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.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Editorial Headhunting: How Not to Do It . . . and a Statement on Our Times

Years ago, I landed on an editorial headhunters' list. I have no idea how. A few times a year, I receive an email wondering if I know anyone who would qualify for a particular position. 
  1. That person is never me.
  2. The jobs are always on-site, none of them within 300 miles of the Land on Demand Intergalactic HQ.
Today I received the following email. The rampant editorial errors usually don't appear in these emails, as another person at this firm usually sends them to me.

But ponder this: 80K, with no health insurance.


I hope all is well with you and best wishes for the holiday season.

I wanted to check with you regarding a position I'm recruiting for at the B2B training company Acme Education.  Acme Education provides how-to training to thousands of healthcare and scientific professionals nationwide.  The company needs a provien editorial leader to manage an existing group of editors and devleop and maximize the value and usability of Acme Education content.

The mission of the Managing Editor will be to assist AE's profiessional audence to be more successful and profitable by breaking down complex and confusing government, legal and regulatory requirements.  Then, with the hlp of industry experts, present the information in an easy-to-use, understandable format.

The ideal candidate has experience not just writing content, but producing how-to, usable information.  You'll be expected to stay at the forefront of government reguilatory changes,  manage a productive editorial team, and have the ability to identify and develop new products.

The compensation for this position is up to $80K salary contingent on past history.  No 401(K)).  No health benefits.

The full job description can be found on our site.

If you know anyone who would be a good candidate please let me know or have him or her contact me.

Thanks very much--I'm grateful for your help.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to Explain Capitalization Choices to Your Family

The notion expressed in the title might seem silly, except for the fact that my son and daughter-in-law are high school English teachers. Well, and consider the fact that my sons, certainly the one who has become a teacher, never came to me for a writing or editing question. My god, the only thing in life I can actually help them with . . .

The only pieces of writing I've seen of my younger son's were a paper or two my wife liberated from his apartment one time while staying there when he and our future D-I-L were out of town. The reports that always came from his teachers were that they wished he wrote more. He presented his ideas with such economy of language that, while answering the questions, his assignments rarely approached the word limit. Could be worse problems.

So, while walking down the streets of Denver, my daughter-in-law mentioned that she and a student were having trouble deciding on capitalization of a certain term or category of terms. I tried to explain not only the proper approach (AP and Chicago agree) but that they really didn't have to puzzle this crap out for themselves. While Grammar Girl is pretty neat, so's your old man, so to speak.

As are these resources. The list is cribbed from the AP Stylebook. Thanks in advance to AP, which has not granted permission to reprint, but which has also of late realized the value of the serial comma. Mirabile dictu.


AP Stylebook editors refer to the following resources to help guide style decisions. If you do not find your answer in the Stylebook, try checking one of these other sources. You can buy them for yourself using the links below.

First reference for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names:
Other references for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names:
For aircraft names:
For military ships:
For nonmilitary ships:
For railroads:
For federal government questions:
For non-U.S. government questions:
For religion questions:
Other references and writing guides consulted in the preparation of the AP Stylebook:

Blast from the Past

That headline is clever for reasons that I probably shouldn't detail here.

I am surprised to find in an online rendering—a free download, natch—of Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book that the name of an alias to which I have attached my own self for 40 years now does not appear. I am wondering from whence it came. Must be another work.

Production Editors and Expectations of Copyeditors

Correspondence sent recently to a managing editor

I'm not holding this against you, although you can hold against me the lateness of the project, because it's ultimately my fault. But please, never again tell me a project is in good shape unless you know it firsthand from reading it cover to cover—and if that is never destined to happen, that's perfectly fine by me. I'd just as soon go into a project blind as with wrong expectations, because it then messes up my schedule and the publisher's schedule when the assessment of the manuscript is incorrect. I've got literally seven different projects in various stages of completion, partially because this thing wasn't off my desk much sooner. Again, my fault entirely. I start feeling weird if I have two projects going simultaneously. And this one seems to get worse as it gets further; maybe it's just me.

Don't, however, cut this guy any slack. First-time published authors who aren't great writers and who construct a manuscript full of citations as if they're not familiar with the form shouldn't get to dictate how their manuscript appears with a publishing house of your stature. I don't care who this guy is. He should be happy y'all care enough to make him look better.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sample Queries for Offensive Content

From a social club's history, the first blurb is the massaged version of the original text; the italics are my response.

