No matter what profession you are in, there usually comes a time in your career when you must choose to delegate some of your responsibilities. When that time comes, you must select a qualified person, create a list of duties, and refrain from the overwhelming urge to micromanage.
As authors, the need to be hands-on and informed often keeps us from delegating to others, and as such…ultimately prevents us from doing what we do best—writing. When I first began my career, I wore many hats; author, publicist (even though I had a great one through my publisher), marketer, attorney, contract negotiator, social media guru, and Internet designer. I also strived to answer every email and snail mail that came my way. But if you are in the game for any length of time, you will overwhelm yourself if you don’t shed some of the business aspects of being a published author or an aspiring writer seriously pursuing publication. There will be no books without the writing part of the process.
So, I challenge you to answer a few questions in an effort to decide whether or not it’s time to hire help.
- How much time do you spend on the Internet? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, emails, blogs, and/or other online outlets?
- Are friendships suffering because you simply don’t have time to meet deadlines and nurture those relationships?
I’ve been blessed with a fabulous assistant, but everything didn’t come together perfectly. Through trial and error, we figured out what works best for both of us. Four years later, we both feel like we’ve almost perfected the professional relationship, and I’m grateful for the wonderful friendship that we share also. A funny tidbit—when I interviewed Janet for the position, she told me, “I will make myself irreplaceable.” I didn’t know her, but I seriously doubted that was true. Well, uh…I’d be lost without her! A good and trustworthy assistant can make life as an author so much easier. Start with a temporary arrangement to see how it works out before making things permanent.
Here are some of the things Janet (my fabulous assistant) does to help keep me focused and sane:
- She reminds me about important dates—i.e. book signings, radio interviews, marketing items that are due, etc.;
- When Janet notices that readers have asked questions on Facebook, and I’m on a deadline, she answers the questions, advises readers, and basically fills in while I’m writing. I’m still on Facebook often, but if she knows that I’m under the gun, she does her best to let everyone know that I’m still around;
- We live in a small town, and I like to donate books to our local libraries. And since we don’t have bookstores nearby, several local businesses sell my books too. Janet takes care of these distributions, and collects money for sold books. And deposits it for me!
- A while back, I toyed with the idea of opening a bookstore. Janet is often my voice of reason, and she quickly convinced me why this wasn’t a good idea—for me. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be a good idea for someone else, but Janet knows my schedule, family obligations, and other things that wouldn’t have it made it a good fit for me;
- An author’s ego is often fragile. I still cry over bad reviews sometimes, or something negative a reader said. Janet reminds me of the good that has come from my books, the inspirational notes and emails, and that I can’t always please everyone. Generally, she mothers me when I need it, and I’m grateful for that;
- Janet has contact information for all of our local newspapers. She usually writes any press releases, I look over them, then she fires them off to her contacts;
- Book signings—there are good ones and bad ones. One person shows up or a hundred folks form a line. ☺ Janet takes the bookstore manager under her wing, informs them about publicizing the event, providing literature and/or signs we have about the book. She encourages them to move in a direction that is beneficial to all involved. Some managers have hosted many book signings, and others are just learning. But all of them have welcomed Janet’s help toward a successful signing;
- Janet and I are both limited when it comes to web site issues, and we both recognized this as an opportunity to add to our team. Janet oversaw the hiring process when we hired someone to manage my website. It was a great investment, and “Jamie” works diligently to keep my online presence hitting search engines and in the forefront while Janet is able to work on things she is better suited for;
- As authors, we get a lot of requests for donations. Most of those requests are legitimate and I’m happy to donate books whenever I can. Unfortunately, there are people just wanting books to sell on their own, using lies as a way to stockpile. Janet weans out these types and makes sure we donate to good causes.
- Often times, a book requires research. A good assistant can be working on that aspect of the process while you create characters and scenes;
- Janet sends me writing-related articles that she thinks might be of interest to me, along with news about the industry or other noteworthy mentions.
- When a book is inclusive of a specific plot that certain people will relate to, Janet searches out those folks. For example, my latest release—The Promise—deals with cultures in the Middle East, various religions, and the ways that people respond to the differences. Janet is helping to get my book in front of readers that might not be familiar with my stories and who have an interest in the topic. And she makes sure to comfort my current readers by assuring them that my voice is still in all of my stories, even if I’ve veered into a different genre.
Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. In her daring new novel, Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and the small Texas towns of her previous releases to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, Wiseman believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time.
Wiseman can be found at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook where she interacts with readers. Learn more about the author and her books at bethwiseman.com and on Twitter (@bethwiseman).