Chicks Check in with Virtual Assistant Marie McNary

Pretty much all of us know Marie McNary re: the terrific Facebook parties she plans and throws for mystery authors. But did you know she’s also a virtual assistant? If you’ve ever wondered what exactly a virtual assistant does, read on…

Marie's Desk

Marie’s desk

What is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant is a person who provides support services and performs tasks from a remote location. This can include anything from managing a person’s email Inbox, to booking their travel, to writing and scheduling social media posts. The sky is the limit!

What exactly do you do? I provide social media and administrative support for authors. My goal is to free authors up from these tasks so they can spend more time writing. I do this through hosting Facebook Launch Parties, writing and scheduling social media posts, creating custom graphics for social media, writing email newsletters, and hosting giveaways. Whatever I can do to be an advocate for the author and let them know they are not alone in their marketing efforts.

How did you get into it? When I first started reading cozy mysteries, I turned to Facebook to find other readers to talk to. I tried my hand at selling cozy mystery book boxes (each month I’d send out a cozy mystery and items inspired by the book to subscribers). I also ran an online book club each month where we talked about the book and asked the author to come to the group and become a part of the discussion. From there I began receiving more and more questions from authors asking if I could host a Facebook Party for them and things just grew from there.

What kind of services might a newbie author ask a V.A. to provide? For a newbie author, a Facebook Launch Party is a great place to start! This is a one-time investment. You get a community of mystery readers focused on you and your book to come out and it will bring fresh eyes to what you have to offer.

How can a V.A. help a mid-list author? A great way a virtual assistant can help a mid-list author is consistency. Getting your author brand and message into the world is tough. Doing it on a regular basis is even more difficult when you are juggling marketing with everything else you need to get done – and you still need to find time to write! A virtual assistant can take some of the reoccurring tasks off your plate that eat away at your time. Items such as writing your monthly newsletter or creating several unique social media posts for you each week. You still have creative control and the ability to edit the content, it just lets someone else take care of organizing the schedule, writing a first draft of your marketing content, and keeping the project on task.

Do you specialize in the mystery genre? I do! I find there is a lot of need in the mystery genre and I love the authors I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I also blog about all things cozy at A Cozy Experience.

Can a V.A. help build an audience, or is the focus on service to existing fans? For sure! One of my favorite things is when I’m hosting a Facebook Party and attendees say, “This is a new author to me. I can’t wait to pick up their book!” And it happens a good deal. Connecting readers and authors is something I truly love about the work I do. Being a virtual assistant is all about helping you get more done to promote and support your brand, which will bring in new readers.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done as a V.A.? I have had the opportunity to work with international authors several times and I’ve greatly enjoyed that process. Connecting mystery lovers all across the world is a great feeling.

What’s the weirdest? I don’t know if I’ve had to do anything weird. I’ve worked in a variety of fields before I began to focus on mystery authors. I’ve done everything from book dentist appointments, to create detailed spreadsheets, to plan and implement full events! I still think it is amazing that I am able to work with such wonderful authors every day. Mystery authors are truly some of the best people out there!

What is the going rate for a virtual assistant? Virtual assistants can vary greatly in financial investment since there is a wide variety of skills you are asking them to do. I’d assume you’d pay in the range of $15 to $45 per hour. Some virtual assistants offer package rates as well. Individuals doing specialized skills (like web development, editing, or design) tend to charge a little more. Keep in mind when looking for a virtual assistant that it isn’t all about money. You want someone in your price range, but also a person who is a good fit with you. Set the expectations up front (how much communication you’d like, when you’d like the project completed, etc.) Since you are working virtual, strong communication is key to ensure both parties are on the same page.

Any questions for Marie, readers?

marie mcnary headshot

BIO: Marie McNary is a virtual assistant specializing in social media support for mystery authors. You can find her talking about all things cozy (especially books) at A Cozy Experience. When she isn’t helping authors with their marketing efforts, she is working MarTech at McNary Marketing & Design. She and her hubby live in Iowa and have three boys.

Want to connect with me? I’d love to chat further anytime!

Learn more about how I support authors:

Just for Authors Facebook Community:

A Cozy Experience on Facebook:

34 thoughts on “Chicks Check in with Virtual Assistant Marie McNary

  1. Having worked with Marie myself, I can tell you she is terrific! (But how on earth do you keep your desk so clean and clutter free? Mine is a mess! Oh right, that’s why YOU are the VI…)

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Marie! You are a gift to the cozy mystery community, and we all thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have found a clean desk (and clean house) do SO much for my mental clarity and sanity that I always make them a priority. It doesn’t always work, but I try. I find if I leave it cluttered I start obsessing over the mess and get less done. Loved working you! 🙂

      Liked by 6 people

  2. Marie, I have really enjoyed all of your Facebook Launch Parties, and you’re right that it’s a great way for a new author to find readers ~

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Can I hire a virtual assistant to write my blog reviews for me? Seriously, thanks for a look behind the curtain. I enjoy your parties, Marie, when I get a chance to stop in.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I always enjoy the Facebook launch parties you host, Marie! Thanks for sharing some of the ins and outs of the other services you provide. You’re awesome!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Marie, you and your desk are an inspiration! I marvel at you wrangling for organizationally-challenged authors — and raising three young boys at the same time! Thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Marie, I love your Facebook parties and I love that I learned more about what you do! What a wonderful and interesting job–and what an invaluable partner you are to writers. Thanks so much for hanging out with us and giving us a glimpse into the V.A. world–and your amazing desk!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nice to e-meet you too, Liz! When I’m doing social media for an author, I like to chat with the author first and also check out their current social media sites so I can get a feel for who they are as a person. I also try to read as many books by each author as time allows. That way when I write posts I can keep an eye out for items that might touch base on their book setting, book themes, etc. I create a first draft of the content (in an ongoing spreadsheet the author and I share) and the author approves content regularly before I post (either weekly or monthly). I also find an eye catching graphic to accompany each post. I usually try to regularly ask the author too to send me items like what they’re reading, tidbits on research they’re doing, trips they’re taking, etc. Things I can turn into posts for them. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Thanks for visiting us, Marie, and for teaching us more about virtual assistant work. We all think you are ***amazing*** and appreciate you so much!!

    Question: what brand is that beautiful planner sitting on your desk? I love a vertical by-week layout… 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes! The planner! I love that it looks so pretty. Mine is filled with so many cross-outs and chicken-scratch additional notes above them that I’ve taken to adding sticky notes to the pages so I can just peel them off.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marie, we Chicks are always excited to have you visit–and as everyone knows, we’re such fans of your FB parties. I’ve already decided that as soon as I finish this new proposal (and that IS going to happen), I’ll be calling on you for VA help!

    Liked by 3 people

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