I did was actually free, or 'back end' (for the record, I never expected to get paid for the back end jobs, but if I had my time again, I wouldn't take them on), the second year it was about 50/50 and I was able to pack in my day job; this year I think it'll be about 66% paying and I hope that next year it's going to be north of 75%.
I have lettered a lot
of sample pages for proposals, which is quite a sneaky way of getting your work out there, since it means that you've a good chance of getting the gig if the book's picked up, but at the very least the writer and/or artist is going to be out there knocking on doors and talking to editors with what is effectively a set of your samples! If you've given them a professional lettering job for free, then you've enhanced their samples and they're going to big you up.
Beyond that, the only advice I can offer is about making sure that even a small break turns into a bigger one: always do your best work, regardless of the page rate; always deliver on time; try very hard not to be a dick. That's all I've been doing!