Authors and Assistants – Beware!

Author and Assistant Beware!

As you will know if you have read my previous blogs, I am an Author’s Assistant, which means that I assist Authors to get their works into the market-place, from formatting their manuscript right through to publication, marketing, signings, and even book tours. Whether that is by the self-publishing method or publishing through an already existing publishing company.

Sometime middle to late last year, I had an enquiry on my Facebook page (Diamond Planning – Author’s Assistant, Proofreader and Copy Editor) from a ‘Sci-Fi Writer’ asking if I could help him with his book (‘masterpiece’ was the actual word he used).

Of course, I said I would take a look, it’s what I love to do – assisting a new or established Author to get his/her book published is what I am in this business to do and I LOVE it! Nothing is more satisfying that seeing the absolute finished book in all its glory!

So, getting back to the enquiry, after giving him a brief outline of the work to be undertaken he asked that I take a look and give him an opinion.

I received an emailed copy of his manuscript and I scheduled in a couple of hours so that I could see what all his excitement was about. I found a nice quiet place, had my coffee in hand, and with his words of ‘my book is going to be a world Best Seller!’ sat down to see what I could assist him with. I had expected great things as he was so excited to have finished his book. So I kind of got excited too. Having someone openly excited about his book, and thinking that I was going to read a next ‘Best Seller’, what’s not to enjoy?

So …. and I know you are all waiting with baited breath to see what I found … what happened when I opened the first page? Well, let me tell you 50,000 words hit me like a concrete brick.

The problem was that as I started to read the manuscript it did not make much sense; mainly because of the format it was in. After actually reading through the first 5 pages there was very little punctuation, words were missing, incorrect grammar used, character names spelt different ways and not even a paragraph break – this was going to be a challenge and this would be the first thing on the proposal; formatting his manuscript.

As there would be so much to do I needed to schedule a plan as to how I could assist this author. You will find an Author’s Assistant is invaluable right from the beginning. Some writers, as I have found, are not very organised, as was in this case. So just getting a manuscript into the right format so that any existing publisher (if you go down that route) will not throw it in the bin at first sight is sometimes a challenge in itself.

So, having read and mentally made notes of the problems that arose in the first 5 pages I put together a basic proposal. At the same time I put together a draft agreement for us both to sign so that we could formally work together. I like to be very open and honest with an author so that at all times there is no grey area on the services I provide.

So having put together his proposal I came up with three assignments just to begin the process; his transcript needed a) formatting, b) proofreading and c) editing and it can be difficult sometimes to have to tell an author that his work needs more love and attention before publication. But I just had to do it, so I took the plunge – honesty is the best policy – right???

I emailed him back and advised him that in the first instance his manuscript would need to be formatted correctly and then proofread, and then edited very carefully, all of which would take quite a few hours. At the same time I asked him to think about whether he wanted to self-publish or send his work out to an established Publisher? And, that once he had made those decisions there would still be a lot of work to do to get his book to be on the ‘Best Seller’ List. I sent him the basic proposal and a plan outlining a time-frame for his perusal and comment, together with costings. I also advised him that he would need to pay for such things as the ISBN number, bar coding, website hosting and other necessary expenditure.

What I got back in terms of a response quite astonished me! I am not sure if he realised just how much work actually went into publishing a book, for his reply was that he had thought I would do all the work just to help him out – and, by way of payment he would ‘take me with him’ on his journey and I would get recognition for my services that way!!!

I endeavoured to try and offer alternative suggestions to assist with his publishing and advised that if he was not able to use the services of an Author’s Assistant then it could be a long drawn out process to get his book published and out into the book forum.

So things to be aware of –

For you, the Author:

a) If you decide to use an Author’s Assistant (and in my experience it would be madness not to) please realise that he/she cannot do the work for you pro-bono, so be prepared for costs associated with manuscript preparation, publishing and marketing of your book.

If you do a cost/benefit analysis you will come to realise that the work of an Author’s Assistant is an integral part of your book being read by anyone. Unless you have been writing for your own pleasure.

By using an Author’s Assistant you will increase your chances of the book being published, and you will save valuable time for your writing, rather than you running around in all different directions trying to get everything you need done. An Author’s Assistant will be collaborative and can take away most of your administrative tasks by way of organising and introducing to you a team that can help you proceed to publication with minimum ease. You can then concentrate on the important decisions to be made by you such as finalising your book cover, your website, blog writing and so on. Obviously you the Author will always have the final say on any decision taken.

For me an Author Assistants:

a) Remember to clarify in communication that there are costs associated with manuscript preparation, publication and marketing for Authors before putting together a proposal; and to ensure that the Author is fully aware of the journey from manuscript to publication and sale.

So if you are a writer and looking for Author Assistance please contact me so that I can specifically outline for you what I, as an Authors Assistant can achieve for you, and we can schedule a plan on how best to get your manuscript from its basic form into a wonderful book that everyone will want to read.


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