In the modern publishing industry, the demands on writers have escalated at an overwhelming rate. Life is already busy enough researching, writing, editing, and marketing one book a year, but many authors have moved to writing multiple books per year (often a combination of novels and novellas). That means an author doubles or triples the research, writing, editing, and marketing.
On top of that, authors also maintain some sort of online presence via social media whether that's through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogging, Pinterest, or all of the above. Authors also have an enormous amount of communicating to do via emails on a daily basis with publishers, agents, readers, other writers, etc. There are websites to update and maintain, guest posts and interviews to be written, Facebook chat parties to plan, book giveaways to mail, etc.
With my current publishing schedule writing for three different publishers, I knew that I would drown if I didn't get some support. So last fall I began the process of searching out help, namely in finding what is known in the industry as a Virtual Assistant (VA).
After getting recommendations from many different authors and chatting with several VA's about their services, my search finally led me to Rel Mollet who is well known in the CBA industry for her work with authors and publishers. She agreed to answer a few questions on my blog today in order to share a little bit more about VA's and why YOU might benefit from having one.
Join me in welcoming the awesome and talented Rel!
Q & A With Virtual Assistant, Rel Mollet
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Wikipedia defines a Virtual Assistant (or VA) as “generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.”
This works, but it isn’t that cut and dried. Not for me. Being a VA to authors is not just a job, it’s a partnership between myself and my clients. And it’s my passion. I love journeying with authors as they negotiate the business of writing. In coming alongside them, my goal is to help them find a balance between writing, family commitments, day jobs, and the curve balls everyday life throws. By alleviating some of my authors’ writing-related pressures, I help them do what they do best—write!
What kinds of writers can benefit from hiring an assistant?
I’ve spent the last decade immersed in the “writerly” world via my book review blog, as a contributor to NovelCrossing.com and FamilyFiction.com, and making connections with authors, publishers, and publicists. The cry of despair I most often hear from authors is the difficulty in finding the time to write. A good VA assists authors by tackling administrative tasks that have become such a large and burdensome part of being published.
Many assume only big name authors can afford to hire an assistant. Not true. While a wealthy author may be in a position to employ a VA on retainer, paying a weekly or monthly fee, those working with a limited budget can still utilize the talents and time of a VA.
A debut author may request services for initial promotion work to help plan for release day.
Midlist authors benefit from an assistant establishing and managing the street team they intended to set up when—if ever!—they found the time.
Established, multi-published authors faced with the reality of publishers who require more from them in terms of marketing, social media presence, and newsletters can turn that list over to an assistant.
Then there are indie authors whose plates are so full they overflow. Everything to do with writing, publishing, and marketing falls to them, so assistance with time-consuming tasks can ease the way to publication and give better results when their books hit the virtual shelves.
What are some specific things that VA's can do for writers?
A great VA will do whatever they can to support their clients, although I might draw the line at eating bugs so a client can figure out the best way to describe a character’s response! To give you an idea of the various tasks a VA can tackle, here’s a starting list.
**Note: Not all VAs offer these services. Discuss with your prospective VA what they are willing/able to do.)
- Input blog posts
- Influencer development and coordination
- Publisher/marketing liaison
- Website updates/additions
- Newsletter compilation
Social Media Tasks:
- Facebook Page updates
- Twitter feed updates
- Pinterest Boards – set up and maintenance
- Authorgraph - set up and maintenance
- Street team/influencer team – creation, maintenance, and accountability
- Graphics for promotions/giveaways
- Giveaway coordination (eg. Rafflecopter)
- Research target audience bloggers
- Request and arrange blog reviews
- Audiobook proofing
- Manuscript critiques
- Self-publishing timelines
- Social media focus
- Target audience
- Cover Art ideas and feedback
In addition, a great VA provides a listening ear, support, encouragement, and even a pep talk, as required ;-)
What is the average cost of a VA?
This can be a little like asking how long is a piece of string! The hourly rate for a VA varies from as little as $10 per hour to upward of $40 per hour. Many VAs offer package deals with the hourly rate decreasing with the number of hours purchased.
Monetary matters are not the only consideration in selecting a VA ~ experience, expertise, and industry knowledge all play a part. It may be more cost effective to pay a little extra for the benefit and insight you will receive from a VA with specialist knowledge of the publishing industry.
Thanks for sharing with us today, Rel!
If you're interested in finding out more about Rel's Author Support Services, you can contact her over on her website: Relz Reviewz
What about YOU? Are you overwhelmed at times with the demands placed upon you? How do you keep from drowning? Have you considered the possibility of hiring a Virtual Assistant?