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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I Like a Little Distance from the Principals

I very rarely deal with authors for my publishing-house clients--a nice perk. The managing editors do all that work, leaving me alone to do my job. This isolation/insulation keeps me from possible fits of rage because of interactions with the occasional prima donna.

Actually, to be fair, I must say that when I am placed in the position of working with authors--for example, when they need to review copyedits or indexes--the exchanges are typically pleasant. One of the university presses I work for has me do the copyedits, send them to the author for review, and then the author sends them back to me before I ship off the final manuscript to the press. Every one of those authors has been delightful to work with. Kudos to you in the Classic City of the South (and if you want to know which press that is, do your research on this phrase).

Self-publishing authors are also nice, and typically grateful for the assistance.

One of my gigs is working on the scholarly journals that a university press handles. I received a job for proofreading last week, and part of the task is transferring the journal editor's comments to the master set of proofs, which will also include my own corrections.

First, this editor blamed an incorrect French-to-English translation on "a copy-editor." Not this one.

Then I come upon this delightful note:

Quotation marks instead of Italics, please. This is a left over change by one of your neophyte sub-editors, who actually thought I was mistakenly trying to use quotation marks for emphasis instead of italics!!

Neophyte sub-editor, indeed. That's the title for my next business card. I will own up to making that change, but not for the reason that this editor presumed. No need to go into the explanation, but suffice it to say that the tone of the comment makes me happy, again, that I mostly deal with managing editors--professionals who know what they are doing and who allow me to do what I do without experiencing the haughtiness of this type of riff-raff.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Much for the Associated Press

As I've said before on this blog, pointing out typos in printed material in this kind of forum is boring, unless it's embarrassing for the publisher or creates some wonderful double entendre. But in light of recent excerpts from an AP article covering the lack of copyediting and proofreading on a UN IPCC report, I found the following lead from today's wire rather ironic:


Rescuers pull man alive from Haiti shop rubble
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Rescuers have pulled a 23-year-old man alive from the rubble of a fruit and vegetable shop in Haiti, 11 days after an earthquake crumbled the capital city. The man was placed on a stretcher and given fluids intraveneusouly.

As they say in my part of the world, do what now? And what do you think of the use of the word "crumble" there? Nyet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Happy (and Sorta New) Customer

For a book that was supposed to be a simple project, but I uncovered significant documentation issues at the proofreading stage, requiring some independent research to straighten everything out:

Bob:

Thank you for the work you've done on the Lincoln project. Your invoice is reasonable based on what you did. I am glad that you do a very thorough and professional job, but you are also reasonable with your fees. This has made it easier in terms of convincing [publisher's name here] to use your services on a much more consistent basis.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Sarah Palin; Now This

Maybe the Associated Press is trying to prop up the need for indexing, editing, and proofreading. I mentioned some time back the AP story on the arrival of Palin's book, with the lack of an index featured prominently in the story's third paragraph.

This from today's AP wire:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100120/D9DBON7G1.html

UN warming report riddled with errors in 1 section

Excerpts:

The errors are in a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-affiliated body. All the mistakes appear in a subsection that suggests glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away by the year 2035 - hundreds of years earlier than the data actually indicates. The year 2350 apparently was transposed as 2035.

...

"It is a very shoddily written section," said Graham Cogley, a professor of geography and glaciers at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, who brought the error to everyone's attention. "It wasn't copy-edited properly."

Cogley, who wrote a letter about the problems to Science magazine that was published online Wednesday, cited these mistakes:

- The paragraph starts, "Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world." Cogley and Michael Zemp of the World Glacier Monitoring System said Himalayan glaciers are melting at about the same rate as other glaciers.

- It says that if the Earth continues to warm, the "likelihood of them disappearing by the 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high." Nowhere in peer-reviewed science literature is 2035 mentioned. However, there is a study from Russia that says glaciers could come close to disappearing by 2350. Probably the numbers in the date were transposed, Cogley said.

- The paragraph says: "Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035." Cogley said there are only 33,000 square kilometers of glaciers in the Himalayas.

