Sometimes accidents can yield pleasant surprises. That’s how we got penicillin among other things.
Last week, the Cumberland Times-News ran my monthly Looking Back column. It was a two-part article, which the Editor’s Note at the start of the column told readers. The story was about a young couple in 1911 who on the eve of their wedding turned up dead in a closed room in a house full of people. You can read it here.
The column I wrote ended with the line: “The young couple were dead, but just what had happened?”
Then the newspaper stuck my tag line on the end of the column, which they add to end of every column. It read: “Contact James Rada at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-698-3571.”
The day the story ran and for the next two days, I got calls and e-mails from readers asking what had happened to the couple. I even had one person stop by a book signing I was doing to ask about it.
These people had skipped over the Editor’s Note and jumped right into the story. Then they had read the tag line as a continuation of the article event though it was italicized and in a smaller font.
Writers don’t always get feedback on their articles, particularly if they aren’t writing about controversial topics. Sometimes you even wonder if anyone is actually reading your articles. I will occasionally get an e-mail from someone who liked one of my articles and I meet a lot of people who will tell me they read my columns and articles. It is quite nice to get such an immediate feedback from my column even if it was the result of a mistake. I know it made my weekend.