Before I Indulge your curiosity about the subject alluded to in the post title, I want to give you an update on some writing related goings-on. One of my stories, “Toasterpocalypse,” will be coming out next month in an anthology tentatively titled Children of Edward Bryant. If you don’t know anything about Ed, you can check out his Wikipedia page. The publisher is trying to have the book ready ahead of schedule for MileHiCon 49 at the end of October (Ed had been Toast Master for MileHiCon more than a dozen times, in addition to being Guest of Honor twice). Regardless of whether or not it will be ready, many of the authors involved will be doing readings from the anthology, myself included.
My summer hiatus from Amazing Stories is over. Scide Splitters returns with a review of Unidentified Funny Objects 6. In my estimation, this is the best volume in the series so far.
Now back to the heading subject, because the title no doubt has you on the edge of your seat. It is a thrilling tale of bureaucracy and misspelling! How can you resist?
Upon publication of Cat’s Breakfast, the Vonnegut tribute anthology with my story “Spooky Action,” I noticed that the Amazon.com page for the Kindle version had my name misspelled with an extra L, resulting in Killman, thereby preventing the listing from linking with my author page at Amazon. A simple enough problem, or so one would think. I contacted Amazon customer service to explain the situation.
They responded that the problem would be taken care of and that I should give the correction a day or two to manifest. It did not. I contacted them again and was told that the issue was being transferred to Author Central. Now we are getting somewhere, I thought. Surely with a name like Author Central, a misspelling would be a mere trifle. They promptly informed me that there was nothing they could do about it.
Surprised by this unexpected result, I wrote back thinking that additional evidence might help my cause. I explained that the trade paper listing for the same book had my name correctly spelled. And if they cared for further proof of my claim, so as not to fall victim to whatever devious plot they feared that I might have planned, they could use the Look Inside feature to see that Kilman was indeed the spelling in all instances inside the book.
This attempt did at least yield a clue as to why they would not fix the mistake. Only the publisher, they said, has the authorization to make such corrections. It sounded sensible enough, though I wondered why it had taken them three responses to impart this wisdom.
I emailed Juli Rew, the editor/publisher, only to learn that she had already made multiple attempts at a correction resulting in no more success than I had. From Juli I learned more about the nature of the quagmire that had ensnared my story and my name.
As a matter of policy, software limitations, or what-have-you, publishers are limited to ten contributing authors when they create a book listing at Amazon. Additional author listings can be achieved through contacting customer service, which Juli had done when the listing was created. But somewhere in that process, the extra L was entered, and there it remained. The reason Juli could not fix it was because she only had access to the first ten names. So the issue went round and round with customer service claiming to be powerless to do anything and repeatedly suggesting that the publisher make the fix.
Finally, I decided to write a long and detailed explanation of the nature of this bureaucratic black hole, so that the problem could be understood and escalated to someone of sufficient authority to remove one L from my name. I was not sure how high up Mount Olympus this would have to go to reach god-like powers necessary for correcting a spelling error, but I was sure such nearly omnipotent beings must exist.
I received a response from a demigod, or maybe it was a supervisor, who said that I had indeed identified the exact nature of this catch-22 and that it was clear that I was entirely correct. The extra L was no doubt in error—but I would have to contact the publisher and have her explain this all over again to customer service.
Remembering the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I decided to retain my sanity and drop the matter. Eventually, however, Juli managed, through persistence and perhaps some sacrifice of her mental stability, to succeed in getting the correction. Thanks, Juli.