Interview with an Author Assistant


Meet Mel Jolly.

“Thanks so much for hosting me! I’ve been an author’s assistant for six years now and it’s a totally awesome job. I have a degree in theatre performance and also spent time working as a library assistant, a cash office associate for hardware store, and a production manager for a textile factory. So, my experience is… widely varied. However, I’ll say that I learned something valuable with every job and they all helped prepare me to be an author’s assistant which is an all encompassing career.”

The oh so typical and probably annoyingly repetitive question… How did you become an author’s assistant? “I fell into this job backwards, which is how the best jobs always start, don’t you think? I met an author while I worked at the library. She volunteered to come speak to the teens at the juvenile detention center at which I did outreach. The kids loved her and she and I became friends. About a year later, she asked if I wanted to help her out with this and that. One thing led to another and next thing I knew, this was my full-time gig! I now have roughly 15 authors I help on a regular basis. For anyone that’s thinking about doing this job, you should know that I worked a regular full-time job and did this part-time in the evenings and on weekends for about 2.5 years before I was able to get enough clients to make the switch to working only for myself. Like any business, you have to put in extra time and effort at the beginning to build it up.”
What is an average work day like for you? Is it the usual 9-5 M-F job?
“I try to keep my weekday schedule as regulated as possible, but as you can imagine, there are a lot of distractions. Because when I’m reading interviews, I’m always curious what someone’s schedule is like, I’m going to actually give you mine. I try to wake up before 6, take care of the pets, ship The Kid off to school, workout, do my morning meditation, and get started working by 8:30 AM. I only have until 3:30 to get work done before The Kid gets back home, so I try to avoid distraction as much as possible. I might be able to get more work done after he gets home, but it’s not guaranteed. So, while I’m alone in the house, I don’t wash the dishes or put in laundry or start dinner because all those things can wait. This is a lesson I learned the hard way during my first few years in business. I would work for an hour or two and then get up and do chores and then get back to work… and the next thing I knew, the day would be over and I had a ton of work left!”
3.What does an author’s assistant essentially do either remotely or in person?
“This really varies by the assistant and what the author needs. I do a lot of scheduling (school visits, interviews, travel), make a bunch of graphics and manage social media, do some light accounting, mail prizes and book donations, update websites, and a number of other miscellaneous tasks. My basic job description is “other tasks as assigned.””
Do you recommend trying one of the seemingly numerous sites offering virtual assistant certification?
“I haven’t done any certifications, so I really can’t speak to the value of one of those courses.”
How often do you get the chance to read for pleasure vs. reading for work?
It would be awesome if reading were my job, but it isn’t. My days are generally pretty full, so the only time I get to relax and read is about 15 minutes before I pass out at night. I have primarily romance and YA authors and luckily for me, I enjoy all of my clients’ work so my pleasure reading is usually a client’s book. The majority of my non-client reading is done by listening to audiobooks while I cook or walk the dogs. I recently read THE POWER OF HABIT by Charles Duhigg. I loved it!


Thanks again for interviewing me!

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