Embracing Romance Presents Author Assistant, Kim Castillo

KIM CASTILLO, has worked with some of romance’s biggest names. Today, she’s visiting Embracing Romance to talk about her career and why she loves romance.

ER: Tell us a little bit about what you do…

Eloisa and Kim
Eloisa James and Kim Castillo

KC: Anything Eloisa James asks me to do. I help Eloisa with marketing, promotion, social media strategy, her street team, reader events, contest, website and newsletters among lots of other things. I also help Kristan Higgins and Lori Handeland with their newsletters and various other things.

ER: Who are some of the authors you work with?

Kristan Higgins and Kim Castillo
Kristan Higgins and Kim Castillo

KC: January 1st I went full time with Eloisa James. As I mentioned above I also help Lori and Kristan. I also take care of mailing items for Anna Campbell and Christina Brookes.

ER: Strangest/wildest request from an author?

KC: Previously I worked with Jade Lee and one of my duties was to set up her blogs. She would send me the content and I would schedule the blog and add images. You would be surprised at the amount of indecent images that come up when you Google the most innocent words. There are just some things you can’t unsee no matter how hard you try.

For RT this year, I planned a tiara party for 200 readers for Eloisa, Lisa Kleypas and Juliana Grey. Readers decorated their own tiaras. There was glitter and crystals flying everywhere! And I also had to bully a local baker into making 1000 cookies with book covers on them.

We had a trailer made for the release of An Affair Before Christmas and Eloisa wanted to use the song Hair. I had to figure out how to get permission from the copyright holder for us to use it. That was quite interesting.

ER: How did you first get involved in the writing/publishing/romance industry?

KC: I’m a huge Eloisa fan! I love all her books but Josie from her Essex Sisters series really touched me. We started chatting over my gushing emails and became friends. For quite a while I harassed her that she needed help and I was the answer. Most authors would have considered it stalking…

ER: What’s the best part of your job?

KC: That I love what I do. There are very few days that actually feel like “work”. Eloisa and I work incredibly well together and after 20+ years in various factories, that is a Godsend. She really lets me fly with my ideas. No one could have a better mentor.

ER: What’s the biggest challenge?

rough day
Kim reading with one of her distractions

KC: Working from home. While that’s also one of the best things and I really love it, it is a challenge. My mom calls or stops by. The cats walk on my keyboard. The bird pecks at my fingers while I’m typing.

ER: What’s been the coolest experience you’ve had because of your position?

KC: Oh man… Can I list several?

  • I’ve been involved in the Popular Romance Project’s documentary, Love Between the Sheets. The film crew visited us twice and followed me around. I shouldn’t say this but I really loved it. In February, we’re going to the premiere at the Library of Congress!!
  • Meeting authors. At a Literacy Signing while setting up, Jude Deveraux walked up and said she’d like to meet Eloisa. JUDE DEVERAUX, people! Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Lisa Kleypas have all called and text me. And I got to be all gushy fan girl over James Rollins once.
  • Traveling with Eloisa. There’s nothing like it. When together we work as if we’re together every day. Those are the times when I really feel as if I help her. I try to stay a couple steps ahead of her and anticipate what she needs. And well, she spoils me. I’ve become quiet accustomed to room service.
RT Tiara Event 2
The Romance Times Convention Tiara Event

ER: Do you write?

KC: Nope. I’m not eloquent at all. It would be the shortest romance every. Sally met Dave. They kissed. Now they’re married. The End.

ER: What were some of your favorite books/authors growing up?

KC: When I was in middle school I used to steal my mom’s True Romance magazines. When I was young I loved the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew and then as a teen ager the Sweet Valley High books. (One RT, I meet Francine Pascal and couldn’t stop sobbing to tell her how much her books meant to me. Not my best moment.)

ER: How do you balance your personal life with your profession?

KC: This is rough and takes a while to find a happy medium. I’m fortunate that my son is grown and my husband is incredibly understanding. He knows when I need to lock myself in my office for a week. He just brings water and snacks occasionally. Gil always travels with me so I make sure that we have dinner together at least once. I try for more but at least once.

