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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Author Doesn't Get It

Query: Is this a direct quote?

Answer: Close enough, yes.

Class, what is wrong with this answer?


A client I've had since Atlanta days is a fabulously successful businessman who came here from South Korea in 1976 with $200 and barely passable English. He got off his flight at Indianapolis and wondered, "What do I do now?" Forty years later, he's an institution in Atlanta, in his chosen industries nationwide, and in his family's hometown in Korea.

Very dignified gentleman, I guess now in his mid-70s.

Just received an email from him with a :-) . I'm horrified, but at least when it comes to cutesy keyboard stuff, he's a few years behind the times. Of course, not as far behind the times as I am. My idea of an emoticon is "[insert emoticon here.]."

People read what they want to anyway.

We've had three teenagers from other countries staying with us roughly since the beginning of the school year. My wife and I recently told them to leave their phones and computers downstairs and they can use them only for a few hours a day in the common areas.

Law of unintended consequences no. 1: Left them without alarm clocks.

Law of unintended consequences no. 1a: Do you know how hard it is these days to find AM/FM alarm clocks? Smartphones have killed them. Finally found a few at Walmarx. You can get just alarm clocks (no radios), and of course you can get all kinds of digital crapola and stuff to plug your phones into.

Get 'em while they last
A big kick for me growing up was listening to AM radio late at night to stations from different cities. Between 1969 and 1977, I lived on the 10th story of an apartment building on Staten Island, NY, facing away from the Empire State Building, which was the primary broadcast tower for NYC at the time. For major TV networks we got Philadelphia TV, not NYC, and at night I would spin the radio dial and pick up the clear-channel stations from Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, et al., and on rare occasions, I believe, Salt Lake City.

I posted a picture of that building very early in this blog's history. I wonder if the Google has taken it out, along with pictures of my dog and John Cale, although they are not together. That would be a sight.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Today's Quote: Retail

The next couple of decades saw two additional iterations of the no-frills grocery store—the self-service market and the supermarket. The first innovation came from Clarence Saunders’ Memphis, Tennessee, Piggly Wiggly store in 1916. The place was rather small compared to most groceries of the day. His idea was to have the customers pick up the goods in the store themselves (instead of asking a clerk for assistance) and then pay at a central checkout area. Saunders knew this strategy would enable him to cut down on labor costs. He was also convinced customers would buy more if they could see and touch all the merchandise themselves. He therefore created aisles that facilitated customers’ handling of the goods, and he provided baskets in which shoppers could collect the items they wanted to buy. Like with department stores, the public spin on the setup was one of democratic privilege. As early as 1922, the Piggly Wiggly chain boasted that its self-service model “fosters the spirit of independence—the soul of democratic institutions, teaching men, women, and children to do for themselves.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gotta Get It off My Chest So That I Can Get Back to Work

I am privileged, honored, and blessed to work with a mostly great group of managing editors, production editors, editorial directors, South Asian production teams, publishers, flunkies, and other folks who feed me work -- intelligent, often funny, and typically demanding.

Every once in a while the presses screw up, as do I. I can't lay the blame for this decision at the feet of the person who sent me the work, because the mandate likely came from the author or some other, uh, authority.

This month has brought four different index update projects, which is as many as I might get in a typical year or two. I usually don't like this process, mostly because I'm having to deal with other people's indexes -- often the author's, I fear.

For the current project, the existing index is a mishmash of, in addition to about 50 percent useful entries, material in the author's head that doesn't appear on the page (very difficult to update) and the most inane type of word-search-instead-of-an-index that I've seen (very frustrating to update from an indexer's point of view, but it's not my job to eviscerate the index, because I wasn't hired to improve the content -- only update it). For example, if the phrase "heart of darkness" appeared in the book, "heart" received a citation if that word was indexed for another reason.


The previous indexer also missed obvious citations for which there were already entries, as with names. I'm adding those if I see them.

Here's the kicker: Not only is it a very demanding press (I'd get fired for submitting an index like this), but I could have written a much better index in less time than it's taking me to update the page numbers . . . and they're paying me the same price as they pay indexers now, as far as I know.

Mitigating circumstance: I would not have received a request to update this index in the first place because I don't index for this press anymore. Why? Because of the rate they pay.

But I like this press enough that, in a softhearted moment, I might have suggested that I just rewrite. I suppose I wasn't in the mood or made the discovery too late.

