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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
The clock says 1:40am, about the same time it was three or four days ago when I discovered paragraphs repeating pages apart and the FUBAR situation known as "indexing implications."
Same thing happening now. Is it Groundhog Day? Four places in the book where paragraphs repeat. And in this case, there's no "near the end of the chapter" possibility that could pull this author's butt out of the sling. For some reason, he wrote this book -- some pneumatological ruminations -- in diary form. I have no idea why. The diary begins around April 2 and ends around November 29. I have no idea why. Is that average "normal time" in the Christian lectionary? Frankly, I don't care.
So the book has no chapters. The "diary entries" run in one after the other. I was wondering when I opened the PDF why this usually sensible press was publishing a book with no table of contents. Now I know. And I also know that it's now 1:46am on a Sunday morning, and while this managing editor might check her office email later today, there's not a damn thing she can do about it either. I have to presume in a book of this relative brevity the repetition is intentional. This author has, according to Amazon, eight books to his credit. I'm proceeding full speed ahead with the index. Let Rev. Smartypants substitute some text.
I mean, this happens so rarely -- so twice in four days is by any standard appalling. By the time I see these books, they've been vetted in-house (one hopes), copyedited (one hopes), and maybe even proofread while I'm doing the index. They may have even been through a stage or two of page proofs. No one notices? Admittedly Land on Demand has some screwy methods of operation, but certain benefits accrue to sitting down with a project and trying not to move my ample white butt until the thing is finished. At least I can remember what happens 30 pages apart.
Time to fix a cup of coffee. Presuming no other freakouts, I should have this wrapped up by dawn. Oh, for some career alternatives. Or a winning lottery ticket. I'd take the latter and probably still proofread. No stress. Read a book, point out mistakes, and send it back. Life used to be simple, not that I remember it.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
One of my ongoing fears deals with a managing editor who's become a dear friend -- and who is actually one of the folks who admits to reading these little jottings. Since he knows my MO, I occasionally expect him to slip a note buried about two-thirds into a job that reads, "Bob, no matter what time of day or night, call me and leave me a message when you read this note." And it would be 3:30 in the morning the day the job is due, and the response to the message would have some essential information for going forward. Or he'd just want to bust my chops for leaving his work for the last minute.
But he's not alone, not that it should provide him with any solace.
Another common occurrence is that I'll have a more or less regular week going, then pick up a manuscript at 5:10pm on Friday that clearly has some fatal flaw 10 pages into it. Of course by that point, most normal people -- as a good friend once called them, "saps with a day job" -- have gone home, not to check back into their daily grind until Monday. Actually, my friend above, while far from a sap, is one of those who actually has a life outside the office. If one of these jobs ever came from his desk, I knew I'd just be better off putting it away until Monday morning.
I was indexing a book on the graveyard shift last night, and the book started presenting with difficulties. Paragraphs repeating from one chapter to another. Sentences repeating within a paragraph. All kinds of copyediting miscues that I'd have cleaned up or queried as a proofreader, but as an indexer aren't necessary my responsibility.
However, paragraphs repeating is a legitimate big deal at this stage, because you can't just take out two paragraphs on page four of a 40-page chapter halfway into a book. That results in the rather moderately phrased SNAFU known as "indexing implications."
Note to all you newcomers to publishing. If you're dealing with a book in production, and something comes up that has "indexing implications," it generally ain't a pretty sight. Either pages need to be reflowed if text comes out, or the author needs to submit new text to fill the same space -- in which case the indexer might proceed with his work, but the managing editor has to write index entries, not to mention re-proof those pages, when the new copy is set.
Here's the thing, though. If Land on Demand had its proverbial fecal matter together, I wouldn't be doing this job on the graveyard shift the day it's due (actually, gulp, the day after I told the author I'd have the index). I'd be doing it a few weeks before, giving the author and the press time to come up with solutions and maybe even tell me to stop work and await a new set of page proofs from that point forward. That's no fun either. Picking up writing an index after a forced break must, it seems to me, be part of one of Dante's levels of hell. I typically can't remember what book I invoiced two days ago, much less remember the entries and subentries I've started setting up a week or two ago.
Interesting book, though. I remember a few years ago hearing that someone had discovered that his VCR or DVR had what seemed to be a miniature camera facing out of it. I'd always thought that such a claim could only come from someone who'd just returned from a visit to the tinfoil hat store. Turns out that Samsung has admitted that some of their later-model TVs indeed were outfitted with cameras and microphones that could be activated remotely -- and that a watchdog group had cautioned about positioning such units facing your bed.
