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…
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?
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?
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.
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).