DECEMBER 2015 SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month.
JL: Thanks, Winnie! I'm so glad to be here.
WG: To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself. (How long you've been an assistant, your educational background, location, etc. - as much as you are comfortable sharing.)
JL: I took on my first author in August 2013 and quit my day job in October 2013 to be an author's assistant full-time. Prior to becoming an assistant, I worked as an executive assistant and administrative assistant for 15 years.
WG: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as an author's assistant and what steps you took to get you where you are today?
JL: It's funny. I didn't actually know that author's assistants existed. I started helping one of my good friends on her popular YA literature blog when she needed help after getting her book deal. She suggested I become an author's assistant and connected me with the assistant of one of her friends. I did a brief internship and then struck out on my own.
WG: What exactly does an author's assistant do?
JL: It really depends on the assistant. Some only deal with back office work like email management and calendar management. Some only handle social media. I personally will do anything I'm asked as long as it isn't illegal. :)
WG: Is there anything an assistant doesn't do?
JL: Again, it depends on the assistant. I know of one assistant who won't ghost write on social media; she only schedules content that the author creates. I know there are quite a few assistants who won't touch promotion with a 10-foot pole. I can't really think of anything I wouldn't do, as long as it's legal. :)
WG: What services do you provide?
JL: Oh wow. A lot. Let's see. I handle back office administration like emails, calendar management, and newsletters. I track sales and expenses and handle general accounting. I book ads and other promo and track their effectiveness. I build and maintain websites. I proofread. I handle social media. I have a full list of services on my website at http://authorsidekick.com/authors-assistant/.
WG: What does your typical day look like?
JL: First, I glance through my emails and see if there's anything urgent. If so, I handle it immediately. If not, I move on to my daily tasks like handling email and social media. At this point, I usually check email again and respond to my clients. Then I dive into the other tasks I have scheduled for the day, which might include website updates, formatting blog posts, preparing a newsletter, booking promotion for an upcoming release, or one of many other things. At the end of the day, I check email again and respond to other business emails and potential clients.
WG: Are you actively seeking new clients?
JL: Yes, definitely. And I offer free consultations!
WG: What is your favorite part of your job?
JL: I love that I get to do different things each day. No two days are ever the same. Oh and being able to work in my pajamas if I want to. Very nice.
WG: Your least favorite?
JL: Formatting. I can't stand it and try to do as little of it as possible. Also filing my taxes every year. Taxes really hurt when you're self-employed.
WG: Do you have any tools or resources that you use on a regular basis?
JL: The tool I use most is MS Excel. I LOVE spreadsheets, so I make one for everything. Online tools I use a lot are Gmail, Facebook, and Mailchimp. I use Zoho Books for my accounting and Wunderlist for my project management.
WG: If you weren't an assistant, what would you be?
JL: Probably an editor.
WG: What do you see as the main strength you personally bring to the table as an assistant?
JL: My wide range of experience and willingness to learn. If a client asks for something I don't already know how to do, I will figure out how to do it or find someone who can.
WG: What sets you apart from other assistants?
JL: I have experience in so many different areas that I can be a "One Stop Shop" for authors.
WG: What type of author do you generally work with?
JL: I work with both traditionally published and indie authors. My current client list ranges from unpublished authors to New York Times bestsellers.
WG: How much should an author expect to pay for a good assistant?
JL: I believe the going rate is anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour. In addition to regular hourly services, some assistants take on individual projects for a flat fee.
WG: How does an author know if they need an assistant?
JL: If you find yourself spending more time on everything else than actually writing, it's time to think about an assistant. Look at it this way - you are the only one who can write the books, and for everything else, you can find someone to do it.
WG: What advice would you give an author who is considering hiring an assistant?
JL: When you're thinking about contacting an assistant, take a look at the services they have listed on their website and have an idea of what kind of help you might need. This will give you a great place to start a conversation with an assistant about your needs and expectations. Also, take a look at their testimonials and see what other authors have to say about them.
WG: What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about what an author's assistant does?
JL: I get a lot of requests to book people on national television and radio. While I would love to do it, I just don't have the contacts. This is something that a public relations firm would handle, not an assistant. Also, I can't guarantee that your book will become a bestseller if you hire me. I wish I could! :)
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share? (Feel free to expound (or not) on what it means to you and/or why you selected this particular quote)
JL: "Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you." - from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
WG: What do you do to relax and have fun?
JL: I love watching college football!
WG: What do you enjoy reading?
JL: I wish I had more time to read. When I do read, I enjoy fantasy.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
JL: I love The Blacklist and How to Get Away with Murder. Also, Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix.
WG: Is there a website you can point us to where folks can go to learn more about you?
JL: Yes. Please do stop by and feel free to contact me with any questions. I offer free consultations as well. http://authorsidekick.com
WG: And finally, thanks again for taking some time to 'stop by' this month!