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"But I'd be interested to hear how one separates out a project into bits and pieces and estimates for doing a job unlike anything you have done before."

Chances are, even though the job may be different, the components are the same (that's why you're being hired--you've developed reliable skills in certain areas). Like anything else, after a while, experience teaches you how to estimate (if not, you find yourself out of business).
I break a job into my typical categories (I'm a marketing consultant): strategy, copywriting, design, production, etc. If I think it's going to take 10 hours to write the strategy document, I estimate 30 hours (3x). We all tend to underestimate the actual time it takes to do something, so this isn't being greedy, it's being realistic.
If there are outside costs (such as printing) that I don't have enough info to estimate, I tell the client that I will get 3 bids based on the job specs (when known) and take a fixed mark-up. If the client likes, they can even choose one of the bidders.
Sometimes, on a large project, my job is to help them assemble needs, costs, and determine a budget. There's not enough of a handle on anything yet to provide an estimate. In these cases, I sometimes charge an hourly fee (but most clients hate this "taxi-meter" approach--it only works for very limited time periods). Alternatively, when there's a project that nobody has defined yet, I tell the client that I expect to net 25-35% of the final project cost, whatever that may be. This way, the client pretty much knows my cut, even though the entire project is up in the air. That seems to work.
Finally, a lot has to do with how busy you are. When I'm working nights and weekends to handle the load, I'm not inclined to be very generous. If a client is a pain in the neck, I tack on a "pain and suffering" fee. In other words, pricing is an art. It has taken me 18 years to learn this! GOOD LUCK!
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