AUTHOR ASSISTANT: AN INSIDE LOOK

Maria Connor

Maria and I found each other at RWA 2014 Atlanta. We met over an iPod Nano. We never talked about writing, only music on her tiny Nano. The tiny toy and its 5000 songs fascinated me. She gave it to me. I’ll have it with me at Disney RWA this year. If you catch me, I’ll show you. It has all my songs now. Imagine?

One day late last year, I noticed “Maria Connor, Author Assistant” in an RWA email. I called to ask if she was the same Maria that gave me the Nano. “Yes,” she said. I asked if she could help me with my work. She was booked, but offered a consult. The consult was terrific. Then early this year, I received an email asking if I was still interested in her services. I immediately said yes, and it’s been fantastic—we work well together.

Maria’s book, easy read: DO LESS, WRITE MORE buy link:http://amzn.to/2pYh7ri

I asked Maria if she would explain what an Author Assistant does, and how to find one because it’s wonderful.

Here’s Maria: The Author Assistant offers one of the most in-demand support services. Here are suggestions and insights about how assistants work in today’s publishing environment.

What is an Author Assistant?

An Author Assistant, aka virtual assistant or personal assistant, provides support services to writers. They are usually freelance or contract positions. Some assistants work with a single author while others support several authors. Many work remotely, but some work with their clients in person.

What Does an Author Assistant Do?

left to right: Reader/fan at RWA BookSigning 2016 with Roxanne St. Claire and Maria Connor

There is no standard job description yet for the Author Assistant because needs of the author differ. Here’s a partial list of services offered by most assistants:

  • Entering contests and sending prizes to winners
  • Formatting books
  • Coordinating events (eg, Book signings)
  • Social Media management
  • Designing and formatting newsletters
  • Updating/maintaining websites
  • Working with reader teams
  • Creating teasers and graphics
  • Marketing support and assistance

How Can Hiring an Assistant Benefit Authors?

left to right: Reader, Author Heather Ashby, Maria Connor

Hiring an experienced, professional assistant provides a number of benefits:

  • Plotting, planning, and writing time
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving organization: filing, phone calls, appointments, etc.
  • Coordinates opportunities, programs, events, speaking engagements, conferences
  • Professional image enhancement
  • Marketing
  • Connections/networking
  • Efficient use of your time
  • Solidify your brand
  • Clarification of goals/priorities
  • Pass along promotional opportunities
  • Your personal “Cheerleader”
  • Enjoy a competitive edge
  • Coverage for vacations, holidays and sick time

Do Less and Write More: Hire an assistant and have more time to write which means more published books, more sales and more income. Here’s a little formula—Average writing 600 words an hour, by hiring an assistant for five hours a week you could complete an additional 3,000 words a week. If you write a 12,000-word novella, you could potentially complete an additional story every month. How awesome it that?

How Do I Hire an Author Assistant?

Seek an Author Assistant the same way you would search for an agent, editor or publisher. Use a variety of resources to generate a solid list of potential candidates.

  • Ask friends and peers for referrals
  • Ask to be introduced to assistants at events and/or conferences
  • Attend Author Assistant workshops
  • Post a wanted blurb within your organization’s newsletter, etc.
  • Online search
  • Review referral sites such as Author’s Atlas and Author EMS
  • Check out sites for freelancers such as Upwork and Freelancer

Once you have a list of potential Author Assistants, screen and research each candidate. Begin at their website, blogs, social media profiles and LinkedIn profiles. While reviewing these sources, keep these questions and considerations in mind:

  • Background? Qualifications?
  • Experience in the publishing industry?
  • Professional online presence?
  • Strength of their writing skills?
  • Any reviews and/or recommendations?
  • How long have they been in business?

Before an interview prepare a job description or list of duties you need/require. Based on the criteria, develop a list of interview questions.

Once you’ve hired an assistant, be prepared to invest time and energy in discussions relative to your needs and to build a working relationship. I caution my new clients to expect a few bumps in the road until we’ve established trust and rapport. You may have different communication styles, different processes, even different expectations. I suggest delegating one or two tasks to start and then move forward.

