Blessings on the Assistant

- by Eileen Dreyer

I can’t actually afford one. But I can’t afford not to have one, especially in this day of multi-tasking, multi-media, social networking distractions. As anybody who knows me can tell you, I’m scattered at the best of times. Always have been. In fact, when my son was a kid, when somebody asked him when his birthday was, his answer was “Whenever my mom remembers.” Well, my son, thank heavens, is forgiving. Publishing isn’t. So “I’ve been trying to wade through social networking” is not a viable excuse for being late on a deadline. Books don’t sell anymore without PR, and more and more the PR is up to the author. Which is just something else to send me into what we call “Squirrel!” mode (reference the movie UP).

Enter the assistant. I’ve dabbled before. I tried to have a local student in media be my assistant. And here I’m going to share my personal some-all fallacy. I wouldn’t recommend a straight young man as an assistant. They never finish, and they never clean up (I should have figured that out from my own family–I do, after all, have 5 brothers). I even had to teach this kid how to address business envelopes, and remind him that it was kind of necessary to spell my name correctly on every envelope. I had a good friend for a while, who was wonderful. I think of her with longing, in fact, because nobody else has ever understood my particular brand of filing. But she had to get a real job. Back I want into the morass of my organizational desert. I even used my daughter. She was also wonderful, because nothing I did frightened of intimidated her(mostly in the range of running frantically through the house trying to find that American Express bill that was due the week before). But she, thoughtless girl that she was, got her degree, a husband and kids. So much for mom (I ask you!).

After that there was a long dry period. I barely kept my head above water, and it was getting harder and harder by the day. I keep thinking of all the social networking/PR/marketing stuff like those mermaids who kept pulling Harry Potter back under water. I still can’t believe I got any books finished. OF course, having impossible deadlines helped. I work best in panic mode(which was why I was such a great ER nurse). And don’t be confused. Amy Pierpont, my editor, did not set the impossible deadlines. I did. I still can’t believe I got that last one done. When we’re at the conference, buy me a drink and I’ll tell you the whole gory story.

I took my first step to recovery by hiring the wonderful Kim Castillo. She at least could help me get free books out, schedule my blogs(I know you haven’t noticed, but I’ve missed the last three months. Nobody reminded me). She put together baskets and stuff for me. It wasn’t enough, but for a while, it worked pretty well. Then, sadly, I was told that in addition to Facebook, I had to be friends with Twitter, with Goodreads, with Google +, and God knows what else. I had several more unrelated things dumped in my lap. I could feel that cold water seeping into my nose. And then, like a sign from God, I got to spend some time with a buddy from my local RWA chapter. Only it was not at a chapter meeting, but RomCon. She was looking for a new outlet for her organizational skills. I was desperate for help. Et voile!!

For now, I”m Maggie Mae’s only client. Actually, I’m the beta client. Not only so she knows if this is something she wants to do full-time, but because if she can survive me, she can survive anybody. It’s part time. It’s a work in progress. We’re both setting up the structure for our business relationship. But already I’m lightening up on the Omeprazole, and I’m sleeping better. Keep your fingers crossed. I know I am. After what I”ve already dumped on her in no particular order, I’m sure Maggie is just closing her eyes and shaking her head. But for now, I have an assistant.

I think I might just be able to get stuff done again.

6 comments

  1. And, as Mae West said (have a mug with it) “Too much of anything is Wonderful.” But what I want to know, Ms. E, is how to let go and let someone else do social media for you! Control freak, much? That would be me!

  2. Jean–only announcements and retweet of announcements, like contests and stuff. And answering friend requests, stuff like that. I”m still (at least in my own mind) in charge.

  3. I loved your blog! I always had to ask my kids what was their birth date. My excuse is I was busy at the time when I had them and I didn’t make note of the date. LOL Keep your chin up!

  4. I’m using virtual assistance, and it’s been so helpful. Huge help has been setting up & troubleshooting some of the social media stuff. (Thank you!)

    And this way I don’t have to dress decently or straighten up my office ;-)

  5. Ah, but this is the only way I get the office straightened up. Ever.

  6. Perfect timing for this column—I’ve just hired someone, and she is starting tomorrow! I’ve been asking around, trying to find out how authors best use an assistant, wanting to make sure I have enough for her to do. But given that I’m behind on just about everything, the answer is a resounding yes!