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.

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.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In Memoriam: Cecily Kaganov Land Kass, 1934-1994

My mother would have been eighty years old today. She died thirteen days after her sixtieth birthday.

Red hair and freckles . . . just like every other nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn.





Friday, June 6, 2014

A Lost Art

"Also, according to best documentary editing practice, all documents were tandem oral proofread (one person reading aloud from the original and another correcting the transcription against it) for accuracy."

With the person reading aloud banging on the desk and making different guttural noises for varying types of punctuation, in the hands of a master, read-alouds can be rather entertaining.

Leaving the House Is Always an Adventure

In preparation for summer I went up to the Exalt Academy of Cosmetology -- one of the great rackets of all time. They train hair stylists there, so you're paying to have your hair cut, and the people cutting your hair are paying to cut it. How did I miss out on this action?

For $6, they can shave my head as close as they dare.

I'm sitting in the chair with my eyes closed, which is how I spent forty-eight years getting my hair cut, because I couldn't see a thing without my glasses. I had two hours of sleep last night / this morning, so I was dozing. Besides, being in a barber's chair with sight makes me uncomfortable.

All of a sudden, I hear this voice: "Excuse me, excuse me." I figured I was being served some warrant for an unknown offense.

There's this mammaw on a rolling stool next to me saying, "I really like your hair that like. Do you do that often? Your hair looks so good like that. I just wanted to tell you that looks good." This is like being told, "Put the Halloween mask back on."

Finally she rolled away, and before I went back to sleep, I told the girl cutting my hair, "That woman scared the hell out of me." At least I got a chuckle out of the trainee.

End of story.



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Index Review Instructions for Authors

Well . . . there's a searchable title, if the Google ever condescends to picking up this blog again. Maybe soon.

Working on an index for an author who has never been through the process. The author asked what to look for upon receiving the index. I'll post my response here, which also means I might be able to find it for boilerplate in case I ever need it again:

+++

I'd just make sure that the index accurately captures the themes in the book and presents them in a way that your intended readership would expect.

Not that I want to forecast anything, but a lot of authors will say, "Looks good" and maybe reword an entry or two. Occasionally an author will ask for more detailed treatment of a subject. Very rarely, I'll have an author request wholesale changes; usually it's a case of an author expecting a concordance (which an index is not) or trying to make connections or pump up coverage of a topic in the index that the text itself doesn't necessarily justify.

One place your input would be welcome would be on consolidation of subentries, especially under an all-consuming entry such as "Internet." Sometimes my indexes get a little too granular or detailed, and if you can help me in tightening up subentries, if you think it's necessary, that would be great.


Today's Unattributed Quote: Social Sciences

[might be a few more of these. sort of an interesting book]

The North Korean Chosun Central TV channel reported the results of a survey which confirmed that North Korea is the second “happiest” country in the world, beaten only by China. The other countries that round out the top five happiest list include Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, in that order. Perhaps not so shockingly, South Korea ranked near the bottom at 152, while the United States came in dead last out of the 203 countries “surveyed” (International Business Times 2011).

Monday, June 2, 2014

APA Derangement Syndrome


I can recommend absolutely nothing about the work pictured here -- from the design and organization of the printed volume to the style regime recommended therein.

The only thing I can imagine is that the book is a revenue generator for reasons that have nothing to do with editorial style. The American Psychological Association publishes this monstrosity to drive people into the arms of the people whose careers the APA supports.