Corinne Minshull on why she has set up a business to offer authors guidance and support
Earlier this year, during a summer staycation in Margate, I had a lightbulb moment ("a moment of sudden revelation, inspiration or recognition"). On what was a gloriously sunny August afternoon, I stumbled upon the Margate Bookshop - the first bookshop I had been in since March! That familiar bookshop smell, and all the wonderful books on shelves and beautifully displayed on tables, put a smile on my face. As I stood browsing the shelves and chatting through Margate readers' top 10 for July with the assistant, I realised that I missed playing a part in bringing brilliant books to readers.
At the start of the year, I had moved out of publishing into the finance sector. What was I thinking? When I left the bookshop, armed with my purchased recommendations, I found I was asking myself: "How do I find my way back to my first love, the world of publishing?"
I decided that I wanted to be a guide for authors on every and any step of their journey, to nurture and support them so that they felt confident in navigating their own personal publishing paths and were empowered to become the authors they deserved to be. So I founded The Really Useful Co.
Publishing is an exciting, exhausting and amazing industry. I spent a decade working for HarperCollins as an executive assistant for the group MD, the CEO's office, and for the executive publisher of the hugely successful start-up imprint HQ. There I realised how important it was to understand the creative drive, determination and resilience needed to be a successful author, to see first-hand how hard authors worked, how passionate they were about what they did, and most importantly how precious their time was.
I know becoming a published author isn't a one-size-fits-all journey. You might be a budding author hoping to wrangle a publishing deal but unsure how to represent yourself in this industry. Perhaps you are a debut author publishing your first book; the deal is signed, but now there are all the responsibilities that come with building a name and a recognised face. It could be you have decided the traditional route is not for you and are embarking on an exciting self-publishing journey, or you have written the book but do not know where to start or what/whom to spend money on. Or you may already be a bestselling author or a household name, but you need someone to manage aspects of your life for you so that you can focus on what you do best - writing great stories.
In all these cases I think authors need someone impartial to speak to, someone who can help demystify publishing and support them in the endless tasks (professional editing, cover art, social media marketing etc) that may need to have time and money invested. Authors tell me they want professional help that gives them the tailored, individual support they need, and a network of industry contacts that can guide them on the right route. Someone to help them avoid the pitfalls, the bad decisions, the second guessing, the wasted time and money. Maybe even someone just to listen or help with headshots and bio notes. So I started my company to offer all these solutions.
Knowing that the chemistry is right between an author and a virtual assistant is as vital as having the right chemistry with the one who sits beside you in an office every day. Critically, I start every relationship with a free 20-minute discovery call to discuss where authors currently are on their journey and the best bespoke route for them. It really is a team! So I'd love to invite anyone who is interested to learn more about engaging a virtual assistant to see my website.