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 and proofreader, and occasional indexer. 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.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

When the Paid Literate Let You Down

Last week I performed a second-round proof on a book about awe, which incidentally didn't inspire much of it on my part. The first proofreader took it upon him/herself to change all references to Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong II. Aside from my rage -- that, among other things, such a person potentially gets jobs from this publisher that could be coming to me -- I wondered why a person would change the name of a world leader without at least checking the spelling through any number of available sources. I also wonder how many publishing professionals might actually be slogging through their lives without reading a news article.

I'll admit it: I probably could not reliably name more than five heads of state. (We were once playing the game of seeing if you could write down the names of all 50 states in five minutes, and I forgot Tennessee, which was all of a mile from where I was sitting at the time.) Kim Jong-Il happens to be one of the leaders who I can name, mostly because he is a rather bizarre character. Yes, I want to know more about a world leader who shoots 17 holes-in-one in a typical round of golf. Yes, I want to know more about the man on whose 60th birthday the skies delivered 60 inches of snow in celebration. Hell, even if you watch SouthPark to catch up on current events, you know the poor joker's name is not Kim Jong the Second. My wife reminded me of a former coworker of ours whose wife came home one day talking about this amazing man she had read about: Malcolm the Tenth.

So, if the head of state whose name I'm proofreading is one of the 219 or so with which I am unfamiliar, I am sure as hell not going to change it to something that looks better to me without checking it out first.

Reminds me, too, of a story I heard at an American Academy of Religion convention in 2003. Seems that the final set of a book's page proofs fell into the hands of a proofreader who felt certain that all references to the decade of the 60s needed a little fleshing out, so the proofreader dutifully (and without the necessary oversight) changed 60s to 1960s, not understanding what that would do to the integrity of a book dealing with first-century Christianity. Yes, the book made it into print . . . and perhaps this proofreader has been exiled to labor in Kim Jong II's fields. One can only hope.

1 comment:

moi said...

Whew. I don't know about the rest of the publishing realm, but I for one am relieved to know you're out there making the world a safer place for the serial comma, the em dash, and freakin' lay versus lie, et al. Welcome to the blogosphere, dude.