Are You Stressed Out? Overwhelmed? Maybe You Need an Author Assistant

by Joel Friedlander on October 11, 2013 · 14 comments

Post image for Are You Stressed Out? Overwhelmed? Maybe You Need an Author Assistant

by Kate Tilton (@K8Tilton)

I met Kate during a recent #indiechat Twitter event. It was an amazing experience, and the hour seemed to go by in about 9 minutes—I couldn’t believe it was over. The whole thing was organized for BiblioCrunch by Kate, who also offers services to authors. I asked her… well, let Kate tell you herself.



Recently Joel asked me to write an article on how author assistants can benefit authors. To understand how an author assistant can be of great assistance first we need to know exactly what IS an author assistant.

An author assistant is an individual who provides services for an author or authors exclusively. Author assistants come in a variety, much like the authors they work for. For example, an author assistant may be

  • a virtual assistant (working only virtually),
  • a personal assistant (working directly by the author in a physical location), or
  • a mix of the two.

Unlike a normal virtual or personal assistant, author assistants specialize in working with and for authors.

Author assistants each have different skills they specialize in. I work with my authors on tasks such as admin tasks (sending information about the authors/books to those who request it, updating websites, organizing spreadsheets, mailing out prizes) to marketing tasks (reaching out to reviewers, creating press releases, creating book jacket copy, running street teams, creating newsletters).

One of the most important things when looking for an author assistant is to make sure he or she provides the skills you need.

Author assistants can help you by:

  • Saving your valuable time. This is the top reason to hire an author assistant. Just because you CAN do a task does not mean it is cost effective. Most authors simply do not have enough time in the day to complete their writing and the other marketing and admin tasks they need to. By hiring an author assistant the author has more time to focus on what only they can do, write!
  • Supporting and encouraging you. We are on your team! Publishing, no matter what route an author takes, can be tough. Having another passionate team member is valuable. An author assistant can be that needed force to help overcome deadlines, bad days, and overwhelming times.
  • Motivation and goal setting. Sometimes you just need someone to keep track of things and keep you going towards your dreams. Author assistants rock at that.

Hiring an Author Assistant


Working with an author assistant is a valuable partnership. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the work piling up, it may be time to consider making the connection. When looking for an author assistant there are a few factors to consider.

  • Price. Like most service-based occupations the more experience an assistant has the more you are likely to pay, but you can find talented assistants at any experience level. A student may work for as little as $5 an hour (with college credit) while an experienced author assistant may charge $25-$30. Compared to a marketing consultant who may charge $150-$300 an hour an author assistant can offer cost-effective help at any budget level.
  • Personality. Working with an author assistant IS a partnership. Your assistant will be there to help with any and everything so make sure you enjoy their company and can communicate well with one another.
  • Professionalism. Make sure the assistant is professional, check their website and social media. Are there lots of errors or poor formatting? Look for the assistants who pay attention to details and have clean and professional websites.
  • Skills. Most assistants can guide you in the services you may need but no one knows your book and needs better than you, the author. Take a few minutes to research the skills of each assistant and look for those matching your needs.
  • Experience. As if you were hiring an employee for your company look for recommendations, current and past work experience, and book acknowledgments.

Tips on Finding an Author Assistant

Now that you have decided to hire an author assistant you need to find the right assistant for you. Here are some tips to finding an author assistant.

  • Ask your author friends for recommendations. You will be surprised by how many authors have an assistant (or assistants!).
  • Share online that you are looking for an author assistant. You may have an assistant already following your blog or Twitter. One short message about your intention may yield resumes from existing fans. Just be sure you properly vet potential assistants. While having a fan as an assistant can be amazing they will still need to be able to do the job at hand.
  • Search the web. This point is last because I believe you will get the best assistant through a recommendation, but if you have had no luck (or are simply curious as to who is out there) do a quick Google search for “Author Assistants”.
  • I have created a resource page on my website with author assistants I recommend and sites where you can find other assistants. You can see the list here: Kate Tilton – Resources – Author Assistants.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me on my website katetilton.com/author-services or by e-mail assistantk8@yahoo.com. I am currently open to new clients for projects and long-term partnerships.

