I bubbled with anticipation as I drove toward San Mateo in early June. I was about to embark on my first book signing adventure along with a dozen or more fellow anthology authors. My essay, May Good Fortune Shine on You, had been accepted in the anthology, Carry the Light. I’d also been awarded an Honorable Mention at the San Mateo County Fair Literature Exhibit for this essay.
I arrived, found the presentation stage, checked in and picked up my pre-ordered copy. I purchased additional books to give out as gifts, then settled into the audience until the book signing commenced. My fingers itched to open the glossy cover and see my name in the Table of Contents. I wanted to flip to my story and see the final result of all my hard work. I resisted. There was a presentation by several published authors and an agent going on. I would not fold into the temptation.
The session ended. I applauded with the rest of the audience. It was time to find a seat along the table where the book signing would occur. Being a lefty, I decided to take a spot at the far end of the table where I wouldn’t elbow any of my fellow authors. I would be at the end of the line, but that was fine. I’d rather be last than ruin someone’s signature. Besides, people might linger and chat. I could pitch my story.
I pulled out my pen and I was ready for business. Up the line, I saw authors fumbling to find their stories so they could autograph that page and waiting customers reading nametags so they could open their books to the appropriate page. I had the idea that if I put the page number of my story on my nametag, it might speed the process. I pulled out my own copy of the anthology and flipped to the Table of Contents.
Disappointment hit like I’d just dropped twenty floors in a free-falling elevator. The credit given to my essay was Jill Hedgehock. That wasn’t my name. It should read Hedgecock with a “c”. With trembling fingers, I flipped to page 271. The author’s name matched the Table of Contents. Hedgehock.
My first customer arrived. I wanted to get up from my chair and go talk to the anthology coordinator and the publisher. Both individuals were here. Instead, I smiled at the man who stood before me.
“Do you want me to address this to someone or just sign?” I asked.
“Just sign,” he said.
My pen hovered over the page. Should I sign and Hedgehock or Hedgecock? The man must have thought I was flustered and nervous and I suppose I was, but not for the reasons he probably imagined. I pressed the pen to the page and scrawled my name. My real name. I didn’t know who Jill Hedgehock was and I wasn’t about to endorse this inexcusable error. I had actually gotten not one, but two, emails asking for the proper spelling of my last name. I had promptly responded both times and they had still gotten it wrong. I’d never been given an advance copy. There was no way I could have done anything more to prevent this mistake.
Now, I had a bunch of copies that I’d be too embarrassed to give to anyone. This was a disaster. Worse, I had to face the error time and time again during the book signing. Each time I scrawled my name across the page, it was like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard. My first book signing had become a chore, not the fabulous experience I’d envisioned.
As the crowd thinned and my opportunity to discuss the issue with the folks in charge became a reality, I realized it didn’t matter how the publisher responded. Once the book was published, my name in this book had been become Hedgehock. There was no way to correct this error.