Many individuals who are new to book publishing are often not educated on their own roles, let alone the roles of the professionals they will work with. You will find as you talk to authors and aspiring authors that many are hungry for education and resources and do not know where to turn for intelligent and unbiased information. You can fill that role and become a critical resource. This is a wonderful marketing strategy for an author’s assistant.
Share your book publishing expertise as widely as you can. As you develop the things you best like to do, you will develop more and more specialized expertise that people would not be able to easily find. What may seem clear, easy or obvious to you probably isn’t clear and easy for authors who are struggling.
If you like to answer emails or write out instructions, then your preferred method of highlighting your expertise may be through writing articles.
If you enjoy networking meetings, teaching or giving talks, then speaking might be the way you most naturally highlight your expertise.
If you like to do both, by all means, do both. There is a tremendous demand for the services provided by author’s assistants, but many new authors are not aware that there is a category of professionals called “author’s assistants.” It becomes the responsibility of all author’s assistants to change that.
Writing articles is a great way to get a reputation as the go-to person who has real expertise in her subject. You can choose to write several articles at once or simply write them when the ideas come.
One of the times to write an article is when an author asks you a question you can’t fully answer. If you need to research it, chances are others are asking the same question and need the answers.
What to Write About
Publications are looking for a new take or new information about subjects that are relevant to their readers. If you want to write for a particular publication, online or in print, read several issues of the publication to look for the topics, the typical length and how the articles that appear there are constructed. If every article starts with a story, you have a much better chance of having an article accepted if you follow the model they show you.
Authors, your target audience, will be looking for anything about the publishing world that will help them get published, so co-writing a success story with one of your authors might help other authors consider new avenues.
In writing an article, you have the challenge to write about something that will be interesting, relevant, touch on new developments, or relate to things currently in the news; and, you want to write something that will be relevant for a long time since articles can appear on the Internet many years later.
One of the best tips we can give you is to write short bulleted lists of the top 5, 7 or 10 things that are important in your topic. In this era of quick sound bytes, a popular form of article is the brief top-ten (does not have to be ten) list with short explanations of each point. Start with an introduction and pull it together with a conclusion and you will have given valuable information in a tight, easy-to-read form.
The title of the article is very important in drawing attention to your work. The title should be short, but use keywords that your readers might be searching on, such as author, book and publishing. Titles that make the information seem critical or important now are those that will be more effective, such as The Top 10 Mistakes Made by Most First Time Authors That Kill Book Success or The Top 5 Ways to Find the Publisher of Your Dreams.
Still don’t know what to write about? You are welcomed to use the information from the articles on the www.InstructionSmith.com web site and modify them to make them your own. They are there for you to use with our permission.
Marketing Your Articles
One of the most popular ways to market articles is to submit them to large article banks that provide content to online ezines, web sites and print publications as well. Some of the most popular include:
Another opportunity is to submit articles to trade newsletters and other publications. Trade publications are those that cater to a particular industry. You have an advantage in that many professionals are interested in becoming authors, but their typical trade publication writer may not have the specific expertise that you do. You might submit an article on becoming an author to a trade publication of human resource professionals, accountants or life coaches.
Certainly you will want to have copies of your own articles on your own web site. In the same way someone might find your articles on an article database, you might also choose to share the work of others on your site, especially if it makes your site more of a resource for your clients.
Finally, we are always looking for good articles for Author’s Assistant Directory site (www.InstructionSmith.com) about newsworthy or otherwise new information to share with authors.
Format of an Article
Check out the publication’s web site for more specifics of formatting. There you will usually find how they want your article submitted (number of words, type style and more).
Articles for magazines go from shorts – 250 to 750 words, to full-sized articles – from 1,000 to 5,000 words or more.
Articles for online publications or to submit to ezines are generally from 500 to 1,500 words.
At the end of the article you have the opportunity to put a block of copy called the author resource box. The author resource box is usually limited to 50 to 100 words giving your contact information and a brief sentence or two about yourself. Just as you did creating an elevator speech, work at telling who you are and what you do in a way relevant to authors in 50 words or less. Your author resource box should include your name, web site, what you do and a “call to action”, meaning what you would like the reader to do next.
Sample Author Resource Box
Pat Smith is a certified Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant who makes book publishing made easy for first time authors. Find out how Pat can help you make your dream of becoming an author come true this year, faster and easier than you ever expected with her free special report, available at BookEntrepreneurs.com.
