Just the Facts

I learned a valuable lesson the other day: don’t take things for granted, no matter how “reliable” they appear to be.


Last week I heard from my publisher that the illustrator for my non-fiction picture book had signed his contract. Although I was joyful, my excitement was marred a bit by a question the illustrator had about one fact in my manuscript. I pulled out my sources, double checked the facts and realized his point was correct and I was wrong. How did this happen?


The fact had been a last minute addition on the encouragement of my critique group when I had presented the original manuscript to them in the Fall of 2007. I knew I had to verify this suggestion, so I grabbed one of my sources from a big name publisher and confirmed what I thought was accurate information. However, I didn’t verify that this big name publisher was correct. In my rush to send out my manuscript as soon as possible, I relied on one source of information instead of my normal three sources.


I was very embarrassed by my carelessness. I apologized to my publisher, concurred that the illustrator had been right, and admitted I had not checked out this one fact as thoroughly as I should have. Then, I retyped the information as it should have been presented.


Never assume your reference sources are accurate, no matter what publishing house they come from. Anyone can make a mistake and editors can fail to catch information. Check, recheck, and check again. It will save you from having to send out embarrassing e-mails to admit you were wrong.

3 Responses

  1. Catherine,
    Sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for being transparent so that others will not make the same mistake.


  2. Thank you for your transparency! That’s a fear of mine…that I’ll get something wrong and send it! Will you share your three main research resources with us?

  3. Sherri-

    I try to get as many sources as possible that confirm the information. I love it when I can get primary sources or those directly based on researching such sources. Generally I find that if I see a large consensus of information, then it is safe to use. If I had taken the time to check another two sources in this particular fact, I would have seen the discrepancy and would have found another source to confirm the right information.

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