Working with an Author Assistant Part One: How to Find a Virtual Author Assistant
This is part one of a three part series on authors working with author assistants by Sara Rosett, mystery author.
Some people think being an indie author means doing it all yourself, but that’s not always the case. Even from the beginning of my indie writing career I outsourced plenty of tasks like cover design, editing, and formatting. For several years that was the way I worked: I wrote books and handled the admin tasks, outsourcing a few things.
Eventually, I came to a point where I wanted more than occasional help. I wanted an assistant…but I had to find one! I was lucky.The first person I hired worked out great, but then she went back to the corporate world and I had to look again. I know a lot of authors would like to work with an assistant, but get stuck on this first step of finding someone, so here’s how I found my author assistants:
1. Ask other authors/assistants
Check with other writers you know. Do they have an assistant they’d recommend? If you have an assistant and they have to stop working for you, ask them if they know other assistants who are looking . When my first assistant went back to corporate work, she put the word out for me to the assistants she knew to see if anyone was taking on new clients, which is how I found my next assistant. If word of mouth doesn’t work then…
2. Search on-line
Google “author assistant” or “assistant for writers” and comb through the results. Search author assistant directories. I narrowed the search through checking the assistant’s website—if they didn’t have a website, they were off my list. I wanted an assistant who could help me with my website. If they didn’t have a site of their own, I figured they either didn’t have the skills or weren’t serious about investing in their business. Next, I screened the remaining results by checking the assistant’s list of services against the skills I was looking for.
3. Contact possible assistants
I emailed both the assistants I’d found through referrals and those I’d found through online searches. I told them I was a mystery writer looking for an author assistant to work 4-5 hours a month. I listed the tasks I wanted to outsource, then waited to see who answered. It sounds simple, but the checking to see who answers promptly and in a professional manner is a good way to find out who’s on the ball and interested in expanding their client list.
4. I either emailed or chatted on the phone with those who replied, asking questions:
• How did they communicate with their authors?
• How did they handle passwords/security?
• How did they handle payment?
5. Factors that I took as good signs:
• An up-to-date website
• A system to handle passwords
• Payment through Paypal (*not* Friends and Family option)
• A work-for-hire contract
Check out Part Two of this series for info on getting started with an author assistant and Part Three for Q & A with Sara and Adriel. Or, check out Part One of Adriel’s Becoming an Author Assistant series.
USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett writes light-hearted escapes for readers who enjoy puzzling mysteries, interesting settings, and quirky characters. She is the author of the Ellie Avery series, the On the Run series, and the Murder on Location series. Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.” Sara loves to get new stamps in her passport and considers dark chocolate a daily requirement. Find out more at SaraRosett.com.Sara Rosett
Continuity Editor & Virtual Assistant
Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, fur mom, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.