Behind every successful author stands an author’s assistant. Well, at least many of the rich, famous ones. One of George Will’s, a guy named Greg Reed, was in the middle of an infamous climate change denial kerfuffle with the Washington Post a few years ago. American poet Ezra Pound got his start in European literary circles as the secretary for Irish poet W.B. Yeats. And you better believe that James Michener had serious backup from Theresa Potter.
But you don’t have to be rich or famous anymore to use an author’s assistant. With so many writers opting out of traditional publishing, they need help with all those things publishers used to help with: editing, design, marketing, distribution and sales. Some publishers now offer a range of services to fill that gap, as do some agents. But for those looking for more personalized assistance, an author’s assistant is just the ticket.
The toolkit of today’s assistants is a lot bigger than it was back when Ms. Potter was typing for Michener. Here are just a few things modern assistants can help you with:
- Writing support, including research, competitive market analysis, and manuscript preparation.
- Publishing support, including sending out a book for early reviews, assisting with ebook formatting, and getting an ISBN.
- Marketing support, including promotional planning, virtual book tours, and entries for competitions and awards.
Looking better and better, isn’t it? But before you go and round up an author’s assistant of your very own, remember to do your homework. Some assistants don’t have much to recommend them besides a website and an online course. Here are few things to ask about:
- How much do you charge? Do you charge by the hour or the service?
- Have you had any training?
- Who are your other clients?
- Have you worked with other writers in my genre?
- May I contact some of your clients for referrals?
The last one’s a show-stopper, in my opinion. If you can’t find another client who’s happy with an assistant, it’s time to keep looking.
Have you used an author’s assistant before? Have you ever been an assistant? I’d love to hear about your experiences.