Perils of a printed publication

The latest issue of Ancient Warfare, on the fall of Rome, was released and there was much rejoicing. Our elation at the appearance of this issue turned into despair, however, when an observant reader sent us an email to point out that the review on Osprey’s Pylos and Sphacteria (reviewed by regular contributor Owen Rees) had the exact same text as the review immediately preceding it. As much as we like Filippo Donvito and were happy to print his musings on Paolo De Ruggiero’s book Mark Antony: A Plain, Blunt Man, it was silly of us to publish it twice and I do apologize for the inconvenience.

That’s one of the perils of publishing in print. When you make a mistake on the internet, it is easily corrected. You make the change and it’s immediately updated and visible to everyone. But once you’ve committed something to paper, that’s it. It’s there in black and white for all to see. It’s not just a silly mistake: it’s one that will be there for as long as that particular item is in circulation. 

And mistakes get made more often than any of us here in the office would like, least of all me! Most of the time, though, it’s something small. I remember the very first issue that I had to edit, which was VI.5, on the armies of Diocletian, back at the very end of 2012. I had written the ‘On the cover’ blurb that described the cover illustration created by the talented Johnny Shumate. I had read it many, many times over. But the moment it came back from the printer’s, the first thing I noticed was an error: I wrote ‘tracks of land’ instead of ‘tracts of land’ in the article’s lead (the first paragraph of the article, which is also, in the case of Ancient Warfare, printed in a larger font and thus even more noticeable!). 

Of course, you should never edit your own texts. No matter how observant you think you are, there’s usually a kind of fog that befuddles the mind when you try to critically read and edit your own work. You know what the text should be about and why would you write anything different, especially when it’s still fresh in your mind? Lesson learnt and nowadays I always have my own texts read by at least one, preferably two people. (That doesn’t apply to blog posts, obviously, and it is often a little easier to read and correct your text after you’ve left it alone for a while.)

Anyway, despite our best efforts, we managed to cock up one of the reviews in issue IX.1. The digital version of the magazine has now been corrected. If you have a digital subscription and downloaded the issue earlier, you can just pop over to the webshop and download it again. You can also download the corrected page, keep it on your hard drive or print it out and stick it into your paper copy of the magazine. My thanks to the reader who pointed out the error. If you ever spot a mistake in an issue of Ancient Warfare, feel free to let me know!

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