Kate-TiltonKate Tilton has been in love with books for as long as she can remember. Kate believes books saved her life and strives to repay authors for bringing books into the world by serving as a dependable author assistant. A cat-lover and fan of many geeky things, Kate can likely be found curled up with the latest Doctor Who episode, plotting world takeover, or assisting authors and readers in any way she can. Kate is also a self-proclaimed Twitter addict. You will find her hosting #K8chat, her own creation, every Thursday night on Twitter from 9-10 pm Eastern. You can connect with her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Be Sociable, Share!

    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Jacqueline Driggers January 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Just had to put a plug in for myself here. I’m currently virtual assistant to an author, and open to taking on another, if anyone is looking for someone. I’m a 53 year old, with experience as a legal secretary, and bookkeeper, and budding writer myself.

    Reply

    Debi November 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Hi Kate-very interesting article. I am just about to self-publish my first book related to the pet world. I would like to create a website to not only promote my book but make it a place for sharing articles, pictures pet stories etc. I’m not that tech savvy and would like to ask you or anyone else for recommendations on steps to proceed. Thank you sincerely.

    Reply

    Kate Tilton November 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Hi Debi,

    Your first step would be to hire a web designer to set up your website (with a blog) or do some research into setting one up yourself. I’m a fan of wordpress based sites, a little more tricky than blogger but a much better system in the long run.

    Best of luck!
    -Kate

    Reply

    Keri Hourihan October 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    There’s a name for this? I’ve been supporting authors for more than a year without knowing that!

    Kate – is there a community or a place where author assistants hang out together? I pick up clients primarily through freelance websites, and through word of mouth.

    Reply

    Kate Tilton October 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Keri,

    Yes there is a name for those of us who do assistant work! An author assistant can be closely related to a virtual assistant or a personal assistant depending on the circumstance.

    As far as I am aware there is no community for author assistants. I did start a group on Goodreads but it is very, very small. It seems like most assistants are too busy to hang ;).

    Reply

    Katy Pye October 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Perfect timing. I’m a debut author/publisher and beginning to feel the strain of “getting it all done,” even defining what “all” means. I decided this week an author assistant is now a must. Thanks Kate and Joel for getting these helpful tips out before I start trying to breathe underwater.

    Reply

    Kate Tilton October 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Hi Katy!
    I’m glad you found this article just in time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you find the right assistant!

    Reply

    Carol Verburg October 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I “hired” my first virtual assistant years ago as an in-house editor for Little, Brown & Co. In those days, being women, my boss & I were (a) underpaid & overworked, and (b) perpetually assumed to be secretaries. In desperation, we created “Ellen Hanley” to make our travel reservations, place important phone calls, & initial our letters (which, unlike our male counterparts, we had to type for ourselves). She even appeared on the departmental phone roster! I learned from Ellen that back-up is immensely helpful, even when it’s imaginary.

    Reply

    Kate Tilton October 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Back-up is helpful for sure! So many authors (and other publishing professionals like yourself) have too much on their plates (and that pile never seems to get smaller, am I right?). It is a privilege to be able to work side-by-side with authors and help lessen the load so they can spend more time writing and with their families. I’m really blessed.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus October 11, 2013 at 1:49 am

    Many college journalism or English majors are thrilled to be a gopher/copyeditor/researcher for $10-$12 per hour, and even kids who work on the high school paper can be useful for $6-$8. Ask around.

    A teen or 20-something may be better tuned-in to new social media than you are and may be able to suggest promotional opportunities you don’t know of, and maybe even operate a program for you.

    A kid with the right connections may get you a speaking gig at her school.

    If the helper is good, send a note to school and put the helper’s name in a book or two. Fame is a powerful motivator and a reward that can last a lifetime.

    BTW, I thought I recognized a familiar face! I used your ‘headset lady’ in my Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide.

    http://ep.yimg.com/ay/panasonic-ablecomm/x2-3.gif

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.com
    http://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply

    Kate Tilton October 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I agree Michael! There are lots of options for authors when it comes to outside help. Students can be a great option if you are willing to invest more time. The learning experience can be worth more than the paycheck!

    Reply

    Leave a Comment


    + 7 = ten

    { 3 trackbacks }