This public service announcement brought to you by the Luddites local union 23. Don't stay tuned.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Of course, only about half of the authors have paid any attention to either, leaving me to transform the documents into styles with which I am generally unfamiliar. MLA is OK, but it usually takes me to the end of the book to really get in the groove. On four short pieces, that groove is hard to find. And transforming 30 footnotes from Chicago style to MLA cites and a Works Cited listing takes about five times longer than it should.
Why can't anything be easy? As another editor and I were commiserating some weeks back, it's hard to believe that some people are paid the same to copyedit young adult fiction as we get to massage square scholarly tomes into artificially round holes.
To make matters worse, I was paid for this job about a year ago (strange circumstances), making this feel way too much like work. I ate the carrot at the end of this stick long, long ago. Tasted good at the time.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
A shift in my chemical regimen (for the better [I guess], I should report) has left me with the most uncomfortable side effect of remembering my dreams. It's not that I mind dreaming per se, but my dreamworld usually renders experiences that, as Ignatius J. Reilly said, "[leave] me bruised and muttering." I have a friend who's a recovering alcoholic who reports such a horrid barrage of images each night that he usually has to go for a walk with a cigarette and a cup of coffee just to shake it off. I know the feeling.
Last night offered a few moments of bliss. I slipped into sleep while sitting up on a sofa and trying to finish off the last 20 pages of a manuscript about Muslims in US prisons (yet another barn burner from the desk of Land on Demand). Across the room is the television that I never turn on.
All of a sudden I'm dreaming about seeing Lou Reed and John Cale in concert, except they are playing Cale's songs from his solo career. Reed would start out on the guitar and then push the microphone over to Cale behind the piano for a song like "Fear" or "Guts." This never happened in real life, as their reunions were either doing Velvets material or Songs for Drella, their Andy Warhol tribute. So to hear the boys performing from the Cale songbook is something I'd never hear in conscious life.
The strange thing is that I was watching this concert right where I was, in the seat on the sofa and on the TV in front of me.
I mentioned this to my wife this morning, and she had a bizarre thought: "Do you think Cale might have died?" I am happy for many reasons that today's news didn't present that report. The garbage coming out of my hometown of Staten Island is bad enough.
So after finishing the manuscript a few hours later I actually go up to bed and lay down long enough to have a dream that involved me all of a sudden being on deadline to proofread my 1977 high school yearbook -- like, my 54-year-old self, today. Doesn't my unconscious remember that I worked on the newspaper and not the yearbook?
Prompting thoughts on two pictures and the best email I received this year, work division:
That would be the Verrazano-Narrows bridge (as the truckers call it, the Guinea Gateway), looking toward Brooklyn. That little tower atop of brick edifice you see off to the right of the bridge would be the school where I spent the years 1969 to 1977. Poly Prep. If you search "Poly Prep sex scandal," you'll find a world of pain and bad times that were in full throttle during my years there, a revelation that only came about recently. This photo accompanied an AP story yesterday about the outsider borough of Staten Island. Why they presented an image of that bridge facing Brooklyn, I have no idea.
I was working on an index for an author in Israel, and when his name came up attached to a Lou Reed homage, I sent him this picture. His response:
"Nuff said that I'm thanking the gods and [the press's managing editor] for introducing me to you, sure. But how did you and your wife come to be in a room with a warped acoustic ceiling and John-fncking-Cale?"
Ah, authors. I occasionally love 'em.
Friday, December 5, 2014
My wife and I were at a party this evening -- the annual holiday party following the board meeting of the regional theatre where my wife works. A woman who has known me for probably eight or ten years asks, "So, are you still editing?"
This woman is not unintelligent. For that matter, when she worked for the theatre, she used my services. She was directly involved when I copyedited, proofread, and indexed the self-published book the theatre put out about the theatre's founder.
Why people ask me if I'm still editing is a mystery. Has anyone since I was 24 years old ever known me to do anything else? (Throw in proofreading, and you can back that number up to 20.) Have I ever exhibited any other marketable skill? Can I build anything, design anything, fix anything, sell anything, create anything, or perform anything?
In order, the answers are no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.
Is editing a way station, a hobby, a disreputable pursuit, or a stage in life?
Um . . . no, no, no, and no.
I think I once responded to an MD who asked me this question, "Are you still a doctor?"
Drives me nuts.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
2. The (gut) punch line:
Monday, December 1, 2014
Friday, November 28, 2014
It's not one of my favorite gigs -- not that I mind the work so much, but it's not particularly remunerative and it's one of those jobs like the post office: it never stops. Unlike a book project, which like the book itself has a beginning, middle, and an end, this gig's like the US Mail. There's always more of it, and the production line never ceases. "Going postal" is a term that comes by itself honestly.
My job is primarily to review the work of copyeditors on very specific 400- to 500-word articles with such scintillating titles as "How to Become a Butler," the actual title I'm reviewing now. In the comments back and forth between writer and editor, the writer offers, "Butling (one t) seems to be the predominant spelling."
