Monday, April 2, 2012

The World's Biggest Typo

Amazon Kindle

Mystery author Camille Minichino is this week's guest. She definitely has a point--I detest typos!
Twice a year, members of Sisters in Crime of Northern California host a "showcase" where we're invited to read from our newly published work. One after the other, usually about 8 or 9 of us at any given event, stand behind the podium and read a selected passage. Maybe the first chapter, maybe a particularly funny or gripping section from the middle. We have 5 minutes.
Question: How many typos can you expect to find in an already printed book in 5 minutes?
Answer: I don't know, and I certainly don't want to find out.
To make sure that doesn't happen, I never read from my latest release, or any book of mine that's been published. I know I couldn't stand it if I came across a typo and could do nothing about it. In fact, I never even open my books once they're published. Call it Typophobia.
At the showcases, I read from a Work in Progress – that way if there's a typo or an awkward phrase, I can fix it on the next draft.
So, it serves me right that one day at a signing, I came across the WBT—the World's Biggest Typo in one of my books.
A woman bought "The HydrogenMurder," in hardback, from the bookseller and brought it to the table for me to sign. At least, on the outside, it looked like "The Hydrogen Murder." The cover was right, the flap copy and photo were correct.
I opened the book, ready to pen my name. But something was off. What was Simon & Schuster's logo doing on the first page? Avalon was my publisher. 
I kept going, flipping pages, gasping as I went. The printer (or someone!) had put Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" between the covers of my book. I removed the paper cover and saw that the printing on the spine was correct for "The Hydrogen Murder." In the photo, you might be able to make out the flap copy (mine) on one side, and the title page (Bradbury's) on the other.
I'm sorry to tell you that there is no resolution here—the bookseller had no idea where she'd gotten the book; no other book in her stock of Hydrogen Murders was like this one.
I've often wondered if the great Ray Bradbury ever opened one of his copies of "Fahrenheit 451" and found "The Hydrogen Murder," by Camille Minichino.
If so, it might not have fazed him—after all, he writes sci fi.
Can you top that for a typo? I'm willing to relinquish my title to the WBT for a good story.
Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer.
She has 3 releases this spring: A re-issue of "The Hydrogen Murder" as an e-book; the second in the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, "The Probability of Murder" (by Ada Madison, March 6); and the sixth in the Miniature Mysteries, "Mix-Up in Miniature" (by Margaret Grace, April 2).
Soon, every aspect of her life will be a mystery series.  
Find more about Camille and her books on her website:


Nancy Lauzon said...


How strange, what a shocker. I have heard of similar publishing horror stories, strange but true. Best of luck with your books!

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks, Nancy.
(The bookseller wanted it back, but I wouldn't relinquish the WBT. I bought it from the customer.)

Donnell said...

Camille, I am adopting your philosophy on typos. Arggh, to see one in a published work. But I do believe you will retain the honor for the World's Biggest Typo for some time to come.

Your books sound fascinating. Waving hi to Ellis!

Fran Stewart said...

I can't top that! No wonder you bought the book from the customer.

I do remember once, though, when a customer asked if writers ever got bored at being published. I picked up a random book from the stack I was signing, and said, "I've never gotten over the thrill of seeing my name on the cover, and I love signing over my name on the title page." At which point I opened the book to find that the printing was upside down. The cover had been put on the wrong way. That was the only book in the stack like that.

Camille Minichino said...

Fran, that's a great story! It certainly belongs on a list of GTs!

Kaye George said...

My back cover typo is small potatoes compared to these! My publisher rewrote the backcover copy and renamed my fictional town of Saltlick,Texas. Saltlike doesn't have quite the same ring. It's still there in the Amazon paperback description! Apparently you can't change those. I fixed the ebook copy.

Sandra Parshall said...

That's definitely a collectible, Camille. At least you were "associated" with another brilliant author.

When the trade paperback of my first book, The Heat of the Moon, was printed, about 30 pages were missing from the middle of some copies. You wouldn't believe how many readers came directly to me, expecting *me* to personally replace their defective copies! I wish I had one of those missing-pages copies, but I don't. I assume my publisher destroyed them after they were recalled.

Camille Minichino said...

Kaye and Sandra, those are noteworthy also! I hope you get some mileage out of them at book events!

I'd love to see a short parody in Saltlike, TX!

Michele Drier said...

I love that story, Camille. And you'll have the last laugh.

elysabeth said...

Mine is more a printing error than a typo. I write a children's series and use createspace to print/publish my books. I had placed an order for 20 books, 10 of each of 2 states at the time. The cover was right; the first half of the book was actually the other state and the last half was actually the state it was supposed to be. This happened twice and both times it was 2 of each of the books. I have the first time copies it happened on but Createspace asked that I send the second time copies back so they could see I was telling the truth (they have a date stamp in the back of the books that tells them when the books were published, so they wanted to make sure they weren't fixing an already fixed error, which they weren't). It's kind of weird to go sign on the first page and the title there isn't the same as the cover of the book.

I've found typos in books I've read for review and those were already published books. I think it happens to the best of us at some point or other, no matter how hard we try to make our books typo free.

I have to admit, Camille, you have the topper of them though - to get such a classic book printed with your cover and your spine information. That's a definite keeper. E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
"The Proposal" (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
"The Tulip Kiss", a paranormal romance ebook
"Bride-and-Seek", a paranormal romance ebook

Radine Trees Nehring said...

What intriguing typo stories.
Almost makes me wish I had something like them to report. I don't. Only boring stuff like the time, in the first book in my "Something to Die For" series, when I had to change my protagonist's name because my publisher already had an author who's progatonist had the same name. Even after "search and replace" one original name did not get changed. Annoying and embarrassing, but hardly noteworthy.

Camille Minichino said...

Some of these are more frustrating than others, but all are worth either a laugh or a sympathetic sigh.

Patricia Gligor said...

No, Camille. I can't top that. What a horrible thing to happen.
When I received my author's copies of "Mixed Messages," I immediately gave one to my mother. I asked her to let me know if she found any typos. She only found one (there could be more) and she called to tell me the page and line.
I learned a valuable lesson: don't ask a question you really don't want to know the answer to. Even that one small typo haunts me but there's nothing I can do.

Marni said...

Yours takes the cake! That extra floating "s" the printer put on one page of The Blue Virgin that makes my teeth ache every time I see it is small potatoes compared to this!1 At least it was only the one copy, and that's certainly a collectible thing to own~

Ellis Vidler said...

My stories are so ordinary--embarrassing but nothing unique. I'm glad you got the book, Camille. Gremlins in the press, I suppose, but a good dinner story. :-)

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for hosting me here, Ellis. These stories are all worth repeating . . . and I probably will!

Polly said...

What a story. I can't imagine. I don't read mine after they're printed. Of course, until now, they've all been ebooks, four under my control. There will always be comma disputes, but a whole book? I'm readying one for type, and I crinj to thing there'll be a tipo. :-)

patricia driscoll said...

Hi Camille & Ellis,
Love the story. Maybe because it just happened to me. My novel "Shedding Light on Murder" was released in Jan. A friend called me after she received her copy.She had settled down to read a story set in Cape Cod and found herself in Pasadena! My paper cover, my hardcover but inside was a book by author Alice Duncan. The publishers haven't found any others, and like you, I traded a clean copy for the mixed up one. Ray Bradbury and Camille Minichino. That is cool!

Malena said...

Loved the post, Camille. Is there any way this sort of situation could lead to murder? I'm always looking for reasons to knock someone off. Aren't we mystery writers a happy bunch?
Good luck with ALL your spring releases.

Ellis Vidler said...

Malena, did you read about the actor who slit his own throat on stage in a scene calling for suicide? Someone substituted a real knife for the fake one. He didn't die but it was close. The police are looking for the person who switched the knife.

Mysti said...

That's so much better than what I keep finding in ebooks--brain-dead typos that I know aren't in the physical book. That text should all be in a computer file somewhere, and not have to be touched. I just don't get it.

anyway, if I see Ray Bradbury at Comic Con this year, I'll ask him if he's read the Hydrogen Murders yet :)