Interview: Author Assistant Mary Babic

Many authors are swamped with things like promotion, administrative duties, blogging, etc. Wouldn’t it be great to have an assistant to free you up to be able to write? With technology today, assistants don’t even need to be in the same area as you since much of the work is done remotely.

Mary Babic is a virtual assistant who did a few guest posts here, and I was so intrigued by what she did for a living  that I asked her if she’d be willing to do an interview. I think author assistants are becoming a valuable resource for authors.

Mary tells us more about her business and how you can hire her. Enjoy this interview.

I’m so intrigued by the idea of a virtual assistant especially for authors. How did you first get involved with this?

I was researching certification programs for virtual assistants and I came across Jan B. King’s certification program for authors assistant. Since Jan has over 30 years in the publishing industry I thought her program would be a good fit for me. Jan’s program goes into detail about author expectations and needs and the publishing industry as well. I found her program both informational and practical. I feel she offers a very well rounded program which includes constant feedback and help even when the course is complete along with a manual that I still refer to.

What are some things you typically do for authors?

I am qualified to do Permissions, Fact checking, Bar Codes, ISBN but I typically do virtual book tours. They are basically blog tours. I research blogs that are in the top 3 ranking and correlate with the book subject. I like virtual book tours because if the author of the blog agrees to write an article about the book that article is archived so marketing of the book is ongoing. I have had authors tell me that they have been recognized for their book after the tour is over. Blog tours can lead to interviews and radio interviews spots as well. My job is to create a “buzz” around the book which I find exciting and energetic. I love being an advocate for the author.

What does your average day look like?

Typically I respond and check all email first. I have a policy to return all emails within a 12-24 hour period so nobody is left hanging. I encourage people to email me with questions, I am always happy to help. Then I check all my social media. Next are necessary phone calls to my clients. Research is such an integral part of my day, especially if am doing a virtual book tour. My research also includes reading manuscripts that come across my desk to see if I am able to assist the author. If I can’t I always refer them to a trusted colleague.

I’m assuming you enjoy books as well as helping authors. Is there a favorite you have?

I am able to squeeze in reading for pleasure. I just read a charming book Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea, by Catherine Goldhammer. I absolutely adored it. When the book was written Catherine was going through an amicable divorce and the story unfolds into a woman who basically re-invented herself after she separated with her husband that involves chickens and her young daughter. I really want a part II version so I can see what happens next. I fell in love with this little family.

One question I always ask is “What is the most interesting book you’ve read?” This is often different than a favorite! Do you have a “most interesting” selection you could share?

I am getting ready to read 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker. I am running my own business; I have three children, aging parents out of town etc, etc. What I like is the concept of slowing down, appreciating what you have and living the best life you can. I have not read the book yet but it is on the booklist.

Advice for writers who are considering hiring you?

Here are four reasons to find author’s assistants invaluable:

  1. There is just too much work for one person. So many new or aspiring authors have day jobs and they don’t have the time to do all the tasks of the author.
  2. An author’s assistant has special expertise. Look for someone with training and experience in doing what you need to have done. Trained author’s assistants understand the industry, the technology and have already established resources and connections.
  3. The cost is greater when you do it yourself. There is a high learning curve for anyone who has never made the publishing journey. Whether the author is paid $70 an hour or $270 an hour as a coach, therapist, attorney or entrepreneur, the author’s assistant is a tremendous value at a much lower per-hour cost. With an author’s assistant the author has the freedom to concentrate on those things only the author can do, especially writing the best book he or she can.
  4. There is synergy in a collaborative effort. An author’s assistant is there to help you take each step so precious little time goes by between your writing and preparation for publishing and marketing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am a Certified Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant. I assist non-fiction authors in the collaboration of book assembly such as Fact Checking, Permissions, and Book Marketing.

Author’s assistants have been around for well over 100 years.

Successful authors have always relied on assistants to handle all the professional duties that the author just doesn’t have time for. Now it is possible for most authors to have a part-time assistance by partnering with a Virtual Author’s Assistant.

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