Many successful authors have an assistant, and most of the assistants work remotely. Authors were ahead of the curve in hiring Virtual Assistants before the world was focused on flattening the curve by working from home during the pandemic.
Working with a Virtual Assistant (VA) does not mean you are working with a robot. A VA is a real human who works for you remotely and only works as many hours as you need them to. Some VAs only work an hour or two per week.
Your weaknesses are someone else’s strengths. As you become more successful as an author, you will be earning more money. With some of that income, you can hire a trained person to skillfully complete the tasks where you lack skills or desire.
When you spend less time working in your areas of weaknesses and more time in your areas of strength, you will be happier, more fulfilled, and more productive. In other words, you will earn more money overall by paying a VA than you would if you tried to do every task yourself.
Why spend the time and money trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths when you can just work with others?
When you hire someone to do work they are good at, you make the world a better place.
When you delegate, you create a job for someone who can’t do what you can do. You are the only person who can write your books. When you don’t delegate a task you could afford to delegate, you withhold a job from a willing worker, and you spend less time writing your books.
Hoarding tasks you can afford to hire out makes the world a worse place.
You might hire a house cleaner, but you can also hire someone to help you with your writing work.
7 Kinds of Virtual Assistants
Most authors only have one or two VAs, but there are seven main types of Virtual Assistants. Different people have different strength zones. You want to hire a VA whose strengths compensate for your weaknesses.
An Administrative Assistant’s primary job is to protect you from distractions so you can focus on your writing.
You can delegate the following types of tasks to your Administrative VA.
What to look for:
The most important qualities to look for are organization and the ability to communicate in a friendly way. However, not every task listed above would require a person to be friendly and comfortable talking with people.
This kind of VA is generally only needed by indie authors. A Publishing Assistant will help you publish your books and manage your backlist. Especially for indie authors who have more than a dozen books, a Publishing Assistant can take care of many of the technical tasks.
They do this by:
What to look for in a publishing assistant:
Many indie authors know the basics of the publishing process. They know how to deal with designers, editors, beta readers, and the copyright system. But for whatever reason, they haven’t written their bestseller yet, and they’re looking to earn money on the side. Other indie authors are a great resource, and if you find someone who’s already published their own book, you may not even need to train them.
This person helps you get more sales by:
What to look for in a marketing assistant:
You may need to set up the processes first, but a Marketing Assistant can maintain them. If all you do is hire a VA to submit your books to BookBub every thirty days, the VA may pay for itself through sales generated by BookBub Featured Deals.
Your Marketing Assistant should be the kind of person who listens to Novel Marketing. They should be interested in learning marketing techniques. Novel Marketing has over 250 episodes that would be helpful to your Marketing Assistant.
A Research Assistant is generally only needed by nonfiction authors, and they help you look smart by helping you keep your facts straight.
They do this by:
What to look for in a Research Assistant:
When I wrote my nonfiction book, I had over 500 pages of survey responses. We had to follow up with some of those survey respondents to include their stories in the book. It was a lot of work, but I hired people to help me comb through that research.
Your Research Assistant doesn’t have to be good with people since they are only working with research. Your money is better spent on an organized spreadsheet wizard than a friendly but disorganized conversationalist.
A Writing Assistant is a research assistant for a novelist.
They help you write better books by:
What to look for in a writing assistant:
Authors have used dictation for hundreds of years. Before typewriters, Writing Assistants used shorthand to transcribe an author’s dictation efficiently. Now, it’s as easy as speaking into your iPhone. If you’re on a Mac, click “Transcribe” in Pages. In Word, you talk into your microphone and turn on dictation.
After you’ve dictated your words to your artificial intelligence software, you’ll still need to edit it yourself or have a human, like your Writing Assistant, massage the wording.
A Writing Assistant will help keep your story world consistent from book to book. But let me reiterate, your Writing Assistant does not function as a professional editor. You will still need a trained editor to polish your final draft.
If you are a media content creator (you make videos or podcasts), a Media Assistant helps you make better content.
They tend to come in one of two flavors: Producer and Editor.
What to look for in a producer:
Your producer should be comfortable saying “no” to a famous person and making sure the celebrity has the right microphone for high-quality podcast audio. The more famous a person is, the less they believe the rules apply to them. Your assistant should be friendly, organized, and firm.
High-level podcasts and video channels will hire a Media Assistant to sit in the virtual recording room and act as an audio engineer. They help troubleshoot problems with sound, speakers, and microphones.
What to look for in an editor:
Invest in an assistant who has invested their money in the tools they use and has spent time mastering those tools. Since this is not a public-facing role, this person doesn’t need to have great people skills.
Even if you are independently published, you may find you need a literary agent to help you interface with large, powerful institutions. Literary agents are not technically VAs since you don’t pay them directly. But they do work remotely, and since they make money when you do, they work for you.
A literary agent helps you by:
For more on finding and working with literary agents, listen to the following episodes:
One of these types of Virtual Assistants can help you make more time for writing books that only you can write. But where can you find them?