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Q: What’s it like to work with authors?

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

In a word...EXCITING!!

There are several schools of thought on whether new Virtual Assistants should choose a particular niche to work in when first starting out in their business. I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer to that question. In fact, you’ll likely find that most people weighing in on the debate will admit that there is just as much reason to choose a specific niche as there is not to.

I’ll just tell you my personal journey. It may help you with yours.

When I first began as a freelancer in 2001, I offered general administrative services. This was my background, after all, since I’d held Executive Assistant roles in Corporate America for over a decade by that point. I was used to moving quickly between tasks, juggling everything all at once, yet not necessarily knowing the full scope of anything–I just did my part and kept moving. So that was how I operated when I started freelancing. I sought out clients who had a laundry list of administrative tasks that just needed to be completed and checked off. That was fine for me when I first started.

But I become bored with general client work, the same as I had when I was an administrative employee just working through a task list. I yearned to have a more vested interest in what I was doing all day everyday. I wanted to be part of something meaningful that would make me smile from the inside out.

So when I learned about choosing a niche to work within as a Virtual Assistant, there wasn’t anything more exciting to me than the idea of working with authors. I was an author myself by that point, and it made complete sense that I could marry my EA background with my passion for working with words–even if those words belonged to someone else. I understood the joy and catharsis of pouring them out for others to devour, and I had some firsthand experience (though admittedly limited at that time) with getting from manuscript to distribution, and points in between. With some research and training, I knew I could deliver services to these creatives. The very idea lifted my spirits and gave me hope for my struggling business.

Fast forward many many years later (yikes!), and I am still working with authors. I’ve found my sweet spot in publishing project management and book marketing planning.

So what do my days look like? I catch up on emails over a cup of coffee (limited to one per day by my cardiologist). There are usually several emails from author clients–some are quick questions, and others are directly related to moving their book project forward. That typically includes fielding communication between the proofreader or editor, as well as the cover and interior designers. There’s also coordinating the details needed by retailers like Amazon and other booksellers: categories, keywords, book description for the back cover, author bio and photo, et cetera. There are lots of back-and-forth emails, as well as the occasional phone or Zoom call to hammer out details that are best discussed in a live conversation. There are file uploads (to the distributor), proof copies to order (to capture any last-minute changes before we call the book final and enable it for worldwide distribution), author copies to ship, et cetera.

And the marketing planning (which should be happening even as the publishing process is in play)...I happen to think this is the most fun part! Figuring out interesting, budget-conscious ways to get the author’s book into the hands of their target audiences…exciting! And also the perfect time to remind the author of the benefits of engaging a Virtual Author Assistant to help them accomplish all the tasks related to promoting their book. And there are plenty of these (shoot me an email for more information on the dozens and dozens and dozens of tasks authors need help with, and which ones you can offer right now).

I could go on and on and on. LOL. But if I had to answer the question of what it’s like to work with authors in far fewer words, I’d sum it up by saying that I’m completely in my happy place in this world, and I’m thankful to have found this spot.

Download the FREE report "5 Services You Can Offer to Authors Right Now" to learn more about how you can break into working with authors. And don't forget to join the Author Assistant Hub (by the Nonfiction Authors Association) on Facebook to chime in on the conversation!

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