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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Torture and Bafflement

One of the most distasteful jobs that ever comes my way is updating someone else's index of an existing book. Typically, the second or another subsequent edition of a book is appearing, and the last few chapters are updated or revised. Rather than redoing the index when the press is picking up the first 280 pages of the book, the press has a shmuck like me index the last 50 pages.

In other words, I have to match the existing index style, regardless, so that the index appears as a consistent whole. At least, I think that's the appropriate approach.

I am working on a history of South Africa. The existing index has virtually no subentries for people, only for organizations. (Needless to say, this is not a LandonDemand product.) Nelson Mandela rates a grand total of four (4) subentries. Four. Four. This is a history of South Africa.

"Sheep" gets three subentries.

I'm supposed to follow this up? It's like being paid not to produce, but I still have to produce.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Nice Note from a Not-Easy-to-Please Book Designer

Thanks for the great work. Hopefully your client-base will recognize these efforts. This organization distinguishes you from the garden-variety "book reader" wannabe editors.

The "organization" to which he's referring is the use of XML style sheets. Easy to do, and book designers / typesetters love it when it's done right. It's the ever-so-rare equivalent of, as a copyeditor, getting a writer who actually knows how to punctuate. Makes life easier and projects go much more quickly.

That these labors were expended on a self-published romance novel . . . well, underlying my long-standing corporate motto, the check deposits just the same.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Going Which Hunting

Moi lamented to me recently about a book she was reading off the clock that was chock-full of "which"s that should have been "that"s. I am at the end of a 500-something-page copyediting job that was much the same. Probably 300 of them in there, and only a handful needed the comma before "which" instead.

(Entry title courtesy of Fowler, Modern English Usage, a required text for us in senior year of high school. I think we used the 1897 edition; four pages devoted to "which" and "that.")

Fowler (not an endorsement of the seller)

Interesting project, though, from two perspectives, neither of which deal with the quality of the text, unfortunately:

1. This is the first of 18 volumes by this author, translated and reprinted from one of those romance languages, that the publisher will be doing over the next decade or so. It's a name that you'd know if you followed twentieth-century theology, I think. I'd call that an annuity. I'm presuming I'll be copyediting all of them.

2. Given that this volume -- actually a reprint of three books in one volume -- has been published numerous times before, in different languages . . . and probably in English before, but this is based on a translation . . . I'm copyediting with a rather light touch. The last situation I would want to create is, "Such-and-so maintained this bit of jargon until the 2014 XZX Books version, in which he wrote. . . ." I mean, how do I know? They sent along the original-language edition, but that's not going to help much.

* * *

A website developer told me that Google eventually moves you out of its rotation if the posting becomes infrequent. Sure enough, this blog is no longer getting hits when people search "editing" or "proofreading" or "indexing." So I might begin to post more . . . and actually back to on-topic stuff. I've probably said that before, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recommended Reading: Helpful Definitions for Modern Authors

If you're not up to your free limit on New York Times views and you want a glimpse into the contemporary publishing world, have a gander:


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Now That’s What I Call Progress

In examining medicine, one sees the impact of developmen­tal thinking not only in the planned obsolescence of medical technology, essential to the process of commodification, but also in influential analytic constructs such as the health transition mod­el. In this view, societies as they develop are making their way toward that great transition, when deaths will no longer be caused by infections such as tuberculosis but will occur much later and be caused by heart disease and cancer.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Quote for My Next Business Card

In 1876, a Southington man wrote to Hawley for assistance “about that monument business,” hoping to make a monument in Hartford’s Bushnell Park for the Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Connecticut Regiments, and the First Connecticut Light Battery. He made clear to the experienced Hawley: “I am not much on art and such things, but I have an immense capacity for drudgery, and for any of that which is involved please command me.”

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reemergence Under Way

Exactly where it belongs, the first almost entirely correct usage of "underway" as one word that I have seen in this lifetime of "So, are you still doing whatever you do?"

Neither Case nor Parker recorded his unvarnished opinion of the U.S. Navy’s first week of fleet maneuvers, but surely each hoped for a better showing during the second week of exercises. After a long weekend at anchor in “Florida Bay,” the fleet went to sea again on 11 February. Initially, events did not go smoothly. Case had to withdraw one warship from the exercises after a boiler failure, and Parker found the underway evolution rather disorderly.

