What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bibliographic Entry of the Day

Been good to know ya.

So, R. J. and Long, H. (2013). Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism. Boundary 2, 40(2): 147–82, doi:10.1215/01903659-2151839.


The Google, maybe in cahoots with the evil Facebook, has apparently seen fit to remove the photo of John Cale, the czarina, and me that used to appear at this posting. That kinda sucks.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stick Around Long Enough

If you read a few million words a month, every month, rain or shine, sooner or later you come across a gem.

From the current project:

While the president decried Kristallnacht, he announced there would be no change in America’s harsh immigration laws. Strict numeric quotas would remain in place, effectively closing the nation’s doors to the large number of Jews seeking refuge in the United States. But some courageous American leaders pressed for increased immigration. Following Kristallnacht, in February 1939, Senator Wagner and Representative Edith Nourse Rogers (1881–1960), a Massachusetts Republican, cosponsored a bill permitting twenty thousand German Jewish children, a modest number, to enter the United States as nonquota immigrants. Eleanor Roosevelt unsuccessfully urged her husband to support the bipartisan Wagner-Rogers bill. Anti-Semites and isolationists attacked the legislation, as did the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the bill died in committee.

FDR’s cousin, Laura Delano Houghteling (1893–1978), whose husband was the US commissioner for immigration and naturalization, opposed the Wagner-Rogers legislation, declaring, “Twenty thousand charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”[i]

[i] Richard Cohen, “Muffling the Drums of War with Iran,” Washington Post, October 1, 2012.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'll say . . .

McCracken, G. (1988). The Long Interview. Vol. 13. SAGE, Newbury Park, CA. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Lattice

"Hanging out with him, if one could ever be said to hang out with Gene McCarthy, I began to see a very complex man. He was skeptical in the way that intelligent people are. His doubts could easily be read as cynicism. He once said, 'Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.'" 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Has Journalism Grown Stupid(er), or Am I Increasingly Intolerant?

So I'm taking a break from proofreading, of all things, college football calendars (ah, college football -- speaking of stupidity and my intolerance), chomping on an ice cream bar and avoiding my perpetual work backup. (See also blogging.) I click on the AP news and see a story about which I had no prior knowledge nor any particular interest, but it looked odd enough to catch my attention.

Link: Facebook fraud suspect on the lam; family, dog also missing

Part of my attraction is that I've always liked the phrase "on the lam." One of my favorite movies is Petrified Forest (1930s; Bogart, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard), and one of Duke Mantee's gang tells him a few times, "C'mon, boss, let's lam on outta here." I saw the movie on TV one afternoon back in my 20s and fell in love with it. (I just looked it up on YouTube, and only one clip is available, but I did see that there was a live TV version done in the 1950s with Bogart and Henry Fonda. Don't know who plays the Bette Davis role, but the original movie is notable -- among many other reasons -- because Bette Davis plays an idealistic young goddess, not a hardened bitch.)

Oh, yeah, journalism.

If you've clicked on the link above, you perhaps noted something interesting. Here's a story about a guy who tried to pull a multibillion-dollar scam on Mark Zuckerberg, and intrepid AP journalist Larry Neumeister offers up this detail in paragraph 3:

"And the search widened Thursday: Ceglia's wife and two young sons and his family's Jack Russell terrier, Buddy, also have disappeared."

Great reporting there, sport. Too bad you didn't mention the names of the other missing humans until seven paragraphs deeper into the story.

I mean, what gives? Is the dog's name important whatsoever? And Buddy? What a pedestrian name for a dog. Now if the dog's name was Zarathustra or Moon Unit or J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, that's crucial information. But "Buddy"? 

Besides, as far as I'm concerned, you could vaporize every freaking Jack Russell terrorist on earth, and I wouldn't bat an eye. What a godawful breed of dog.

Ah, well. Time to see how Vanderbilt did against Ole Miss on October 8, 1949. I wish I was kidding. My whoredom knows no limits, although I did turn down an index the other day. Even with my tolerance (!) for obscure theological prose, this one would have pushed me right over the edge. It's nice to be in a position, ephemeral as it is, to turn away work once in a while that I really don't want to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bears Repeating: An Oldie but a Goodie

"Take time to familiarize yourself with this manual. The slightest deviation from the style described herein will lead directly to the collapse of our carefully constructed editorial house of cards, economic upheaval, spiritual and moral chaos, and the end of civilization as we know it."

