By Virginia Johnson and Julia Clare
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the things I have learned being a PA. I have, on many occasions, needed to use the link to address questions rendered from readers that want to be a PA or current PA’s that reach out for support. Does this sound like you? “I pimp books in my free time. I read all of this author’s work, leave reviews and we are friends. If I tag them, they comment, I can even message them and they respond. I want to be a PA, I mean I already do everything a PA does, just no title.” You think so? Before you think you are a PA let us educate you on the real jobs we do.
The thing that gets me all sorts of pissed off, is people that bitch about not being ‘chosen’ as a PA by an author because they ‘pimp’ them all of the time.
If you think for a second that pimping is the only thing a PA is responsible for, you are incredibly delusional. Pimping and promoting is the surface level shit that we deal with. That is what the reader sees when we are actively participating with the public. What you don’t see is what makes a person a person a PA.
Things you don’t see or ever hear about –
1) The 2 am phone calls and messages – Oh yeah… this happens. There is no question that there are these things called ‘melt downs’. Authors are people too. This means that they have moments of weakness, causing them to question every decision they have ever made. “I never should’ve written this book.” “Why didn’t I just go with the other ending?” “No-one is going to read this shit.” “Why do I even try?” Get the idea? This is where we have to be a friend first. It is our job to help an author through the shitty part so you, the reader, has the written word on your kindle. But think about this… When your favorite author has a doctor’s appointment that day, and they are sitting around for test results, do they tell you? When that same author has something going on in their personal life and they need help, do they call you? When it’s 2 am and they have an idea about a character, are you up waiting to talk it through with them? I do, because a PA is a friend, a best-friend, and a fan but we are also a therapist. We hear about sales not hitting where they should and someone wants to give up because they feel their hard work isn’t reaching anyone. We become cheerleaders, it’s our job to make them feel better. It’s a PA’s job to look at it from a different angle and say, “let’s try something else.” We research where to advertise, who it will reach and will it make a difference.
2) You are on call – Exactly what that says. You are on-call. A PA doesn’t sleep. We don’t have free time. A PA is on call 24/7 365. This isn’t a 9-5 job. You don’t get to pick your hours. If you do, you won’t be a PA for long. Authors are impatient as fuck! When they want something, they will go to their PA first. If you take your sweet ass time getting back to them, they will reach out to someone that can complete the task they want completed. Eventually, you will become an unemployed PA. Think of that when you pimp for an hour and think you deserve the job. We run street teams, we keep the author’s schedule because they have a life outside of writing and it’s your job to make it easier so they can write those amazing books you love to read. Something comes up in real life, you may know ten minutes before they are scheduled for an event that they can’t make it. So you scramble around and make sure you have enough posts to fill their time slot, hope someone is there and that you are doing that author’s work justice.
3) The deadlines – An author may have deadlines, but so does a PA. Can you imagine creating a teaser, banner, media kit, bookmark, cover, swag, website, docs or blog… ON THE DROP OF A DIME! Do you think they make these things themselves? Those pretty teasers you like to share, guess where they came from? The author wrote the book, but a PA skims for those lines that will grab your attention. We comb through photos making sure the person in the picture matches the character. Have you tried to find a stock photo of a six foot seven, long dark haired man, blue eyes, six pack, tattoos only on one arm, it must be a certain tattoo and he is standing at the beach with his hair flowing in the wind? Not easy.
How about setting up a cover reveal, release event, or contacting blogs for reviews? Better yet, do you think they run them alone? NOOOOOOO…. They usually do not. Which is exactly why they want a PA and treasure a good one.
4) The Excitement – There is nothing more rewarding for a PA than to see the author you work for, genuinely excited. It can be about anything! A spotlight, banner win, cover post, book release, a new game release… ANYTHING! A PA is there to share that excitement when no-one else understands. This could be at noon or midnight, but it doesn’t matter to an author. When you get to beta read or receive an arc to review that story is almost perfect. Do you know how it got that way? That author talked the plot out with their PA. They discussed characters, went back and forth over the look, name and every tiny detail until it was perfect. They wrote a story and then called because something didn’t feel right. So, we read and sometimes have to give harsh criticism when something really doesn’t make sense or the character they worked so hard on just doesn’t work.
5) The let-down – Do you think every book an author writes, is a bestseller? Not a chance. Some of the most exciting work from an author sells 20 books. Do you, as a reader hear about those things? Nope! The PA does. We are the ones in the background encouraging them to do it again. And again. And again. And again. Why? Because there are so many great authors out there. Amazing story-tellers that deserve to have their imagination read. It is the PA’s job to keep the author excited about writing, even when they want to give up.
6) The recovery – For every big release there is a recovery period. The timeline between when an author finishes one book and starts another is the most impactful. The PA keeps the street team motivated, pimping, encouraged and willing to push harder than the last time. Most of the time, the author never even asks this of us but as a partner to the author, we need to do it so the author can focus on creating the next great book.
7) The partnership – I’ve said it before and I will say it again, a PA and an author MUST get along. You have to see business from the same point of view and share the same vision. The amount of time spent together would be unbearable if you hated each other or disagreed all of the time. I talk to my author more than I talk to my friends and family. Many of us trust them more than our own family.
In short – If you think, just because you are a great pimper and a member of hundreds of groups so you deserve the position more than the PA that is in place, think again! There is a reason the PA is in the position they are in and working for the author that they do. Also, keep in mind, the author chose the PA. If you want to run your mouth about how you would make a better one, you are not doing yourself any favors. You are not only bullying the PA but you are also questioning a decision made by the author YOU want to work for. That is NOT going to get you the job! Guaranteed!
So why do I do it? When your author calls and says look at the numbers on release day and they have out done what either of you expected, I know I helped do that. That my hard work allowed them to write this truly captivating book that people can’t wait to read. When they call and say my book is being picked up by a dream publisher, you helped make someone’s dreams come true. I sit by the phone waiting almost as anxiously as my author, to find out if they are selected. So even though I lose sleep, my battery dies constantly on my phone and I hear the bad stuff that happens… when you hear someone so excited over the work they did selling well or being picked up, it’s all worth it. You were there for the journey, you know the blood sweat and tears that went into the story and you are just as much invested in their success as the author themselves.
If you want to be a PA, learn the job, the REAL job! Partner with another PA, message them, ask questions, decide if it’s even a job you can do. You may want to do it, but not many are actually made for it. This is a job that you will bleed, sweat and cry over. Not a one of us hasn’t done all three. Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the love of an author and their work? That’s the question you should be asking yourself before you criticize a PA and the job they do.
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