Author’s Assistants FAQ

If you are asking these questions about the course, we have the answers you need to decide if this is right for you.

QuestionMarkWhat is a virtual author’s assistant?

Virtual author’s assistants are people who work behind the scenes to organize and coordinate many of the aspects of book publishing, particularly for nonfiction authors who have businesses to run or professional practices which take up much of their time.

The world of publishing can be frightening, overwhelming and frustrating. An author’s assistant is the administrative professional aspiring authors and authors turn to to guide them step by step through the processes of preparing a professional manuscript, getting the book published and book marketing.

Typically, author’s assistants are administrative experts on the 24 services authors ask for most and many specialize in one or more aspects of book publishing: manuscript creation, the publishing process or book marketing.

QuestionMarkWhat is it like to work as a virtual author’s assistant?

From their homes, virtual author’s assistants organize the publishing process for authors anywhere in the world.

A typical day might be on the phone, coordinating the activities of the author and several other professionals, doing research on the Internet and answering and sending emails.

Other important parts of the job are to keep track of your time so you can bill your clients correctly, invoicing clients and of course making changes to your web site and making calls to continually market your business.

Nothing feels better than being part of creating a book, fulfilling someone’s life long desire to be a published author, seeing an author’s gratitude and appreciation for your work, seeing your name in print on the acknowledgments page, doing something fun and rewarding for a living.

QuestionMarkWhat tasks are part of a virtual author’s assistant’s work and what skills are required to do the job?

As we said in the question above, the main tasks you will be providing are the 24 services authors ask for most and many specialize in one or more aspects of book publishing: manuscript creation, the publishing process or book marketing.

The only skills required are use of the telephone and reasonable ability to use a computer, utilizing word processing software (probably Microsoft Word) and preferably an ability to use spreadsheet software (probably Microsoft Excel). If you don’t have pretty good skills on both, you might consider taking an online class or two.

You will also need to access the Internet and do some research. In most cases we give you the main links you will need, but for each individual author there will be research to do regarding competitive books, publishers, facts that need to be checked, places to market and sell the book and more where you will benefit from knowing something about how to use Google. Again, you might want to take a simple online class on doing research on Google.

We teach you everything you need to take these basic skills and apply them to providing these 24 tasks, so don’t worry – all materials, checklists, training, language to talk to authors – everything is included in the course.

You do not need advanced skills computer skills to work as a virtual author’s assistant and you do not need other book publishing background or knowledge to do the tasks required.

QuestionMarkWill I need any special equipment or material besides what you provide in the course?

To provide these services to authors you need only a telephone and a computer with Internet access and word processing and spreadsheet software (like Microsoft Word and Excel). We provide all the materials you will need to work with authors as part of the course – no additional books or special equipment to buy.

QuestionMarkWhy should I specialize and not just be a generalist VA?
Bottom line… you can charge more for your services!

According to a survey done by the Virtual Assistance Networking Association (www.VANetworking.com), 43.4% of virtual assistants have a specialty they have developed so that they can target a niche market, such as authors.

As a certified professional virtual author’s assistant you will become the ‘go to’ person for your author clients.  Specialists are always more under greater demand and can charge more for their expertise.

QuestionMarkWhat if I’m not a virtual assistant, but have an administrative or publishing background – would this class still be right for me?

Yes, definitely. We have many course registrants who are editors, proofreaders, indexers, cover designers, book coaches and more who want to learn the ins and outs of the book publishing business – more than just their chosen specialty. There are, unfortunately, many people who have lost jobs at publishing companies due to the economic downturn, but want to put their experience to good use. This course will give you the practical information you need to perform important tasks that authors need and pay for every day.

Having the Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant certification can be one of many that virtual professionals in publishing attain. This is your business, so you can do with it what you enjoy.

QuestionMarkDo authors really hire author’s assistants and how easy will it be for me to find author clients?

We know and work with many, many full-time virtual author’s assistants every day. Virtual author’s assistants run their own businesses and while we do recommend author’s assistants to authors, we can’t guarantee that this training program will result in full-time work.  Just as with any entrepreneurial business, much rests on the initiative of the person doing the work.  We only want you to take this training course if after reading everything on this web site you feel it is right for you.