Freelancer's hint: Send correspondence like this in a separate email, so the recipient doesn't, hopefully, foul up and forward it to the client.

> “had worked as a volunteer tutor for the primarily Appalachian students at the community after-school center.”

I have severe problems with their use of “Appalachian” as a euphemism here, and for what, I’m not quite sure. The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Maine to Georgia and include a lot of highly gifted students, and a lot who live in poverty. If what they mean by “Appalachian” is poor white trash from Eastern Kentucky, they need to find another way to say it than they have.

> “To form a collective to promote educational, social, artistic, and literary growth, and work to meet to the city's best interests . . . ” Updated in 2018 to reflect more contemporary language, the current mission statement describes the group as “organized to enrich lives through philanthropy and education.”

I call complete bullshit: Should read, “Updated in 2018 to placate the conservative Christian Trumpsters among them so that they can disavow any need to live up to helping society or the arts one bit, except when it suits their purposes.”

> “They have seen a Torah up close and toured a museum with Jewish cultural artifacts.”

Well, bully for them. Do they just want to come right out and say they do not now, nor will they ever have Jewish members? Oh, [city named here] . . . full of German descendants . . . right. If they have a Jewish member, they’d do well to change this bit of content. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How to Market Your Editing Services at an Annual Convention

You can make it real easy by already having the following:
  • 35 years of experience
  • no need for additional but only replacement work
  • an exhibit hall full of present clients who can and will happily leave their perch and vouch for one's services 
Thankfully, I've accumulated the items on that list. Reports from AAR/SBL 2018 to follow (or will appear above, eventually).

One thing that occurred to me just now: That dopey English professor at UMass-Lowell who refused to pay me for an index a few years back and that dopey southern university press (link most intentional*) that agreed he was an @hole of an author but refused to stand behind me wash far in the background when I'm meeting face-to-face with world-class theologians and publishers who are genuinely happy to speak with me and who value my work -- and who lament my (mostly) getting out of indexing.

So many nice people. And coming from where I live, being in a gathering of thousands of scholars, none of whom appear to be morbidly obese or emaciated and meth-driven, was joyous. From the time I left Tri-Cities, TN, airport on Friday morning -- traveling through the ATL airport, 2.5 days in downtown Denver, coming back -- I did not see a single morbidly obese person until returning to the gate for the return flight to Tri-Cities. A woman in her mid- to late 20s, and a two-seater.

* LSU Press notwithstanding. Tennessee also.

News Report

I remain news-free. Twelve days. A lot of people still are moving and smiling, and not just the crazy ones. And I feel a lot better.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sample Response to Author for Indexing Query

Just sent this letter to an author looking for an indexer. I'd asked for a few sample manuscript chapters since the pages weren't ready yet. I'm also printing it here so that I can use it as boilerplate, not that I'll remember it. I'm so geeked up about going to Denver tomorrow, I'm still working on what should have been finished seven hours ago. Gonna be the usual long night before travel. "Live and don't learn, that's us" (Watterson). I wonder if AAR has ever done a Calvin and Hobbes session. The question should be, "How many?"

Thanks very much, J——. Even though I'm a known quantity to —— Press, I understand their and your stance perfectly.

As far as the prospectus, my first reaction as an indexer is, If I had this before starting any book, my life would be immeasurably easier. I'm just sitting here shaking my head at the thought. I might ask authors or presses for it in the future, and if that's the case, I've gotten my money's worth out of this correspondence already. 

All that notwithstanding, your material has made it with room to spare under my psychic limbo bar. If the job were to come my way and came with the usual 6x9" or 6x9.25" trim size, the rate would be $5 per indexable page, which is generally from the first page of the introduction through the end of the last chapter, inclusive. Add on to that pages for any indexable front matter (maybe a preface, not foreword or acknowledgments) and back matter (notes, not bibliography or appendices [except in the most general of fashion]). For a book around 90K words, maybe 230 pages or so? Of that, usually about 210-15 would be indexable.

So if it's the usual academic trim size, entirely depending on the final page count of indexable material, probably in the $1075 range, give or take. If you're associated with an institution that might be paying for the work, I'd ask to start any necessary payment paperwork (registering as a vendor, submitting a W9) at the beginning of the job. I've found that being a first-time payee can take an inordinately long time, and I like to grease the skids. If paying on your own, I accept checks or—for the more adventuresome or 21st-century, which isn't me—PayPal.