- The entire paragraph is attributed to the World Wildlife Fund, when only one sentence came from the WWF, Cogley said. And further, the IPCC likes to brag that it is based on peer-reviewed science, not advocacy group reports. Cogley said the WWF cited the popular science press as its source.

- A table says that between 1845 and 1965, the Pindari Glacier shrank by 2,840 meters. Then comes a math mistake: It says that's a rate of 135.2 meters a year, when it really is only 23.5 meters a year.

Still, Cogley said: "I'm convinced that the great bulk of the work reported in the IPCC volumes was trustworthy and is trustworthy now as it was before the detection of this mistake." He credited Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon with telling him about the errors.

However, Colorado University environmental science and policy professor Roger Pielke Jr. said the errors point to a "systematic breakdown in IPCC procedures," and that means there could be more mistakes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Now Taking Predictions

I don't often get into topical stories here, but since a lot of my reading deals with matters theological, I'm more often than not likely to click through to an article that deals with religion or religious institutions. The story today about the release of John Paul II's would-be assassin intrigued me.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100119/D9DAGE200.html

After getting about halfway through this tale, I thought, "This dope's going to go right back out into a far crazier world than the one he left 29 or so years ago, and he'll kill someone . . ."

In a month?
In a year?
As soon as he turns on a TV set?

Any predictions?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Taken Down a Notch

In the context of my Internet-based publishing gig, I come across scores of two-sentence bios for writers and editors. This one from an editor just caught my eye:

[So-and-so] attended college in northwestern Pennsylvania before moving to New York City to make a career in reference publishing. She worked as an indexer before being promoted to assistant editor.

I can only hope that the type of indexing she is talking about differs from the kind I do. I would hate to think that at this stage of my life, I'd be receiving a promotion to assistant editor. Then again, when it seems that every person I grew up with is a doctor, lawyer, high-powered B-man, professor, etc., maybe it's time to face the facts. What those facts are, I'd just as soon not ponder in too much detail right now.

Monday, January 11, 2010

When in Doubt

First, I want to get this off my chest: it's snowing again. After a heavy snowfall in mid-December, the remnants of which are still on the ground, it's snowed every few days since then. The sun will come out every so often to melt a little of what's here, then we'll get another dusting to cover it up. I don't think the temperature has gotten out of the 20s yet this year, and this former northeasterner is tired of it. I'd be perfectly happy if winter lasted a week, with one day of snowfall. We have six folks coming over to dinner tomorrow night, ranging in age from 70 to somewhere in his 90s, and one of the wives is either behind a walker or occasionally in some motorized transport. I'd just cleared off the walkway to the house yesterday, and I'll be out there again tomorrow, it looks like.

Now if a dinner party of 70- to 90-something-year-olds sounds, well, less than enticing, you've not met this bunch. The youngster is most active, spending a lot of his days traveling the world, and I'm not sure he's ever spent much time in Europe. Just doesn't interest him that much. He was part of the first Peace Corps contingent in the early 60s, and his roommate was eaten by a lion in Tanzania. True story.

He is bringing the nonagenarian, who was a radio and television producer in NYC from the 1940s to the 1980s. Harvard educated back in the 30s, I guess. When I saw him last, on New Year's Eve, he was regaling us with stories about being the stage manager for the U.S. Steel Hour on ABC, I think, in the 1950s and dealing with Hal Holbrook. Fascinating individual. Knows writers and actors and all kinds of people. If he's not yet written a few books, I'm not sure why.

The married couples who are bracketed in age here are all wonderful folks. The two husbands are both PhD engineers. One is perhaps the greatest malcontent I've ever met. Virulent atheist, diehard socialist, EPA whistleblower back in the 70s. His wife is a fantastic painter. The other couple -- he's a chemical engineer, and his wife is just a delight. Actually, I'm looking forward to this evening as much as any social gathering I can think of recently. The Peace Corps alum thinks he's outspoken and progressive. He's a piker compared to my favorite malcontent. The purpose of this meeting was actually to get the latter together with the former producer. The two have met only briefly, and the producer wanted to spend some more time with him. We were a point of connection (and my wife is always looking for a reason to entertain) . . . hence the shindig. Now if it'll just stop snowing and I can get the 2nd couple's missus into the house, we'll be fine.