So . . . I'm taking too long updating an index that should be rewritten for an otherwise good book (I think) that I'm not even getting to read.


As much as I bitch about it, I do kind of like the reading part of my job.

UPDATE: Now here's something hilarious. I was looking at my blog posting history, and this year is on the way to being the most prolific yet, not that I really care. But I opened up 2013, which was the year I'd written least (only 18 postings for the year; damn). Clicked on the first link, and to what did my wondering eyes appear?

Another rant on updating indexes. Title: Torture and Bafflement

Monday, August 29, 2016


Of course I accepted the compliment with grace, but what's the proper reaction when an untalented author praises my editorial work, when I took a hands-off approach to the manuscript because the only alternative would have been a complete rewrite, with about a 20 percent loss in volume? Would the author have been as happy seeing the same material recast in a more understandable and less repetitive manner? Maybe, except that it's a field where everyone seems to write in passive voice, with long sentences featuring string after string of phrases requiring serial commas. When the prose extracts and case studies from a variety of other contributors all suffer from the same writing styles, who am I to get in the way?

One might say, but it's the copyeditor's job to make the manuscript better. I've done that. But it's also a sane copyeditor who recognizes when the work could become substantive editing real fast. And that's not what the job order is calling for.

Another Stop-the-Presses Moment

"Actuaries typically make the required calculations using actuarial methods."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Email I Will Long Cherish

From a dear friend of mine -- the only person's whose Facebook friend request I ever accepted, and even that for only a week -- whom I met in our first job out of our respective colleges. We whiled away the hours, mostly second shift, proofreading airline timetables and lottery tickets. We became fast friends, enjoying music, the early Letterman years, Braves baseball, and a variety of other effects. In retrospect it is unreal to recall that we only worked together for eight months, because we bonded for life, although we don't communicate frequently. But my wife is a Facebook friend of his. . . .

My friend is fifty-eight years old and has a delightful six-year-old son, which informs the email I received today:


Just wanted to tell you that the Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers live CD has grabbed a spot in Zachary's brain. We listened to it a good bit for a week or so after you sent it to me, and then a couple of times here and there. Yesterday, he was walking around muttering "dum de dum de dum dittle um day, oh New England!" and I just had to laugh. That's not even one of the songs we've played a lot. We were in a loop of playing "I'm a Little Airplane," "Ice Cream Man," "I'm a Little Dinosaur," and "My Little Kookenhaken."

So we had to play "New England" like 3 times on the way to school today.

You are one subversive motherfncker.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Chain of Restaurants Can Kiss My Fat White @ss

[I could subtitle this, "Welcome to Trump Country." Where I live, 60 to 70 percent of voters will pull the lever for Trump in November, if he's still on the ballot.]


Sent today to a restaurant chain's corporate office on their customer feedback portal.

Bristol, VA:

Awful experience, and we never got past the host station. We'd planned on going to Ruby Tuesday’s next door, but it had closed up shop that very day. We went to XXX's, and the following conversation ensued. The  XXX's employee was one of two at the host station -- a lanky mid-to late 20-something with lightish brown hair and quite an attitude.

Me: You're benefiting from your neighbor shutting down. When did Ruby Tuesday's close?

XXX's: Today.

Me: No notice?

XXX's: Nope. All the employees let go.

My wife: A lot of restaurants around here are closing and moving to Tennessee. Why would they do that?

XXX's: You have something against Tennessee?

My wife: Well, taxes are higher and --

XXX's: Well, you live in communist Virginia.

His comment was made without a bit of humor and with far more of an edge than one would expect. We turned around and walked out.

We'll never be back to this  XXX's or likely any other if you continue to tolerate this type of blatantly confrontational attitude from employees at your restaurants.

I would welcome a response to this feedback. I hope you'll let the manager at the store know as well.

Bob Land

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Protecting That Brand

I'm talking about Drano, and not because the current manuscript makes me want to drink it. 

The current manuscript does, however, mention the product, so I am doing my little A-student copyeditor thing and checking the proper treatment of the brand name online.

All the text says "Drano." All the labels say "Drāno."

I'm going with the text. It's just interesting that the folks at S. C. Johnson and Sons show the pronunciation in the label -- a nod to something or another, or maybe the folks didn't want such a product carrying what might otherwise be the pronunciation. "Drah-no" sounds a bit ambivalent for poison.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shortsighted Department, Floor 2

Prajapati, being alone and “desirous of a second,” dismembered himself in order to produce his own offspring, in order to create.