Let me know whatever you decide. I'd like to work with you and will add you to my schedule if that's your call.


And if you're wondering about that rather formal head, I'm putting some knowledge to work

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bob Land Better Stay Offa My Lawn

Pastors get no slack.

Bob Land Gets It Wrong

The Exigencies of Morality

We have a friend staying with us for a few days. She needed a new cord for her iPhone charger. I was going up to Le Petit Office Depot (it's Bristol, baby) to drop off something for FedEx Ground, and she came into the store to look for cords. Of course, they were about twice as expensive as she was expecting . . . and Sam Walton's baby was right across the street.

So, naturally, we drive over to Walmart. Our friend has never entered a Walmart. So our friend maintains her illusion of cleanliness and I go in and buy the cord for her. Good thing I went in, though, because in my essential 1974 way, I needed a longer handset cord for my landline phone anyway—because without extenders, rerouters, and physical contortion, my 2017 cell phone barely gets service thirty feet from the wireless router in my home because of brick walls built almost ninety years ago.

Never See This Cited Too Much Either

Now, I wonder what would happen if an LGBTQIA individual went up to, say, the folks at Oakland Avenue Baptist Church of Johnson City, TN, who want to "Make Sunday School Great Again," and brandished this verse:

King James Bible, Matthew 19:12
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Not Often Heard from the Pulpit

Deuteronomy 25:11–12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Changing the Joint Up

I could just turn space into the equivalent of a Twitter feed, with a 280-thought limit. That gets the diversion monkey off my back and feeds the content monkey at the same time. Hell, if I tripled my readership, I could hit double digits.


In advance of said convention, though, I did an incognito search for Bob Land edits (with no quotes). I was pleased with the result, especially with what I am learning about SEO from what in some ways is my best "client."

I was hesitant to put this blog URL on a business card, mostly because every other time I have purchased the usual allotment of 500 cards, something happens to cause them to go out of date after I've distributed about 40 of them—and I never know when the blog might go dormant for another nine months or I just want to pull the plug on the whole thing.

This time, I kept the business card to the essentials, and I left off indexing: name, d/b/a (unofficial), services, email, phone number. And, lordy, the folks running the Minuteman Press on the Tennessee side are a window into the local culture. Cash and checks only. Woman who runs the place gives you a look that pierces right through your eyes to the back of your head, while chortling in a manner than only four-pack-a-day smokers can do. Her husband, I presume, has big ol' muttonchops and some other beardy thing going on. And a grandkid or two and a beagle. I walked in there about 4.10p on Monday, and I think I caught them as they were getting ready to leave, well in advance of closing time at 5p.

Editing Tips

This blog provides editing tips in a more, eh, anecdotal manner. Over the years, though, I've printed more than enough pieces of sample correspondence to use if you want to establish with people you barely know that you're a seething malcontent.

Proofreading Tips

(1) Pick up a copy of Highlights for Children. Go to the page to find differences between the two images. Find them all. (2) When venturing to impress an object of sexual desire, pointing out errors on menus only goes so far.

Indexing Tips

Run. Now.

The Kind of Stuff That Blows the Top of One's Head Off

"As Paul suggests, the manner in which everyone will be resurrected is patterned after the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is recognized by his wounds, then should we not imagine that the resurrection of everyone else will similarly preserve premortem marks, and by extension, all kinds of infirmities?"


Today I Give Thanks

For a client that admittedly has given me some fits in the past. It's a university with a crucial piece of punctuation named after it.

How nice of them to think that I could copyedit a book of Sanskrit linguistics. And how nice of them, after I saw their feedback on my sample chapter, to thank me for telling them that this one was way out of my wheelhouse, and please find someone else to do it.

Fifty-eight years old and admitting limitations. Damn, what a concept.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

This Just In

Study Finds Only 20 Percent of Seminary Graduates Go on to Become God


Going to Denver, AAR-SBL 2018, this weekend. 

I was in contact with the folks at one of my publishers today about the confab, one of whom has started his own press that I’m also working for, and he offered to give me a badge for the conference. Just call him when I got there. 

So, no housing costs (staying with son and daughter-in-law, one mile from convention), no registration, and my wife remembered we had points on some card that got me enough airfare to fly out there. She says I was meant to go. I wonder if she’ll keep that thought in mind if I get run over by a bus.

