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, December 10, 2014

Bad Timing

Partially it's my own fault. Whether it's the eight-day workweek or using up all the time my deadlines allow, I find that the most crucial questions that would allow me to proceed safely with a job come at times when it's least likely I'm going to get an answer.

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.


moi said...

Reflowing text is Satan. It messes with everything in the known universe and then some. So, what did they end up doing? And WTF didn't they have you CE the book to begin with? Or is it one or the other?

czar said...

I was assured that the text reflow is not my problem, that the author knows he needs to rewrite to fit, and I just indexed the rest of the book. He loved the index.

And, oh, for this particular press, I didn't pass their copyediting test some years back (I thought I nailed it), so now I just take solace in tearing the living shit out of every book they send me for proofing and indexing. The czarina suggested that, maybe given my history now with the press, I should ask them to reconsider me as a copyeditor. To hell with 'em.

moi said...

But how can you write an accurate index if the text is reflowed? Maybe it's because my math skills get weaker by the decade, but this does not compute.

As for the CE test, what, was it written by martians? Or Brits? That sucks.

However, schadenfreude does have its rewards.

czar said...

Text will not reflow because in making his corrections, the author must ensure it. If there's any slight reflow, the managing editor can tweak the index.