Pepper, Not People

One of the paramount reasons to hire a good editor is to save you from yourself. There’s rarely such a thing as a perfect book, and readers don’t seem to mind if a typo or two slips by. But what if your typo causes an international sensation? That may sound far-fetched, but consider what happened in the case of The Pasta Bible, published by Penguin Australia in 2009.

In the book, a recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto calls for “salt and freshly ground black people.” The typo was chalked up to a “silly mistake” in proofreading. It probably didn’t seem so silly when the mistake garnered international attention, including some accusations of racism. The following online news outlets, among others, carried the story:

The news reports say the publisher destroyed 7,000 copies of the book at a cost of $18,500 (US dollars), but that’s not the point here. Nobody wants this kind of thing to happen to them. Granted, editors can miss mistakes, but the more stringent your editorial process, the less likely your publication will cause the wrong type of sensation.