Hell, that even might be correct. The floor is open for discussion, and I'm open for business here again; we may doze, but we never close. A few folks have lamented to me about my blogular dormancy; then I saw the sentences above. As a friend and reader said, "Don't you have anything to rant about?" Always.

Very busy, on some large projects you will never know exist. Trust me. That's why I think there's always room in this business for people of a certain twisted expertise or skill and a good work ethic . . . because there are plenty of areas and projects and fields that I don't know exist and someone is editing there, too -- unless every area except the ones I work in has writers who know how to follow a style manual and write clearly. In copyediting, proofreading, and indexing, the "subject matter expertise" is the skill itself; the subject is secondary.

I've referred some editors and indexers I know lately to other publishers, which means that publishers are offering me work -- or work without enough lead time -- that I can't take on. It's a good thing all around. And it means that even publishers committed to their current freelancer list are, at some point, always looking for other freelancers.

(I won't discount the notion that having experience or contacts helps, if you're out there looking for work.)

My lack of blogging mostly stems from the aforesaid busyness, to which I now must reattend.

Nothing happening on the press front, by the way, and I need to change that. Anyone with any pointers on how to overcome fear of new adventure?

Has it really been almost three months? Damn.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Laying the Groundwork for Changes to Come

A Linked-In recommendation from an author for whom I've edited four or five books:

"Bob Land is the best editor an inexperienced author can become associated with because of his expertise and honesty.  Everything I've written he has edited and he is the easiest professional to work with I've ever known.

"He is simply the best!" 

Not, dear readers, that I'm trying to toot my own horn excessively -- although this is basically ad space (thanks, Google) -- but inexperienced authors should take note. More possibilities to become experienced authors, with a little assistance, coming soon to a webspace near you.

And if you're a clergyperson, start listening for some still small voices.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vietnam Labyrinth from Texas Tech UP

It’s not often I shill for my publishers (and especially authors), but it’s not often I receive an email like this:

Bob: Just want to let you know that I've set up a Facebook page for Vietnam Labyrinth--& one of 1st items I posted was a “thank you” to you & Richard Comfort, who also worked with me on the book. Both of your contributions were significant, & I wanted to acknowledge that, especially since each of you seemed to take special interest in the project, a personal involvement, if you will. I was very touched by your comment that Labyrinth was one of the 2011 books that you were proud to have worked on; meant a lot, coming from a pro like you.

Thanks again for helping make 25 years of effort a reality!

If you want an amazing history of the Vietnam War from about as inside a perspective as you can get from the Vietnamese side, this is the book.

And if you find any copyediting mistakes, keep ’em to yourself.

Friday, March 22, 2013

apologies: word verification enabled on comments

Sorry, folks. It's gotten out of control. Not like I've got a legion of followers anyway. I need to keep this place tidy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Even Bother? Style Sheet Wars

Contra many earlier posts, I'm becoming a fan of style sheets -- good ones, that is. I've actually even created a few lately.

What I don't like, but which seems increasingly common, are copyeditors who, presumably from force of habit, start off a style sheet saying that they've followed Chicago 16 and Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate, but the words listed on the style sheet and the text itself show little desire to actually enforce what those two volumes suggest.



On the eye front, had the last exam yesterday, except for the six-month follow-up. Received a new prescription and went straight to the local mall optical store. For the first time in my life, I had glasses made in one hour.

Not enough of a treat?

Once the glasses were made and slapped on my face, the gent handed me a little card to read. At about an arm's distance, I read the bottom lines on the page.

He said, "That's 20/15."

Of course, anything less than arm's length, I'm still a little fuzzy -- not that I'm complaining. He did say that my vision might still improve a little more as everything begins to come together.

What's hard -- almost painful -- is bright sunshine. The ophthalmologist said that's not surprising once the cataracts are gone. It's like walking out of a dark closet. Just need time to adjust.

Anyway, back to work.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Little Music While You Wait

We might be here awhile.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Proud Papa

Yes, that would be my son on the left, in the role of The Mute.

Equity show at a very well-regarded theatre.

Pinch me.

Florida Repertory Theatre: "The Fantasticks"

The Fantasticks by Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

End of an Era

In about 52 minutes, I'll be signing in at the doctor's office to begin the quick procedure of replacing the lens of my left eye.

When the gauze comes off tomorrow, if past history is any indication of future results, I should have 20/20 vision in both eyes. Unassisted. For the first time in my life. My fixed right eye sees so much more than my left, glasses-corrected eye, it's silly.