If you had told me thirty years ago, or especially thirty-five years ago, that one day I would be traveling halfway across the country for a forty-eight-hour period to attend the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature, and that I was really looking forward to it, I would have laughed in your face.

Then again, although there were extenuating circumstances, my first presidential vote was cast for the ticket of Ron Paul and one of the Koch brothers. 

And the irony of both are not unconnected. 

Seven days, no news. I really just can’t recommend this enough. I’m going to have a hard time in the Atlanta airport, trying to avoid televisions. Might be time for the earplugs and finding the nearest airport chapel.

I think it was in Atlanta one time when I was traveling through that I stopped off in the chapel for some peace and quiet. Muslim guy comes in, puts his rug down, does his thing, and gets up to go. I said, “Please don’t take offense, but how do you know which way is east?” He said, “I saw some other guy do it this way.” Speaking of thirty-five years ago, that’s a question I never would have asked in my youth, before meeting the perpetually curious and sociable woman who became my wife.

Next airport chapel I went into, I noticed that they had the direction marked on the wall.

Monday, November 12, 2018

No News Is Good News

I couldn't tell you one single local, national, or international event that has taken place in the last six days. I feel pretty good about it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Form of Elective Surgery?

"Mom? Dad? I've got something to tell you that will probably upset your whole lives."

"Yes, Son?"

"Well, I'm not who I am supposed to be. I think I was born with the wrong-size head."

“Are There Any Gender Differences in the Hippocampus Volume After Head-Size Correction? A Volumetric and Voxel-Based Morphometric Study,” Neuroscience Letters 570 (2014): 119–23. 

As William S. Burroughs Once Wrote

"Just the thing for your friends at parties":

"Tributyltin (TBT) is the biocide chemical that disrupts the HPA axis and thyroid function, as well as regulation of fat. Somehow it’s in our tap water and seafood and is used as a preservative and disinfectant in breweries, paper and pulp mills, and leather processing facilities. Even very tiny amounts (1 ng/L in water) makes a female snail grow a penis."

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Authors and Designers: Just Stick with What Works

Letter to a managing editor, in response to an author who wants special symbols by those Bible translations that are his own. The author had suggested an "a" or an asterisk.

"Everyone's got a new wrinkle.

"An 'a' would be confusing: could be a part of a verse. I wouldn't use an asterisk, because people will be looking for what it refers to, like a note. I'd suggest a dagger, but don't you wacky Romanists use that sometimes to indicate a person is dead? 

"A symbol is fine; the more distinct the better, and preferably something people wouldn't associate with a note marker. God forbid it should just say 'author's trans.' like every other fncking book. How about a pentagram, or an uroboros?"

Another book I am working on has one of the goofiest fonts I've ever seen for the sans serif text: when a lower-case f precedes and i, l, or another f, it has a long descender. Why? Because people just can't leave sh!t alone. Everyone's gotta make their mark.

Very prominent theologian or biblical scholar or philosopher—maybe she's all three—has a very particular way she wants her indexes done. Unfortunately no one let me know this while I was dragged through the mill of four rounds of changes, with her probably thinking she was dealing with a drop-dead idiot the entire time. The next year, she has another book with the same press, and it comes to me for indexing. I asked the managing editor, "Are you sure? Does she know it's going to the same indexer?" Yes, yes.

When I knew what she wanted ahead of time, got an immediate approval. Art imitates life. Indexing still sucks.

On the matter of authors, another managing editor mentioned that a book that was coming to me for indexing (I've promised this one press they have me for indexing for five more seasons) came from the desk of her worst proofreader. I have these bighearted managing editors who want to keep sending people money for doing crappy work. They could pay me the same and, well, never mind. So, her worst proofreader turns out to be . . . an author who likes to proofread and index. 

Well, hell. That's your problem right there. Authors generally don't understand either one.

Without going into too much detail, as it's a sad story -- but it's also 4am and I'm between projects and in a holding mode and not at all tired -- we came to know a teenager a few years ago, and I asked him early on, "What kind of work would you like to do as an adult?" He said, "Psychologist." I just shook my head. Never knew a psychologist who wasn't crazy. Ever been to an optometrist who had 20/20 vision?

Two-three years later, poor kid is dead. Born into truly unimaginable (for me) wealth and privilege, off-the-charts intelligent, and never given a chance to develop a single tool to deal. Sooner or later, that's gonna catch up with you.

