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Develop a master publisher and writing contacts list for your textbook

Since 1987, when Robert Christopherson signed the contract for the first edition of his best-selling textbook, Geosystems, his textbooks have gone through five different owners, and he has had 14 different editors and hundreds of editorial assistants.

“Such dynamics in the publishing landscape is quite typical of the industry,” said Christopherson, who textbooks are now published with Pearson. It has always amazed me when there’s a new editor, and I ask, ‘Did you get the filing cabinets of the other guy? Did they give you a memory stick with the files on it of all the correspondence?’ and I find out, not always. So I started keeping files so I could bring new personnel up to speed as each changeover or resignation took place.”

Another way he has managed personnel changes is to create what he calls a “master publisher and Robert Christophersonwriting contacts list” containing the name, address, phone number, email address, and official title of key personnel. His list includes the president of the company, executive editors, marketing, project managers, asset management, image management, media producers, technical art staff, the art and design director, art development, cover design, developmental editor, copy editor, page proofer, book production editors and staff, foreign subsidiary personnel, etc.

“Keep it updated,” said Christopherson. “My current list has more than 40 names on it.”

Why is this useful? It helps keep track of the fluidity of the personnel, he says—to track those who are coming, going, quitting, and leaving. Also, if somebody steps out of turn, you can send an email to the lead person and key people and they start to get the idea that you know where they are, because they are all notified when there’s something that needs attention, or some screw-up. Often, any apologies are rapid, he said, and attributes his thorough contact list to contributing to the continuing positive relationship he feels with Pearson.

“This list is important,” said Christopherson. “I mean, you’ve got 30 people up there driving the bus and you don’t know who they are and you’re in the back saying, ‘Wow, I hope we get there.’