We encourage you to visit the AuthorsAssistants.com directory and contact anyone in that directory or call us directly if you want more information.

We do not have a referral service, a job board or an RFP process, but we have not found those things to be necessary for author’s assistants to find clients. In fact, we are concerned that having those things might make author’s assistant services into commodities and actually reduce the prices authors are willing to pay over the long run. We’ve found that if you personally describe your services and prove your value (and the course has lots of material on how to do that), that is a better way to establish a relationship with author clients than to have them try to post a job and have author’s assistants bid against each other for the lowest price. Attorneys, coaches, therapists and other professionals don’t RFP processes to work with individual clients. They rely on word of mouth, published articles, speaking and web sites to attract the right clients who will recognize the value of their services.

Your best potential clients are individuals who are professionals (medical professionals, attorneys, therapists, financial planners and other coaches and consultants) or entrepreneurs who have the budget and sales expertise to publish and sell their own books and are planning to self publish.  Many nonfiction authors who publish with commercial publishers use the services of virtual author’s assistants, particularly for book marketing and sales.

Here are the objective statistics: Each year over 500,000 new books are published, about 200,000 of which are nonfiction and over half of those are self published.  Many of these authors would benefit from the help of a virtual author’s assistant and we give you all the information you need to determine whether your services would be right for any author so you can intelligently assess your opportunities.

The virtual assistant industry is a thriving one. There are approximately 7,000 virtual assistants in the US, 3,000 in Canada, 2,000 in the UK and 2,000 in Australia, with estimates of 20,000 worldwide. People hire and retain the services of virtual assistants every day.

Many authors, particularly nonfiction authors, do not want to take the time to learn how to do these services they need, and they can’t publish books or sell them without many of them.  The other concern for authors is that they don’t want to miss doing something important to creating, publishing and selling their books and they aren’t familiar enough with publishing to know what they don’t know.

QuestionMarkWhat if I have a full-time job now?  Can I still learn this material in 30 days?

We have designed the course so you can finish in an hour or so a day in 30 days if you have a full time job.  If you are in a hurry to start your new career, we’ve had some ambitious people finish it over a long weekend! The services are not difficult to learn and provide for authors, but there is no other place that pulls it all together for you and gives you an opportunity to practice and get support long after the course.

QuestionMarkWhat if I have an author client now and need to learn this material right away. Can I get through the course more quickly than 30 days?

Yes. The course was originally designed for individuals who were already virtual professionals and wanted to add this subject matter expertise, so you do not have to take it in the 30-day plan. We also have it organized by subject matter, so if you needed to know how to create a virtual book tour today for a new client, you could learn that first and then learn the other subjects later. All the topics are modular, so you can learn as quickly or as slowly as you choose. And all of the information will be there waiting for you in 6 months (updated, of course to any industry changes) in case you want to review it.

QuestionMarkYou say the course is international. Do all countries have the same publishing information and process?

The course is international but designed for virtual author’s assistants in English-speaking countries, particularly the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Book publishing is amazingly the same internationally. If you think about it, a good professional quality book is the same worldwide. Every book has to go through the same process of writing, editing, proofreading and each book has a cover, a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents, chapters, and index and more.

There is an international standard numbering system for books and an international bar code used on the back cover. There is a good worldwide distribution system and marketing online, especially with online retailers and social networking.

There are some differences, of course, such as national library cataloging information and copyright. We discuss all differences in detail and give you links to the right place for each country.

Virtual author’s assistants in the US work with authors in the UK. Australian author’s assistants work with authors in the US and with Australian authors who want their books sold in the US. We teach you what you need to work with English-speaking (and writing) authors worldwide.

Because we had to select one way to present the information, the course is written in American English and uses US currency examples.

QuestionMarkWhy do you offer the course as just one total package? Why don’t you break it up into individual courses so I can learn (and pay) a little at a time?

If we thought that individuals could learn best that way we would do that. But assisting authors is a more complicated group of skills that overlap. An author may be working on writing one day and marketing the next and we want you to have all the information and support to be prepared for any situation. While you may choose to specialize in one aspect of working with authors (such as self publishing or online marketing), we want you to have the full context of the job of the author and how you can maximize your contribution.

