Perfect might be a strong word. No one is perfect, but there can be a pretty close-to-perfect fit for you, and it’s probably different from your author friends. Let’s rewind for a second. You might be wondering what a PA/VA is. This is a marketing assistant, usually for an author or business, that is commonly referred to as a personal assistant, virtual assistant, or publicist. This is the person who helps take over some of your marketing and promotion or admin responsibilities so you can do more of what you love to do.
With the influx of indie authors and the crazy increase of books published daily, marketing budgets have grown tighter and the book market has flooded. Self-publishing can be an expensive journey to begin with, so who has time to pay for quality marketing once the book has launched? The right answer here should be everyone. Quality marketing is a solid investment while hiring anyone with only the title to do the job can be a money pit.
We’re in the online business boomer phase, meaning anyone can create an inexpensive website, award themselves a title, and try to gain your business. These “title PAs” rack up tons of business because of their cheap rates, but hiring them can be a big mistake. But how can saving money be a big mistake? You have to think about why this person costs so much less than others. Questioning a good deal is hard, we know, but give it a shot the next time you get hit with a low number. This “affordable” rate could be because they lack the experience, education, professionalism, or quality that others who charge more possess. More so than them not realizing their worth and under charging, though that does happen too. It’s best for your budget, and your long-term career, to find out more about them and their bottom dollar. Ask the following questions upfront and you’ll have a better idea if your potential PA is a “title PA” or a qualified one.
How long have you been working as a PA?
Good answer: I’ve been working as a PA for at least a year now.
Why it matters: If they are a newer PA, chances are they haven’t been with an author from the beginning to end of a book marketing cycle. Different marketing strategies come into play throughout a book launch (from several months pre-book launch to several months post-book launch) and you want someone who is familiar with all the right stages. Plus, maybe they’ve only had time to work with an author outside a book launch phase. You’ll want someone with enough experience to have a good handle on all marketing stages.
What is your overall marketing experience?
Good answer: I have a degree in marketing. Before becoming a PA for authors, I worked in marketing for five years. I have corporate marketing experience in the areas of social media, content creation, event planning, sales, advertising, and graphic design.
Why it matters: Okay, so they don’t need to have experience in those areas necessarily, but you want them to have some experience in a marketing, advertising, PR, sales, or communications field. Maybe it’s just a field they studied in college but never fully pursued upon graduation. Maybe they have certifications and training without a degree. Either way, the education paired with some sort of professional experience means you’ll have a capable and qualified PA representing your brand.
Have you worked with any USA Today or NY Times bestselling authors?
Good answer: I’ve worked with newly published authors, USA Today bestselling, Amazon All-Star, and NY Times bestselling authors.
Why it matters: Having a variety means they’ve been put on projects across the board. Marketing is different depending on what stage an author is at. It’s best if your PA can identify the right marketing strategies for where you are in your career at this time and also help you when you reach the next level. If they’ve never worked with authors higher on the rankings list, then they might flounder a bit if you get there with them.
What references can I contact?
Good answer: I’m currently working with USA Today bestselling author so and so and newly published author so and so. I’ve spoken to both and both would be able to chat with you. Feel free to contact them at (email). In the meantime, here are a few testimonials from other authors I’ve worked with in the past.
Why it matters: Testimonials are great, but we all hit walls and slump backwards at times. It’s best to chat privately with current clients so you can see how your potential PA is performing at this time. You’ll also be able to ask the client for the PA’s strengths and weaknesses so you can see if it fits what you’re looking for in a PA.
But wait, we said a more expensive PA can save you money? How is that even possible? We gotta look at the long-term over short-term here. A qualified PA is the right person to work with you on goal-setting, and then putting in motion strategies to reach those goals. If done right, you won’t need to keep working alongside them once they get the foundation laid for you. Sure, you can keep working with them, or have monthly check-ins, but you won’t need them full-time anymore. Why? Because those strategies are working, and often working in the background with very little fine-tuning. A cheaper PA might not be aware of these strategies, or know how to lay that foundation, and even $7/hour adds up when you’re throwing every idea at the wall to wait and see if something will stick.
Have you worked with a PA in the past? Share your experiences in the comments! What other questions could be asked to make sure author and PA are a good fit?
Aurora Publicity is a full-service publicity company for authors. If you’d like our help either finding you a well-matched PA, or would like to consider working with us (let’s hear those questions!), please shoot us an email. We’re happy to help.