Is there any point here? Eh, not really. Let me know if you figure one out. 

"Between the idea and the reality / falls the shadow"? That always works.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Yeah, I'd Be Anxious Too

"For instance, normal lab mice that have their microbiota removed and then receive fecal transplants from mice bred to be anxious become anxious mice."


You know what? Don't come to me with a job on a hellish schedule and ask for a sample of what I'm doing, especially when it's proofing and copyediting. "You're an unknown; you came from a recommendation."

"Look, I don't know the author either. I might be unknown to her, but if she wants references at Oxford, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Westminster John Knox, I'm happy to provide."

Love dropping names. Authors, frankly, don't generally impress me. If Gary Dorrien called me, though, I'd probably be thrilled. Then again, I was told to leave his stuff alone. Those types of folks love proofreaders being paid not to produce.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Tubez, the News, the Blues

The suggestion has come forth that if I'm not finding enjoyment on the Internet, it's my own damn fault. Well, one way or another, everything in my life is my own damn fault, so I guess I can own up to it.

I grew up with five newspapers under my arm: New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, the Village Voice, and the Staten Island (NY) Advance. News and sports junkie from early on, and I learned a lot about music from the Voice and a little about life from reading its personals columns, back in the pre-AIDS days. Each publication served its purpose.

So that's my frame for entertainment or information of the visual variety. But now . . .

* The news is intolerable.
* Moving slowly down the sports food chain as far as major markets as I've aged, I've lost all interest in keeping up with sports, and it's been that way for about 20 years (accompanied by a lifetime aversion to college athletics). Bobby Thompson and I went from Staten Island to Bristol. Eventually he made it back to New York.
* Musically, I don't keep up either. Silence is preferred. Most of what I listen to, when I listen, are ad-free albums on YouTube that suit my need for background sound that's not white noise. No lyrics. And I'm finding that I no longer want to hear a lot of the music I grew up on. Just so tired of it.
* Other entertainment? If there's a hint of violence or tension, I really don't want to be there.

[We have Amazon Alexa in the house. My main request for her is, "Alexa, white noise." That, and the occasional multiplication problem when I'm not close enough to a calculator.]

On the other hand, I was at a local bakery that occasionally has live music. It usually is awful. You can't imagine that every song played by a bluegrass band sounds like "I'll Fly Away." (I've got a rant-worthy history with that tune. Someday.) But last week, the bakery had a very good bluegrass band with a delightful selection of songs (except for America, "Horse with No Name." "The heat was hot"?). One was Norman Blake's "Ginseng Sullivan," an old favorite that I'd not heard in a long time. Upon hearing that, I dropped a $2 bill in the jar.

Then I went home and listened to the original version. The result? Catharsis. The salty taste of lost youth. And now I can't get the song out of my head, but far worse songs have held that position. But the ear bug, or whatever it's called, is heavy laden.

The suggestion has also come forth that there's something wrong with me. Good lord, has there ever been a doubt?

Gotta get to work. Signed an NDA, so no specifics. Yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I Might Have Had It

Other than sending a few neat clients my way over the years, "free" music, and an easy way to check references and facts, the Internet is holding little interest for me. No website seems alluring. I have about half a dozen sites bookmarked, and all I have the stomach for is the weather and email, and sometimes even the latter is iffy.

Two solutions: about:blank and basset hound pictures. But the less time I spend looking at any screen, the better.

Don't want no news, no sports, no entertainment, no input. I'm ready to start living closer to my license plate: MONKISH. All the information I need, I'm paid to read. Maybe I'll learn about what I'm about to live through in some retrospective written nine months from now.

Might be that more of my time is spent here, posting rants about any damn thing. I'm at the point of my career, if that's what you can call this form of wage slavery, that my opinion couldn't matter much to any potential clients. To hell with it.


I finished an index today I never should have accepted and "celebrated" by getting my increasingly scrawny white ass out of the house to Sam's Club and Walmart. It's Bristol, baby. That's how we roll.

Sam's Club: I'm pondering what huge blocks of cheese to buy, having bypassed a four-pound container of instant hot chocolate, my drink of choice these mornings. I see a woman speaking into a device on her wrist. At the time, I happened to be speaking with my wife, and I said, "Some woman is talking into a wrist phone. It's fncking Dick Tracy. I never thought I'd live this long."