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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Those Wacky Germans

Reminds me of our trip to the dominatrix’s studio in Berlin back in 2000 (purely for research purposes and local color, of course. And who could turn down such an invitation?).

From the current project:

Berkeley, CA, 1916:

Kem Weber designed another party, held at the Forkes’ house on Berryman Street in mid-May. It was “for the benefit of the German bazaar” for war-relief. The theme was a “baby ball.” All of the attendees, including a number of other Berkeley professors and the German consul and vice-consul, dressed as infants, in diapers, with little bonnets. Weber designed the program, invitations, many of the costumes, and the decorations, transforming the Forke home “into a giant nursery.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Testimonials: A Letter Rolled In

In case you’re not familiar with the phrase in the blog title, it’s typically used when a group sends a mass of letters to the editor that are obviously all the same text, just submitted by different people.

A new and welcome author came in over the transom a few days ago, and I asked how the person was familiar with my services. The response: 

A mentor of mine, a serial entrepreneur, asked a couple of his contacts on my behalf. He stated your name was given on multiple occasions. 

Not sure there were actually either a couple of contacts or multiple occasions. Smacks a little of an echo chamber, but I’m happy for the buzz.


More on the testimonial front. Received a 120,000-word novel for copyediting, and the publisher couldn't take the job unless she could get quite hasty turnaround on the job in order to meet a print deadline: 

Getting this done so quickly has helped me and the author so much, Bob. I can’t thank you enough. 

And from a university press whose name you’d know:

The level of indexing was very thorough and the author was very pleased with the detailed index. The index was sent to me on time which was appreciated because of the short turnaround. 


All this feels very nice, because the month has been brutal on numerous fronts. I'll get back to whining and complaining about work soon.

On a personal note, about 8 minutes ago, I turned 54 years old. In a hospital room on Staten Island, New York — same hospital where my father was born in 1932 — came one of the ugliest children on record. Badly jaundiced, dent in the head, ears rolled up. Story I once heard was that the nurse said, “What a beautiful baby," and one of my grandmothers burst into tears. I understand my dad went to the track for three days.

Notable things that happened on March 28? Three-Mile Island. Eisenhower died. However, my dear, departed Aunt Muriel was born — one of the wildest women I’ve ever known, and I wish I had known her better. And, damn, I wish I could be more like her. If we ever run into each other, ask me to tell some Aunt Muriel stories. She was seventy years old when my wife and I married, and friends of mine who were in their twenties would have been more than happy to hit on her. She looked kinda like Joan Collins, if Joan Collins was prettier and a lot classier without effort.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"If Understanding Was to Be Achieved."

Tell me about it.

I've almost forgotten what it's like to index a book in a different language. Now I'm remembering how little fun it is:

This is what effectively makes sense perception an unsuccessful competitor to a micro-corpuscularian natural philosophy. What Malebranche had offered was a comprehensive vindication of the sole legitimacy of micro-corpuscularian explanation. If Malebranche were right, the phenomenal level could not possibly have any explanatory autonomy, and the realm of sensation had to be bypassed in favour of a theoretical and wholly reductionist natural philosophy if understanding was to be achieved.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Can't Go Home Again, but You Can Get Stuck There

Supposed to fly out of my hometown, New York City, later today for home in southwestern Virginia via Atlanta, my second hometown, but a bad winter storm is affecting the Southeast Wednesday and then moving up to New York on Thursday. Stuck in New York until Friday afternoon -- thankfully at a dear friend's apartment in Manhattan, which beats the hell out of sleeping on top of bags in an airport, or paying for two more nights in a New York hotel room. The poor bank account is hemorrhaging money. Maybe I can pull a shift of legal proofreading with my brother.

But my wife and I did go to the Westminster Dog Show this week -- the ultimate in low-stress entertainment -- and Pinter's No Man's Land and Beckett's Waiting for Godot in rep on Broadway last Saturday. (See website here.) As I mused to some friends beforehand, seems like anyone sitting through these two plays in one day deserves lollipops if they haven't started carving on their own wrists by the middle of act 2 of Godot. Great performances.


Our personal favorite in the Best of Show round. You can keep those goofy standard poodles. The corgi would have made us happy, too.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

So, Why Do I Love Sports Books?

On ballplayer/broadcaster Richie "Whitey" Ashburn:

From 1971 until Ashburn’s death, he was joined by Harry Kalas in the booth, where the two became best of friends and almost inseparable on road trips. During his speech at Ashburn’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, Kalas paid tribute to his colleague and friend of nearly 30 years in the most fitting way by acknowledging Ashburn’s professionalism as an astute broadcaster and his sense of humor as a regular person. Kalas said the following:

>> People ask me what it was like working with Richie. His Whiteness and I were together for 27 years, and it was such a joy. He not only brought to the booth baseball experience but also laughter. Whitey had a marvelous sense of humor. I remember doing games with him, and it would be getting late in the game, late in the evening, and Whitey would say on the air, “I wonder if the people at Celebres Pizza are listening tonight?” Well, within 15 minutes, bang, pizzas are delivered to the radio booth.

This went on for a while, and pretty soon the Phillies management summoned him and they said, “Richie, Celebres Pizza is not one of our sponsors. We can’t give them free plugs.” Now we do birthday and anniversary announcements on the air, so shortly after his meeting with the Philadelphia brass, it’s getting late in the evening and he’s getting hungry. He said, “Well, I have very special birthday wishes to send out tonight to the Celebres twins—Plain and Pepperoni.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Just My Luck

I have moved from a lengthy project in which the authors wrote innocently with footnotes and in American style, not knowing (apparently) that their chapters were going to be published author/date and in British style (love that British spelling and punctuation -- 98,000 words of it, with about a third to come) into a project written by a couple of individuals from a city area east of the Mississippi who seem to think that titles, quotes, and random phrases need enclosure within single quotation marks. In front of the period.

Unfortunately, it's also of the genre that I occasionally think, I'm getting paid to read this?

Happens about once a year or two. A sports book. From an era I can relate to, early to mid-1960s. I'm more familiar with these names than I am with 95 percent of the All-Stars in any of the major sports in the last 20 years.

The book I worked on about Sandy Koufax many years ago was probably the last time I was paid to read the words "Harmon Killebrew."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Don't Go to This Author If You Want to Keep a Secret

Author has put the following text for a source line on a prose extract:

L2, 1994, 7.2.1; typographical errors silently corrected

With friends like this one . . .

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Constructive Criticism on Indexing, Hitting Me Right at Home: UPDATE

Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve been proofreading since adolescence. Copyediting and certainly indexing came much later.

My proofreading hasn’t changed much. Except for items that might appear in technical manuals, I’ve seen about everything a proofreader can see. Neither the marks nor my approach to the task has changed much over the years. Be aggressive, and be friendly about it.

Copyediting: I go back and forth. I used to put commas after short introductory phrases; now I’m as likely to delete them. I used to think style sheets were more trouble than they’re worth; I’ve changed my mind. Used to be that I’d want to strip out every “there is” in a manuscript. I’ve relaxed a little and figured (and been told) it’s not necessary. Even Chicago Manual of Style standards change over time, as has some of the technology (e.g., XML coding).

Indexing is the strangest bird, for many reasons. I’m embarrassed by my early indexes (almost 20 years ago now -- gulp), and I still mull over the best way to approach the task.

Presses are also different -- as are authors -- so the matter of managing expectations comes into play. I recently had an exchange with an author for whom I was writing an index, and we came to a mutual conclusion that I’m more of an author’s indexer than a publisher’s indexer. I tend to overindex, which delights the former and can frustrate the latter.

Consider two highly regarded scholarly presses:

Press 1 allows the indexer free reign. The managing editor’s attitude is not to restrict the indexer at all, page count be damned.

Press 2 sets strict guidelines for length of the index and allows me to exceed that number only reluctantly and with good reason from me. Some of the books they send . . . I swear that I could not deliver a useful or comprehensive index in the space allotted.

I have one of those books coming up from this press, although I’m working directly for the author. I wrote the press’s managing editor, groveling in advance for some extra lines and asking for any advice.

In response I received some wonderful thoughts that were really a pretty severe critique of my work. It’s one of the most helpful emails I’ve ever received. Now it’s just a matter of putting it into practice.

Thanks, AW, for these comments. Authors, editors, and fellow indexers, take note:

If I recall your earlier indexes correctly, the wording of entries and esp. subentries was very thorough, sometimes more so than was needed. The index just needs to guide the reader to relevant pages; it doesn't need to tell him exactly what he will find there. So, more economy in wording would help. Also, although you followed such a consistent pattern that I found it difficult to condense or eliminate subentries, there were times when you provided subentries when the number of page citations did not warrant them. In some cases, the subdivisions were repeated throughout, and so it was useful to keep the pattern of subentries, even though there may have been only one or two citations in each one. Perhaps [this book] will not lend itself to that kind of repeated pattern and you will be able to condense or skip more subentries. Sometimes a little wandering around in the book has benefit for the reader.

I’d love some feedback from the readership. I know you’re out there.


UPDATE: I sent the note above to one of my other managing editors, who responded,

Hmm.  To tell you the truth, I think your indexes generally include just the right amount of detail—but then, I come from an academic text background. We’ve had more problems in the past with indexers who include entries with 20 page refs, which indicates to me that it should be broken down further. We always review the indexes, and the editors invariably cut out a handful of the single-page-ref entries, but on the whole, I have absolutely no complaints about, or even suggestions for your indexes. The new indexer you recommended could definitely use these guidelines—good indexer, but MUCH too much detail. But not you.

However, in the interests of making your life easier, let’s call a 1000-line, 8-10-page index, with the amount of detail described below, the “standard.”  I don’t even think much of recommendations that the editors make on the Production Memo. I’m far more comfortable with you deciding whether a more, or less, detailed index is required.

I make MY life easier by surrounding myself with people who know what they are doing, and then NOT micro-managing. My job is half over when I FIND the right people. And people enjoy their work more when it’s THEIR work.

The only thing that would really help me is if I were able to tell you how many text pages I need for the index, but that’s a tough call, does not always jive with the kind of index the content demands, and my typesetters can generally play around and get it to fit anyway.  For example, I’m hoping for a 16-page index for [the current project] simply because that’s about how many pages I need to fill.  I could do a half signature and use an 8-page index, but then I worry that such a short one isn’t adequate for that book.

Man, I bet you’re sorry you brought this up.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

More on Weather

Or moron weather, take your pick.

The forecast for the overnight is a low of 11. It's midnight . . . and 6 degrees. Doesn't feel like it's warming up out there either. I walked the dog around the block around noon when the temps finally pushed into the positive numbers today, and by the time I got home, I felt like I couldn't walk down the hallway in my house without banging into a wall.


I read a lot, obviously. And I'll read longer into a lot of useless news articles because, well, it's yet another way to avoid work.

Also, the interesting stuff is often at the bottom of the article. Sure, pouring beet juice and mozzarella brine on the roads sounds nifty to help rock salt do its business during serious cold snaps, but read the last paragraph.

And then Google "Halliburton loophole."

Sure . . . wastewater from fracking is exactly what we want to spread all over the roads in this country. 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weather Report: Local Conditions

It's 9am, and it's warmed up to minus 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Yippee.

I do not like this at all.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Up and Running

I've made some oblique references to it over the months, but I'm now at the point where I'm considering it a live deal -- a going concern, as the business textbooks I used to write and edit would say.


Tell your friends.

And the blog there has somewhat of a different czarist voice than any regular readers here may have come to expect. Let's just say that I'm hoping to attract by imitating folks I've not yet met.

Wish me luck. If you have any questions or know anyone you want to send my way, email me or direct them to the site.

I'm trying not to be too concerned about the 5,700 years of ancestors spinning in their graves -- a few in particular. They'll get over it. I hope.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Today's Gripe

Well, I had an idea for a new year's post. It can wait.

Note to scholarly/academic and most other authors: Unless your book identifies itself as a work of fiction, you don't need to start paragraphs with "It is a fact that." Unless you've already given readers reason to feel that you are not quite grasping your own reality or your subject matter, we'll take for granted that you are, indeed, presenting facts.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Torture and Bafflement

One of the most distasteful jobs that ever comes my way is updating someone else's index of an existing book. Typically, the second or another subsequent edition of a book is appearing, and the last few chapters are updated or revised. Rather than redoing the index when the press is picking up the first 280 pages of the book, the press has a shmuck like me index the last 50 pages.

In other words, I have to match the existing index style, regardless, so that the index appears as a consistent whole. At least, I think that's the appropriate approach.

I am working on a history of South Africa. The existing index has virtually no subentries for people, only for organizations. (Needless to say, this is not a LandonDemand product.) Nelson Mandela rates a grand total of four (4) subentries. Four. Four. This is a history of South Africa.

"Sheep" gets three subentries.

I'm supposed to follow this up? It's like being paid not to produce, but I still have to produce.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Nice Note from a Not-Easy-to-Please Book Designer

Thanks for the great work. Hopefully your client-base will recognize these efforts. This organization distinguishes you from the garden-variety "book reader" wannabe editors.

The "organization" to which he's referring is the use of XML style sheets. Easy to do, and book designers / typesetters love it when it's done right. It's the ever-so-rare equivalent of, as a copyeditor, getting a writer who actually knows how to punctuate. Makes life easier and projects go much more quickly.

That these labors were expended on a self-published romance novel . . . well, underlying my long-standing corporate motto, the check deposits just the same.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Going Which Hunting

Moi lamented to me recently about a book she was reading off the clock that was chock-full of "which"s that should have been "that"s. I am at the end of a 500-something-page copyediting job that was much the same. Probably 300 of them in there, and only a handful needed the comma before "which" instead.

(Entry title courtesy of Fowler, Modern English Usage, a required text for us in senior year of high school. I think we used the 1897 edition; four pages devoted to "which" and "that.")

Fowler (not an endorsement of the seller)

Interesting project, though, from two perspectives, neither of which deal with the quality of the text, unfortunately:

1. This is the first of 18 volumes by this author, translated and reprinted from one of those romance languages, that the publisher will be doing over the next decade or so. It's a name that you'd know if you followed twentieth-century theology, I think. I'd call that an annuity. I'm presuming I'll be copyediting all of them.

2. Given that this volume -- actually a reprint of three books in one volume -- has been published numerous times before, in different languages . . . and probably in English before, but this is based on a translation . . . I'm copyediting with a rather light touch. The last situation I would want to create is, "Such-and-so maintained this bit of jargon until the 2014 XZX Books version, in which he wrote. . . ." I mean, how do I know? They sent along the original-language edition, but that's not going to help much.

* * *

A website developer told me that Google eventually moves you out of its rotation if the posting becomes infrequent. Sure enough, this blog is no longer getting hits when people search "editing" or "proofreading" or "indexing." So I might begin to post more . . . and actually back to on-topic stuff. I've probably said that before, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recommended Reading: Helpful Definitions for Modern Authors

If you're not up to your free limit on New York Times views and you want a glimpse into the contemporary publishing world, have a gander:


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Now That’s What I Call Progress

In examining medicine, one sees the impact of developmen­tal thinking not only in the planned obsolescence of medical technology, essential to the process of commodification, but also in influential analytic constructs such as the health transition mod­el. In this view, societies as they develop are making their way toward that great transition, when deaths will no longer be caused by infections such as tuberculosis but will occur much later and be caused by heart disease and cancer.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Quote for My Next Business Card

In 1876, a Southington man wrote to Hawley for assistance “about that monument business,” hoping to make a monument in Hartford’s Bushnell Park for the Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Connecticut Regiments, and the First Connecticut Light Battery. He made clear to the experienced Hawley: “I am not much on art and such things, but I have an immense capacity for drudgery, and for any of that which is involved please command me.”

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reemergence Under Way

Exactly where it belongs, the first almost entirely correct usage of "underway" as one word that I have seen in this lifetime of "So, are you still doing whatever you do?"

Neither Case nor Parker recorded his unvarnished opinion of the U.S. Navy’s first week of fleet maneuvers, but surely each hoped for a better showing during the second week of exercises. After a long weekend at anchor in “Florida Bay,” the fleet went to sea again on 11 February. Initially, events did not go smoothly. Case had to withdraw one warship from the exercises after a boiler failure, and Parker found the underway evolution rather disorderly.

Hell, that even might be correct. The floor is open for discussion, and I'm open for business here again; we may doze, but we never close. A few folks have lamented to me about my blogular dormancy; then I saw the sentences above. As a friend and reader said, "Don't you have anything to rant about?" Always.

Very busy, on some large projects you will never know exist. Trust me. That's why I think there's always room in this business for people of a certain twisted expertise or skill and a good work ethic . . . because there are plenty of areas and projects and fields that I don't know exist and someone is editing there, too -- unless every area except the ones I work in has writers who know how to follow a style manual and write clearly. In copyediting, proofreading, and indexing, the "subject matter expertise" is the skill itself; the subject is secondary.

I've referred some editors and indexers I know lately to other publishers, which means that publishers are offering me work -- or work without enough lead time -- that I can't take on. It's a good thing all around. And it means that even publishers committed to their current freelancer list are, at some point, always looking for other freelancers.

(I won't discount the notion that having experience or contacts helps, if you're out there looking for work.)

My lack of blogging mostly stems from the aforesaid busyness, to which I now must reattend.

Nothing happening on the press front, by the way, and I need to change that. Anyone with any pointers on how to overcome fear of new adventure?

Has it really been almost three months? Damn.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Laying the Groundwork for Changes to Come

A Linked-In recommendation from an author for whom I've edited four or five books:

"Bob Land is the best editor an inexperienced author can become associated with because of his expertise and honesty.  Everything I've written he has edited and he is the easiest professional to work with I've ever known.

"He is simply the best!" 

Not, dear readers, that I'm trying to toot my own horn excessively -- although this is basically ad space (thanks, Google) -- but inexperienced authors should take note. More possibilities to become experienced authors, with a little assistance, coming soon to a webspace near you.

And if you're a clergyperson, start listening for some still small voices.