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, June 29, 2011

Surprised? Insulted?

Just received an email from a client that decided to go with a different type of page numbering system. Instead of numbering each book sequentially from 1 to the end, the publisher has decided to number within each chapter. Thus, 1.1-end, 2.1-end. Kind of a tail-wagging-the-dog issue here, but the publisher has a reason for doing so.

Email reads:

Hi Bob,
I know we ran the idea of changing the page numbering system by you, and we wanted to let you know we have decided to use the approach described in the e-mail below. A week or so ago Jane asked me to ask you if your indexing/copyediting software could handle this type of numbering system, but we put contacting you about this on hold until the final decision was made to change the page numbering system. Now that the decision has been made, can your indexing/copyediting software handle this?

Let us know.

Longtime readers know where this one is going. Cue the snarky email response in 3, 2, 1:

Not sure what you mean by "software."

If you ever run into an indexer who touts his or her software, I'd run in the other direction.

And I guess I use the same copyediting software that your authors use writing software. Your authors let all the software do the mental work of writing and researching and editing and keeping review panels happy, right?




Fleurdeleo said...

ha-ha! I've often felt Gone With the Wind could have been improved if only Margaret Mitchell had had that software rather than that dumb old manual typewriter.

czar said...

Fleur: I think you'd be mighty amused and likely not surprised at the source of this ridiculousness.

moi said...

I think Napoleon Dynamite best expresses how I feel about your client: "Ugh! Idiot!"

Now, software that washed my windows, vacuumed my rugs, and made my dinner? Whole 'nuther story.

czar said...

Moi: In the ridiculous nomenclature of the times, I should have responded, "Sorry, I don't have the bandwidth to deal with that right now."

Aunty Belle said...

the rub heah is the lack of appreciation for the work of the copy editor. shall I recount the times I'se WISH'T that the book had a better indexer?

But--I'se in need of enlightenment--what is a good reason to number pages thisaway?

czar said...

Aunty: I'm not sure I can explain this in a manner that makes sense. For the same reason, a guy I know who used to work at this company would tell people he was a fireman. Saved him the tedium of trying to explain what his work actually entailed. Everyone knows what a fireman does.

This company produces textbooks and standardized tests based on those textbooks. Tens of thousands of people worldwide take these tests annually. The number used to be in the 6 digits. I'm not sure it is anymore. For what it's worth, this company was once audited by whatever board assesses the reliability and validity of standardized tests. The bottom line? This company did it better than did the College Board and the SATs.

The tests must be written well in advance of the textbook's actual appearance, for obvious reasons. An industry review panel must vet the questions and answers to make sure they are fair, accurate, up to date, and so on. Supplementary information (study guides, e.g.) are also created based on the text.

All these ancillary materials need page references to the text for the students' knowledge and also for internal reasons. It's quite possible that the textbook might be finished after all the rest of these materials.

So, imagine a case where you have tests and other materials written, and for some reason a table on page 32 of a 300-page textbook must come out, necessitating a reflow of the entire text. You're left with 268 pages of perhaps wrongly cross-referenced pages.

Thus, the move to numbering by chapter and page. Prophylactic damage control. You'd only have to renumber that chapter, not the whole book.

Yes, it will be a minor pain to type those extra keystrokes, but that's OK. It's a very good client, the work is comparatively easy, and the company is near and dear to my heart -- for a wide variety of reasons -- even if it occasionally drives me crazy.