What I have learned being a PA

By Virginia Johnson

I was going to stay anonymous. Then I figured, if you have any brains at all it wouldn’t take you long to piece together who I am… With that, I will continue.
Have you ever attended a takeover and wondered, ‘Why isn’t the author I came here to see here?’ and, ‘Who in the hell, is this woman?’
I know you have, and I am here to tell you exactly who we are and why we are there.

What is a PA? What does a PA do? How did you become a PA? This is the series of questions that are thrown around in the reader world. How do I know? I was a reader and I always wanted answers. Readers always want to know who this PA is, and what do they do? Well, today is your lucky day, because I have pooled my resources and decided to let you in on the secret!
But this isn’t an article only meant for readers and fans… this is also for the authors that employ us.  If you think, even for a second, that there is nothing your PA hasn’t said to you, you’re WRONG! They have plenty to say and I will tell you some of those things. I, finally, have a chance to tell my author exactly what being a PA is like. It isn’t an easy job.  There is more to being a PA than anyone on the outside would realize.
What is a PA?
A PA, in the book world, is a personal assistant to an author. Our job consists of varying expectations, tasks, and demands set by the author(s) we assist. *Author Benefits*
Make sense? Not yet? I figured as much; keep reading…
In short, the job of a PA is to make their author’s life as easy as possible, leaving the author more time and ability to continue to write books for you, the reader. *Reader Benefits*
Now, am I getting your attention?
What does a PA do?
The roles and responsibilities will vary from author to author.  Every author is a different kind of Diva. Male or female, doesn’t matter, they all have their wants and ways to do things.  *Author Benefits*
Most PA’s have a general job description,
•    Pimp and promote
•    Fill in Takeovers
•    Closing out Giveaways
•    Helping make Teasers
•    Listening to their authors shit. (oops… It’s true!)
•    Leading the Street Team and/or Fan group
•    Running their Author Page

It’s the extras that are the kicker.  Some PA’s are capable of so much more.  This is where the real job begins.  Although we work for our author(s), we are also partners.  The partnership is different with every PA/Author team.  Many times, this is based on the amount of time needed from the author.
I am going to break this down for you.  Follow along. Keep in mind, not every author or PA is the same.
Let’s say a PA is hired on, part-time, they may only be asked to work on an hourly basis.  This type of work would be to complete specific tasks; teasers, plan an event, host an event, fill in a takeover in the off chance of an emergency. There would be specific direction as to what was needed to be done and the compensation for that task.
As for a full-time PA, there is usually more of a partnership between the author and the PA.  At least, there better be. From my experience, there is no possible way to work for someone that you don’t like or can’t get along with.  I am not talking about their books (it helps to like them, being you’re promoting them); I am talking the person. There is no way I could work full-time for an author I couldn’t tolerate.  I have been forced into situations; ones where I had to work with authors that completely dumb-found me. Enough on them…
A full-time PA is the backbone of an author, whether they are willing to admit it or not.  I have considered what it would be like if I walked away from my author partner.  I am sure they would find a willing participant to take my place, but would the transition be flawless, troublesome, or irritating?
As a PA, there are things that can be expected of you, being available at a moments’ notice to complete a task, fill in at a takeover, complete a form or doc, put together a post for pimping, creating teasers for a quote they just wrote… I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  Again, every team is different.  We sign up for the job we have, usually with the knowledge needed to be successful.
Compensation can vary for this position, depending on the success of the author and the appreciation the author has for their PA. Most PA’s are compensated in books and swag. There are PA’s that actually make a monthly income (real dollar bills) based on their expectations and job completion.  The paying jobs are few and far between.  Most PA’s are not making an actual paycheck.  So, why do we do it?  It’s in the reason we become a PA in the first place.

How did I become a PA?
I have been asked this question more than any other.  How did I become a PA?
Well, the answer is, knowing the right people.  The book world is a very large place with very small communities. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone smells each other’s shit.
I know, it’s graphic, but it is true.
For the most part, authors are supportive of one another. With that help, comes a sharing of events and fans.  I supported many authors for a long time. Pimping, promoting, takeovers, street teams and beta reading.
Of course I was more of a stalker, being I was thought to have been a PA for not one, but two different authors.  Apparently I was pretty good at what I was doing.
When a new author hit the pavement with a need for a little bit of support and exposure, I was cornered and hired.  I agreed to the job duties I was given and began my new job as a PA.  Right place, right time, right experience!

Why do we do it?
The job description that I agreed to, doesn’t exist anymore.  I consider myself a very lucky PA based on the horror stories I have heard from others.  As you may have noticed as you read this, there are many benefits, we as PA’s, provide to the authors and the readers.  Most of us do a 40-hour work week with nothing in return.  On occasion, some of us receive a Thank You for a task completed.
I can’t speak for all PA’s here, but I will tell you why I do it.
BUT FIRST…
For the readers:   I know it sucks, when you expect the author you wanted to see and their PA shows up.  There is a reason they couldn’t make it, and know that most of the authors are genuinely sorry they have to miss an event.
For the authors:   Your readers want you to interact with them. Show them what a wonderful person you are and give them a reason to buy your books without reading the blurb.  They will follow you and support you without question, because you are no different from them. (They will fan-girl for a while but it will help you in the long-run)
For the PA’s:   I know we work our asses off, daily.  There are times we are overwhelmed and under-appreciated but we fight through it every time. We have a hard job and it sucks, but remember, we are the bridge that brings both sides together.

So, why do I do it? Why do I fight an almost always uphill battle?
I do it because I believe in my author.  He is an amazing writer with no end to what he will come up with next. While I researched the role of a PA, I have found that I do more for him than any other PA does for their partner, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We work together as a team and I know that there is always someone that has my back as I would his.  I may want to inflict bodily harm on a regular basis, but in the end, we always work together to make it happen.  He makes my job easier than it could be and I make his job easier by being accessible to him when he needs something done timely.
As a PA, I have found that there are amazing authors that can tolerate me, and there are some that would require me to self-medicate before I could PA for them.  Either way, you need to find the right person to work for you and to work for. Don’t settle for the position. It isn’t worth the stress and the bad blood just to have a PA title, unless it pays well, then I may have a different take on this.
I think you’ve learned enough from me. If you are offended, I may have hit a nerve. I’ll leave you all with that.

Virginia Johnson

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