I just ran across an interview I did in 2008 with Norm Goldman (bookpleasures.com). He covered a lot of valuable territory so I have decided to reprint parts of the interview here on the blog every Wednesday for the next month. Hi everyone – Here’s Part Two!

Norm:

Could you tell our readers what exactly is a celebrity personal assistant and how do you become one?

Shelley:

 

Thanks Norm. A celebrity personal assistant is usually the right hand to a famous person. We are hired for our secretarial/computer skills, so mainly I would say we are executive assistants.

We are rarely mundane errand runners – and the word “personal” tells you that we work almost exclusively at the celebrity’s home. This is a big departure from working for the president of a major corporation, for example. You would be most likely in a corporate office environment. Most people who are in the business as personal assistants work on the movie or TV set and/or the home.

To be an assistant you either need to have a lot of prior executive secretary experience (like I did) or perhaps work in the hospitality field, such as, working as a concierge for a major hotel. Some start as interns or are an actual relative of the celebrity, but many come from a more formal background.

Norm:

As a follow up to the last question, if I am a diva, how do I go about selecting a personal assistant? Where do I find one? What should I expect from an assistant?

Shelley:

That’s a great question! To select a personal assistant (heavy emphasis on the word “personal”) a diva really needs to look honestly at what they want. Every diva’s needs are different. Do they need a travel companion? Do they need a person to be at home overseeing the nanny, housekeeper, cook, gardener, pool guy, construction workers, while they are away? Do they need a person to run errands all day? So it’s very selective.

I should also point out that there’s a personality or psychological element here that can’t be overlooked. The diva needs to be as clear as possible about the kind of personality they want. Some celebrities love to have a pal to hang out with them so they are almost looking for a twin. Others want a gatekeeper who is aggressive and not afraid to say NO. Others want a very quiet person. It all depends. If a diva asked me for help, I’ve recommend they read my book!

Finding an assistant is easier than you may think. If you’re based in Los Angeles or New York, there are agencies that work exclusively with placing estate managers and personal assistants. You can also go to my web site (www.dealingwithdivas.com) where I have a resources page, and some celebrities currently use the Job Bank referral system of the ACPA (Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants). There are many options.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book?  Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?

Shelley:

Ironically, since I work for a publisher (Hay House Inc.) I preferred of course to self-publish! This is a unique topic, and I wanted to do it my way. I went with iUniverse, Inc. which is a highly regarded publisher. They’ve been great every step of the way.

Norm:

What do you think of the new Internet market for writers? How will you be using the Internet to promote your book and what will you be doing for other promotion and how much of it is your doing?

Shelley:

I think it’s the future and the future is now. I already belong to some author social networks which are great support when you’re first getting started. Now because I have an on-line newsletter and a blog, I’ve discovered how valuable the Internet really is. The newsletter keeps me in touch with my readers. I’m building a subscriber base and that is made so easy by the Internet.

I am much more available to the media and also to readers by having the web site and blog. In fact, given the nature of what I write about (celebrity) my blog now has guest mystery bloggers! These are other celebrity personal assistants who prefer to remain anonymous, but my blog gives them a place to let down their hair.

My book has only been out a few months and I already have had one online interview, a radio interview (they found me online) and now this interview. I don’t think those interviews would’ve come so fast without the Internet.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy live book signings (I’ve done two) and speaking in public but you reach so many more people, as you know, through this medium.  I’ve done a lot of this on my own, but I’m only one person so I finally hired a company to run a “blog tour” that includes targeting relevant high page ranking blogs, social bookmarking, and article syndication. I’m very excited about the article syndication, in particular. We are also running a “virtual author tour,” which is designed to increase my exposure online through online reviews like this one, among other things.

 

NOTE: since doing this interview in 2008, I’ve done many more interviews, used FB and my blog a lot to connect with my readers, created an e-zine and continue to do book signings.