In the most general sense, an author assistant (AA) is an individual who provides support services to writers on a contract or freelance basis. There are three types of assistants:
Virtual assistant (VA): an individual who works remotely, communicating with authors via email, phone, Skype, etc.
Personal assistant (PA): an individual who works directly (i.e. in person) with the author
Hybrid assistant: an individual who works remotely and directly with an author
In addition to sole proprietor-type assistants, some companies offer author support services. These companies serve as a point of contact, assessing the needs of author clients and then hiring staff or subcontractors to perform the work.
Some assistants work exclusively for a single author while others work with multiple authors. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of arrangement. Weigh your needs and preferences against the pros and cons to determine what type of assistant is best for you.
Single-client assistant advantages: dedicated support, quicker turnaround, eliminates potential conflict of interest among clients, greater flexibility
Single-client assistant disadvantages: less exposure to strategies used by other authors, may require a certain number of hours per week, a part-time assistant may slow turnaround time
Multi-client assistant advantages: may require less hours (cost shared with other clients), gains knowledge working with a variety of authors, usually works full-time so greater availability, performs tasks more often and thus becomes quicker and more efficient
Multi-client assistant disadvantages: must juggle multiple priorities, require more lead time, less flexibility, potential conflict of interest, perceived “divided” loyalty
It is important to realize that not all author assistants are created equal. Some provide very specialized services; some offer a broader skillset. While most individuals can be trained and technical skills can be learned, there is tremendous value in hiring an assistant familiar with your genre and the publishing industry, someone who understands the standards, etiquette, roles, norms, best practices and unwritten rules. The caveat is that a more experienced assistant will garner higher rates.
Do you have questions about working with an author assistant? Contact My Author Concierge for information, tips and advice.
This content is excerpted from DO LESS. WRITE MORE.: The Author’s Guide to Finding, Hiring and Keeping an Excellent Author Assistant.Copies are available from most online vendors: