5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant

5 Things to Know about Working with a Virtual Assistant shares some information about working with virtual assistants.

I wear a lot of hats in life as do many of you and one of mine is being a virtual assistant. So, if I’m at my desk and I’m not blogging or writing, I’m usually working for my clients.

I’ve been a virtual assistant now for about eight years and I thought I’d share some information about working with virtual assistants that you might find helpful.

Five Things about Virtual Assistants

  1. Find a virtual assistant that you feel comfortable with. I recommend this to people all the time. In the absence of face-to-face communication, it’s important that you have a good feeling about the person you work with. Referrals from someone you trust definitely help. Interview your virtual assistant on the phone or on Skype to get a sense of who they are. Most virtual assistants are happy to discuss your needs with you initially without charge.
  2. You will need to give your virtual assistant your passwords for sites you need help creating or maintaining. Before you send this information to your virtual assistant, make sure that it works. If you can log into your accounts successfully with the login information, she should be able to as well. (There can be exceptions to this if the site logs IP address as part of their security measures.) Sending the wrong login info causes confusion and wastes time that you have to pay for.
     
    If you are uncomfortable sending the information through email there are a few ways to do this that minimize the likelihood of it being intercepted.

    • Print the document, scan it and send the image file with your password as an email attachment.
    • Tell your virtual assistant that you are sending the password over several emails without noting what the password is for. For example if you’ve told her you’re sending her your password for your blog, you could send it with the subject line of Email #1 and the body of the email could show the first three characters of the password, say “ABC”, then subject line “Email #2” with the body showing the next three characters, and so on. The information would appear as random characters and it is unlikely that anyone other than you and your virtual assistant would know what the password was for if it was intercepted.
    • You could verbally give your password and login information to your virtual assistant over the phone or on Skype but if it’s a particularly complicated password with a lot of special characters, this may be difficult.
  3. Different virtual assistants have different skills and experience. Some virtual assistants help writers maintain their blogs or market their books and are experts on using social media or building websites, some virtual assistants work with lawyers, some work with real estate agents, etc.
     
    And, even though a virtual assistant might be an expert on using social media, it doesn’t mean that she’s completely up to speed on every single social media platform and utility that works with that social media platform. She might be, don’t get me wrong, but things change quickly on the internet. New sites crop up overnight.

    It’s also been my experience that as much as I might like to learn something new, it isn’t always possible because there are only so many hours in a day.

  4. Just because a virtual assistant works from home doesn’t mean she’s available for business 24 x 7. We all have personal lives, too, and as we’re all learning more and more, it’s important and healthy to switch off and disconnect from the internet sometimes.
     
    The borderless nature of the internet means that we often work in different time zones than our clients. Some of us choose to work on off hours that better suit our family lives, but some of us work 9 to 5 hours, or something close to that. Know what time zone your virtual assistant is in so that you don’t call her too early in the morning or too late at night. And, realize that if you email on a weekend, you might not get an answer until Monday.

    If you have questions or concerns about this, ask your virtual assistant what she sees as being reasonable work hours when you can contact her.

  5. Being a virtual assistant is great! I like my job. I like to help my clients and working from home works for me and my family.

Is there anything you’d like to know about virtual assistants? Ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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Authors: Let’s Play Show and Tell

Authors: Let’s Play Show and Tell explains why authors need to show and tell potential readers about their books and suggests how they can accomplish this.

As writers and authors we see our books from a unique perspective.

We’re excited about our books, right? And we already know how great they are, right?

Because of this, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that our potential readers have to catch up and learn what we’ve known all along—that our books are fantastic and they really need and really want to read them.

So, how do we do that?

Show and Tell

Do you remember way back (well, way back for some of us!) when we were in grade school and we had to bring something in for Show and Tell?

When our books are published, it’s our job as authors to “show” our books and “tell” our potential readers all about them.

What Influences Readers?

But, let’s think like readers for a minute. When we go to buy books, what makes us decide to read a particular book?

I think we select books in our favourite literary genres or subject matters based on:

  • The book cover
  • Availability of the book
  • Familiarity with the author
  • Reviews

So, if these factors influence readers to buy books and we have to “show and tell” readers so they know about our books, how do we do that?

Showing and Telling When It Comes to Your Book

  • Book Cover
    Your book cover is often the very first connection your readers will have with your book and contrary to what we’ve always been told, i.e. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we do exactly that. I mean, come on, how could we NOT do that when there are 10 books on the same topic to select from and 5 of them have covers that look like they’ve been designed by a five year old?

