I’ll be the first to admit, I’d rather say it in words than try to create it in pictures. I’m not an artist, but I know what I like. I have a very strong sense of what I want (okay, I’m fanatical about it!) I can picture it clearly in my mind and know it the minute I see it. Having ideas isn’t my problem. I have tons of ideas for promotion. I love to think outside the box. But building it from the ground up . . . I don’t know where to begin.
Sometimes, you can learn the skills. Sometimes, especially those times when you HAVE no time, you need to trust in the talents of others. And you need to learn how to express what you want and understand what is . . . and what isn’t possible. A lesson learned from graphic and cover artist pal Patricia Lazarus who would just smile serenely when I was being difficult as she designed the banners and do-dads for my website.
Social media isn’t for sissies. It requires time . . . lots of it . . . and ability. I’d just reached the point where my “want to” was clashing with my “can’t do” when I met an author’s dream come true. Someone who could take those random ideas and bring them to life in an organized fashion when I say ‘Make it so’ . . . and smile serenely when I ask if I’m being difficult.
It’s my pleasure to introduce Florence Price . . .
Hi everyone and thanks for such a wonderful welcome today, Nancy!!!
What motivated you to become a virtual assistant?
I’d worked as a daycare provider for eight years at the time I started MGF, wanting to stay home with my kids when they were little. But as my kids got older, I started thinking I wanted to get out of daycare and into something else. It was actually one of my fellow Mid-Michigan RWA members and very good friend, Margo Hoornstra, who said she’d read an article about virtual assistants in the Romance Writers Report. We were at a meeting, and she said, “You could do that!” I’d done some things for our chapter that were sort of on the techy side, and as soon as I got home from the meeting, I pulled out the copy of the RWR, read the article, and said, “Yeah, I could definitely do that!”
What prior experience did you have?
Before working as a daycare provider, I worked as a paralegal, so I felt I had the organizational, research and clerical skills needed to be a virtual assistant, but I had no real social media or computer programming skills that I would need for websites design, graphic design, book trailers, promotion, etc., just an aptitude and a high learning curve. Over the last two years, all the skills I've acquired have been self-taught through a lot of trial and error. I found that I like, no love, working with computers and figuring out how something works.
How did you learn about the romance industry and the ins and outs of graphic design?
I’ve been a member of the MMRWA since 2008, and that was my foot-in-the-door to the romance industry. It’s a fantastic group, full of wonderful, generous people, and I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the chapter.
My big introduction to graphic design was when I was hired by you to design your Romance Trading Cards for your By Moonlight Series, using the book graphics designed by the mega-talented Patrish Lazarus. This was something I learned how to do as I went along…They’re still one of my favorite designs!!!
How did you find clients?
I started working with the authors in the MMRWA group, then it snowballed. Word-of-Mouth is a great promotional tool. Most of my fabulous clients will refer their friends to me.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve been asked to do for a client?
Ha! Nancy I have to say it was your Haunted Open Houses, both the 2011 and the 2012 versions, but mostly the 2012 House. There’s a lot of work that goes into decorating the rooms to the house, and for some reason this year Blogger (the site is hosted on blogspot.com) was having a rather severe nervous breakdown. But I’ve been told I’m somewhat stubborn, and I wasn’t going to admit defeat just because blogspot was twitchy. I tweaked and worked around the problems until I got it finished.
What’s the most fun?
Again, your Haunted Open Houses! I don’t know how many people said, “How fun!!!” When they visited. You really know how throw an awesome party!
Where are your go-to places for the ‘tools of the trade’? i.e., music, stock photos, apps, etc.
My favorite site for images is BigStockPhoto. They have a huge selection and the prices are very reasonable. For music I like to use NEO Sounds, again good selection and great prices. The design app I use is Gimp, which is free and very similar to Adobe Photoshop. My preference for blog hosting is still blogspot.com, even with the occasional twitch. I’ve found that, as opposed to WordPress.com (another free platform), blogspot.com is much more fluid when it comes to unique designs and the ability to work with the HTML of the site. WordPress.com is somewhat rigid, and is more difficult to work with design-wise. There’s absolutely pro’s and con’s to both platforms, but if I have the choice, I’ll work with blogspot.com.
You’ve branched off into a new venture with Buy the Book Tours. What prompted this expansion?
One of my very best friends, Christine Warner, and I were talking one day about the tour she was currently participating in with her most recent book, and it just took off from there. Christine and I are very similar in the way we think about things…We have a lot of those, “I was just going to say that!” moments, so it’s been a lot of laughs and a real pleasure working with her. She’s got super mad promo skills, so she handles a lot of those tasks, and I’ve got the techy know-how, so I design the banners, maintenance our website, post the media pages that go with the tours, etc., then we split some of the other tasks that we can both perform.
How do you find a good fit between client’s with new books and blog stops?
The way our BTB system works is we send out a tour invitation to the over 240 sites we have participating in the tours via a MailChimp mailing, which includes the tour banner, a link to the author’s website, information about the schedule of the tour, the blurb, an excerpt of the book and the link to the sign up page. Then the hosts decide, based on that information, whether they would like to promote and/or review the book. As soon as we receive the required number of “host sign-ups” for the tour, we then close it. And that's how we handled your tour that begins January 4, 2013, which, by-the-way, filled up in a matter of hours - It was an awesome thing to watch!
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What's the average day like for a VA?
Oh, my goodness I don’t have average days! Every day is something different, which is another reason why I love working as a virtual assistant…It’s never boring, especially with you as a client!
Where can authors find out more about your services?
I have a My Girl Friday website, where information about my services and links to my work can be found, and Christine and I have a website for Buy the Book Tours, where all of our information on tours packages and what we’ve currently got going on can be found.
Thank you so much for having me visit today, Nancy!