Since going full time with Eloisa it’s actually helped. When I had several clients I felt that if I was awake I needed to be working. It can be very overwhelming. Now, I work my eight hours and am done.

ER: Do you have any advice for others trying to break into your profession?

KC: This is such a tough question. To be brutally honest, I fell into my profession. I didn’t even know that virtual assistants existed. I just wanted to help my friend out. So, I never really feel that I have anything to impart. But I’ll try…

  • You have to be able to take criticism well. Not every one of your ideas is going to be brilliant. Do you know what it’s like to send copy to a Fordham English professor? Eight years later and I still don’t use semi colons properly.
  • Focus on what you’re good at. We all have different strengths. Focus on yours, not others.
  • Be willing to try anything. When I started I didn’t know how to use Microsoft Office. Eloisa sent me the software, I downloaded it and muddled my way through it.
  • Everyone has this idea that being an assistant is glamorous, my days filled with lunches with important people and reading novels months before they come out. No, not even close. Yes, I read Eloisa’s novels before they are published for quality and marketing reasons. I only have lunch with important people at conferences. This is a job 95% of the time. If you have that illusion, you will be very disappointed.
  • You’re the secret keeper. This job takes dedication and confidentially. I can’t talk about 80% of my job. It’s your job to protect your authors. Be a bulldog.

ER: Any advice for writers?

KC: Be genuine. The biggest thing you can do to build a readership is to create a personal bond. If you are truly genuine in all you do, that will happen. Readers know if you’re not or if you’ve hired someone to do your social media.

Wear your big girl panties. This is a business with a lot of road blocks and heartache. You can’t dwell on it. You need to just come up with a new plan and work hard.

ER: Why do you love romance?

KC: Who doesn’t love a happily ever after?? I did not have a happy or easy childhood. Reading is what saved me. It showed me a different normal than what I experienced. I was able to escape into those worlds and hope for a happier future.

As a teen ager, romance showed me what a real man was. It taught me not to settle for less than a hero. And it paid off, next month I’m celebrating 27 years with my own knight in shining armor!

KC: What’s your favorite romance? If you’re a writer or interested in assistant work, leave a question. I’m happy to answer.

For more on The Popular Romance Project, visit   http://popularromanceproject.org/

Ms. Castillo is also giving away an awesome basket full of books and more! Leave your email, along with your comment for a chance to win (drawing will close 9/28).

Follow Jessica Jefferson:

Jessica Jefferson makes her home in Almost-Chicago with her husband, nine and three year old girls, guinea pigs, and English bulldog Pete. When she's not busy trying to find middle-ground between being a modern career woman and Suzy-Homemaker, she loves to watch "Real Housewives of [insert city here]" and performing unnecessary improvements to her home and property. Jessica writes Regency-era historical romance with a modern twist, infused with humor. She always tries to create endearingly flawed heroes and one of a kind heroines that you'll want to continue knowing long after you read the last page. Fall in love with romance again... www.jessicajefferson.com

40 Responses

  1. My favorite romance is suspense romance and then paranormal romance.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Interesting job! Sounds like you’re doing something you enjoy.
    My fave will always be historical romance but I also like paranormal, mystery and suspense. I’m also not a fan of cliffhangers and usually do not read a book that doesn’t end in a HEA 🙂
    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

  3. I am a Jane Austen fanatic and gravitate toward sweet romances.

    This was an awesome interview. I love waking up and learning new things. However, you made my brain tired. No wonder you are full-time. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Joy! So sorry to have tired your brain. Funny but that’s what I tell my husband sometimes. “I can’t cook. My brain is too tired.” 🙂 Thanks for popping in!