We think taking a few courses at a time will not give you the big picture you need. And we start providing after-the-training support from the first minute so if you have a new author client today, you can go right to the information you need to work with that author without having to wait until you can take a particular course.

QuestionMarkThis course seems expensive.  Is it really worth the money?

This is always a good question to ask about any course – will you really get your money’s worth.  We think the answer is yes, and if you visit some of the virtual assistant forums you will hear independently from many of our past students who say that this was one of the best career investments they have ever made.

The price of the course is $597US, but to make it more affordable, we offer it in 3 payments, 30 days apart, of $216US.  You can start the course as soon as you make the first payment.  We never charge interest, so you will see that the three payments equal the total price of the course – no extra charges to make payments.

The value of the course is threefold: First, the course is comprehensive – you will learn everything you need to assist authors and we provide you with marketing tools, checklists and more so you can get to work right away.  Second, we keep your training up to date through the members only web site and blogs for the life of your business at no extra charge.  Finally, we provide personal support with a true book publishing expert when you have questions as you work with authors, again at no extra charge.

Once you pay the fee, you’ve invested in everything you need to assist authors, no additional materials, no membership fees, no fees for additional training or coaching.  We think this is an extraordinary value for the money.

And here’s a final way of looking at it:  If you charge the equivalent of $30US or more an hour (and the vast majority of our graduates charge more than that), you will be able to pay yourself back for the cost of the course in fewer than three days.  Isn’t a better future and more interesting work worth three days of new clients?

QuestionMarkWhat do you mean you support me for the life of my business? How can you do that?

We don’t just hand you a certificate and wish you well after the course like some classes.  Our VAA Online Headquarters will be there for you as your business grows supporting you, answering your questions and celebrating your success.

Let’s say you decide to specialize in book marketing, but now it is two years after you’ve taken the course and you have an author who wants your help getting through the self publishing process. What do you do?  You come back to the Virtual Author’s Assistants Online Headquarters and get the most updated information about self publishing by going through just that part of the course again.  You will always have access to this training information – and we never charge you an annual fee.

We are constantly adding to and updating the information on the VAA Online Headquarters every time there is a change to the book publishing industry – which is practically every week, so when you need the latest information, it will be as close as your computer screen.

We send out newsletters whenever there are updates in the publishing industry you need to know about.

We periodically offer webinars taught by Jan or other publishing experts. Past classes have included in-depth information about social networking for authors, self publishing, making incentive book sales to organizations and book proposals – all focused on how the author’s assistant can provide these services to authors to increase their value as trusted professionals.

We have a forum where you can pose questions and look for resources that your fellow virtual author’s assistants can provide from their own experiences with author clients.

Finally, you can contact Jan King via email any time. She often just picks up the phone if there is an urgent issue you need help with. If you have an author situation that you haven’t dealt with before, we will help you do that, whatever it is. We have helped author’s assistants find printers for unusual books, we’ve helped author’s assistants deal with author marketing programs that aren’t working and we’ve helped author’s assistants decide whether or not to take on a specific new client.

We can provide this level of service for a couple of reasons: First, Jan King has many author clients herself and knows the business inside and out so she’s got the answers at her fingertips. Second, this is just our philosophy: We would rather spend time teaching and coaching author’s assistants because your expertise can help hundreds of authors. We can help more authors by helping keep you up-to-date and increasing your skills and knowledge.

QuestionMarkWhy this course and why now?

We believe that the future of book publishing is in the hands of authors (and no longer in the hands of publishers) due primarily to changes in technology making possible Amazon and self publishing and we want to help authors take full advantage of their ideas in books. Qualified author’s assistants can make that possible.  There is exciting, challenging and rewarding work available for those who are well-trained.

There is no other course that can fully prepare you for work as an author’s assistant because the course creator is one of the few real experts in all aspects of book publishing.  When you consider taking any specialty course, make sure your instructor is a real expert with years of experience in the industry in which he or she is teaching.

If you are going to pay several hundred dollars for any VA niche course, make sure there is a lot of follow up.  We all recognize that this is just the beginning of your adventure in this exciting specialty of book publishing and that you will need and want additional support as you begin work with actual clients.  In addition, if a major industry change occurs a few weeks after you take the course, you want to be sure that you have a way to stay current that won’t cost you a lot of additional dollars each year.