Author Horror Story #5: The Typo

Non-existent quality control bites an author and college professor in the ass.
Feb | 20 | 2024
  Feb | 20 | 2024
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BY Phil Simon
  Phil Simon

Author Horror Story #5: The Typo

Non-existent quality control bites an author and college professor in the ass.
Phil Simon
Feb | 20 | 2024

Author Horror Story #5: The Typo

TL;DR: Non-existent quality control bites an author and college professor in the ass.
Phil Simon
Feb | 20 | 2024

After class, Paul—one of Petra’s best students—asked her the following odd question: “When is the publisher going to fix the typo on the book’s cover?”

Bemused, Petra responded with, “Pardon?” Was this some type of sick joke?

Paul then took out his copy of Petra’s book. He pointed to the word “thier” on the front. To state the obvious, it should have been “their.”

Paul wasn’t holding an advance review copy or pirated version of Petra’s recently released book. No, it had dropped six months ago. In fact, Petra specifically wrote the book for the information systems class that dozens of students like Paul were currently taking.

Was this some type of sick joke?

Miffed, Petra told Paul that no one had noticed the typo—including her. She couldn’t help but think of the red dot on the cashmere sweater in one of her favorite Seinfeld episodes.

After class, she returned home, looked at the cover mockup she sent to her acquisitions editor, John, and looked for the word “their.”

There it was, spelled correctly. (Pardon the pun.)

By way of background, Petra had heard horror stories about publisher-generated covers long before signing the contract for her book. As a result, she went out of pocket to provide the publisher with a print-ready, typo-free cover file—something that John explicitly approved. And now, this. Put differently, the publisher didn’t fail to check an existing error. Rather, its cover team introduced one, on the freakin’ cover no less.

Put mildly, she was displeased. WTF?

How to Review Your Galley Like a Pro

Searching for Answers

Petra called John the next day and asked him to explain what happened. Typos inside of the book were one thing. On the freakin’ cover, though, they were unacceptable. The misspelling made everyone look bad.

Not surprisingly, John lacked an adequate answer. He could only apologize, promise to remedy the error, and send Petra replacement covers for her author copies.

It never occurred to Petra that a publisher’s quality-control process could be so woefully inadequate.


I’ve changed the names in this story. 

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