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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Also Applies to Letters to the Editor and Internet Comments Sections

"Some people speak uncontrollably in tongues, so that no one understands anything. Paul tells them: 'In church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue' (1 Corinthians 14:19). And they need an interpreter: 'If there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God' (1 Corinthians 14:28)."

If Indexing Was That Easy, More People Would Do It Well

Another day, another (potential) client education:


Thanks for the email.

The problems with an indexer receiving a list of terms come down to a number of items. 

First, even well-intentioned authors aren't indexers. They often don't know how to phrase index entries in such a way as to capture the content as the reader might expect it, or even according to general indexing guidelines. Often, terms might be too broad to be useful, start out with adjectives when the nouns are more important, or -- and this is very common -- present terms that don't actually appear in the book (yes, that happens, more frequently than you'd expect).  I've also seen authors try to make connections in the index that aren't explicit in the book. The best way to ensure presence of a topic in the index is to discuss it in the book. And looking at the list provided, "Institution that shaped family," for example, is not a useful index entry. 

Editing and massaging an Excel document into a shell of an index would actually be counterproductive from my standpoint -- as I'd prefer to write all the entries in a consistent style, instead of trying to match terms and their syntax to someone else's work.

Second, having a list of terms doesn't really reduce the amount of work I need to do. I still have to read the book to index it properly. Given a list of terms, one could easily search for use of the terms and input the relevant numbers, but that's not an index. That's a concordance. It also doesn't account for the same concept presented with different phrasings. Having a list of terms also doesn't save on keying time, because I still have to verify the accuracy of the author's entry -- and, especially for proper names, I often just cut and paste them from the PDF to make sure there are no keying errors.

Lists of terms also don't present complete subentries, and that's often where a lot of the indexer's work takes place. A category such as "Staff, consultants," and a subentry of "consultants" presents obvious logical and logistical problems.

Let's step back a little and see what we can do. What is the current number of indexable pages (introduction to the end of the running text, inclusive)? What is the trim size of the book? Needless to say, I'd much rather index from scratch and use your Excel document more as a guide to see if I've missed anything. I might be able to meet you halfway, but I don't think $3/page would be possible.

I'd also need a PDF with one-up pages, not spreads. If you could send me that, I'd have a much better idea of what the project entails.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dictionaries for $100, Alex

Usually I'm a supporter of Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary. One of my clients has me use Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary, which is growing on me, and I've been dabbling some in oxforddictionaries.com, just because Oxford University Press wants it, which makes sense.

An editor I work with says that he has a shelf full of dictionaries, and he can justify pretty much any usage he wants if he looks long enough.

But back to MW11 . . .

I looked up "discursive" in Merriam-Webster's because it's a word that I always think of when I'm actually trying to come up with something else -- a word that still eludes me -- so I want to make sure I'm using correctly whatever word I'm remembering or forgetting.

Here's Merriam-Webster's 11th on "discursive":

1a : moving from topic to topic without order  : RAMBLING
1b : proceeding coherently from topic to topic

Ehh, maybe it's time to switch allegiances.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Phrase of the Day

"an assorted plethora of different issues and topics"


Has it really been a month? 

One of the biggest pieces of news in this blog's history developed over the last week, dating back to a post I made about three years ago. 

But I'm going to let it simmer and play out a little bit before doing any big reveal. 

If you want a hint, go up to the left corner of this blog and type "Fred Neil" in the search box. And for four minutes of bliss, click on the YouTube part of the video link.

Quoting the man, although from a different work,

I missed my connections and I'm late for work again
You know they'll probably drop the atom bomb the day my ship comes in. . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Please Leave the Language Alone

Two verbs I saw (or, as many locals would say, "I seen") this week I never want to see again:


Merriam-Webster's 11th recognizes neither as a verb. Oxford gives "overview" a nod with some of their 1.9 million real English sentences.

I think it's just wrong.




Give a general review or summary of:
the report overviews the needs of the community
  • Three of these initiatives are overviewed below.
  • Pieces had been written immediately after the accident overviewing migrant life, but none really had scratched the surface as to what it had been like for the ten dead men in the truck.
  • In this chapter, a holistic approach will be taken, overviewing the parameters of infringing treatment in light of decisions taken by the various international bodies.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pick a Sentence, Any Sentence

I'm using www.oxforddictionaries.com for the current project, and I'm liking it, as much as one can derive satisfaction from looking up words. The site has plenty of options, paid and unpaid. In advertising one of its paid services, the nice folks at Oxford offer this beauty:

Reinvigorate your writing by drawing on our vast bank of 1.9 million real English sentences.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Today's Time Waster: Ngrams

I'm indexing one of the most fascinating books I've worked on in a long time -- a book that I'd copyedited some months back about the field of digital humanities. Came across this:

"The Google n-grams viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams) offers a view of the Google Books collection not as a set of texts, but as a set of word groups that can be filtered by time and language."

First search was interesting (it's 1:20am, I'm indexing, and free association or lack of too much creative brain power is kicking in):

Allen Ginsberg/William S. Burroughs/Hunter S. Thompson

I figured Ginsberg to be in the lead. Burroughs and Thompson at this point are neck and neck.