APWA Style Guide, 2nd ed., American Public Welfare Association, 1995

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Authors: Call for Books

I want to be paid for books that appeal to my prurient interests. Is that too much to ask?

Sports or theatre books -- also good.

Celebrity bios? Well-written young adult fiction?

Anybody? Bueller?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Math Note for Authors

This type of construction drives me crazy, but I see it a few times a year.

"A 200 percent reduction."

Wouldn't a 100 percent reduction in anything bring it to zero? I think what the author is usually getting at is "reduced to a quarter of the size."

I checked with a statistician friend who offered the following response:

"The only way you can have a 200% reduction in a quantity is if negative quantities are allowed. In theory, if your company went from a 50K profit a 50K loss, you have had a 200% reduction in profit. But I don't recommend that construction.

"For the record, percentage change is (Current Value - Previous Value) / Previous Value, times 100. Thus, going from 50K to 60K profit is (10/50) * 100 or a 20% increase."

You know what else drives me crazy? That the Google has embedded some crap in its email that turns all text copied and pasted from it into this white background when I put it into my blog -- and that's after putting it into a Word doc, hitting Clear Formatting, saving as Plain Text, and pasting it here.

My email problems, though, pale compared to Mrs. Clinton's, if today's news is any indication. I wouldn't mind at all seeing a (D) alternative or two or three step up. Or seeing Bernie Sanders run the table on the whole lot of them.

Then there's Mark Warner, one of my U.S. senators. Matter of fact, here's a very interesting website:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reference Lists, Name Order, Lower-Level Scholarship: Questions, We've Got Questions

Part of any copyeditor's gig when working for academic/scholarly publishers is checking works cited lists. Pages and pages of them. What a godawful bore. I often like to do all that at once before reading the actual text because the reading goes pretty quickly once I clear all the junk out of the way. In a journal article that has six pages of works cited out of a thirty-page chapter, a lot of the real estate in the text comprises author-date citations that I then can ignore when shuffling commas. Chewing up three or four hours doing reference checks up front is akin to eating your vegetables before you get to the protein.

My present job, a quarterly journal for which I'm the de facto CE -- and have been for about four years now -- deals with matters Asian. While the editors (both content and in-house) do a nice job preparing these manuscripts before I see them, there's still a lot of foreign-language content to sort through. Italics or not? Name order? Translations? Which Li are we talking about? And is that a first or last name? On and on and on.

My dear, long-suffering wife asked if she could help me check the author-date citations -- something that a neophyte could occasionally do. When I showed her what this project involved, she withdrew the offer. Smart woman.

Reading all the references at once, though, uncovers certain patterns, and really that's what my whole work life comes down to: Does the text match the style sheet? Is all this handled consistently? Why didn't I become a plumber? (Well, maybe not the last one.)

A pattern I've begun to recognize is that an awful lot of these references -- not only in this journal, but in plenty of books, too -- cite the first page only of their source.

So what's going on here? Are these scholars just reading the abstracts? Can't these people be bothered to plow through some of their peers' work?* I mean, when I check thirty citations and twenty-five of them are to the first page of the cite, what's my takeaway?

(*"I mingle with my peers or no one. Having no peers, I mingle with no one." --Ignatius J. Reilly)

By the way, after five minutes of lazy research of my own, I can find no good images of a page from an English-language phonebook with a mess of Chinese names. If you can find one, send me the link. Or if you live in a town where the voting-age population is not mostly white meth freaks, morbidly obese white folks, or ancient Caucasians who can't drive more than 18 miles an hour, scan a page of Korean or Chinese names and email it to me. Hell, send me a postcard from such a place. I'm given to understand that not all of America looks like Central Appalachia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Keeping It Regular

I think I mentioned this point in passing in some recent post, but I'm editing a special issue of a journal for a multifaceted scholar of note who found my blog some time ago -- when the Google wasn't so picky, thankfully. Bless him, as he has three distinct fields of interest and is publishing in all of them. We're going to be pals for years to come if I don't blow it.

Problem is that the articles for this journal are kinda trickling in, making it hard to get up any rhythm on the work. I worked on an article last night, or earlier this morning, or sometime since the last time I was asleep. It was a perfect storm of relative ignorance for me: MLA style, converting to UK spelling and punctuation, and a Works Cited section that featured a decent amount of -- get ready -- Estonian.