  5. Kim is the best at what she does! Great interview. I love hearing how the gears grind behind the scenes!

  6. Gosh, Kim, you’re job sounds so interesting! Do you really consider what you do as “work”? And I love romances of just about any kind. As long as there is a handsome, sexy hero and a heroine I can relate to.
    Sue

    • Hi Sue,

      Yeah, I do. It’s definitely not physical work that I used to do. Although at events, it is very physical. But my brain definitely gets a workout. Just like authors, it’s hard to come up with new and fresh ways to write. And well, Eloisa and I are both very competitive. So, I always want to beat someone else’s social media numbers, best seller numbers, even their swag. LOL. So that’s something I always strive for.

  7. Susan Gorman

    I love historical romances with a bit of suspense.
    All the work that you do behind the scenes for Eloisa is appreciated by all of her fans, including me. I am glad you enjoy your job so much!

    • Thank you, Susan! It’s actually great fun doing stuff for and with you readers because I’m one too. You guys are a great bunch!

  8. Congrats on the 27 years! What’s your husband’s take on what you do? Does he ever go with you to conferences?

    • Hi Jessica! Thank you. My husband always travels with me. First, it’s a pain to fly so he always drives me. We love to road trip together. And honestly, I couldn’t set up events without him. While I’m with Eloisa he works in our room putting together swag packets and organizing for events. And he also drives Eloisa and I around and does all the heavy lifting. We just shoot him a text and he comes to take care of whatever we need.

      I’d say he’s pretty proud. He knows how much I love it. He sees how much happier I am now than 10 years ago.

  9. Great interview Kim!!! you know I read Eloisa, and of course Karen Hawkins, Sabrina Jeffries, Julia Quinn….
    I do throw in the occasional suspenseful who done it, but mostly it’s historical romance with Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson contemporary thrown into the mix

  10. Hi Kim! Congrats on the 27 years together. I really enjoyed reading about your work.

  11. Great article Kim! I am in awe of your talent and what you do is a talent. I have been following your adventures since TGB days (miss them). My favorite romance is paranormal but I read anything that hits my fancy.

  12. I’ve been receiving email from Kim on behalf of authors for years–never met you, but I sure do appreciate you, Kim!

    dholcomb1 (at) aol (dot) com

    Denise

  13. Kim, great interview! You are a wonderful advocate for your authors. I remember when I used to hear your name all mixed up with the big name writers and I thought you were a writer too! But no, you’re more like a talisman. Xo t

  14. Great interview Kim and Jessica. I love that you fell into your career, Kim, that’s what makes it so special.

  15. Ruth Atkinson

    I met Kim and Eloisa in Atlanta last summer. Kim is absolutely fantastic. I watched her work her miracles at the book signing. She knows what she is doing and she’s a very nice person.

  16. Loved the interview Kim. I do have a virtual assistant, and can attest to how important one can be to an author. I’m a big Elosia James fan, and she was on my plane last July as we headed to RWA in San Antonio. I didn’t bother her, but still, it was OMG, I’m on Elosia James’ plane!!! 😀

    • Hi Sandra! Glad to hear you love your VA. There’s a small group of us that have an email group to chat and support each other. Feel free to give her my email if she’d like to join us. kimscastillo at gmail dot com.

      You totally should have said hi to Eloisa!

  17. heathercm2001

    Wonderful interview! Kim is awesome!

  18. Kim is much too modest, I have seen her in action at RWA Conference and RT. She is a genius at organizing these events.

  19. Enjoyed the interview. Thank you for sharing what it’s like to help authors have more time to write. I admit, I’m curious about the 80% you can’t talk about, but this 20% is interesting!

    • Hi Liz! The 80% is numbers, personal stuff and like plots and stuff. For instance, when Eloisa suffered from breast cancer, it was my job to keep that private and protect her. I stepped in and handled stuff she normally would have. I would never share contract details, sales numbers, marketing strategies, etc.

  20. Historical romance is my absolute favorite! Just like it takes a special kind of person to be a good writer, it also takes a special kind of person to be anyone’s assistant – virtual or not! Great interview and wonderful insight! Thanks Ladies!

  21. It’s great that you found your calling, even if you just happened to fall into it. I bet Eloisa James and any other author you’ve helped through the years considers you more than just a VA. Hopefully one day I’ll get to meet you in person and we can talk more about that 20% 🙂 hehe