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.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

city books; Word style sheets

The indexes are done, finally. It's at least four days 'til I have to write the next one. I will enjoy the break.

I spent today reading a Chamber of Commerce book on Fayetteville, NC, the text for which I'd already copyedited. Most of the time when I read one of these books, I want to move to that city. Done right, everywhere seems like paradise. Two exceptions: Springfield, MO, which came across as the US capital of the Aryan Nation, and Fayetteville, NC, which is probably a great place if you want to listen to even more of a daily drumbeat of how, properly used, the US military can save the world, and is actually doing so as we speak. Oh, please.

Tomorrow I begin copyediting The Deed and the Doer in the Bible: David Daube's Gifford Lectures, Volume 1. Naturally, I have no idea who David Daube is, nor what the Gifford lectures are. This publisher usually gets stuff to me in great shape, though. Bad news/good news on this project: They want the copyeditor to prepare the m/s for the typesetter in a big way, which is to say, applying Word's style sheets to the entire document -- and it's about a 400-page manuscript. Also, hundreds of auto-footnotes need to be converted to hard characters -- both in the manuscript and in the notes section. The good news is that this is one of those times I am glad to be paid by the hour.

On Word's style sheets: In the hands of a good copyeditor and a typesetter who knows what s/he is doing, these style sheets can make typesetting a breeze -- saving hours and days on the task. This publisher refers to the style sheets as XML style sheets. I mentioned that one time to a typesetter who said their nomenclature was wrong: that XML style sheets are another thing entirely, which made for about 15 minutes of very confusing conversation. Because of my work with this publisher, though, I've tried to get some other typesetters on board with the Word style sheets, but there's some trick to getting them to import properly into Quark, blah, blah. So not everyone can do it or is willing to take the time to learn. But what do I know?

After getting some other work done, I might actually be facing a night when I can sleep for 6 or 7 consecutive hours. Not that my body will allow this, of course, but it's nice to imagine that it might happen someday.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

1. an author figures it out. 2. the pronoun "per"

I was speaking today with one of my most favored (and favorite) clients -- a managing editor for a denominational press who sends me an awful lot of work, and some of it is awful indeed.

(Class, take notes: In a publishing house, "managing editor" is the title of the person who keeps me busy -- that is, the person who manages the production process, farming work out to freelancers, among other duties.)

We were discussing, of all things, indexing when I don't have a clue about the topic, which if you've been following the story to date is my present albatross, and it continues. I'm still struggling with the index I mentioned yesterday, with much of today being consumed by yard work, planting ground cover on a hill at the house, a trip to the dentist, and making dinner (untried crockpot recipe). Hoo boy.

Anyway, we were discussing two particular authors in the last few months who had written books that are way over my pedestrian head, but for which the indexing duties fell to me. One author loved my work (and has loved it for each of his books, and each book of his baffles me more than the last). He liked the detail, thought I had covered the topics very nicely. Amazing, given that even some of the chapter titles might as well have been written in Finnish.

The other author thought the index could have been better. While my managing editor reviewed the index and thought it was fine, the author said that I did not seem to have a grasp of the overall concepts of the book, and thus the index did not present those concepts accordingly. Well, damn. Bingo. Amazing that an author gets it right now and then.

He nailed the problem on the head. I do not have an overall understanding of the concepts and the book's central theme(s). I'm the first to admit it, just couldn't find the proper words during my years of bitching and complaining. The author said that perhaps he should have written the index. I couldn't agree more, except that it's the rare author who also knows how to write an index. One day, and perhaps that day has come, a geneticist will determine which gene causes one to be able to compose an index. I suppose it'll be a gene that is also common to people with names like Manson, Gacy, Berkowitz. (Note to self: a subsequent post on bizarro characters who have been proofreaders.)

In this case and in similar cases, a number of options are available. Yes, the author can write it. Or, better yet, the author can compose cross-references (See; See also) that direct his or her readers from the larger concepts to the more specific entries and subentries in the index. Thus the heavy lifting of the entries is provided by a professional indexer, but the conceptual work is done by the author, who obviously (hopefully) has a grasp of the material that goes beyond what is written on the page.

