As authors, we wear a lot of hats. Writer, marketer, speaker, small business owner, and the list goes on without even mentioning family responsibilities and everything else human beings do. And that’s why most authors would love to hire a virtual assistant. If you aren’t familiar with what these professionals do, check out these two articles packed with helpful information:
Can a Virtual Assistant Help Your Writing Career? By Laurie Tomlinson
Last Night I Dreamed… By Tina Radcliffe
If the idea of an assistant to help with time-consuming, mundane, or technologically challenging tasks is so appealing, why don’t more authors embrace this solution?
In my work as a virtual assistant and website professional, these are the top three reasons I encounter.
1) I don’t have the budget for that right now.
2) I’m uncomfortable entrusting my livelihood to a “virtual” someone. (People get scammed!)
3) I’m so swamped I wouldn’t know where to begin!
All of these reasons are valid, and not everyone needs a virtual assistant. But I believe some of you reading this might find the relief you’re silently (or not so silently) crying out for by taking a step of faith in this direction. So with your wellness and overall productivity in mind, I’d like to take a walk with you through each of the above and see if we might find an easier entry to this professional relationship.
Top Three Reasons Authors Don’t Hire Virtual Assistants
• I don’t have the budget right now.
I get that. You can’t invest what you don’t have, and it would be unwise to commit yourself to something beyond your means. If you’re certain that’s you, skip down to the next bullet (though sheer curiosity about the point I’m going to make here may just keep you reading).
You can begin with an investment of under $20/month. A virtual assistant doesn’t have to be huge expense and YOU can set a budget you’re comfortable with. What can you get for $20? About an hour’s work, depending on your VA’s rates and the type of work they’re doing. An hour a month may not seem like a huge help, but in the remainder of this article I’ll prove the value of this hour to you. Keep reading.
• I’m uncomfortable entrusting my livelihood to a “virtual” someone.
Laurie Tomlinson says, “The top trait you should seek in a virtual assistant is trust.” I agree, and you can read the remainder of what she says on that in her article on Seekerville.
As authors, we’re not new to the trust game. We deal with publishers, editors, graphic designers, website designers, publicists and more. Before we enter into a relationship with these people we do our research. A virtual assistant relationship is no different, except that in this instance YOU always have the power. Your VA works for you and you set the standards, the deadlines, and the scope of work.
Looking at this “trust” dynamic from the flipside, every day our books are on a shelf—either in a brick and mortar store or a virtual one—we are asking readers to take a chance on us, to trust us. Our promise to them is that if they spend their precious dollars on our work, we’ll deliver a story (either fictional or true) that will add some value to their lives. We don’t know most of these readers and they don’t know us; in a sense, this is a “virtual” relationship. And yet we plunge in fearlessly to share our work with those beloved readers, praying they will look us over and find us a worthy investment.
So while it is a risk to trust someone you don’t know, it really isn’t uncharted territory for us. We only need to do our homework. Research, reviews, and references should lead us to a solid professional of good character. And to continue with the above analogy, readers don’t buy a whole series without reading Book One first. Only when they are fully satisfied do they invest in the next step with us. We can (and should) take this same approach with a VA. Start small. That’s wisdom.
• I’m so swamped I wouldn’t know where to begin!
I’d like to approach this in two directions. First, if the problem truly is that you don’t know where to begin, I can’t address this any better than Tina did here. “Put first things first. Know what you're looking for by evaluating yourself!” I encourage you to read that entire post if you’re thinking of hiring a VA. While the most important thing you’re looking for in a VA is trust, the thing your VA needs most from you is CLARITY. Work through those questions in Tina’s post and you’ll be well on your way to clearly defining your needs. This information will lead you to the next step of finding a VA to fit those needs.
Second, I have a feeling there’s something else going on under this sentiment. So many writers I know feel overwhelmed, and rightly so. As I stated at the top, we wear a lot of hats. But I’ve noticed something about this pressure we work under. Sure, deadlines can be stressful. And keeping ourselves in the chair actually doing the writing can be a downright war sometimes. But it isn’t the work we are doing that creates the greatest stress or feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s all those things we aren’t doing that bear down on our psyche with relentless angst. And this, my friends, is where a virtual assistant can bring relief like a healing balm. Even with just one hour a month.
The Power Hour
A friend of mine was building a house many years ago and had a workday one Saturday. She invited friends and family to come help the project along. I had zero skills to offer, but I showed up and was assigned the easy task of driving screws into a wall. I had to climb a ladder and hold the drill over my head. Both of these variables were a challenge for me. After an hour of work and only a few screws in the wall, my friend came to check on me. I was sure there was something wrong with the drill, the screws, or the wall. But she climbed the ladder and drove three screws into the wall in thirty seconds. Zzzzzzip. Zzzzzzip. Zzzzzzip. I was humiliated and awestruck at the same time. I served drinks and snacks the rest of the day and felt very adequate handing out bags of chips.
The point I’m making here is that it took someone else 30 seconds to do what took me an hour.
All hours are not equal.
Although the time ratio probably won’t be as remarkable as above (you’re probably more skilled at the tasks in question than I am with a drill), your virtual assistant can achieve more in that hour than you can.
It is a Power Hour.
Why? Here are a few possibilities to consider.
• Because it is a highly focused hour
• Because they are motivated to produce well (and earn/keep your business)
• Because they have experience and skills that you don’t possess
• Because they actually enjoy doing the things you’ve been dreading and putting off
Take the Step
Let’s face it. Dread sucks the energy out of our work. And the angst of all we aren’t getting done produces stress that drives us to the refrigerator, the laundry, changing the oil in the car, or maybe even a delicious afternoon nap. It’s crazy, but you’re probably nodding your head in agreement. We’ve all done it. So instead of continuing in the cycle, might it be time to take that step and see how hiring a virtual assistant could take you to the next level in your career as a writer? Or at the very least, power through those time-sucks and energy killers?
What do you think?
Heather Duff is a freelance web/graphics designer and virtual assistant living in Louisiana. Author of The Wrong, she is busy writing the second book in her Kirby Mayhew Mystery Series. She is the director of discipleship at her church and also enjoys serving on the church media team. Heather has a great affection for coffee and good friends, especially when combined. Her BFF (best furry friend) is Murphy, a cairn terrier with a happy disposition and a penchant for snacks any time of the day.
Virtual Assistant Website: http://creativecoachingandmarketing.com/virtual-assistant-for-authors/
Author Website: http://heatherkduff.com
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A grieving pastor’s new beginning lies buried beneath the secrets and sins of Caney Cove’s most horrific crime.
Two years after his wife’s murder, Kirby Mayhew submits his resignation letter as pastor of Harvest Church. He’s ready to pack up his life and move away from Caney Cove and away from the shadow of grief he’s been living under. But a deathbed confession from the ailing Trudy Andrus reveals new information about his wife’s killer.
Did the man convicted of Julie’s murder act alone?
Was someone else to blame for her death?
As Kirby pursues the truth, an unseen enemy fights to keep it hidden.
Kirby enlists the help of Carson Todd, a local attorney who worked on the prosecution’s case until she was sidelined for asking too many questions.
Only together can they unravel the truth. But at what cost?