Watercooler: As a writer, it's hard to make a name for yourself when editors keep misspelling your byline

Watercooler: As a writer, it's hard to make a name for yourself when editors keep misspelling your byline


Q: My last name is uncommon and frequently misspelled—almost always in the same way, with two letters inverted. I work as a freelance writer, and when someone on an editorial staff types my name incorrectly into a byline, I only discover the mistake once the story is printed. Not only is it frustrating to see my work incorrectly credited, but I think it reflects poorly on me when my name is misspelled in my sample clips.

I already put my full name in multiple places on the manuscript, and, of course, it’s in my email signature. I’ve started wondering if I ought to take a more proactive approach by saying something like: “Just a heads-up: My name is very easy to misspell!” when I send in a new piece. But that might just annoy an editor by suggesting that they wouldn’t double-check an author’s name. (Even though, obviously, some don’t.) Any suggestions?

A: I’m sure Hilary Swank, Saoirse Ronan and Chrissy Teigen feel your pain.

Since your livelihood probably depends on having your name show up correctly in Google, Amazon and library searches, I hope you consistently pursue publications to correct your byline wherever possible—and consider reserving your best pitches for publications you can trust to (1) spell contributors’ names right and (2) offer the courtesy of at least one pre-press review.

As for how to prevent it from happening in the future: Once the same error pops up more than twice, you may as well make fixing it part of your brand. Think of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s “BOOT EDGE EDGE 2020” campaign T-shirts. Or think of the bedding retailer phone number forever embedded in the public consciousness as “1-800-MATTRES—Leave off the last S for savings.” Whatever gimmicky mnemonic you can come up with, fashion it into a marketing hook and hang it on your email signature, your business cards and your online bio.

Pro tip: If you’ve purchased a Web domain in your name, try to also purchase domains with common misspellings of your name and set them up to redirect visitors to the correctly spelled site.

And if you can come up with a mnemonic for Karla-with-a-K that doesn’t associate me with the monstrous serial killer of the same name, I’m all ears.

Q: I work in a small salon. My employer recently sent me a text reminding me to “make sure you come in with your hair done, makeup on, and a bra on.” I’ve worked there for a year now and this is the first time she has told me I need to wear a bra. I’ve never signed any sort of dress code, and I feel that this text was sent only to me because I’m the only one there who doesn’t wear a bra. I’m wondering if this is legal or if it could be discriminatory. I always make sure I’m covered; if I have a thin shirt on, I wear a bralette.

A: As I’ve said before when discussing this topic from the management perspective, employers are generally allowed to set standards for employee attire—even gender-based requirements such as makeup if they don’t impose an “unequal burden” on one gender and as long as those standards are consistently applied and enforced. Having employees sign a written policy confirming they understand those standards is good insurance but not strictly necessary.

Why not ask your boss for a frank explanation of why you going braless is a problem, and see if there are alternatives you would both be amenable to? If your boss can tell you’re the only one not wearing a bra, then it seems whatever you are wearing isn’t getting the job done.

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