In my experience, many authors pursue a career in writing because they are passionate about storytelling. Writing is more than a career, and this affects the working relationship between an author and assistant, making it more intimate and personal. I’m fortunate to have developed several long-term partnerships with smart, talented authors, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of their team.

Maria Connor is the founder and owner of My Author Concierge. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than 15 years. Her roles include freelance writer, journalist, author, editor, designer and photographer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and specializes in working with self-published romance authors. For more information visit www.myauthorconcierge.com

This is my stuff that I have more time for because of Maria!

Indigo Sky for reader who enjoy historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

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About gailingis

Gail Ingis a tough blonde from Brooklyn, writes history and romance. Gail’s early days began and ended with writing, drawing and music. After graduating from the New York School of Interior Design with a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design and Master’s studies in Architecture and Design Criticism at The New School (Parsons), she worked in interior design and architecture, and founded a school of Interior Design. She resides in Connecticut with her scientist-writer husband. Currently, she sits on Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum Board of Trustees, and serves as the curator of art exhibitions. Prior to her debut as an author, she illustrated a book for Deborah Galiley, "Seeking Paradise" that can be found on Amazon. Also a professional artist, her varied paintings are an extension of her illustration work in design. Gail spent long days and nights dallying in Coney Island, the inspiration for her project of beach and boardwalk scenes. She is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America and a member of American Society of Interior Designers.
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18 Responses to AUTHOR ASSISTANT: AN INSIDE LOOK

  1. I want one!!! Thank you. very informative post.

  2. deannaadams says:

    Thank you, Gail, for this informative post. I’m sharing this on my Facebook Page, “Writers on the North Coast!”

  3. Thank you for a terrific article on a subject that is both timely and important for many of us SMP authors. Many of us have been with the house since its early days and are getting to the point of overload with all that is required to manage a writing career! Right now, I’m wondering if Maria has room for one more!!

    • gailingis says:

      Thanks Deanna for the comment. My professional life has changed with Maria on my side. It’s awesome. Where is the North Coast?

    • gailingis says:

      Linda, thank you for the comment. Click that link at the end of Maria’s post. She gave me permission to post it, so maybe she has room for one more. Her website has that little word, contact.

    • Maria Connor says:

      Hi Linda – I agree, the industry has changed and authors are handling more and more. The good news is that while the demand for author assistants is growing, so is this niche service! Congratulations on your long-time career with SMP!

  4. Beth Carter says:

    I’ve seriously been considering an author assistant. Maria sounds fabulous! Thank you for this informative post.

    • gailingis says:

      Beth, thanks for the comment. I’m so pleased that you are responding to my post. Maria is amazing. She will be at Disney, RWA. You are coming, right? Maria is doing the Literary signing with me at my table, so come over and say hello. She is worth her weight in gold. Pardon the cliche, but there is no better way to say it.

    • Maria Connor says:

      Beth – I’m looking forward to the RWA conference and would love to connect. Be sure to look Gail up during the book signing since that’s where I’ll be! Hope to see you there.

      • Beth Carter says:

        Oh, I will. I’ve been telling hubby about all the things an author assistant could help me accomplish. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

  5. gailingis says:

    Yay, it’s so thrilling to participate in this wonderful fund raiser and be involved with so many talents. I’m looking forward to meeting you Beth.

  6. I have tried to connect with an Author Assistant or VA three times. Finally found one a few months ago who seemed to be right for me. She did some good and useful work for me, but she decided that she didn’t have time for my account as she had others that were with her for a longer time and needed her services on a regular basis. So here I am again seeking a VA as one can really make a writer’s life so much easier.

  7. gailingis says:

    Hi Callmesweetsyl, thanks for dropping by. You know what it means to have an extra right hand. You can click the live link in my post for http://www.myauthorconciege.com and then click contact.

  8. I’ve just hired a PA and this is a great article and info for any writer who needs help. The publishing world is changing all the time and as an author you barely have the time to write your stories. An assistant takes some of the pressure off when it comes to pre-submission edits or FB parties or formatting, whatever your needs are. When you find an assistant that best fits your needs and one you have some sort of connection with be thankful for all that they do for you. Thank you, Maria!

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