Good thing the work is interesting.

And in an entirely different field, he has 300,000 words of abstracts coming to me for editing in March for an international symposium he's hosting this summer. With any luck, I'll have a little more to grab on to there. Three hundred thousand words of mess might put me right over the edge. Been a very emotional year already.

By no means am I complaining about the work he sends me. I'm loving the relationship. And at least my intestines aren't getting ready to explode any time soon. Sometimes you take the good news where you can get it. When I think of colons, I'd rather keep it work-related, thank you very much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Still Dealing with It

CT scan yesterday because of re-increasing symptoms revealed inflamed intestines, aggravated diverticulosis, stool blocking a bowel. Apparently all I need to do is drink 120 ounces of water a day, and I should be OK. Sure. Just set my workstation up over a trough.

Important fact learned after the fact. "Make sure you drink plenty of water with that Metamucil. Otherwise it'll turn into bricks in your stomach." Don't you think that information would be especially important for someone who is doubled over in pain because of something that feels like bricks in the stomach?

I was getting the scan done, and the radiology technician and I were talking. I figured we were about the same age, although he ended up being a little younger. After about five words came out of my mouth, he asked, "Where are you from?" Then clarified, "Where are you from originally?"

I said, "The Northeast. New York. Staten Island."

He said, "I thought so. I grew up in Nassau County" [Long Island].

He picked it right up from my voice, which I thought interesting because a friend of my wife's whom I haven't spoken with in many years and I were on the phone the other day, and he commented he could hear no trace of a New York accent. I guess it's knowing what to listen for. Not that I can explain it.

So, the doc says let him know if I continue to have problems with things moving apace through my system or if the significant pain comes back. (I was timing spasms last weekend at 10- or 14-minute intervals that might last one to three minutes. Kinda exhausting.) When I spoke with him today, he was glad to hear I had two days of antibiotics left, or based on the inflamed intestines, he might have put me on a double new dose of antibiotic.

All I want at this point is to be as regular as my dog. And he doesn't have to drink 120 oz. of water a day. Thank god.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No Fun

If what I am just getting over with antibiotics and two or three days of serious freaking pain is diverticulitis, I wouldn't recommend it. For me, without the initial "Oh my God, I'm gonna die" feeling, it's about like having been kicked in the nuts for two days straight.

But I guess it's better than one of my organs exploding, which was one of the other options. Apparently my bloodwork came back "great."


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Today in Infamy

I’m indexing the name “Bull Connor,” and I figured I’d do my A-student thing and check his real first name. I thought it was Eugene.

Well, sorta.

Theophilus Eugene Connor. How could you go so wrong with a name like Theophilus?

Friday, January 9, 2015

So . . . So, So That

I didn't even know until a fellow editor brought it up in the context of another conversation a few years back that I was probably screwing up the difference between "so" and "so that" for so many years.

Online explanations are invariably confusing. While I think I grok it now, I can't explain it -- kind of like the Supreme Court justice said about obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

But from one of the online explanations, I've culled and massaged an example that I should keep taped to my forehead.

Pavlov rang the bell, so the dog salivated.

Pavlov rang the bell so that the dog would salivate.

Think about it. It's easier than the accompanying explanations.

Credit, sorta, to the Regent Univ. writing center. I can't imagine any other context in which I'd be giving Pat Robertson credit for anything, except a huge amount of entertainment over the years.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Elvis Has Left the Building

1996-2015. RIP.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The 2014 Obscurity Review

Regular readers of this blog as well as people who know me understand that every day I work mostly on books that, if all goes well, may be read by a few hundred people -- and some volumes won't be that popular, if that's even the right word. While I labor over a small percentage of books that are for a private audience -- the yesterday-mentioned corporate histories among them -- most of the books I proofread, edit, or index are of great interest only to the author and (maybe) a small handful of other scholars and insiders. I doubt even the author's parents would pick up these volumes and read them anywhere close to cover to cover. The parents might not even brag about them at parties.

Which is not to say that some of these aren't damn fine books; they are. But their topic matters are so obscure that folks are often amazed when I tell them not only what I've read but, if I can remember it, the batch of books that either just left my desk or are about to arrive. The variety and scope of the obscurity is also impressive.

