How does one determine that one has enough work to justify hiring an assistant?

I feel like I’m in this weird professional space, where I don’t actually make that much money from my writing — but when I do manage to carve away enough time to write something, it generally sells, and at a pretty good hourly rate. Which seems to indicate that I should be spending a lot more time on my writing. (I’m sure my agent would agree.)

I’ve been doing a combo of hiring more students to help with yard work and paying for space rental to get me out of the house and into mental writing space, both of which do help. But more and more, I’m feeling like an actual assistant (quarter-time? half-time?) would be what I really need.

If I had someone local who could come for 2-3 hours every morning, that would be kind of amazing. Surely there’s an Oak Park mom with an interest in literature who could use a part-time job like that…? There’s so much stuff I would like to do with the SLF and DesiLit and Maram Arts too, if I could download the ideas in my brain and get someone working on them…if I could send all the arts administrator stuff off to the side, that would be so helpful.

But it feels like such a gamble, if I’m not sure if I can actually earn enough extra to justify it. Despite living in a very nice house, we don’t actually have a lot of extra cash floating around; we put most of our money directly into the house.

I’d had interns before, and I could do that again, and give them course credit, but they generally need enough supervision that it’s really not as helpful as one would like. Interns also shift by semester, so you’re training a new one every three months. That eats up a *lot* of time.

Also, with interns getting course credit, I feel like I need to stick to strictly literary work, the kind of thing that actually builds up skills they can put on a resume, whereas with an assistant, I can have them do things like go pick up my sick kid from camp so I can keep writing.

If I had an assistant that ran SLF / DesiLit programming on the other hand, I could have *them* train and supervise interns, which would potentially really extend our reach.

Sigh. This is really a conversation to have with Kevin. But posting it here, in the interests of writerly transparency about the business of it all. I am not at the point of actually being committed to hiring an assistant, so don’t send me your resumes, please!

1 thought on “Assistant?”

  1. Two things –

    One is that having an assistant might be what allows you to earn enough to justify the assistant. You could make up some spreadsheets to see what the financial point is where the assistant is more than paying for herself.

    The second is that if there are people anywhere in your circles of friends, writers, and academics who have assistants, you might be able to get useful perspective from them.

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