Costly Author Errors: Making Changes and Compensating for Corrections
Guest Post by Irene Watson
An author that we’ve been working with very closely chose a common foreign name from a list he found on the Internet and to this he added a common first name for one of his main characters in the book. What he didn’t realize was that the resulting name was the same as one used by a well-known author for his hero in several published books and even one book was made into a movie.
A friend of the author notified him of the “conflict” within a week of the book being on the street and the author immediately pulled the book, changed the name of the character, and reinstated it into the distribution chain. This seems like an easy task but where the issues came into play were with reviews, noting the character’s name, by several review services (including Reader Views) that were already posted on their sites as well as places like Amazon.com and B&N.com. Granted these could be pulled or changed, however, where the biggest issue lies is that the reviews went viral shortly after posting. On top of that, we had produced a book video trailer for this author and the narration also had to be changed. Again, the original video posted went viral.
Viral is good, and that’s exactly what we want, however, in this case catching up to all the postings was not an easy task and in reality can’t be done. Once online, always online.
The author says:
Could this have been avoided? That’s a good question. The book had been routed twice through the publisher’s legal department, and the conflict wasn’t caught. Nor did a Google search on the name initially used for the hero turn up anything except some lawyers, accountants, obituaries, and the like. It wasn’t until the name initially used for the hero and the name of the other author were linked that the Google search provided the sought-after connection. Moral to the story: Check carefully the names you assign to the characters in your books, ask friends who read fiction to search their memories for authors who might have used these names, and move quickly at the first sign of a conflict to make the changes needed to avoid potential legal problems.
This ended up as a very costly venture for the author, not only for the republishing of his book but compensating for the time it took us to correct all the entries and redoing the video we did for him. Not many authors would even consider paying us and I commend him for offering to do so. Mind you, the little bit he had to pay us is a far cry from what he would have had to pay in legal fees if the changes had not been made and he was sued.
Many don’t even consider that we, as an employer, have to pay a staff member to make the corrections and expect us to do make the changes for them free of charge. I have no issue with making corrections if we made the error because it is our responsibility to make it right, however, when an error is made by the author it becomes a different story. Please, if you make an error or request a change in something that has been done already, consider that someone has to be paid to do the work for you. Make it right and offer compensation…I’m sure you wouldn’t expect a mechanic to fix your car after you put diesel rather than gasoline in the tank, or, you wouldn’t expect a clothing store to replace the pants you ripped when you brushed against a sharp object. We are no different so please take responsibility, like the author above, and gather up some Karma along the way. Consideration travels a long way.
Comments? I’d sure like to hear from you.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.