For years, it seemed that I worked primarily on theological tomes. Now with changes in clients, changes in amount of work from certain clients, and indeed changes at the clients themselves, the theology isn't as heavy. Seems that international relations and social sciences are creeping in more and more. One press, and it's not exactly a secret if you look at their catalog, and if you know anything about the presses listed at the right, has moved largely from the fascinating (seriously) world of the intersection of science and religion -- nuclear physics and other topics that I don't understand -- into the realm of libertarian politics and economics. Or at least that's what I'm seeing. At this point in my life, I can't say that I like the trade-off, although the latter books are generally written by popular authors, and the writing is breezy.


The idea for this blog posting comes from an idea for an email. The producing artistic director of the theatre where my wife works has always been amused at my reading list. I thought I'd compile a month-by-month list for him of my most obscure titles for the year. I've done so and listed them below. Instead, he'll get a copy of this blog posting. He doesn't read blogs anyway, but I've alerted him that I was doing a blog posting in his honor. Maybe he'll read this email, or just skip to the list.

And, please, keep in mind that I really did like some of these books. One of the authors, I have a reason for presuming, followed this blog for a while after I worked on his book. I hope he doesn't take offense at seeing his book here if he checks back in.

The titles in the 2014 Obscurity Review are also a function of what else I worked on that month. I didn't factor in corporate histories or self-published books. The books listed below are all available for sale from their publishers, which I've not listed here, but which I assume hoped for some success for these books, however that might be measured. So if you're a lucky author, none of whom I've named here, who ended up in a month in which I had more self-published books than others, your book had a much better chance of being chosen. Congratulations.

Turns out that most of these books are indexing, because I only get indexes from this particular client, which happens to publish plenty of these kinds of books, bless their hearts.

Books by month, title, and job function:

Securing the West: Politics, Public Lands, and the Fate of the Old Republic, 1785–1850 [index]

Uphill Battle: Reflections on Viet Nam Counterinsurgency [proofread]

Newton and Empiricism [index]

A Polity of Persuasion: Gift and Grief of Anglicanism [index]

A Complete Identity: The Youthful Hero in the Work of G. A. Henty and George MacDonald [index]

Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic [proofreading]

All Things New: The Trinitarian Nature of the Human Calling in Maximus the Confessor and J├╝rgen Moltmann [index]

Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East [proofreading]

The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility [proof/edit]

Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo [copyedit]

November (tie)
St. Francis and the Foolishness of God [proof]

Urban Villages and Local Identities: Germans from Russia, Omaha Indians, and Vietnamese in Lincoln, Nebraska [copyedit]

Pastoral Leadership: A Case Study, including Reference to John Chrysostom [index]

One day I'll do a post about when I get out of the house to go work at the public library. That a whole 'nother story.

Well, back to copyediting. Might be an early entry for next year's list: Perspectives in Interdisciplinary and Interactive Studies.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Too Much Excitement in the Publishing World

Being a freelance comma juggler doesn't come with a lot of fireworks. 

I've been involved with a particular corporate history for going on three years. Anytime a project lingers that long -- especially a corporate history, which is usually tied to some anniversary date -- you know something's gone wrong.

I copyedited a draft of the lengthy manuscript almost three years ago. The pages came for proofing in early fall of 2014. Uh-oh. And that was before things got weird.

I wrote the publisher today to find out if the book might ever make it to indexing. The response?

"I truly don’t know. They’ve put an indefinite hold on it pending some outcome on the homicide investigation."

As the label says, life in these United States.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The De-Spiriting, or Taking the Wind Right Out of My Sails

It's not worth much, but these days I self-identify as a Taoist-leaning Jewish agnostic -- one who still spends a lot of time up to his eyeballs in Christian theology. MDivs and people who hang around enough Sunday school classes or Saturday morning Torah studies with the rabbi will note the punning in this posting's title. To bring the rest of you heathens up to speed, the word for "spirit" in Hebrew is ruach, which means "wind" or "breath." Greek = pneuma. Same. Think, "pneumonia." Or you could think, "Jesus Christ, doesn't anyone read this stuff?"

The clock says 1:40am, about the same time it was three or four days ago when I discovered paragraphs repeating pages apart and the FUBAR situation known as "indexing implications."

Same thing happening now. Is it Groundhog Day? Four places in the book where paragraphs repeat. And in this case, there's no "near the end of the chapter" possibility that could pull this author's butt out of the sling. For some reason, he wrote this book -- some pneumatological ruminations -- in diary form. I have no idea why. The diary begins around April 2 and ends around November 29. I have no idea why. Is that average "normal time" in the Christian lectionary? Frankly, I don't care.

So the book has no chapters. The "diary entries" run in one after the other. I was wondering when I opened the PDF why this usually sensible press was publishing a book with no table of contents. Now I know. And I also know that it's now 1:46am on a Sunday morning, and while this managing editor might check her office email later today, there's not a damn thing she can do about it either. I have to presume in a book of this relative brevity the repetition is intentional. This author has, according to Amazon, eight books to his credit. I'm proceeding full speed ahead with the index. Let Rev. Smartypants substitute some text.

I mean, this happens so rarely -- so twice in four days is by any standard appalling. By the time I see these books, they've been vetted in-house (one hopes), copyedited (one hopes), and maybe even proofread while I'm doing the index. They may have even been through a stage or two of page proofs. No one notices? Admittedly Land on Demand has some screwy methods of operation, but certain benefits accrue to sitting down with a project and trying not to move my ample white butt until the thing is finished. At least I can remember what happens 30 pages apart.

Time to fix a cup of coffee. Presuming no other freakouts, I should have this wrapped up by dawn. Oh, for some career alternatives. Or a winning lottery ticket. I'd take the latter and probably still proofread. No stress. Read a book, point out mistakes, and send it back. Life used to be simple, not that I remember it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bad Timing

Partially it's my own fault. Whether it's the eight-day workweek or using up all the time my deadlines allow, I find that the most crucial questions that would allow me to proceed safely with a job come at times when it's least likely I'm going to get an answer.

One of my ongoing fears deals with a managing editor who's become a dear friend -- and who is actually one of the folks who admits to reading these little jottings. Since he knows my MO, I occasionally expect him to slip a note buried about two-thirds into a job that reads, "Bob, no matter what time of day or night, call me and leave me a message when you read this note." And it would be 3:30 in the morning the day the job is due, and the response to the message would have some essential information for going forward. Or he'd just want to bust my chops for leaving his work for the last minute.

But he's not alone, not that it should provide him with any solace.

Another common occurrence is that I'll have a more or less regular week going, then pick up a manuscript at 5:10pm on Friday that clearly has some fatal flaw 10 pages into it. Of course by that point, most normal people -- as a good friend once called them, "saps with a day job" -- have gone home, not to check back into their daily grind until Monday. Actually, my friend above, while far from a sap, is one of those who actually has a life outside the office. If one of these jobs ever came from his desk, I knew I'd just be better off putting it away until Monday morning.

I was indexing a book on the graveyard shift last night, and the book started presenting with difficulties. Paragraphs repeating from one chapter to another. Sentences repeating within a paragraph. All kinds of copyediting miscues that I'd have cleaned up or queried as a proofreader, but as an indexer aren't necessary my responsibility.

However, paragraphs repeating is a legitimate big deal at this stage, because you can't just take out two paragraphs on page four of a 40-page chapter halfway into a book. That results in the rather moderately phrased SNAFU known as "indexing implications."

Note to all you newcomers to publishing. If you're dealing with a book in production, and something comes up that has "indexing implications," it generally ain't a pretty sight. Either pages need to be reflowed if text comes out, or the author needs to submit new text to fill the same space -- in which case the indexer might proceed with his work, but the managing editor has to write index entries, not to mention re-proof those pages, when the new copy is set.

Here's the thing, though. If Land on Demand had its proverbial fecal matter together, I wouldn't be doing this job on the graveyard shift the day it's due (actually, gulp, the day after I told the author I'd have the index). I'd be doing it a few weeks before, giving the author and the press time to come up with solutions and maybe even tell me to stop work and await a new set of page proofs from that point forward. That's no fun either. Picking up writing an index after a forced break must, it seems to me, be part of one of Dante's levels of hell. I typically can't remember what book I invoiced two days ago, much less remember the entries and subentries I've started setting up a week or two ago.

Interesting book, though. I remember a few years ago hearing that someone had discovered that his VCR or DVR had what seemed to be a miniature camera facing out of it. I'd always thought that such a claim could only come from someone who'd just returned from a visit to the tinfoil hat store. Turns out that Samsung has admitted that some of their later-model TVs indeed were outfitted with cameras and microphones that could be activated remotely -- and that a watchdog group had cautioned about positioning such units facing your bed.

This public service announcement brought to you by the Luddites local union 23. Don't stay tuned.