What's this blog about? Oh, right.

I have found that when inexperienced writers don't know what to do, they use an apostrophe. Why this is, I am not sure, but I find them in the oddest places. Maybe they think an apostrophe will make them look like they know what they are doing in the punctuation realm.

Another source of amusement/irritation is authors who feel that the use of Roman numerals gives their writing some academic bent that Arabic numerals do not. I am forever changing "part I," "chapter I," to something more, uh, modern?

I'm working on a book now that looks as if the writer missed every punctuation lesson between 3rd and 7th grades. I will never understand how people can write books that look nothing like the books they supposedly read. Of course, the acknowledgments section for this one mentions two editors and one proofreader who helped in preparation of the manuscript. Any time I see an editor cited in the acknowledgments, I know it's going to be trouble. I hate to say it, but that's the fact. The biggest red flag is as follows: "Thanks to my [sister/neighbor/uncle], a former English teacher, for editing the manuscript." My hope is that the teacher did a good job at some point, only to have the author stick by per's guns and unfortunately do away with all the suggestions.

The good news on the workflow front is I can think of three outfits that have given me strong indications they will use me more this year than in years past. One I already mentioned with the Christmas card. Another is a press that used me a bit a few years back, but which slacked off over the last two years. Back in October I happened to be in the small town in Massachusetts where their office is, and I stopped in unannounced. Met their managing editor, whom I hadn't known before (I'd only dealt with the publisher), who upon finding out what I did and where I fit in immediately began telling me that per was doing way too much copyediting and proofreading for what per was hired to do. I heard from per at the end of last year, and per has the green light to begin using me.

The best news of all (almost sorry to say) comes from the publisher of the agrammatical book. This is a company that has mostly been in distribution, and the books they did publish essentially went out unedited and unproofed (professionally, anyway). After three years of internal lobbying, their production person finally has convinced the company to use me. I got a call from the production person the other day, and per asked if it was OK if they referred authors to me for me to edit the manuscripts before they even entered production. Well, by all means.

It's 1099 season. I received one the other day from a company that I swear I got no work from last year. Maybe it's for work done in 2008, but paid in 2009. I fear this company is in the death throes . . . and they sent me a ton of work during a stretch from about September 2007 to December 2008. I wrote to the Big Boss a few weeks back and didn't even get the courtesy of a response. Not a good sign. Usually per was good about answering emails.

Actually, I have a few folks who are not returning emails with the alacrity I desire. Kinda makes me mad when I actually need some information. And I figure if the first email didn't do the trick, the second one is just going to irritate. So I sits and I waits.

Well, the badly punctuated book has about 35 pages of bleeding to go on it, and I'd love to finish it tonight, to clear the decks for another book that's coming in tomorrow -- not to mention the dinner party. Gonna be an interesting day. Shoveling snow with an old yard sign, and then sweeping the rest. Good thing it's a dry snow.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

new and old reader welcome

I've mentioned before that I can tell that this blog has certain people who check in every once in a while, for whatever odd reasons they are keeping to themselves. The little widget off to the side at least allows me to see where people are coming from. But I suppose it's like talk radio or the Pareto Rule -- that only a small percentage of the people doing X are responsible for the significant portion of activity Y. Much as I love dear Moi and her always unique perspective, I'd welcome comments from others of you, too. I know I have a lot to learn, and God knows I haven't been much in the teaching mode lately. So y'all can teach me.

I received an email today from someone who stumbled upon this blog. Per was directed to it by a Google Alert. I responded to the email and asked per what phrase kicked off the alert (it must have been from yesterday's post), but I've yet to hear the answer.

Working on a book tonight about the state of freedom in this country. (I do strive to keep this territory apolitical, yet this book does get the mind going -- no matter which side of the aisle you're on or even if both sides of the aisle disgust you.) Frankly, there's a little something in this book for everyone. Oh, hell, I'll go ahead and give a plug, which I rarely do (it's a good book, so I don't mind calling it out): the title is New Threats to Freedom, published by Templeton Press, available Spring 2010. Plenty of well-known writers have contributed short essays--mostly well-known authors in the magazine field, and one particularly well-known playwright. I can say that it's a real kick in the head to be copyediting the work of a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner. The book has plenty of nifty quotes, such as, "There’s a world of Travis Bickles out there, and they’re not driving cabs. They’re reading blogs." So, if any of you recognize yourself in that statement, you're not alone. That was from an article on cyber-anonymity, appropriately enough.

I had an interesting task today: giving feedback to an author on an index per wrote for per's own book. This goes back to the overseas author who used me for proofreading a few months back. Per wrote the index for per's book (and did a better job than most authors I've seen, which didn't surprise me, given the quality of the book--not to mention per's discriminating taste in proofreaders), and asked me not exactly to edit it but to give pointers on how it could be improved.

It wasn't so easy. As I told per, indexing is something I do, not something I think about. So to try to describe the mechanics of why to do certain things or how to syntactically link entries and subentries was not easy. I'm sure there are books out there that describe the indexing process. I've never read one. I've never read a manual or taken a course on how to index. My first indexing client, if I remember correctly, was probably my old employer, which produces self-study business texbooks. Their books are so meticulously organized with heads and subheads, and all the terms are boldfaced, so the indexes basically write themselves. I was able to start out with easy material. And that led up (or down) to where I am today.

I indexed a book last week on Islam and science that was not only mostly over my head but was also made far worse by having to type transliterated Arabic -- a slow process involving using codes or pulling symbols off of Word's palette. Indexing is a lot easier when typing names such as "Jones, Bill," as opposed to (wait a minute while I grab a real name from the index) . . . Bīrūnī, Abū al-Rayh.ān Muh.ammad ibn Ah.mad al-. or titles such as Al-Jāmi‘ li-Mufradāt al-Adwiya wal-Aghdhiya. The letters with periods after them are actually supposed to have dots under the letters preceding them. The press did supply me with an Arabic transliteration font and keyboard instructions for it, but frankly I found it easier to do it this way. In this case, this particular old dog didn't want to learn any new tricks.

What else, what else? I am perilously close to being caught up with work, which is another way of saying, running out of it. Trust me, I would not want to be my dear, long-suffering wife if that happens. On the best of days, I am a nervous wreck. If the work ever runs out . . . well, I don't even want to go there. One of my old standbys has said he has a proofing and a copyediting job that are supposed to be coming my way this week; another publisher has a proofing job supposed to be coming this week; there's an index lurking out there I should have received about 2 months ago, and I'm just as happy it's not come in yet. My annual managing editor gig is about to kick in (which I enjoy, but I've never had to do it in the last seven years on top of the Internet company obligations, now running at about 15-20 hours per week), but if the work ever does dry up, I can do the Internet thing up to 35 hours per week if I want . . . not that I'd want. But safety for me is having a month's worth of work sitting on my desk (or at least on the calendar) awaiting my attention. Then again, if I got a break, maybe I could clean out my office instead of trying to run a business in about 15 square feet of space. The good news is that one of my publishers has already informed me of about six books they're doing this year. (The not-so-good news is that they've been on about the 120-day pay plan lately, but I get the money when I need it, I suppose.)