Second search:

New York Mets/Georgia Republicans/peyote

The results were rewarding.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not-So-Social Media

I'll admit it: I occasionally troll Comments sections -- especially my hometown newspaper's, especially the Letters to the Editor -- under an assumed nom de Facebook.

I posted a response under my alias on a Publishers' Weekly article today, and I received blowback from two people who said I really had no place calling other people's opinions into question.

Excuse me?

Cream and Sugar with That?

From an article about a coffee shop that hires the homeless:

For some of the critics at that neighborhood meeting, “It challenges the idea that people who are homeless are lazy or just aren’t working hard enough,” he said. And Seth was effusive in his praise of his homeless employee. “He’s an incredible guy. You would never know he was homeless. He used to be an editor for novels. . . .”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

When Worlds Collide

The title for this posting is the name of a Philip Wylie science fiction piece, seminal in its genre, published in 1934 -- the same year Wylie published Finnley Wren, a novel that my father recommended to me in my teenage years that has affected me ever since.

Two other people whose efforts have had a truly disproportionate effect on my life -- and which influence has played out in surprising ways -- are the subjects of the following article: The Fraught Friendship of T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx. An entertaining and highly enlightening read.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Straight from Central Cast(e)ing

Finishing a gruesome tome about India, and I came across the concept of "upper-class peasant." Not sure where such folks fit in the grand scheme of things, but frankly it doesn't sound like a bad way to be. For all I know, I've just endorsed something horrific. Let me know if I'm wrong -- and how it might be any better or worse than working on this damn book.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dumbest Sentence in a Long Time

For analysts, the year 2000 marked the beginning of a new millennium for the natural gas industry.

Well, stop the presses.

I'm proofreading this book, and I've queried the statement above to the managing editor. Hopefully the press changes the sentence before publication, because I'd sure hate -- six months down the road -- for someone to see this quote, search for its origin, and find the sentence on Google Books, thus revealing its author. Yeah, I'd just hate that.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Follow-Up to Previous Post: Careful What You Wish For

Bad copyediting is making my proofreading life hell.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Looking Forward . . . to the Past

Other than one index in progress, for the next 29 days I have nothing but copyediting and proofreading on the schedule. Feels a little strange. Can't say I mind it entirely.

Although an easily indexable book generally offers better compensation per hour than the other two tasks, unfortunately most of my clients don't dabble in easily indexable books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Unattributed Quote of the Day: Government

"Indeed, nearly every new goal or purpose the American people have defined for themselves over 230 years has been anchored in the Constitution, or at least in constitutional rhetoric. That has proved vital to the survival and stability of the nation, but it has also made everything else that has come after seem merely instrumental in character. The ideal end-state, presumed to be readable between the lines of the Constitution’s text, is a perpetually receding horizon. The American people are ceaseless in their pursuit of that horizon, rarely pausing to reflect on how they may have changed in their relationships with one another as citizens during the pursuit or how their perception of what stands on that horizon may have changed as well."

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Am He as You Are He . . .

Copyediting a huge tome (the second of 18 volumes over the next eight years or so), and I'm glad that the indexes that I'll eventually do for each volume are names only. Why?

But I am able to experience God by experiencing myself as a you of God when I discover myself to be “His,” that is to say, when I feel that I am yours, the you of the I. I discover God not when I discover Him as a you (to whom I address myself), but as an I who addresses himself to me, and for whom my “ego” is His “you.” I am then a you of God. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Subheads, Indexing and

Today's gripe is one I've been harboring for some time.

Authors, take some notes.

When you're writing subheads within chapters, you'd be doing your readers -- and your indexer -- a great favor if the text of the subhead actually bore some resemblance to the content following it.

Some authors and publishers present an indexer's dream: accurately and concisely written subheads that from word one of the new section -- or at least beginning in the second paragraph -- address the stated topic. They are in the minority.

Many offer a page or so of introductory or transitional material before getting around to the topic.

The outliers, though, are the ones who drive me crazy. They'll take a phrase such as "Morality and Essential Freedoms" and not address essential freedoms by name for the next eight pages. Maybe the topic appears in the section summary.

I suspect this writing approach also leads to authors who feel that some subjects don't receive enough treatment in the index. I can hear it: "But, but, a whole section on morality and essential freedoms started on page 27 and ran for 10 pages."

Yeah, but you didn't get around to talking about it specifically until page 36. Not my problem, bub.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Today's Charming Website

Found this when trying to track down first names for some folks who lost their lives at the Bastille:

Hallmark really needs to pair this up with birthday greetings.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Word for Today

I'm proofreading a horribly copyedited book on the Obama presidency from a publisher that should know better. Came across the word "suppositiously," and I thought, That's not a word.

Well, sorta. It's an alternative for . . . supposititiously.

Frankly, I think English can do without either one.

And the context . . .

Other items in the book: Hilary [sic] Clinton, Ross [sic] Limbaugh, Mitch [sic] Romney. Not to mention zero command of en dashes and capitalization. Your basic train wreck.