The owner and publisher of Author-Me-com, Bruce Cook, has claimed primary responsibility for his company’s reference to Africa as a country. In a letter to Wordsbody, the blogger who first exposed this error, Cook said, “I agree that this is quite serious, although I imagine that similar errors occur with many who have not had the opportunity to visit a distant country.”
Author-Me.com has been instrumental in promoting budding writers from African countries, including such award-winning authors as Monica Arac de Nyeko of Uganda and others. Cook told the Nigerian Vanguard in January 2008 that helping African writers was a dream come true for him since he had always wanted to provide a forum for the talent Africa had to offer. So to have his managing editor, Winona Rasheed, make this error must have come as a shock.
“Please permit me to speak in Winona’s behalf here, for I read your blog as an unfair personal bashing of her, with complete failure to recognize her work, ” wrote Cook , adding, “She has worked for author-me.com for over 4 years and has freely (no compensation) devoted at least 20 hours a week to helping African writers and managing an international crew of editors. I believe that judging her person by this one error is unfair.” He admitted that he did not intend, through his defence of Winona Rasheed, to “minimize the importance of the error”, but he acknowledged that “ignorance of Africa and its situation is so prevalent in the USA that it distresses anyone who cares.”
In an effort to address this issue, Bruce Cook has promised to re-issue the books with corrections. “Regretfully, with a book, the issues already sold will contain the error,” he wrote.
Cook has asked Wordsbody and everyone who criticized Rasheed for this error to give her “the credit she deserves for working so hard in behalf of African writers, who deserve to have much greater opportunities in the literary world.”
Wordsbody, clarifying that the attack was not on Rasheed as a person as it was on the mistake, has welcomed Cook’s statement as ” an acceptable way forward on this matter.”
The error appeared in the forewords of the anthologies Africa 2007 and 2008.