One last item from the 2009 wrap-up. I think I may have actually written off my first chunk of change (the prophet's nonpayment notwithstanding). I did an index for a company in June 2008 for which I am still owed $656. I've written or called them once a month since. I spoke with the publisher last week, and he gave me the tale of woe that the bank had seized everything --computers, furniture, etc. -- and that he's barely operating. I wasn't too sympathetic. All I wanted to hear from him is that if he ever started operating again, he might just give some thought to actually paying me what he owes me. I eventually pried that out of him, but I don't think I'll ever see the money. I did an Internet search and found people making complaints about him and nonpayment for services rendered back in 2003-5. And I think I heard from another publisher that this guy's brother is a known bad actor in the publishing world. But, in all the freelancing I've been doing for these many years, to only get hung up once by what seemed like a legitimate outfit probably isn't such a bad record. And who knows? Maybe one day that $656 will come in when I really need it. For all my bad attitude, there's a spark of the optimist somewhere inside me. Very well hidden. And I'm such a prince that I'm not even going to name the company here, although I've thought of doing so often. Maybe that'll be part of my 2010 wrap-up.

Well, it's too damn cold in Virginia, and there's no break in sight. About the only other good thing about running out of work would be it would give me an excuse to go to the Y for four hours a day and do the executive triathlon in perpetuity: sauna, steam, whirlpool. Heaven forbid I should actually exercise.

As a talk-show host I used to like says, "I think I've had about all of me I can stand for one day." Tomorrow is ten hours of reviewing the work of other editors for the Internet gig. Maybe I'll spend two of those hours cutting off the permissions of those who've never done a damn thing, literally. Signed up with this company and never edited a word. That's what passes for the feeling of power in my life, I guess -- or it's a way to work without having to think too much about it.

Hey, if you're out there reading this stuff, and you've never left a comment, leave me a comment. Do it anonymously if you want. You can even sign it "Travis Bickle" if that suits you. Even better would be to tell me roughly what part of the country you're from. I really am kinda curious who's out there -- not to mention why. We might all even benefit from knowing each other, even if it's just through fake names. If I can create a little community of freelancers here, that would be rather rewarding. And I won't try to sell you anything. You can count on that.

bl

Monday, January 4, 2010

wrapping up 2009

Seems like I was going into the end of the year with some things on my mind I wanted to dump on the blog and get them out of my head. Maybe I'll remember most of them.

A couple of individual author stories. I edited and proofread a book for a previously published author who definitely had per own way of wanting things done. I think I covered some of this under a blog post titled (new pet peeve of mine: titled vs. entitled; I don't care if "entitled" might be correct. If it's referring to the title of a work, the landondemand creed mandates "titled" rather than "entitled") "Remind Me Why You Hired Me Again." As I've said, it doesn't matter to me what you do with my suggestions or changes once it's off my desk, but please don't ask me to do the work, then second-guess everything I do, particularly if you're not in the publishing field.

(I do have one client who second-guesses--or tries to argue me out of--most things I do, but it's kind of a running joke at this point. And I like per too much to fire per, anyway.)

So, after I'm done with the proofread of the author's book, per sends me the jacket copy for a copyedit. (Another growing pet peeve: I think I'm done with a project and then comes, "Oh, would you mind looking at the promotional copy?") I tell per, "I don't think I should copyedit this because the bulleted lists don't start off with parallel words and very few of the bulleted items on why someone should purchase this book flow logically from the lead-in to the list."

Per responds (paraphrasing), "Thanks anyway. I'm going to leave it the way it is, because I like it that way, and I don't think we need to hold up the jacket copy to the same editorial standards as the inside text."

Excuse me?

I just responded with an "OK, thanks. Nice working with you. Keep me in mind for the next book." I mean, how do you respond to that? You've got the jacket copy, where you're trying to sell the book, and you don't want it to make sense? You want the first thing people read to leave them scratching their heads wondering if the inside of the book is going to contain the same type of editorial problems?

But I knew the author well enough at that point that when per said, "I've decided to keep it the way it is," that was it. I suspect per paid someone to write the copy and didn't want someone else changing it. Just a guess.

But we parted on good terms. No harm, no foul. Per did keep me on the phone a long time over the course of the project, but whatchoo gonna do?

---------

Author 2. This is from a project for which I've been hired, although I've not yet received the final draft of the manuscript. I need to be a little careful here because per checked out my blog before contacting me. Never know when per might check in again.

