Morning, RU Crew! Today, we’re hosting two fabulous ladies, Jenel Looney and Sheridan Stancliff, who know tons about making your admin load lighter so you can do what you love: write. I was fortunate enough to meet Jenel when I rented her lovely garage apartment in Georgetown, Texas, for two days last summer. If you’re ever in the area and need a gorgeous place to stay with billion thread-count sheets, give Jenel a shout. She, her husband and her cute Labradoodle, Sidiqi, will give you a warm welcome!
Jenel was sweet enough to recruit Sheridan Stancliff to chat with us as well. Welcome, Jenel and Sheridan!
There’s more to writing than writing. When you’re a published author – whether in print, ebook, or both – your job doesn’t stop when you write The End. If you write a book but no one reads it, you haven’t communicated. Although publishers do what they can to promote each book they release every month, no one will be as passionate an advocate as you.
Without question, the best marketing tool in your arsenal is to write the next book, but it’s hard to find time to do that with all the other pulls on your time. An author’s virtual assistant can be your best ally. A good VA will help you with all those tasks that take time away from your writing… and it might not cost as much as you think, because you can hire a VA on a job-by-job basis, if that works better for you.
VAs have a variety of skill sets, some can lean more toward organizational assistance and others may be stronger in creative marketing tactics. It is important to find someone who meets your needs in a variety of areas in order to be the most help to you – areas to consider when thinking about your plan are:
- Social media – A VA can set up and help monitor your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, Pinterest, and other social media accounts. The one constant with social media is that it’s always changing, and it’s your VA’s job to stay on top of the changes. For example, Facebook will soon migrate all professional pages to the new timeline layout. What are the implications for authors, and what do you need to do to stay within the new terms of service? Sheridan has written an excellent primer on the subject: http://sheridanink.com/fyi/the-new-facebook-timeline/
YouTube is a site where most authors could benefit from a stronger presence. A VA with video editing skills can help you come up with a cute video to showcase your personality, attracting readers who will love your books, such as this one that Sheridan created for author Karen Hawkins: http://youtu.be/acelVyUkKiU
- Contests – Contests are a great way to build your mailing list and your Facebook numbers (as long as you operate within Facebook’s TOS). Some of the most effective contests out there are author co-promo contests, meaning that you and another author “cross-pollinate” each other’s mailing lists. A VA can coordinate the contest, from buying the prize to picking the winner and everything in between.
- Blog Tours/Blogger Reviews – Bloggers do an amazing job of telling other readers about the books they love. How do you get your book onto bloggers’ radar? It’s not difficult. It is, however, time-consuming. A VA can contact the bloggers, send out ARCs, and schedule blog dates for you.
- Book Tours – Setting up book signings is another task that is more time-consuming than tough. A VA can contact bookstores and get you on the schedule. Your VA can then send a press release to local media and submit the signing to local events calendars.
- Promo Materials – It’s great to have promo materials for signings and conferences. Your VA can brainstorm relevant promo materials, design them, then shop for the best price. Kate Carlisle wanted a unique reader giveaway, so Jenel came up with the “Bibliophile Mystery Time Killer,” a word search booklet. The answers are online, driving more traffic to Kate’s site.
- Newsletters – With your marketing activities for the current book, you should be thinking about sales of your next book, too. If you aren’t already focused on growing your mailing list, now is the time to start. You will be amazed by how much impact a letter to your mailing list can have. Your VA can write, format, and send the newsletter for you.
- Long-Term Planning – Together, you and your VA can plot out the steps of how you are going to get where you want to go. In publishing, there’s a lot that’s out of your control, but your marketing activities can have an impact. You must have a plan.
- Press Kit – Your VA can research other authors’ press kits, make recommendations, design one for you, and ensure that it stays updated. She can even serve as your point of contact with the press, if you like.
- Updates – Your website should be the best resource, bar none, for readers who are interested in your books. An outdated website makes a bad impression on readers. A VA can schedule regular website checks to make sure that you are sending the right message at the right time.
- Bonus Material – Ongoing series give readers the opportunity to reconnect with characters they love. This experience can be made richer with a VA’s help. On March 27, Susan Mallery will launch the Blackberry Island series with the release of BAREFOOT SEASON. Jenel created all of the bonus content on www.blackberryisland.com, as well as all the bonus content on www.foolsgoldca.com, the website for Mallery’s ongoing Fool’s Gold series of romances.
- Mobile Apps – If you’re at the stage of your career where you would like to have a mobile app, a VA can help you find an app platform, create content for it, and keep it updated.
- Stats Monitoring – Ask your webmaster to send a monthly statistics report to you and to your VA, so your VA can track results over time to see which of your promotional efforts have been most effective at driving traffic to your website.
- Email Monitoring – When you’re under a pressing deadline, it’s hard to keep up with email. Your VA can sort your email for you. She can get rid of junk mail, set aside email that can wait, and ensure that you see time-sensitive emails immediately. Your VA can also set up Google alerts and send DMCA notices to sites where your copyright is violated.
- Ebook Formatting and Uploading – If you’ve decided to self-publish but don’t know where to start, a VA with ebook experience can prepare your manuscript for publication on the Kindle, NOOK, and other ereaders, set up your accounts, even design the cover.
Each virtual assistant is an independent contractor, with different skills and specialties. When you find the VA who’s right for you, magic can happen.
Jenel and Sheridan both have tons of experience with business, promo and marketing functions that often frustrate authors. Feel free to ask questions and learn from the ladies in the know! What do you wish a VA would take off your plate?
Be sure to stop by Wednesday to chat with Damon Suede when he returns to talk about using verbs to better define and understand your characters.
Jenel Looney (www.jenellooney.com) puts all the skills she gained from a lifetime of career indecision to work for her clients’ benefit as a virtual assistant. Her client roster includes Susan Mallery, Maureen Child, Kate Carlisle, and her current hometown, the city of Georgetown, Texas. She is not accepting new clients at this time but recommends Sheridan Stancliff without reservation.
Sheridan Stancliff has spent her career working in various industries, but always in the areas of marketing and project management. Her creative side lets her excel at brainstorming and concepting while her analytical side helps it all come to fruition. She is currently working with Karen Hawkins, The Goddess Blogs, Jane Atchley and is working on projects with Julia London, Emily March (Geralyn Dawson) and Dana Marton. She resides in western Colorado with her rescue cat and dog.
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