Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Tips & Bits for Marketing in 2011: Author's Virtual Assistants

Finding Help for the Busy Author

by Jan B. King 
Founder, eWomenPublishingNetwork
and a Virtual Author Assistant Trainer


Marketing Tip on 7th day till New Year: 

Create articles that will stand the test of time. 
I created 20 articles over 5 years ago to promote my book and not a month goes by that one of those articles is used by a new source (literally, not a month). I did almost all my articles as top 5, 7, 9 or 10 lists. Two of my lists were picked up by the New York Times online over the past two years. Investor’s Business Daily did a full column on me and my book three years after the book came out. Look back at your book to create the lists or make new lists when subjects seem relevant to what the news media might be looking for.

Finding Help for the Busy Author
The author's assistant does a wide variety of work, and may specialize in one or more aspects of the author's workload.
The author's assistant spends time on the phone setting appointments, doing research and fact checking, helping authors obtain any permissions required, answering author questions and explaining the publishing process, finding high-value service providers like editors, proofreaders, printers and more, following up with individuals who will be reviewing the manuscript, setting speaking engagements and more. Many author's assistants can handle all the complexities of Amazon bestseller campaigns and virtual book tours.

What kinds of writers/authors use virtual author's assistants?

A busy entrepreneur writing a book and your Intellectual Property attorney tells you that you need to get permission for everyone you quoted in your book and for your the information that came from business research firms.

A business consultant writing a book and you don't have time to organize all the client proposals, emails, articles, blog posts and more you want to use as source material for your book.

A life coach writing the 2nd edition of your book and although your facts and statistics were thoroughly checked when you originally wrote your book five years ago, they may not be current or accurate any longer. And where did they come from back then anyway?

A financial planner who regularly give seminars to others in your industry around the country. You need someone who can make sure the books you've written for the seminar materials are professional quality, and printed and delivered on time. Where are you going to find the time to do that yourself? A health professional who although you know about health, don't know anything about social networking. Where are you going to find the time to twitter, update your Facebook status and send out a regular newsletter to your clients?

A speaker who has books, CDs, DVDs and more that you need to be ready to sell at the back-of-the-room where you are, no matter where that is. Who has time to prepare keynotes and ship books?

What is the typical background of an author's assistant?

An author's assistant may have worked for a long time in a corporate career in publishing or may have been an executive or virtual assistant for some time. Many author's assistants do this work as a second income and may work primarily as writers, editors, proofreaders, graphic designers or web designers.

Author's assistants typically love books and the world of books and so they have a real passion for making authors successful.

How does an author's assistant become professionally certified?

There is only one international training program to professionally certify author's assistants. The first level of certification is the Professional Virtual Author's Assistant (PVAA). To become a PVAA, an individual must take many hours of instruction with put in additional hours required for practice in the skills required and then complete a rigorous final examination. This assures you that a PVAA is ready to do the work the author needs in a competent and professional manner.

There is a second level of certification for individuals who have extensive experience in working with authors who have recommended them for certification. This level is called the MVAA, Master Virtual Author's Assistant certification.
There is a directory of professional certified author’s assistants at www.AuthorsAssistants.com.

The 4 Biggest Reasons Every Author Should Count on an Author’s Assistant

Author’s assistants are well known inside the publishing world, but not recognized by many outside of it. We predict that will change very soon because of the increasing numbers of authors who are getting published, either as independent publishers themselves or the more traditional route with established publishers.

Every big-time author has an author’s assistant – someone the author can call on to do the amazing number of tasks that surround the successful completion, publishing and marketing of a book. But first-time authors are lucky – they can have author’s assistants, too – virtually.

A new author can pay for just the time and expertise needed, without having to create a staff, making a virtual author’s assistant an important part of an author’s success. Here are the four biggest reasons this is an essential member of the author’s success team:

1. There is just too much work for one person. Most new and aspiring authors have day jobs as professionals, solopreneurs or employees. Few authors have the luxury of working on writing, publishing and marketing their books full time. Some of the work to be done is deadline-oriented and is more than one part-time person can handle.

2. An author’s assistant has special expertise. Look for someone with training and experience in doing what you need done – from preparing a manuscript, to doing a competitive analysis, to coordinating a self publishing process to running a virtual book tour or an Amazon best seller campaign. Author’s assistants can do all this and much more. They understand the industry, the technology and have already established resources and connections.

3. The cost is greater when you do it yourself. There is a high learning curve for anyone who has never made the publishing journey. Whether the author is paid $70 an hour or $270 an hour as a coach, therapist, attorney or entrepreneur, the author’s assistant is a tremendous value at a much lower per-hour cost. With an author’s assistant the author has the freedom to concentrate on those things only the author can do, especially writing the best book he or she can. Expect to pay from $30 to $60 an hour (and it goes higher with greater expertise) for a qualified virtual assistant.

4. The synergy of the collaborative effort. There is nothing that inspires work like someone waiting for it. An author’s assistant is there to help you take each step so precious little time goes by between your writing and preparation for publishing and marketing. If you set the date, the author’s assistant will be there with support and encouragement to help you make it happen.

If you haven’t worked virtually before, talk to someone who has. Most people who start are hooked. One of the keys to success to have clarity about the tasks you want to have done and the payment arrangements – and then to memorialize these in a contract. Another key is to find someone with demonstrated training and experience since the first-time author may be in the dark about what the tasks actually are. 

Take it from the established successful authors, don’t go it alone. Get the support you need and you will be well on your way to publishing success.

What Kinds of Interview Questions Should I Ask Potential Assistants?

You should always interview any author’s assistant you are considering working with to make sure you are comfortable with his or her level of skills and that the working chemistry will be right between you. You might consider questions like this:

* What kind of training have you received as an author’s assistant?
* Have you been certified as a Professional Virtual Author's Assistant (PVAA)?
* Will you be able to handle my eBook and my CD development as well?
* Do you like working on tight deadlines?
* Tell me about the other authors you have worked with.
* What kind of progress reporting can I expect?
* Can you help me find the right editor for this book project?

Jan B. King
Founder, eWomenPublishingNetwork

No comments: