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, September 11, 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

Not Yet Appealing to My Prurient Interests

Working on a Marxist-feminist study of Cuban women's hips. Should be more engaging.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quote of the Day

"There are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?"
—Henry Kissinger, 1969

Quoted in Donald F. McHenry, Micronesia: Trust Betrayed (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1975)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Quote of the Day

From correspondence with an author, and the label for the post is a little deceiving, given that the author is in the UK:

"I think down-sizing is the way to go. However, it's really, really hard! We all want simpler lives, yet the complications of getting to that point leave one's mind boggling!"

Words I Never Expected to Type in an Index

zombie apocalypse

Monday, August 17, 2015

Damn Overachievers

He's known for his charitable works and activism (although I also seem to remember stories about some domestic abuse against Darryl Hannah), and many of the Eagles' more tolerable songs are his, but how the hell do you write such lyrics as those below at age 16?

[Lyrics reflect Nico's version on her first album. She and the songwriter were an item back in those days, when he was all of 18 and she was in her post-Velvet Underground period.]

"These Days" (Jackson Browne)
Arranged by John Cale; backing musicians: John Cale and Lou Reed

I've been out walking
I don't do too much talking these days
These days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to

I stopped my rambling
I don't do too much gambling these days
These days 
These days I seem to think about
How all the changes came about my way
And I wonder if I'll see another highway

I had a lover
I don't think I'll risk another these days
These days
And if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
It's just that I've been losing so long

La . . . la . . . la . . . 

I stopped my dreaming
I won't do too much scheming these days
These days
These days I sit on cornerstones
And count the time the quarter turns to ten

Please don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

Monday, August 10, 2015

More APA Rage

New York, NY in Biblio
Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press

Makes a body appreciate Chicago, IL

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Smart and Dumber

I am constantly amazed at what some otherwise highly educated people think passes for correct punctuation.

The authors whose books I read for theological and university presses are supposed to be experts in their fields. Said authors didn't get that way, one presumes, by watching Wheel of Fortune while pounding Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

They've read books and scholarly articles. Lots of them.

So, when writing their own, why do they flaunt the most basic of grammatical standards?

I'm working on a book now in which the author routinely puts punctuation inside close parentheses that should appear outside of it. A few examples follow, with some words changed to protect the guilty:

Some institutions prefix a letter or two to denote the type of image, and some have a code number unique to the donor (especially if they are repeat donors.)

A private lender was anxious about placing his historic firearms in the museum for a required six-month period (the usual display time for firearms is no more than three months.) 

Always leave a note in it’s [sic] place stating: 1) what it is; 2) the date it was removed; 3) the reason it was removed (e.g. for a loan, photography, conservation;) and 4) the approximate date of return. Imagine seeing a note that simply states “Object Taken” (as has been seen.)

Make sure your doors have weather-stripping, sweeps and thresholds (gaskets,) and block all other small areas of possible insect entry.

Do these examples suffice? Imagine 142 pages of this style. Thankfully the volume is short.

The point of the post is that I don't understand how multiple-degreed, professional people who are highly respected in their fields can write sentences as if they're unfamiliar with the concept. 

Another example, which I see frequently enough to drive me to distraction -- and a form of which also resides buried somewhere in this blog -- is

"Where did my car go," Jim wondered?

My question has always been, "Has this author ever seen another publication present punctuation in this way? How can this even look correct, even from a visual standpoint?" 

I guess that's the case if someone has spent a lot of time reading. There are other ways to make it in the world.

. . . Not that I'm familiar with them. I'd say I'm open to suggestions, but at this point I'm pretty untrainable, and you don't want me in your workplace. Not if anyone there likes microwave popcorn.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Must Have Been Interesting in the Green Room

It was an unusual display of star power considering that [the Erie Benedictine Sisters], which soon disbanded and was never heard from again, shared the stage that evening with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, singer Petula Clark, comedian Alan King, and the Muppets in their first TV appearance.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just Finished Proofing a Book by Her and Now Indexing Her Biography

Everything that is written about us is written without us. The only input that the [Catholic] church takes on the women’s issue is what we do on the steps outside your closed doors. After you issue your bulletins defining us as lower and lesser kinds of human beings, we react to them. Dissent is the only ministry a woman has in the church. And when we react, you call us radical feminists and heretics.

--Joan Chittister

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Meet the proprietor in a rare moment of dozing, with four-month-old Franny:


Slavery made many free white Jamaicans very rich; by the middle of the eighteenth century, Jamaicans would be the wealthiest Britons outside of Britain. As historian Trevor Burnard has shown, the average white man in Jamaica was more than thirty-six times wealthier than the average white man in the thirteen mainland colonies. Only four men in all of New England and the middle colonies had wealth that exceeded the wealth of the average white Jamaican. (emphasis added)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Today's Great Customer Comment

One of my publishers asks me to bid on a large novelization of some ancient stories. Large, like 800-900 manuscript pages, and you can look at my rate sheet and do the math yourself.

The author responds, "I already spent a lot of money with a content editor. Why should I spend more on a copyeditor?"

Very reasonable question, to which I can usually, through a page or two of sample editing, offer quite damning evidence of why a copyeditor provides essential value.

The managing editor for the press asks if I can do a sample edit to show the author what he'll get for his money. In perhaps the first time in -- well -- forever, I tell a client that, indeed, the manuscript is in such good shape that the $4K or so spent on copyediting would be misused funds . . . and it would be such easy money. Through a sampling of different parts of the document, I can find virtually nothing I would change.

The publisher is presently recovering from a serious operation (N.B., DB: not a lobotomy). The managing editor passed along that the publisher thought she'd taken too much Oxycontin before reading my email.

What was that old image I used? Maybe those days are behind me.

But don't count on it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Oh, Those Wacky Academics

Even though the topics may change over time, much of my labor still involves pressing my nose to the trappings of supposedly informed discourse: footnotes (or author/date citations) and bibliographies. Nothing like editing 12 hours of such documentation to the exclusion of any running text. But I guess that's a production decision.

Such citations are important, one is given to understand. My grad-school son and girlfriend were at the house during finals period in the spring and had me giving their APA documentation in a semester-end paper the once-over.

One of my esteemed publishers -- esteemed because they send me paychecks, albeit a bit sluggishly -- has me edit the text and then deal with the author's review of my copyedit. In other words, I get to see what edits they override, what mistakes I overlooked (he writes, mea culpingly), and what they choose to ignore.

I'm presently reviewing a manuscript that I sent back to the publisher in October 2014, for chrissakes, and the author just managed to get around to reviewing the text. That cutting edge dulls a bit with time, buddy.

Routine queries involve places in which the author/date citations don't match up with the bibliography or where the author should be citing a particular fact.

Author for this book has simply deleted many of the queries where the information disagreed -- and deleted the citation itself as well. Simply too busy to do the legwork, I guess. So now what appears? Either what seems like an unsubstantiated fact or a wee bit of something that smacks of, uh, violation of fair use -- or perhaps lack of intellectual integrity. Is there a nicer word for that?

A representation of a null set, so the site sez

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Today's Word Is

In Rome, the mentally handicapped could not inherit an estate or participate in “legal activity.” Some who escaped tardocide (the killing of those considered to be “idiots”) became “objects of display and amusement for the rich.” They were “lacking understanding, similar to children,” with no “legal capacity.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Drawing That Line in the Sand

But thanks to this work, people from all over learned about the repression [in Nicaragua]. I was told the bloody dictator of Uganda, Idi Amín, was compared to Somoza and he became furious and said he could eat the liver of his enemies but he did not bomb his own people like Somoza.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Peace on You

Scroll down for a refreshing golden shower update.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

That's What This Blog Is All About, Charlie Brown

This blog serves, as the header above states, as my business's website. Thanks to the Google for the cyberrealestate. I've attracted over time clients from Kuwait and Australia, not to mention Oxford University Press, based on people who've found this work diary. That was back in the day when the Google's algorithms were a variation on the old Stalin line: "Paper tolerates anything written on it."

Tangent: You know the line attributed to Stalin, "To make an omelette you have to break a few eggs"? Seems that he cribbed that from my notorious cousin Lazar Kaganovich, although Lazar probably picked it up from somewhere else. For all of his, uh, charms, I don't think that original thought was high on Iron Lazar's list.

Anyway, even in spite of the Google's algorithm changes, a year or so ago, the author of a nascent Fred Neil biography found a posting I'd done about one of the few surviving video clips of the late, great Fred Neil. Alas, in the interim we've met and hit it off quite nicely, and tomorrow I'll receive the complete manuscript.

The notion that I'll have a heavy hand in a Fred Neil biography is one of the things that makes my crazy work life worthwhile. That, and nailing a friend's father years back for telling me he taught ethics at the School of the Americas with the line, "How interesting. A good friend of mine did the original English translation of Gutierrez's A Theology of Liberation." Perhaps my greatest party moment ever -- well, at least in my mind. You could just about see the steam coming out of this man's ears. No telling how many times he'd gotten away with that line.

Not as dumb as I look,

I remain,

Yr. humble and obedient servant,

[drum roll]

Geo. Washington

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Put Out That Candle, Diogenes

I've said before somewhere on this blog that when I mention to a press that I think a book's got problems, the press is usually aware of it already.

New indexing client, and I was so bold as to offer this slightly edited in-progress report:

"The index is presently running about 26 double-spaced pages, short of the allotted 34. I didn't try to hold back on length when indexing. As any of my clients can tell you, if anything I'm usually trying to cut my original data drastically to make the text fit. I think the length is more a factor of the book's organization. The author is fond of the 'say what you'll say, say it, say what you've said' approach -- not only within chapters but through the whole book. Too, the same ground sometimes seems to be covered in two or three places (at least), and as an indexer I'm not fond of sending readers to multiple pages only to find the same information. I hope my approach is okay. I've also tried to follow the press guidelines on not trying to outline the book or capture every detail. Having said all that, I don't feel that someone looking at the index would conclude that I'd cut any corners."

Response (slightly edited)

"Thanks for this update, Bob. Your approach to indexing this book sounds right. You don't need to hit the max no. of pages. This author's dissertation advisor should have steered him away from this topic, which sounds good but is almost impossible to pull off and still do justice to all the issues involved. So I'm not surprised at the vacuity you have encountered. We rejected the ms at one point, but a 'friend of the Press' thought we should reconsider."


"Vacuity." That's some harsh stuff.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Learn Something New Every Day in This Line of Work: Golden Shower Update

I posted the following back on June 11, thinking I was clever. If you've read this post already, please revisit.


Man, and I thought the New Testament was whack. . . .

Don’t you remember the myth, Justin, how Zeus in the form of a golden shower descends upon the virgin daughter of King Argos, Danaë, from whom Perseus then subsequently issues forth?


A "golden shower"? Wow.

Thanks to Messrs. Merriam and Webster for capturing for posterity what most folks, except maybe this author, seem to know:

Main Entry:golden shower

 : the act of urinating on another person usually as part of a sex act


The proofs I worked on arrived at the press on June 17, and the following email exchange ensued, with the title, "Zeus & Danaë, per Klimt."

Managing Editor: Interpret as you will. /D

LandonDemand: Huh. When I checked some references, they all referred to a shower of gold, which this could depict. However, that's different from a golden shower. If, indeed, this is showing a golden shower, then Zeus must have consumed a godlike amount of Nepenthe before delivering it.

Managing Editor: hey, he’s a god; his capacities are infinite, including his capacity for perversion (ask Leda & Io, to name just a couple)

LandonDemand: But I'm keeping an open mind.

Managing Editor: always important when dealing w/ a deity

LandonDemand: So, ultimately, the phrase "golden shower" and its present-day connotation was entirely willful and intentional on the author's part? Was the "shower of gold" I read numerous references to just an obfuscation / G-rated version of the original text?

Managing Editor: let it go, Bob; you’ve done your job, and I appreciate it. Google results for “golden shower” (in quotation marks) + Danae: 41K hits; for “shower of gold” + Danae, 29K hits. Moreover, most readers of this book—probably the vast majority of readers of this book—will be blissfully ignorant of any naughty meaning. And if you change it to “of gold,” you have two “of” phrases in rapid succession, and it’s simply not reworking further to protect a reader from naughtiness. In fact, I applaud a little subversive naughtiness.

LandonDemand: Thanks. I'm just trying to fill in the education I missed all along the way.

Managing Editor: as are we all—or should be anyway. I just learned that New Hampshire and Vermont are so topographically different because each is from a different continent, which smushed together and then split again, leaving a different landmass mix.

LandonDemand: That might explain the Manchester Union-Leader in one state and Bernie Sanders next door.

Managing Editor: That’s what one of my fellow managing editors said, only in less polite terms.