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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


First, dear reader(s), my apologies. It's been three weeks since my last post. Some of that time was spent out of town; most of that time has been spent working or avoiding it. With any luck, the lottery tickets I bought today will make the avoiding work time more profitable. By the way, I disagree with the wags who says that the lottery is for idiots. I'd rather spend a dollar and fantasize for three days about what good uses I'd have for multiple millions of dollars than spend 8 bucks on a two-hour movie and come out disappointed. Maybe that's apples and oranges, but I think I get a good return on my entertainment/fantasy dollar when I buy a lotto ticket. So be it.

Anyway, why am I stumped? Two items this week.

First is a publisher I have done some work with, and I use the term "publisher" loosely because this individual is really more of a marketing and PR person who has helped authors with books. However, from past projects, I know also that this person works with Quark (the page layout program of choice for many graphic designers) so is at least somewhat familiar with print production.

This person sent me two pages in advance of a book that I was to be receiving later this month. When I returned the first page marked up for corrections and changes, this person was totally baffled by the proofreading marks. Never had worked with them before and couldn't decipher what they meant, even after I sent along a PDF of the standard marks that can be found in any good dictionary (see page 995 of Merriam Webster's 11th).

I was stunned. We went over the changes on the phone, and I could tell that this person seemed no more enlightened about the whole process at the end of the conversation than at the beginning. I felt like I was giving a how-to-do-brain-surgery symposium over the phone with someone who'd never held a scalpel.

The second page arrived a few days later, which I again marked up, but now this person had the guide to go by. The second conversation was no better than the first. I grew increasingly frustrated and was about three decibels away from shouting into the phone. Remember, now, that this is a conversation with a client. The concept of the customer is always right did not apply to a situation like this.

I have lived with proofreading marks since I was 14 years old, training to be on the high school newspaper two and three years hence. To use the vernacular, I know them as well as I know my own . . . uh . . . well, figure it out. That someone who knows Quark, who has been in publishing for years, who has written books and published books for others was totally unfamiliar with proofreading marks -- to quote one of Meg Ryan's characters in Joe versus the Volcano, "I have no response to that."

Which brings me to stumped number 2. I am proofreading a handbook of social work. Many pages of small print, and thankfully all but one chapter is well written. I am paging through the front matter -- the usual: copyright page, acknowledgments, contents . . . I see the running head: Prolusion. WHAT? What the hell is "prolusion"? I go to my trusty Merriam Websters 11th, ironically on the page facing the page with the aforementioned proofreading marks, and I read, "prolusion: 1. a preliminary trial or exercise: PRELUDE. 2. an introduction and often tentative discourse."

I'm sorry. In the course of my freelancing in the book publishing industry, it's not an exaggeration to say that I've probably had a hand in over 1,000 books and publications. I actually even read a few books before that, before I was paid to do so. I have never come across the word "prolusion," and to see it where I might otherwise see the word "preface" or "introduction" seems just like a heavyhanded attempt at showing off.

Then again, maybe when I read this book section tomorrow, I'll throw up my hands and say, "Well, damn, that's a mighty fine prolusion. And I can't see calling it anything except a prolusion. It's probably the best freaking prolusion I'll read in this or any lifetime."

Somehow, though, I don't think it's my hands I'll be throwing up.

1 comment:

moi said...

1. The last movie I saw in a theater was 300. Talk about disappointing. I was soon to discover that no amount of wishing it so would establish Gerard Butler in Moi's Alternative Backwards Universe of Extra Husbands. 'Cause according to a friend who knows first hand – G.A.Y. (or at least B.I., but why risk it?). Hence, I'm a slave to the lottery instead.

2. I have lived with the spectre of red proofreading marks for what seems like my entire life. Just recently, I spent quite the bit of time mentally superimposing them over every bit of written material at Graceland.

3. Prolusion? Sounds like something medically uncomfortable. Still, you gotta love it when a big ol' five bazillion dollar word crops up unexpectedly like that. Breaks the day up quite nicely.