Per and I are trading emails laying down the ground rules for what I would do and charge, etc. Then per lays this one on me:

I would also like some sort of quality control/warranty statement. Hypothetically, what if I paid a copy editor to do this, then the MS goes to the publisher and they reject it and tell me that it is loaded with typos and misplaced periods. I’d have to re-copy edit because the guy who did the copy editing the first time did a sloppy quick job. Am I paranoid or is that a real possibility?

My cordial response:

Nothing wrong with a touch of paranoia, but hopefully in my case a sloppy quick job is not a real possibility. I cannot guarantee that any publisher will accept your work after I copyedit it, though. Remember, too, that copyediting is just the first quality control step, and no copyeditor is going to catch 100 percent of errors, and then there's the keying-in process, too -- during which the random error may be missed or instituted. That's why the book is proofread as well -- still not a guarantee of perfection, as any honest author/publisher/editor will tell you. But loaded with typos and misplaced periods? I hope that's not what you'd find with me. If it were, I wouldn't have publishers who've been using me as a copyeditor for years and years, and dozens and dozens of projects. Again, I can give you plenty of references if you have any doubts. But guarantees about pubiisher's acceptances, I can't make.

------------

I got fired in 2009. That's always fun. Here's the post I wrote at the time, but which I never published. Might as well do so now, just to clear the conscience:

I'm going to take a page from one of the most offensive yet most popular Internet sites, the Drudge Report, and break the news here. Anytime someone tries to put out some dirt on Drudge, he immediately posts the article on his own site, as if to say, "I got nothing to hide." This is another way of saying, "The best defense is a good offense." Yes, indeedy, folks. Far and away my most bizarre client has given me the heave-ho. I'm not going to get into too many details, to preserve per's anonymity (I am fair, after all) and thus to preserve my own hide. Let's just say this: Per is a Bible-thumping prophet (like an apocalyptic, see-the-future type) and an America-loathing rabble-rouser. Per foresees the end of America as we know it unless we all come to Christ and change our ways. I can go on and on about per, as I have come to know per over the last year or so, but I will let the slightly edited correspondence speak for itself.

===========


Yes Bob I will send the western union today although I am not going to pay you for re-editing your own work in chapter 26. The other day when you ask me, where did I get this copy from. . . I got it from you. That is the reason why I run everything through you before including it in the manuscript, so the entire manuscript will have to be re-edited because it is my opinion you either farmed it out originally or you did not do such a good job that you have found your own work to be problematic with errors. I know you by now (not using any gifts of foresight) that you are not going to re-edit this entire manuscript again, and do it right at no charge, but in my opinion you should because I have already paid you for it, and even if you did go through it, it is further my opinion you would not go through it with a fine tooth comb, so my only option at this point is to hunt for a new editor and wish you the best. I will send you some money but frankly in my opinion, I have wasted about [dollar figure here] and the manuscript is not ready to go to press. Goodbye Bob.

===========

Isn't this fun? Here's the response I wanted to send. Special blog exclusive.

===========

First, when I asked, "Where did this come from?" I'm certain I was referring to a specific piece of text, not an entire chapter, and how it fit into the surrounding text. I'd need to see the context for the statement.

On to larger matters:

You've received all the tracked versions of every document you've sent me (all of which I've kept), so you've seen exactly what I've done along the way -- no portion at all of which has been farmed out. I don't farm out my work any more than you farm out your prophecies.

You've had no complaint about the work until now. You've had scores of opportunities to say that you didn't think my work was up to snuff and to end our relationship based on the quality of the work you were receiving from me. I've never heard a single word from you along those lines -- even though you claim that you've been rereading and rereading the manuscript. If there were really something seriously wrong, you would have noticed it long before now, and you would have terminated the relationship long ago. You obviously felt comfortable enough with my work to continue to send me regular updates for nine months after editing the original manuscript, and to send me emails asking for advice, which have always been answered. Along the way, you'd mentioned at least twice all the money you'd be sending me once the book came out because you treat well those people who treat you right. Those aren't the actions or words of an author who is unhappy with the editing.

I can guess at any number of reasons you now no longer want me to work for you, but I'm not going to try to get into your head.

