I'm super pleased to start the new year off with a visit from award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby. J.P. has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com
And now here's J.P.
It’s All Too Much: Hiring an Assistant
It’s that time of year, when we make our goals for the new year and measure how well we achieved our goals the previous year. My goals last year included becoming a solid mid-list author, launching the new YA line, attending and making the most of various events, and releasing at least three books, all of which I accomplished. There were a few things I didn’t finish like the quantum book, or updating the website. In fact there are a lot of things I want to do in 2014, more than my schedule will allow. Having a full-time career and two hour commute doesn’t leave a lot of time for getting writing related things done, much less the writing itself. So, to alleviate some of the pressure on myself and make the most effective use of my time, I hired an assistant.
William Cooper and I have been friends since he was assigned to my author lunch at that very first GRL is NOLA. He’s an author in his own right and understands when I say, for example, “Can you send me all of the open calls for MLR?” he’ll know exactly what I’m talking about whereas someone outside the industry would have no idea. At GRL in Atlanta this past year, I was busy. I mean super busy. I don’t think I saw the inside of my hotel room for anything but sleep in the week I was there. Between my scheduled events (the Q&A, the spotlight, the body painting, and the signing), I also moderated panels, worked the Wilde City and Dreamspinner tables, and herded wayward boys. It was a lot of fun, but also a tremendous amount of stress and preparation. A lot of my friends stepped in and helped me put my banners together, get my stuff together for the signing, stuffed me into the corsets, and loaded the #JPStyle bags with swag. The person who helped me coordinate everything, was William. At that point, he did it because we were friends, but when we got back from the conference, I hired him officially.
So, what does he do?
William keeps my schedule by coordinating guest posts with other authors on my site, and my posts on other authors’ sites. He posts all of my blog posts and sends out coordinating social media messages. He manages my marketing plan for each book, keeping things like tours, ads, and excerpts on track. He does my licensing for cover images, tracks my sales numbers, and coordinates contests. In other words, he’s pretty much a Godsend to an author struggling to find time to get everything done.
How do you hire an assistant?
First, make sure it’s someone you can trust, not only to do what you ask them to do, but to see some of your most confidential information. William has access to my financial information in order to pay for things like ads and social media subscriptions. He also sees my sales numbers, contracts, and sometimes edits some of my smaller pieces when he has time. So, make sure you to find someone you trust. Second, try to find someone who knows how to sell books. William, being an author and an editor, understands the process. Though, he says he’s learning about a lot of the insanity behind branding by working with me. Finally, you also want someone who knows their way around the internet, Word, Adobe, WordPress, social media, and any other specialized software you may use in your promotion. When we hosted Eric & TJ’s blog tour, for example, I asked William to pop over and figure out Rafflecopter so we could use it for the prizes. He didn’t have a bit of trouble setting it up and using it, which really helped free me up for other things.
I won’t discuss the financial arrangement I have with him, but I can tell you that other firms which hire out at hourly rates generally do so at about $10/hour. I pay William a monthly rate plus certain expenses he incurs at my request. The key to an hourly rate is being organized, setting expectations, and holding someone accountable for the number of hours they work. For example, if you want to hire someone to set up a blog tour for you – know the date you want to start, the number of posts you can effectively write for that time to determine the duration of the tour, the kinds of posts you can write, and which blogs you’d like to target initially. That will save you a lot of time and expense because you can tell the person you want a seven day blog tour, you’ll write about A, B, and C, and you’d like these four blogs, and whoever else they can fit in.
However, if it would have taken you two hours to do it, and it takes the person you hire ten hours to do it, that’s something you need to address in your expectations. Get a clear estimate of what your request is going to cost in terms of hours and negotiate based on what you can afford.
Have an amazing 2014!