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Three Resolutions for You, and Three for Cynthia

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Three Resolutions for You, and Three for Cynthia

2011 is not just the start of a new year, but a new decade. In the spirit of the season, I thought of the three most important resolutions I wish my authors - and any authors - should make for me, and then I added the three resolutions I made for you.

Your Resolution #1: Stop your Amazon addiction. I know it’s tempting to track your Amazon ranking every hour on the hour, but this will drive you (and more importantly, your loved ones) insane! Your Amazon ranking can fluctuate wildly, going from #265,789 to #10,458 in a course of a click on the refresh button, but it doesn’t reflect actual sales - never has, never will. There are various algorithms that Amazon uses to determine the ranking, some which have nothing to do with your book. Take the time instead to read about trends in the publishing world on Publishers Lunch.

Your Resolution #2: Get on Twitter. I know I sound like a broken record with this, but every author needs to make peace with one social media tool at the very least this year. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or GoodReads - it doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing it regularly. Stumped on what else there is to do? There are tons of articles out there (Mashable has some great pieces) as well as books that will teach you new tricks and help spread the word about your work.

Your Resolution #3: Visit a bookstore. Once a month, go to your favorite bookstore and marvel at all the new titles that are available. Watch how the front-of-store tables rotate their titles, which books are shelved face out, and which business book is located in the memoir section. Read the author bios in the back of the book and imagine all the publicists trying to book them on all the same shows I’m trying to book you on. That’s what you’re up against. Bowker reported that over 1 million books were printed in just 2009. I bet that number will only increase in the new decade.

But of course, I can’t just expect other people to change their ways - here are three resolutions I made for myself:

Cynthia’s Resolution #1: I will respond to your emails asap (except on weekends). It’s easy to get overlooked in the steady onslaught of correspondence -- sometimes I’m so busy responding to authors that I don’t have time to actually send emails to reporters! But I know that most of the time, the question the author has is quick and the answer needed to move ahead is equally quick. Therefore, I resolve to do my best to get back to you as quickly as humanly possible.

Cynthia’s Resolution #2: I will send you your clippings. I keep track of every little mention of your title and name - not only to share the piece with our sales reps, but also to spread the article on our social media channels. By doing so, I often forget to share it with the most important person - you, author. So, I now resolve that by the end of each campaign, I will have a comprehensive record of all your media clips for you to use however you please.

Cynthia’s Resolution #3: I will be 100% honest. I want your book to deserve all the attention it can receive, but I won’t waste time (especially yours) pitching the wrong shows. I know, you want to be on Jon Stewart, and at one time I may have humored you against my better judgment. No more. Instead, I’ll kindly but directly tell you that Jon Stewart will likely not be having you on the show regardless of how many copies I send him, and recommend we redirect our energy elsewhere. In the long run, it will be much more productive, your book will reach exactly the right audience, and everyone will be happy. Thus, I resolve to always be up-front and constructively honest with you so that your book has the best possible chance of recognition and success.

Resolutions are usually a recipe for disaster, but by sharing them with you I hope that we can keep each other in check. Do you have any resolutions you want to share with me? I would love to hear them.