Every person who is in publishing full time will tell you that copyediting is part of a process, which includes proofreading as well, and proofreaders often catch what a copyeditor has missed, especially in a manuscript that at this point is being slapped together totally haphazardly, with a sentence here and a sentence there out of context going out for editing. If the manuscript overall is now not reading the way you want it to, it's largely because of the process you've undertaken since last November.

I've been getting emails since last November with documents titled things like, "last change before typesetting" and "one last thing." You can attribute it to [ . . . ] or your desire to have this book be its best, but I've worked with any number of folks who also have issues with [ . . . ] and who want the best for their publication, but who also intuitively understand what it takes to make a publication its best and how to work with an editor to bring that about. Your approach to the text of the book at this point is akin to a dog who keeps digging up a bone and looking for somewhere else to bury it. You just can't leave it alone, and confusion is the inevitable result. If you want to blame me for that, that's your decision. The corrections you've been sending my way have resulted from your claims that you had a better way to say something, or you've been adding new material (election, Michael Jackson, new interactions at churches), or you've been qualifying your experiences in [ . . . ] to make sure you don't land in additional legal trouble. Never have you said, "I didn't like the way you did this. Please review." Never. Not once. And that you kept sending me material clearly showed you thought I was doing something right.

According to your own account, you've gone through photographers, web designers, cover designers, and editors before me -- blaming them for all the problems and their inability to do what you want them to do. I'm now added to the list. Without the gift of foresight, I suspect the pattern will continue with typesetters, proofreaders, indexers, printers, distributors, bookstore owners, publicity people, and so on. When I read in your book that you'd been in 20 car wrecks, 19 of which were not your fault, that about summed it up. And when I read repeatedly in your book about your lack of faith in the United States and the American judicial system, yet when I look online and see that you are constantly in court, asking that very same American judicial system to clear up your problems for you, I see that I've been dealing with a bundle of contradictions all the way along.

You are certainly correct that I would not reedit the manuscript again at no charge. And I'd be wary of vendors who give you rock-bottom rates and claim decades of experience. I don't think you'll ultimately be happy with their work either, or you'll find that they'll start charging you for continually making changes and adjustments (as they should), which will make their original low price end up not so low in the long run.

You say that this book will come out on God's time and according to God's plan; if that's the case, then your dealings with me have just been part of a grander scheme in which you claim to have complete trust. Or maybe it's like the judicial system: it's something you fall back on when it suits your purposes.

I wish you the best of luck with the book.

Bob


============

Well, now that's off my chest. And needless to say, he never sent me the final check.

============

Clients came and went in 2009 -- mostly went. I managed to keep my head above water, well, most of it. It's like they say, when you're up to your chin in water, it only takes one big wave to drown you. Knock on wood, things are holding together, but some significant income producers in 2008 and years past sent me nothing or next to nothing in 2009. On the other hand, some folks who were relatively small potatoes in prior years really stepped it up last year. And I received this nice note from a client after Christmas:

"We at [publisher] wish you a very merry Christmas. Thank you for all your great work this year. We look forward to working with you much more in 2010."

That's what I call good news. And I'm hoping that the economy turns around enough that some of the regulars get on their feet again and start sending out books. My guess is that the freelance pool is somewhat fluid -- that in the big markets where full-timers were laid off, there are a lot of freelancers looking for work, but on the other hand, people who might have been freelancing part-time and for whom the work has dried up . . . they might go try to find real jobs (if such are to be had), thus taking them out of the freelance pool. One of my clients used to say, "I need you to stay busy as a freelancer or you might have to find something else to do."

As I've said before, at this point in my life I am otherwise unemployable, so this is all I got. If you've read this far and you're looking for someone to proofread, copyedit, or index your book, I'm not going anywhere. People around the country will vouch for my work, and I'm confident enough to let you know when I get fired, even if it's by someone who might be a taco short of a combination plate (smart individual, though -- per's wires are just a bit crossed).

Well, this has probably gone on way too long.

Your humble and obedient servant,

Geo. Washington