I think my favorite moment as an Author’s Assistant came when an author I work for declared, “You keep me out of the loony bin!” How could that statement NOT make my day? It makes me feel not only valuable, but like some kind of extremely specialized Author M.D. I can’t help out with your strep throat, but I can help you stay far away from Crazy Town!
My typical work-day starts with email. I check in with my author, answer questions about speaking engagements and fees and I update the calendar. I might communicate with her publisher, web designer, or the coordinator of the next conference she is attending. Then, I move into her email and start organizing and answering mail. After that, it’s on to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube. I change backgrounds, keep the feed up to date, change pictures, or promote her latest contest or giveaway.
As an author’s assistant, I would say the best overall description of my job is “other tasks as assigned.” It mostly means that I work with the author for whatever works best for him or her. For some, that might be organizing emails or contacts. Or, it might mean planning speaking engagements and keeping up with your calendar. I could design and send out a newsletter to all of your adoring fans. Or, I could go back through your series and figure out exactly how old Susie is when Johnnie is 18 and if it’s possible for Susie to have given birth to Davy’s baby.
I once went to an interview where the CEO of the company asked me, “What do you think is the number one goal of this business?” Trying to impress him, I guessed something overly moral like, “Helping the community.” He laughed at me and said, “No. Making money is the goal, everything else will follow.” For an author, the number one goal is selling your books. You probably write for the love of writing, but you most likely love it even more when you find out that 100,000 people just bought your book.
Publicity is vital and the bottom line is that you need to take charge of getting your books out there. With websites, discussion groups, and tons of social networking sites out there, the opportunities are endless. Just through your Twitter alone, you can reach 200,000+ fans with only 140 characters!!!! Why not just do it?? The problem is that all these little things add up and you don’t have time. By the time you check your Twitter, email, Facebook, Goodreads, listservs and Myspace on top of answering fan mail. . . the day is over and you haven’t written a single paragraph in your latest novel.
Ok, so now you’ve decided that you need some help. But, how do you know whom to hire? The first thing to do would be to ask your novelist cohorts. Do they have an assistant? Have they ever used one before? What did they like or dislike? I’ve heard some pretty horrific stories about what a VA charged or how she gave no details on the invoice and the author had no idea what exactly she was paying for. It would be best to hire someone that is not only experienced as a Virtual Assistant, but also has experience working with books and readers.
For example, my background is in the library. I used to work in Young Adult Services in a public library, primarily focusing on outreach to at-risk teens. The teens I worked with were not natural-born readers, so I really had to know how to S.E.L.L. a book. Now, I just translate that to the virtual world. Before that, I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance. It’s amazing how much that experience helps me every single day. Every author I get to know is like taking on another character. I study your writing style, your conversation style, how you sign off on your emails, and how you communicate with your fans. If you ever need me to, I could potentially be a virtual “you.”
You want someone who is organized, responsible, detail oriented and everything else you would look for in a good employee. But, really you need an assistant that will completely tailor their work to you and your needs. You need someone you can trust. You can look for recommendations and talk to friends. After you finally hire an assistant, you may be immediately impressed by her organization and work ethic. Hopefully, though, your relationship will blossom into a working partnership of trust. After all, a great Author’s Assistant can be your Office Manager, Marketing Team, Creative Support and when needed. . .Cheerleading Squad.
Whether you use a Virtual Assistant for 5 hours a month, 30 hours a week or even for a one-time promotional project, I find it difficult to believe you would ever think, “Wow. I wish I didn’t have all this extra time for writing.”
If you have any questions about hiring an Author’s Assistant, feel free to contact me!
Melissa Hermann, Virtual Assistant with AuthorRx
Melissa Hermann has been a Virtual Author's Assistant since 2008 and has recently launched her own fledgling business, AuthorRx. Before beginning work as an Author's Assistant, she was a Library Assistant in Young Adult Services at the Charleston County Public Library. She has a true passion for promoting literacy and connecting readers (and non-readers) to books. Melissa also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance, which means she’s not afraid of a challenge, a crowd, or a little drama!
Posted by Patricia Rosemoor
Filed as: Industry Guests, Social Networking, Virtual Assistant