    Without taking the time to evaluate the contents, we make assumptions that the author didn’t care enough to do a proper job of the book–based on its shoddy cover. As readers, we don’t stop to think that the author already knew that his book was fantastic and just didn’t know how to relay that information to us, do we?

    Have the cover of your book professionally designed. If you’re determined to do it yourself, have a neutral party with experience in this field critique your cover. One way to do this is through the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards run by The Book Designer and even if you don’t actually submit your e-book cover to this contest, you can learn a lot by reviewing previous submissions.

  • Bookstores – Online and Off
    Wherever possible, and unless you have a very good reason not to do this, make your book available through various online and offline retailers in print and e-book formats so it can be seen and is accessible. We’re all busy people and many of us are a bit on the lazy side. If it’s too hard to find your book to buy it, most people won’t.
  • Your Author Platform
    Just as you should put your book out there, show your face, too. Connect with your readers, your potential readers, other writers and other industry professionals. Utilize social media, maintain a blog, do interviews, consider podcasting, do a newsletter, write guest posts.

    Use this, your author platform, to tell potential readers about you and your book. Tell them why you made certain decisions about your storyline, or where you did your research, or how you picked your book cover, for example. Let them in on the creation of your book and tell them why you think it’s fantastic, but don’t go over the top with “Buy my book! Buy my book!” because they won’t. You’ll just turn them off.

    It’s recommended that you create your author platform well before your book is actually published to build your connections and to reap the most benefit from your social media networks when your book is released versus starting from scratch after your book has been released.

    Interact with your audience and others in the industry and be approachable. If they like you and are interested in what you have to say, odds are they’ll want to read your book and might even help to spread the word about it.

  • Book Reviewers
    Book reviews are an important way to tell the world about your book. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some book reviews without asking as people read your book, but more than likely you will need to get this ball rolling, and it will be your job to contact book reviewers and ask them to read and review your book and show them your book (see to it that your book gets in their hands) so they can do this.

    Book reviews tell people about your book and the more people telling the world about your book, the more noise they’ll make and the more likely it will be that others will want to read your book, too.

My clearest memory of bringing something to school for show and tell was taking a dried blow fish that my grandfather brought back from Jamaica where he was stationed during WWII. The poor thing was old and very brittle (and ugly!) by the time I took it to class some 20 years after the war ended. I don’t remember what I told the class about this dried up old fish when I showed them, but I do remember that that fish had the last laugh when its sharp pointy spine things poked through the paper bag I was carrying it in and gashed my legs.

Showing and telling your potential readers about your book sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is, and while it’s not quite as simple as back in the day when you could drag a favourite toy (or a dried up fish), into your classroom and talk about it for five minutes, you can still have a lot of fun with it.

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14 Free Ebooks on Writing, Marketing, Publishing and Motivation for Writers

14 Free Ebooks on Writing, Marketing, Publishing and Motivation for Writers – a list of 14 ebooks written and complied by industry experts offering information and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from writing, marketing, publishing, and being just plain motivated to stay the course.

Below is a list of 14 ebooks for writers written and complied by industry experts offering information and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from writing, marketing, publishing, and being just plain motivated to stay the course.

To receive some of these ebooks, you will have to sign up for a free subscriptionn first.

I have visited a lot of these blogs and have downloaded and read many of the free ebooks listed below. A few of the others were tracked down just for this article and I haven’t had a chance to read them yet so if you do please let us know what you think.

I think there’s a lot of good stuff here.

Writing, Publishing, Marketing and Motivation for Writers

  1. Free Guides on Publishing available at BookBaby.com
  2. Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week available at MichaelHyatt.com
  3. Guide + Workbook, How To Write Better Stories available at Jennifer Blanchard
  4. 14 Prompts available at The Write Practice
  5. The Nearly Ultimate Guide to Better Writing available at Write to Done
  6. How to Get Published, How to Increase Book Sales available at Best Seller Labs.com
  7. 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing available at The Book Designer
  8. Author 2.0 Blueprint available at The Creative Penn
  9. Twitter Just For Writers: The Ultimate How-to Guide for Authors available at Social Media Just For Writers
  10. 279 Days to Overnight Success available at Chris Guillebeau
  11. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide available at Smashwords.com
  12. Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson
  13. Time Management for Creative People available at Wishful Thinking
  14. The Cheap Retreat Workbook by Catharine Bramkamp

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