(Another note, class: the index prior to this one was for a book on heterosexism in the world's religions -- actually kind of interesting if you go for that kind of thing. I believe the chapter I'm thinking of was dealing with intersex individuals, that is, those born with physical attributes of both sexes, which happens far more often than one might think. [This is a topic for a different post, if not a different blog entirely.] Anyway, the author used the pronoun "per" as a unisex version of him/her . . . given that "him" or "her" would not have been appropriate. So, if you're writing and you're using "he or she" -- and I really don't mind s/he for those cases -- then "per" might be a good if somewhat unusual approach for the related pronoun. Of course, it would require explaining. Use it in a sentence, class: "Pat retrieved per laptop from the car." Something to think about.)

Do I have to get back to work now? (Yes.) Did it rain today? (Of course not.) My son turns eighteen tomorrow. Is that possible? (No way in hell.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fly time

Still struggling. The indexing kink in my brain seems to be on sabbatical, which sucks with deadlines rushing in. Once this beast is done -- one of those where I don't really understand the material -- at least there are some easy jobs coming up. A Chamber of Commerce proofread, a long copyedit from a typically reliable publisher -- that is, a publisher whose manuscripts are in generally good shape -- and a proofread of a plain dumb novel, which I've already copyedited. And then another index, but at least one that should be interesting: about Teddy Roosevelt.

Adding to my woes, which include the earlier-mentioned lawn-watering regimen, is that it's fly time in SW VA. Every year at this time, the flies come out. Big-ass flies. In one small room in our house a few years ago with a bunch of windows, they were so prevalent that you could hear the hum. (And in this room, as in most others in our house, the windows don't open.) Frightening. But they come for a few weeks, then they go.

But this year they seem to like my office, along with some kind of little blood-sucking gnats. It's tough to type when my hands are flailing to clear out the flies or clapping to kill the vampirebugs, which scares the dogs out of their sleep.

Sleep? I seem to remember the concept. You'd think that not having real restful nighttime hours would translate into the ability to work all night. I wish.

I've thought of trying to train my body to go back to third shift, like when I was 21 years old and working at the printing plant. Wake up at 10:30pm and go to work. Ah, those were the days. I never had more money in my life than when I was making $6.15 an hour (plus 15-20 hours a week of time-and-a-half). Rent was $150 per month (no utilities). Oh, and no spouse and no kids and no pets and no debt.

Third shift wouldn't be so bad . . . actually would be a boon to my productivity.

But it just isn't the best solution. Nor is getting nothing done.

Back to work. Well, after I check to see how many states away the rain is now.

Maybe this blog will get interesting soon. Thanks to my one reader for hanging in there.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

20 cents per mile

"Our achievements have become our atrocities." — Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology (Crossroad, 2004)

This quote is apropos of nothing. Just found it among old material.

It's been about two months since I've posted anything, and I'll try to restart the habit. What I'm doing here so far is not talking about what I do for a living, but avoiding what I do for a living.

If I could get paid for the work I avoid, I'd be a rich man . . . well, until I started spending whatever I made, plus a percentage just to keep the stress level high.

The work I'm presently avoiding is an index for what ought to be a relatively simple book, and I'm only about 25 pages from the end of it. It's due tomorrow, and there's probably no more than about 3 hours of work remaining on it. Then a somewhat more difficult index follows it. At least I've already proofread the book, although of course I've largely forgotten the details. The theme has something to do with Christian sacrifice, and feminist approach to same, but it's a scholarly tome. At least I'll have the benefit of a tight deadline (two days) which will keep me motivated. That is the theory anyway.

I waste time by checking the Internet for unnecessaries. I waste time by reading nonessential emails. If I could bring these two addictions under control, my days would be much more productive. Simple enough to do: restrict my email checking to twice per day (say, 10am and 2pm). Read and respond to only the work-related stuff; save the rest of it for when the day's work is done.

Internet s/b on a need-to-see basis. Checking the weather forecast will not bring rain. And rain is important, because now I'm necessarily spending 3 hours a day watering the lawn, because it was just aerated and seeded, and I need to move the sprinklers around. There's no getting an index done when I'm standing up every 15 minutes to do that. I've got a book of devotionals that I need to be copyediting. Maybe that can be my sprinkler-moving diversion, but that's still not helping me get these indexes done on time.

And more travel time coming up in October/November. Good travel, but always throws the rest of the affected month into panic. The cabbie don't make money if the meter ain't running.