Virtual Assistance – Everything But The Coffee

Travel writers benefit from having a virtual author assistant

The world of publishing is changing day by day.

In the old days, an author whose book was accepted for publication could count on a team of professionals, employed by the publisher, whose jobs were to polish a manuscript into a slick, shelf-ready product.

These days, many of the powerhouse publishers have down-sized, and, as we all know, most are accepting fewer manuscripts these days.

Which leaves many authors turning to smaller or boutique publishers, who have limited – or no such – staff, or going the route of self-publishing.

And yet, as any author knows, there’s more to it than just writing a great story. Getting a book from concept to shelf is a big job, and some of the tasks require specialized knowledge. Authors are increasingly turning to outsourcing these tasks.

Outsourcing the editing, design, and marketing lets the author focus on writing

Over the coming months we’ll be featuring various online resources for authors who need help getting published, beginning with a new venture, Virtual Author Assistant – founded by a trio of highly-qualified professional women, including one of our own regular contributors, Wendy VanHatten.

I asked Wendy to sit still for a few minutes and answer some questions – so without further ado, on to the good stuff!

Q. Tell me a little bit about the background of the three of you involved in VAA

Cindy, our marketing person, is experienced in the marketing business and owns two other businesses.

Delaine, our designer and formatter also has spent many years as a graphic designer.

Wendy, our editor is also a published writer with experience in publishing books and eBooks.

All three of us bring our individual expertise to this business. Working together we bring additional experiences that benefit the author. In other words we assist each other for the good of the client. It’s a win-win situation for our authors.

Q. Why does an author need to consider outsourcing some of these functions?

Authors love to do what they do best…write. But then there’s all the other “stuff” an author should not have to deal with. We’ve all been there so we know what it’s like to have pages and pages of words and not know what the next step should be.

Spell check lulls some authors into thinking everything is “correct”. Chances are…it’s not. A professional editor will do more than spell check. She will take an author’s manuscript and make it look like a professional piece of work, with everything from grammar to spacing to appropriate flow for the material. Our editor will also write the author’s bio, press releases or articles as needed.

A designer will format the book to make it look like a book! She will give that manuscript a professional appearance to get it into book stores, off the shelves and into the hands of the customer. Our designer provides a media kit, a one sheet and other promotional materials the author may need.

A marketer will take care of the author’s plan for his or her manuscript. Does the book need an ISBN? How do you obtain one? Where do you go to let people know you now have a “book”? What do you do next? Help! Our marketer gains exposure for the author with book signings or guest appearances.

Outsourcing these functions lets the author go back to writing. We take care of the rest.

Q. Does VAA work with both traditional publishing channels as well as digital (e-books)?

Yes, VAA works for the author to get their work published in both arenas.

Q. How does VAA compare to similar departments at traditional publishing houses?

VAA works the same way as those departments in traditional publishing houses.

Because VAA is virtual, an author is only paying for the services they use. We are not “on staff” anywhere.

VAA works for individual authors and tailors our services to each of their needs. We offer a free consultation and take time with each author in determining what is best for that author.

Q. Is there any particular genre or writing style you prefer to work with?

VAA will work with all genres. We have experience in most genres at this point.

The bottom line is that if it’s your dream to see your story in book form, you do still have affordable options, even if it means you’ll be working with professional, experienced freelance author assistants online, instead of in person.

Thanks Wendy for answering our questions, and good luck with your new venture!


Have you published a book with help from others? Share your experience!

About Trisha Miller 116 Articles
Trisha Miller Editor-in-Chief, - Trisha joined the Travel Industry in 1996 with a background in telecommunications and helped to build (and later sell) one of the industry's top inbound call centers specializing in air travel. Her career in Travel Writing began with creating destination-specific content for a corporate travel intranet, and continued as she contributed content to a large number of travel-related companies that were establishing an online presence throughout the late '90's and early '00's. Currently she is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former Board Member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (2009-2015).  Still a frequent world traveler, and occasional guest-blogger on a number of other Travel Blogs, Trisha writes about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time. You can follow Trisha on Twitter at:


    • I hope you’ll do that – every time I look at Dave’s photos I think “wow – how stunning”. It’s clear he has a gift for photography. You might even get India’s tourism department to buy a bunch of copies!

  1. This is really interesting, Trisha. Thanks for posting it! I am exactly at the stage described in that I have finished writing a book that I would like to see on the shelves without really knowing what I should do next.
    A friend of mine, who is a professional proofreader, had proofread the manuscript, but hasn’t done any real editing.
    The Virtual Author Assistant would be a very good next step for me. I had no idea something like that existed.
    .-= Maria Staal´s last blog post: Time to meet Radbod =-.

    • So glad we could be of some small help – that’s our goal! I would love to hear about the process as you move forward, so be sure to keep us updated through our forum!

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