"Predominant" for whom, you might ask. "Damn if I know" would be my answer.
Merriam-Webster's (MW) does not recognize "butler" as anything but a noun, and "butling" is not a mentioned alternative form. MW also doesn't recognize "butle" as a verb.
Step 2: Because this august client uses AP, and AP uses Webster's New World College Dictionary (NWCD), I go there. Indeed "butle" appears as a verb:
Well, that's just freaking dandy. "Butling." (By the way, Oxford Dictionaries [OD], which you'd suspect would have something to say about "butlering," does recognize "buttle" and "buttling," but not "butle." OD also cites "buttle" as US usage, a statement about which I can find no evidence.)
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Thanks for the email.
Monday, October 20, 2014
An editor I work with says that he has a shelf full of dictionaries, and he can justify pretty much any usage he wants if he looks long enough.
But back to MW11 . . .
I looked up "discursive" in Merriam-Webster's because it's a word that I always think of when I'm actually trying to come up with something else -- a word that still eludes me -- so I want to make sure I'm using correctly whatever word I'm remembering or forgetting.
Here's Merriam-Webster's 11th on "discursive":
1a : moving from topic to topic without order : RAMBLING
1b : proceeding coherently from topic to topic
Ehh, maybe it's time to switch allegiances.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Merriam-Webster's 11th recognizes neither as a verb. Oxford gives "overview" a nod with some of their 1.9 million real English sentences.
I think it's just wrong.
Give a general review or summary of:
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Reinvigorate your writing by drawing on our vast bank of 1.9 million real English sentences.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
"The Google n-grams viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams) offers a view of the Google Books collection not as a set of texts, but as a set of word groups that can be filtered by time and language."
First search was interesting (it's 1:20am, I'm indexing, and free association or lack of too much creative brain power is kicking in):
Allen Ginsberg/William S. Burroughs/Hunter S. Thompson
I figured Ginsberg to be in the lead. Burroughs and Thompson at this point are neck and neck.
New York Mets/Georgia Republicans/peyote
The results were rewarding.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I posted a response under my alias on a Publishers' Weekly article today, and I received blowback from two people who said I really had no place calling other people's opinions into question.
For some of the critics at that neighborhood meeting, “It challenges the idea that people who are homeless are lazy or just aren’t working hard enough,” he said. And Seth was effusive in his praise of his homeless employee. “He’s an incredible guy. You would never know he was homeless. He used to be an editor for novels. . . .”
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
Two other people whose efforts have had a truly disproportionate effect on my life -- and which influence has played out in surprising ways -- are the subjects of the following article: The Fraught Friendship of T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx. An entertaining and highly enlightening read.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Well, stop the presses.
I'm proofreading this book, and I've queried the statement above to the managing editor. Hopefully the press changes the sentence before publication, because I'd sure hate -- six months down the road -- for someone to see this quote, search for its origin, and find the sentence on Google Books, thus revealing its author. Yeah, I'd just hate that.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Although an easily indexable book generally offers better compensation per hour than the other two tasks, unfortunately most of my clients don't dabble in easily indexable books.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
But I am able to experience God by experiencing myself as a you of God when I discover myself to be “His,” that is to say, when I feel that I am yours, the you of the I. I discover God not when I discover Him as a you (to whom I address myself), but as an I who addresses himself to me, and for whom my “ego” is His “you.” I am then a you of God.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Authors, take some notes.
When you're writing subheads within chapters, you'd be doing your readers -- and your indexer -- a great favor if the text of the subhead actually bore some resemblance to the content following it.
Some authors and publishers present an indexer's dream: accurately and concisely written subheads that from word one of the new section -- or at least beginning in the second paragraph -- address the stated topic. They are in the minority.
Many offer a page or so of introductory or transitional material before getting around to the topic.
The outliers, though, are the ones who drive me crazy. They'll take a phrase such as "Morality and Essential Freedoms" and not address essential freedoms by name for the next eight pages. Maybe the topic appears in the section summary.
I suspect this writing approach also leads to authors who feel that some subjects don't receive enough treatment in the index. I can hear it: "But, but, a whole section on morality and essential freedoms started on page 27 and ran for 10 pages."
Yeah, but you didn't get around to talking about it specifically until page 36. Not my problem, bub.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Well, sorta. It's an alternative for . . . supposititiously.
Frankly, I think English can do without either one.
And the context . . .