Then this blog will stop this Twitter feed approach and maybe get back to talking about editing 'n' stuff.

Having said that, I just found out that the clan is considering a complete family Bonnaroo experience in June. Lineup was announced yesterday. I'm told it's killer.

Bonnaroo. No sweat on the glasses. Being able to see from far back. Yowza.

Whole new world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Haiku Monday: Getting Down to Business

All: Apologies for the apparently less than inspirational or motivational prompt. Thanks for participating. All entries were thoughtful and appreciated.

Show: Moi

Creed: Hands off. Ask first. No one’s
business but our own.

The combination of type and image helped, which is one reason for the mention and the reason for the centered type here. Posted under the image, "Libertarian" came across more like a caption or pronouncement on its own rather than as an adjective for "creed," thus leaving the last two lines standalone. Nifty.

PS: No matter what I do, I can't change the highlight behind this verse, even if I retype it. Moi, you are a wizard.

Place: Foam

Unencumbered greed stampede.
So screw Black Friday.

Those first twelve syllables are just killer.

Win: Becca

jumping, giggling 
Laughter runs wild through the house 
Monkey business fun

Yes, Becca, it wasn't your finest. And the dictionary shows "giggling" as two syllables, but does anyone here really pronounce it that way? I don't. 

I like the lowercase start-off -- intentional or not -- which separates the action of the presumably youthful actors from the more mature observation of the last two lines. The anthropomorphism of "laughter run[ning]" is wonderful. "Monkey business" offered a creative use of the prompt word and managed to tug a subliminal Marxist heartstring (see the previous exchange with Karl) on this end.

Hmm. I wonder if in spite of Becca's image (not referenced in her posting and thus noncanonical [you can tell where my head's been]), this haiku might actually have been a subversive, collective-unconscious Marx Brothers homage?

The business of childhood is fun. The business of the Brothers Marx was laughter and running wild. Our winning haikuist managed to cover both. In literature, it's not the words that are being read, but the reader, right? Some school of thought holds such.

Becca: You've got an extra bit of business on your plate next week. Enjoy.

Thanks, all.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Haiku Monday: Like Nobody's

Thanks, Karl, for the handoff. I have to write fast because I have, of all things, an employee coming shortly.

Who I really need working for me is someone like this:

But, alas, some Baptist pastor has thrown in her lot with Land on Demand -- yes, "her" and "Baptist pastor." And it's not exactly Land on Demand, perhaps, entirely, in the long run. And while she's probably tough in her own way, she's no Reid Fleming.

Some changes goin' on.

After the last few days mulling over the pros and cons of two excellent HM prompts, an entirely different one just popped into my head based on current events -- those current events being that as of about 5 this morning, I'm now officially running a new enterprise, with an LLC and an EIN and everything. Website development began last month, logos being designed, copy being written, ad strategies, bank account. All new concepts for me, but in pretty familiar territory.

I'm starting a publishing house, sort of a different kind of home for authors who want to self-publish. Let's just say that now folks can buy it wholesale.

This week's topic, I don't think covered before, is business. Whatever that word inspires is fine. 5-7-5. Submit whatever you like in the comments section below; indicate two for judging. Audiovisual addenda be fine.

I just heard from a publisher in upstate NY that she's going home because of a snowstorm. Ah, another deadline diverted. Even so, I gotta head back down to the dungeon. Need to get that Protestant work ethic thing going.

And as Reid Fleming says, "Tell your friends."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Another Set of Eyes, Part 2

I felt like writing the first part; the follow-up, not so much.

After a king-hell panic attack on the morning of the ophthalmologist's appointment (like, let's get him to the doctor and find out why he's acting like he's got the DTs), I finally managed to make it to the ophthalmologist's another day.

Long story short: cataract in the right eye, about 75 percent developed -- taking my otherwise sterling -14.25 vision to something closer to -22, and uncorrectable.

Cataract in the left eye, getting started, enough to justify replacement of both lenses -- the ones that fit in my head.

After a literal lifetime of blurry vision, and 47 years of a foreign object on my face, I go into the doctor this week for the first of two surgeries to restore my sight to a place it's never been . . . fingers crossed.

And the new "another set of eyes" -- courtesy of some biomedical lab somewhere -- should get a good spin around the block rather quickly. February and March are already crazy.


