Right author, wrong credentials: oh dear, what can he do?

The only healthy exercise the
IPKat gets is lifting heavy books
A dear friend of the IPKat has asked him a question to which he has no quick answer and which he thought it would be fun to share with hie readers. It runs like this:
"I was commissioned to write a book on physical fitness for a well-known international publisher, on terms that I was the author and would be acknowledged as such. I wrote the text, submitted it and corrected the proofs, which were of a very professional standard. The book was duly published earlier this year in a number of countries. While my text was the same in each country, the cover and the various small print details on the page with the copyright notice varied from country to country.

On holiday in one of the countries where the book was published, I dropped in to a large and well-stocked bookshop to see if my masterpiece was on the shelf. It was, and very handsome it looked too. My name was proudly recorded on the cover as being the author -- but something had gone wrong. Instead of being described as a fitness and health consultant, I was misdescribed as being a professor at a famous academic institution in a city the other side of the country from where I live, and as possessing a number of degrees which I don't have. It turns out that, when cutting-and-pasting my details into the publisher's template for books of this nature in the same series, my own credentials were inadvertently not copied over and I was dignified quite unjustifiably and rather embarrassingly with the position of the author of the previous book in the same series. This error has only occurred on the cover for this country -- which I did not get to see in advance or check.

Is there anything I can do? I've been told that there is a moral right to be named as the author of my book, but I have been named. I'm not a lawyer but, having read through the contract, it doesn't mention the author's credentials and qualifications at all. Is there anything I can do? If so, what?".
If you have any ideas and suggestions, please email the IPKat and let him know. Merpel says, I don't have any degrees myself, but getting this publisher to promote my writings might be the best way to acquire some!
Right author, wrong credentials: oh dear, what can he do? Right author, wrong credentials: oh dear, what can he do? Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, March 03, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. Dear Merpel,

    Having a book published seems a very difficult way to merely acquire a degree. I regularly receive communications offering me MBAs, PhDs and other academic qualifications from acredited universities in recognition of life skills acquired.

    As an accomplished Kat with nine lives, you are probably entitled to at least nine such degrees in recognition of your experienced.

    Beware though of internet offers for increasing the length and girth of body organs. From experience I have to warn you that the cumulative effect of several such treatments can put a strain on relationships.

  2. To be falsely accredited a professorship could be injurious to your reputation and libellous. The author might sue to have published copies of the libel removed from circulation but would have to deduct their royalty from any damages and I very much doubt they'd get another book writing contract from that publisher.

    Probably better to adopt the Professorship but always state that it was awarded by the publisher, not the actual institution!!

  3. I guess it depends on where the fault lies - if it was the publisher's fault (either your original publisher or the publisher they sold the (I am guessing translation rights (?) to) then they should try and solve it for you - at their cost. It can't hurt to ask. Do you have a copy or a photo of the misleading information that you can forward through to the publisher as that might help them.

  4. check out noah v shuba

    anyway, why do u mind referred to as a professor? sounds pretty cool. u can use yoru fake designation to get away with a lot of stuff.

  5. If considering the Estonian legislation, as a first matter I would base the arguments on the Advertising Act according to which this is considered as an advertising and misleading advertising (including information about credentials) is prohibited. If this country is EU Member State, several EC legislation should also help out in this field.

  6. The publisher in this case may have made an inadvertent error or intentional mistake just by adding this non-existent biography.
    On this issue I think that can be do several things:

    - If the author has been involved in creating the cover, its vision and structure, he has a moral right to the work as a whole, including that the cover can not be altered without his permission. In one word, adding new text although it is biography, the publisher violates to some extent the right of the author.

    - Furthermore, the author may bring an action based on civil law against the publisher on a base that the publisher violates his privacy rights by adding nonexistent biography which can be interpreted as insulting for the author and his personality.

    Initially, the author may ask the publisher for adjustment and removal of this biography.

  7. My reaction would be first of all to contact the other author with a view to making a joint complaint to the publisher and indicating that honour would be satisfied if the publishers agreed a) that any currently printed versions of books by either for the country in question would be supplemented by a correction slip, b) that any future reprints of his book would be accurate, and c) that for the next six months their website would carry on its homepage a notice about this, ir at least a seuctive click-promoting prominent link called "embarassing apology", perhaps with a caricature of a publisher with a red face. That should open up a dialogue.

    What really surprised mre was that the deal did not include an undertaking by the publisher that the author would be provided no later than the time of publication with copies of each edition, whether by the publisher or by someone else under licence. I thought this was standard.....

    Just some initial thoughts.


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