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, July 21, 2008

Inside baseball

I recently had the following exchange with a typesetter/designer with whom I have worked for years. He asked me:

Has the advent of Kindle or .mobi had a significant impact on the way you do your work?
My response:

Zero. But I'm always interested in what you guys have going on.
He writes back, quoting back to me an email I’d sent him a few months ago:

I think this has something do with the way your job has changed:

“Among the presses I work for, Templeton Foundation has me impose Word's style sheets for coding. University of Tennessee: the style sheets are already assigned when I get the files to work on. University of Georgia: they have a very extensive angle-brackets coding system that's probably got about 20-30 different codes, even for individual characters like apostrophes that open words, such as 'em (for "them") = em. Health Communications has me do angle bracket coding, as do Orbis and Chapel Hill Press (although I'm trying to get their typesetters to try the style sheets). Westminster John Knox and Baylor Univ. Press have me write in the codes on the manuscript, and someone back on their end or the typesetter follows them or keys them in when the changes are made.

“When I get a manuscript that's been designed in Word (as most often happens with XXX), I'll immediately strip out all the crap, turn it all into body text, and then add the codes while editing. As far as I know, the only press of mine that might actually send designed Word files to the printer (and they look every bit as horrid as you might imagine) is YYY. I think they've got some old guy there (named Mr. ZZZ, actually), who refuses to change his ways and they can't get rid of him. Occasionally, I think the director of the press actually does some design himself just to get around Mr. ZZZ's quirks.”

I'm trying to bring people like Mr. ZZZ (no pun) into an understanding of what is going on, although it really is nothing new--consider it a renaissance if you like (cite "CMOS Vol. 14, p. 63, 2.56"). Maybe those who went before us will stop turning in their graves.
My response:

There's no doubt that my job has changed over the years. You asked me if Kindle or .mobi has had any significant impact on the way I work. I gave you the answer as best as I knew how. Not one of my clients has ever mentioned Kindle or .mobi to me, so the presumptive answer, which I stand by, is "zero." I had never heard of .mobi until your email.

What the presses do with my work when it gets back to them is not my concern, as long as they keep using me and whatever I'm doing makes them happy. They could be putting this stuff out on stone tablets for all I care, as long as it served their market and kept them, and thus me, in business.
He comes back with:

The purpose of the coding that you are involved in is to accommodate cross-format technology. That has driven the change you mentioned. .html, .mobi and .azw have impacted your and other's work including mine and--coming soon to an editor near you--coding TOC's and indexes prior to pagination to accommodate linkages cross-format will be a norm.
And my last two cents:

1. I feel like the lumberjack who is cutting down a tree. It doesn't matter to me if that tree ultimately becomes a pencil or a fine piece of furniture. But if the person paying me to wield the chainsaw wants me to cut the tree in a different way, I'm happy to do so.

2. Coding indexes prior to pagination -- ehh, not so much. Maybe for a concordance, but not for a true index. It would take a long time for me to switch over from reading laid-out pages to working within coded documents to compose a true index. Indexing is way more than just identifying strings of words and attaching codes to them. I hope that everyone remembers that.
Now, class, why did I post this? Discuss among yourselves.

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