I didn't mean to cut it that short. I'm not wanting to jinx anything, but it's obviously on my mind. And I don't want to talk too much. I fear the czarina was over it long ago.

I've begun to wonder what "blind" really means. I always presumed "darkness." But someone with two eyes of the current condition of my right eye could not live without assistance -- yet could "see" a whole range of things. As some guy I spoke to locally said a few months back, even before I knew about the recent developments, "People who don't see like we do don't understand that, for them, a speck of light in a dark room is a speck, but for us, it's a big glow." Exactly right, and I never thought of it that way.

Just like with, uh, Rush Limbaugh, who did his show while "deaf" for three months. I can't imagine that "deaf" in that case meant "entirely without receiving any sound." If it was, that's a hell of an accomplishment -- and I don't understand it. (Then again, I don't understand radio.)

Time for Dr. Frankenstein to replace a few bolts.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another Set of Eyes, Part 1

It’s not a cliché as much as a commonsense statement that might spill out of anyone’s mouth: “This document needs another set of eyes.” That’s what I’ve been doing, one way or the other, for most of my life: serving as someone’s other set of eyes. Publishers are people, too, my friend.

“Another set of eyes” is shorthand for “I’m so tired of this document that I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’ve long lost any perspective on it, and I’m certain that I can’t uncover any remaining errors or improve it any further.”

When those eyes are in the head of a professional copyeditor or proofreader, people and publishers are willing to pay for renting them for a little while. Obviously they are — or you can make a dinner reservation for me at the Salvation Army Bistro.

But when that other set of eyes happens to be mine, things get a little tricky.

I was reading at age three. My great-aunt Etta Kaganov, a New York City schoolteacher back in the 1940s–1980s, told her principal that her three-year-old grandnephew was reading the New York Times. I think that when the principal disputed it, I was hauled in to prove it.

[My father said a few weeks ago I was probably just reading headlines. I’ll bet Aunt Ettie would beg to differ.]

Apparently I was a smart child. From the Jewish Community Center on Staten Island where I went to nursery school in the early 1960s, some way misinformed person thought it might be a good idea if I skipped kindergarten and first grade and went straight on to second grade.

Sure, that’d be a good idea in the long run. Put an already-too-shy five-year-old in with second graders. Add about seven years to get into the dating years, and watch the serious emotional damage really take hold.


Thankfully I didn’t make the jump to second grade. However, my folks did send me somewhere other than kindergarten for a day or so (maybe to be tested at the school I would be attending?), and the report came back: Is something wrong? The kid’s an idiot. He doesn’t belong here.

Hmmm. Let’s check his eyesight. Maybe he can’t see the blackboard.

Ya think?

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five years old. I ended up in first grade, still a year younger than my classmates. It was the first step in how I ended up graduating college at age 20 — not because I was a great student (I wasn't, by any means — after fifth grade, anyway), but  more out of a desire to get to work and get the hell out of school.

When I was a teenager, optometrists said, “Your eyes will stop getting worse when you’re around 18.” I’m almost 53. Hasn’t happened yet. My prescription even impresses optometrists.

Bottom line: My only set of eyes (everyone else’s other) has sucked for years. They’ve always been pretty much correctable, though, as long as I didn’t mind inch-thick lenses, and I didn’t. (Yes, I measured. And this isn’t male enhancement.) Contacts never worked for me — first because the hard ones were too painful in the mid-1970s, and when I tried them again about six years ago, they ultimately didn’t give me the correction I needed.

I’ve said for years that my right eye wasn’t correcting as well as my left. No one listened.

In October, I went in for an eye exam because I realized that my right eye was no longer in focus, even with glasses. Like, not even close. With my glasses on, I need to be two inches away from the computer screen to read with my right eye only.

I’m at the optometrist, and we’re doing the usual “Is it better now . . . or now? 1 . . . or 2? 3 . . . or 4? 5 . . . or 6?” If you have glasses or contacts, you know the drill. But this time — after 47 years — with the right eye, nothing is better.


Think of how I make my living. Think of how a professional pianist might feel if she was losing the ability to move her fingers.

I peered around the device and asked the optometrist, “Can you please tell me what the hell is going on here?”

She reveals nothing and does a few more tests, which only exacerbate my dread.

“I’m going to recommend you for a cataract evaluation.”

To be continued . . .