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, September 24, 2008

finish it off

If you hit a home run and don't run all the way to home plate, you're not going to get the run for your team.

If you're copyediting a book and you don't attach the same importance to every page of the book, you're doing a half-assed job and a publisher should think twice about using you again.

What brings this up is a common problem I run into as a proofreader: a book that has been copyedited well, right up until the endnotes and the bibliography . . . at which point it looks like it's been mailed in.

Copyediting the basic part of the manuscript is often the easy stuff. It's the documentation (notes and bibliography) where a copyeditor earns the money. They might be among the least attended-to parts of the book by readers, but a copyeditor with any sense of pride is going to devote the same attention to them as to the rest of the book.

I'm finishing up a proofreading job for one of my favorite clients -- favorite because their stuff is usually interesting and well-prepared -- and the book was very clean, except for the last dozen pages. And then: names out of order, potential ibids missed, potential shortened citations missed, hard returns where they didn't belong, page ranges in the bibliography that don't agree entirely with those in the footnotes.

Now, if I didn't catch this stuff and point it out, you know who would care? Frankly, nobody, because no one reads these books the way a copyeditor should -- with three stacks in front of them, the text, the notes, and the bibliography, cross-checking all the material and ensuring that it all makes sense and is consistent. And few proofreaders do what I do (I imagine), which is as much as possible plunk down with this stuff at one or two sittings and try to plow through as much of it as I can. Maybe I'm giving away too much here, but frankly, the quicker I can get through this material, the better chance I have at noticing inconsistencies. That ain't gonna happen if I take a week or two to read a book, not the way my memory is. And besides, that also ain't gonna feed the family.

So, you copyeditors out there: dammit, when you're working, work all the way to the end of the book. Don't give up when the running text runs out and leave it to some poor sap of a proofreader who might actually give a damn to clean up the crap you didn't think it was important enough to complete.

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