Welcome to another post in our series, Services for Authors. Self-Publishing will keep you busy morning to night. Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal assistant? One of the services most in demand for indie publishers these days is an author assistant.
Annette, thanks for joining us on Indie Plot Twist. Why don’t you introduce yourself and your business and tell us what an author’s assistant is? What are some of the ways an author’s assistant can help out?
I am the owner of Author’s Assistant Agency LLC which was started in 2012 with just one author. We continued to grow, so now we are a team of three: myself, Lei Johnson, and Michele Page. How I got started in this is that an author friend put out a call for an intern to work as her assistant, so I applied. I do not aspire to be an author. I prefer to be behind the scenes, so she was unsure how she could help me in return. I simply asked that she put my name out there to anyone looking for help and that was it. I absolutely love my job and our authors. Of course working from home is a big plus as well.
What we do is anything an author may want to delegate to someone so they can concentrate on their writing. It could be just keeping their calendar, handling their social networks, answering fan email, scheduling blog tours and much more. Each author is different in what they require from an assistant so we are pretty versatile and adapt to their needs.
Indie authors are beginning to understand the importance of professional editing and professional cover art. Why should they also take an author’s assistant seriously?
Believe it or not, most of our authors are indie or hybrids and they understand, as with anything else, it is important to have a strong team and great communication behind you.
Do you differentiate between an author’s assistant and a virtual assistant? I know some people do.
I don’t; we are all personal assistants and a majority do the same thing whether they are in the same room or town as the author, or miles away and do everything virtually. Skype and email are wonderful things, LOL…
This year I have had the pleasure to travel to conferences with my author to make sure she is set up at signings and to be there should she need anything.
Do you feel the demand for author’s assistants has been on the rise? Why? And who are most interested in your services – traditionally published authors or independent authors?
There has been a jump in demand, the more authors that find out that the service is available. The biggest concern most have is cost, but one author told me once that she’d rather spend the money and know that I am there for her than to go crazy trying to keep up on everything. A lot of readers don’t realize how much time is spent in social media, marketing, promotion and all the other back office side of being an author can take. It is exhausting and add trying to spend time with their families, it can get hectic.
We have almost an even split between trads and indie authors as well as a couple hybrids.
Are most of your clients multi-published, first-time published, or still working on their first book? When do you think is an ideal time to hire an assistant?
Most of them are multi-pub authors but we do have those that are first time published contact us to help them with promoting their book.
As for the ideal time to hire an assistant? That would be when the author finally says “I need help.” So it can vary; it just depends on the author, their writing time and their personal lives, I know some authors that still do it all, or they contact us when they have a new release and just want us to help promo for them or send out their ARCs.
Are some authors looking for a full-time assistant, and others part-time? How much should an author expect to pay for good help?
Most budget for what they can afford, so the majority are part-time, only a few hours a month or so. The pay question is a rough one to answer because all assistants have their price ranges and it varies by quite a bit. For our authors, we charge a block rate, so if they want 5 hours they would pay for a 5 hour block, etc. Most, I believe, charge an hourly rate. You can find ranges from $25 an hour to $100 an hour. One thing an author should always look for is someone they can communicate with and have a connection with.
Your business is a bit unique in that you have a team of three assistants, each with her own expertise. But many assistants are working solo, correct?
That is true, most do everything on a solo basis.
My goal was to start a company that authors could come to and have a team working for them. They each have their individual assistant but they also know that the others are there in case of vacations, medical reasons, etc. We all try to stay current on who handles which authors and what is required to be covered should one of us need to jump in and take over. Lei also handles any graphic work an author may want, like a FB banner or if they are putting a book on a sale ad, while Michele does the majority of our blog tours and schedules them and manages them.
Obviously, the relationship between an author and an assistant is going to be pretty close, and compatibility will be important. What advice do you have for authors in interviewing and selecting an assistant?
It is true that the relationship has to be comfortable for everyone. Assistants will have access to an author’s personal information in some cases and an author needs to know they can trust the person with that information. I have a great relationship with all of our authors and those that I handle directly are amazing. Where else can you call your boss an a#$ to their face – or in this case, it was text – because you did something she is never going to let you live down? It is a working relationship, true, but you also want to be friends. Just always remember it is their business and livelihood, so handle it with care and professionalism.
When you’re discussing your services with a new author, what myths do you find you have to bust? What expectations should they have instead?
To be honest, I haven’t had too many myths. My one suggestion is to come prepared, know what you want to have them do for you and start there and work your way up.
Obviously, authors looking for an assistant can click over to your website. 🙂 In what other ways do authors typically find virtual help?
Social media, word of mouth, advertising and, yes, Google. Most of our authors came from a referral, and I always get, “I didn’t even know this service was available.” I was just at the RT Book Reviews Magazine Convention and I met quite a few assistants there, so it is growing.
What do you think are authors’ chief concerns about hiring someone else to do some of their work? How do you answer those concerns?
It goes back to trust. You need to be able to feel comfortable and trust the person you are hiring because they are representing you. Spend the time getting to know them, and if they have been an assistant to someone else, ask for references.
Thanks so much for joining us, Annette!.
Thank you for having me, it was a pleasure spending time with you.
Other & Upcoming Posts in This Series:
About Our Guest
We are also a Blog Tour site, so Authors if you’re looking to do a tour of your upcoming release we would be more than happy to help you with that as well.
One question Authors always ask themselves, do I really need an assistant?
Well, here are a couple of things to consider in helping you make the decision:
How much can you budget to pay your assistant?
What tasks do you want them to do for you?