Self-employment as a Virtual Assistant? Is It for You?

If you did well in school, love books, have a computer and can attend to details as well as see the big picture, here is a brand-new kind of work that might be just the a self-employment opportunity for you.

Today, January 27th, is Author’s Assistants Day.

What is an author’s assistant? Basically it is the equivalent of a production editor in the traditional world of publishing.

In the old world of publishing, the editors who decide to turn manuscripts into books and work out the costs are called “acquisitions editors“. The editors who actually work with authors are called “production editors“. These editors make sure books meet the high-standards of content and design of the traditional publishing world.

The production editor is in charge of all kinds of things. They need to get the layout done, hire an indexer or advise the author about getting an indexer, see to the cover design, book production and binding, and make sure the author is paid by their accounting department.

Production editors see that copies of the books are sent to the U.S. Copyright Office and to the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication unit. The CIP unit creates CIP data for inside the book itself, and a digital book catalog record to be sent out to libraries. Production editors also make sure each book gets a unique identifier called an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and a UPC (a bar code label) for sales at bookstores or use at libraries.

Production editors, or those who work with them, create ads for books included in their publisher’s catalogs and featured on their publisher’s web site along with a promotional “one-sheet” that goes out with review copies of their authors’ books.

In short, the production editor is a project manager for getting a book designed, manufactured, and marketed. Production editors are well-educated, love the details of book-creation, and know a great deal more about putting out books than most of the rest of us!

In the new, growing by leaps and bounds, world of self-publishing, there has been no one who quite fills the shoes of a production editor. Because of that, Jan B. King, a publisher and book marketing expert, founded her Virtual Author’s Assistant (VAA) program in January 2007. Virtual author’s assistants (VAAs) work with clients anywhere in the country or in the world by using telecommunications and the Web.

Quite frankly, there are quite a few people in the new world of publishing who are hanging out their shingles on the Web claiming to know about book design, editing, book production, and book marketing who know almost nothing about these things. Fortunately, many of those newcomers are willing to learn and are doing so as fast as they can.

If you are one of these new authors assistants, I highly recommend you take VAA training, If you are managing any significant part of a production editor’s tasks on behalf of self-publishing authors or authors seeking a publisher, this program will help you get up to speed much quicker.

If you’re an author, be sure to check out this web site for a Virtual Author’s Assistant.

An experienced Virtual Author’s Assistant will save you all kinds of headache, money, and time in creating your book. If your goal is to get you book accepted by any part of the traditional publishing world, i.e., bookstores, libraries, or a New York City agent/publisher, this kind of assistance is crucial!

If you’re already a VAA, Happy Author’s Assistant Day!

[For more about self-publishing, see my other blog, WordmapsIndexing.]


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