I’ll never forget a phone
call I received a few days after the magazine I worked on was delivered to its
subscribers. A woman’s voice asked me if I had read the issue she just
received. Now, as managing editor, I read everything cover to cover, more than
once, mind you, and many articles five or more times throughout the publication
process. I wanted to answer her question in numerous ways that were neither
professional nor courteous, but alas, I refrained. I told her that I had.
She proceeded to tell me
about an error on page 47, and I was mortified and embarrassed and I thanked
her for her call and told her I would look into it and run a correction if
necessary. When I hung up the phone I cursed a blue streak, followed by an
afternoon of self-loathing accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, which were
somewhat diluted later that evening with alcohol.
The funny thing is, my
boss wasn’t upset, and said we could run a correction, and reminded me that
overall we had had very few mistakes. I was proud of my relatively “clean” record,
but it took just one little error to throw me into a tailspin. Even as I sit
here writing this years later, I still feel frustrated. What could I have done
to catch it? Why hadn’t I read that article one more time?
I’m feeling that same
frustration now as the second printing of my book “Strengthen Your Nonfiction
Writing” is just around the corner. I’ve worked with my publisher, Lou Turner
of High Hill Press, to correct some minor errors and update information about search
engines that no longer exist (good-bye Alta Vista!).
For me, those are easy fixes,
and I like doing them. I’ve worked in publishing for many years, and have written
and edited hundreds of articles and chapters. But it’s still frustrating that I
can miss something on the galleys, or proofs, only to find it EASILY once it
comes out in print. Why is that, anyway?
Let’s call it Horner’s law of pre-press
blindness (PPB). It’s a thing, now, and it has a name. Since the first step is
to admit the problem, now all we need is an awareness campaign and a fundraiser.
How about we discuss this at happy hour, and although we may not find a cure, we
can offer support and refills. And if you can't come to the meeting, then share your stories here so I don't have to suffer alone!
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