Other items in the book: Hilary [sic] Clinton, Ross [sic] Limbaugh, Mitch [sic] Romney. Not to mention zero command of en dashes and capitalization. Your basic train wreck.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
With the person reading aloud banging on the desk and making different guttural noises for varying types of punctuation, in the hands of a master, read-alouds can be rather entertaining.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The North Korean Chosun Central TV channel reported the results of a survey which confirmed that North Korea is the second “happiest” country in the world, beaten only by China. The other countries that round out the top five happiest list include Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, in that order. Perhaps not so shockingly, South Korea ranked near the bottom at 152, while the United States came in dead last out of the 203 countries “surveyed” (International Business Times 2011).
Monday, June 2, 2014
The only thing I can imagine is that the book is a revenue generator for reasons that have nothing to do with editorial style. The American Psychological Association publishes this monstrosity to drive people into the arms of the people whose careers the APA supports.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Not that the length of the chapter affects the index much, but I'd sure like to feel that I'm getting somewhere.
Monday, May 26, 2014
From Dictionary.com, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
From the current project:
Berkeley, CA, 1916:
Kem Weber designed another party, held at the Forkes’ house on Berryman Street in mid-May. It was “for the benefit of the German bazaar” for war-relief. The theme was a “baby ball.” All of the attendees, including a number of other Berkeley professors and the German consul and vice-consul, dressed as infants, in diapers, with little bonnets. Weber designed the program, invitations, many of the costumes, and the decorations, transforming the Forke home “into a giant nursery.”
Friday, March 28, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I've almost forgotten what it's like to index a book in a different language. Now I'm remembering how little fun it is:
This is what effectively makes sense perception an unsuccessful competitor to a micro-corpuscularian natural philosophy. What Malebranche had offered was a comprehensive vindication of the sole legitimacy of micro-corpuscularian explanation. If Malebranche were right, the phenomenal level could not possibly have any explanatory autonomy, and the realm of sensation had to be bypassed in favour of a theoretical and wholly reductionist natural philosophy if understanding was to be achieved.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
But my wife and I did go to the Westminster Dog Show this week -- the ultimate in low-stress entertainment -- and Pinter's No Man's Land and Beckett's Waiting for Godot in rep on Broadway last Saturday. (See website here.) As I mused to some friends beforehand, seems like anyone sitting through these two plays in one day deserves lollipops if they haven't started carving on their own wrists by the middle of act 2 of Godot. Great performances.
Our personal favorite in the Best of Show round. You can keep those goofy standard poodles. The corgi would have made us happy, too.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
From 1971 until Ashburn’s death, he was joined by Harry Kalas in the booth, where the two became best of friends and almost inseparable on road trips. During his speech at Ashburn’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, Kalas paid tribute to his colleague and friend of nearly 30 years in the most fitting way by acknowledging Ashburn’s professionalism as an astute broadcaster and his sense of humor as a regular person. Kalas said the following:
>> People ask me what it was like working with Richie. His Whiteness and I were together for 27 years, and it was such a joy. He not only brought to the booth baseball experience but also laughter. Whitey had a marvelous sense of humor. I remember doing games with him, and it would be getting late in the game, late in the evening, and Whitey would say on the air, “I wonder if the people at Celebres Pizza are listening tonight?” Well, within 15 minutes, bang, pizzas are delivered to the radio booth.
This went on for a while, and pretty soon the Phillies management summoned him and they said, “Richie, Celebres Pizza is not one of our sponsors. We can’t give them free plugs.” Now we do birthday and anniversary announcements on the air, so shortly after his meeting with the Philadelphia brass, it’s getting late in the evening and he’s getting hungry. He said, “Well, I have very special birthday wishes to send out tonight to the Celebres twins—Plain and Pepperoni.”
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Unfortunately, it's also of the genre that I occasionally think, I'm getting paid to read this?
Happens about once a year or two. A sports book. From an era I can relate to, early to mid-1960s. I'm more familiar with these names than I am with 95 percent of the All-Stars in any of the major sports in the last 20 years.
The book I worked on about Sandy Koufax many years ago was probably the last time I was paid to read the words "Harmon Killebrew."
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
L2, 1994, 7.2.1; typographical errors silently corrected
With friends like this one . . .
Saturday, January 11, 2014
UPDATE: I sent the note above to one of my other managing editors, who responded,
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
Tell your friends.
And the blog there has somewhat of a different czarist voice than any regular readers here may have come to expect. Let's just say that I'm hoping to attract by imitating folks I've not yet met.
Wish me luck. If you have any questions or know anyone you want to send my way, email me or direct them to the site.
I'm trying not to be too concerned about the 5,700 years of ancestors spinning in their graves -- a few in particular. They'll get over it. I hope.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Note to scholarly/academic and most other authors: Unless your book identifies itself as a work of fiction, you don't need to start paragraphs with "It is a fact that." Unless you've already given readers reason to feel that you are not quite grasping your own reality or your subject matter, we'll take for granted that you are, indeed, presenting facts.