“What’s in a name?” Part 2: The mystery is solved!

If you saw my last post, you know that I was on my high horse about a forthcoming reprint of WHILE STILL WE LIVE, Helen MacInnes’s wonderful novel of espionage and romance in the Polish Underground of WWII. The publisher in question, Titan Books, had listed this title as WHILE WE STILL LIVE, which I thought was awful. Not only does it not “sound” as good as the correct title, but–well, it’s just not the correct title. So I shot off an indignant email to the “offending” publisher and otherwise made a lot of noise about it because, hey, I’m a writer, and we writers have to stick together on the subject of our titles. The fact that MacInnes passed away in 1985 made not the slightest difference–I was incensed on her behalf, and I was taking up the torch.

And brother, was I wrong! Oops!!!

Good news! I just received a reply from a very nice woman at Titan Books in London, who patiently explained to the insane Yank author (me) that the incorrect listing of the title on Amazon and in their own catalogue was…a mistake! Double-oops!!! As it turns out, somebody simply entered the title incorrectly, and the copy-edit people failed to catch it before the ads were printed and distributed. So my big, indignant brouhaha was the result of a TYPING ERROR!!! Triple-oops!!!

Here’s the reply from Titan Books:

Dear Mr Savage

I have just been made aware of your email regarding the change of title of the book While Still We Live by Helen MacInnes. I must apologise profusely for the time it has taken us to respond to your concerns.
I can assure you that there was no intention to present the title incorrectly. A typographical error early in the production process was simply not identified as it should have been and was then repeated in the listings and the book itself. 
The corrected e-book cover—Yay!

The corrected e-book cover—Yay!

We are taking immediate steps to correct all listings before the book’s US publication date in September, and we are also correcting the cover and interior files so that a correct edition can be published.
Thank you very much for bringing this unfortunate error to our attention, and thank you for your support for Helen MacInnes’s life and work.
Best wishes (etc.)
Anyway, the good news is, WHILE STILL WE LIVE will be back in print this September, as both an e-book and a trade paperback, and you can get it–and many of Helen MacInnes’s other titles–from your favorite online bookstores.
I’m going to leave my original rant here, because it does make a valid point about respecting the work of our classic authors. But don’t blame Titan Books–they’re the ones who are making her work available again, and they corrected their mistake as soon as it was discovered.
So, my letter was answered, and the Mystery of the Screwed-Up Title is solved. Case closed!

2 thoughts on ““What’s in a name?” Part 2: The mystery is solved!

  1. This actually makes me all the gladder that you wrote to Titan with such outrage! Honestly, this leaves me almost as outraged as if they’d changed the title on purpose (but enough said on that, since I could go on about the loss of the true copyeditor for pages). I’m glad you did take the time, and make the effort, to write to them, preserving MacInnes’ artistic vision for, I hope, a generation of new readers.

    • Thanks, Renee. It turned out to be a computing glitch, but I know what you mean about the new, lower quality of copyediting. It sure ain’t like the old days! Anyway, the title was fixed and the book will be available in September. That’s the important thing.

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