Ownership and Compensation
For the most part, and unless you do it professionally, you will not be paid for your articles. Since you do this without being paid, it is very important that you retain the rights to what you write.
When you contribute an article to an online article bank, you are usually asked to agree to terms and those terms include that the article bank has the right to use your article on a “non-exclusive” basis. To protect your intellectual property it is important that the word “non-exclusive” appear in anything you sign.
Copyright (defining that this is something you own) takes place the minute you put your words on paper and that ownership can only be changed by written contract. In other words, you own the rights to your work unless you give that up by contract after the article is created or you are creating a “work for hire,” meaning that you have agreed ahead of time to write the article for a publication and give up the rights to it.
This becomes more important if you write a regular column, either online or in print. You may someday write your own book as a compilation of these columns, so you want to make sure that it is understood that the right for the publication to reproduce them is non-exclusive. This is best done by a simple contract, traditionally provided not by you, but by the publisher.
Speaking to Authors
Similar to articles, the opportunity to speak can be for a short duration, such as a ten-minute talk at a networking meeting or very long, such as a two-day workshop.
Many people learn better by listening than reading so speaking can be an ideal way to help authors learn about how you can help them.
Again, similar to articles what you talk about is best determined by your listeners, so if you can find out what your audience might want to hear ahead of time you can tailor what you say to that. Many speakers plan for a short presentation and then open up the conversation to a question and answer period with the audience.
Remember that you do not have to be the one doing all the talking. You might invite a panel of authors or publishing experts to a speaking event and you can serve as the moderator. This would show that you have an extensive professional network and would certainly impress aspiring authors.
Because we speak and can listen much faster than we can read the written word, when you speak, you can cover a lot more ground than you can in most short articles. Besides giving valuable information, speaking allows you to share your smile and tone of voice to get across your message.
One of the main differences between preparing to write and preparing to speak is that when you speak, people want more than information alone. They want to enjoy your personality and hear your experiences. A great way to share both is with stories. Once you have worked with several clients, you will be able to share the wonderful successes you have had as a way of validating your expertise, but also sharing what is possible for those who choose to become authors.
Consider interviewing authors about their publishing experiences or interviewing publishers about the things they wish authors knew or research new developments or trends in book publishing for possible topics.
Before you have your own stories to tell, you might read the experiences of some famous authors and tell those stories. The story of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, for example, is legend. In 1993, Jack approached many publishers before he finally decided to publish his first Chicken Soup book himself. By the time they sold a majority stake in the company in 2008, more than 112 million Chicken Soup books had been sold.
Finding Places to Speak
Start local and start small. Offer to give a half-hour talk about selecting a publishing company at your local library or at a local networking group. Get comfortable talking about the topic and most importantly, listen for what people are asking you. Modify your talk over time as you hear what your audience wants to know.
While content is important, when you speak, your delivery or the way you present the material is equally important. Telling stories helps people make an emotional connection to you and to remember the important details. Give your talk as often as possible and you will find this practice makes you a better speaker.
You will probably not be paid to speak, but if you are asked to speak a distance from home, you might ask for your travel expenses to be reimbursed. Another important element is to have an opportunity to set up a table or other place to be able to talk to potential clients after your talk.
If you have the opportunity, get feedback from the audience, preferably in writing, which will help you continue to improve your content and delivery.
Once you have established your own specialty and a degree of mastery about what you do well, consider teaching. Teaching these days can be done live, but also through teleclasses and web seminars (also called webinars).
Consider teaching to your peers as a way of letting other author’s assistants know what you do well with the ultimate goal of creating a referral network. The Virtual Author’s Assistant Training Program is always looking for professional author’s assistants who can teach teleclasses or webinars on specialty subjects.
Developing Products from Writing and Speaking
You may discover you have a gift for communicating information in a way that helps others understand and makes your subject seem doable and simple.
While you may only write and speak as a way to market your work as an author’s assistant, you may also choose to sell your expertise. Writing a book, of course, is a primary way experts sell what they know. In addition, you can create ebooks from your articles and audio downloads from your speaking and teaching for sale on your web site or other places.
Even though I have not done a lot of public speaking, I know I will enjoy it because I will start small and talk about things I believe in and want to share. I have decided to become an author’s assistant because I love books and want to help people and speaking will allow me to reach more people with this important message.
Although I may not consider myself a writer, I want to develop my writing skills and the more I practice communicating in writing, the better I know I will be able to get my message out to the people who need it.
I am happy to be working at a job that allows me to touch the lives of so many people, even some I have yet to meet!
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