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.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

revolutionary billing thought for my clients

OK. Follow me here. (And I apologize to my readers for the number of recent posts. William Burroughs referred to it as "unleashing the word horde." And I'm up late, as opposed to early, and don't feel yet like sleeping or working more.)

I proofread and copyedit, though rarely on the same job because of a not-unwise policy of most publishers to break out these duties to two separate people. Many reasons for doing so, some of which are obviated by my general pattern of memory loss.

I just finished proofreading the aforementioned book about the theoretical Q source for three of the New Testament Gospels. Far as I'm concerned, the copyeditor did a crappy job. Now admittedly, it was a tough book, and s/he did a good job on the tough parts, but missed far more than per should have on the nontechnical sections. (For use of "per" as gender-neutral pronoun, see an earlier post to this blog.)

Some publishers require the proofreader to mark every change on the page proofs as either an EA (editorial alteration) or a PE (printer's error). The publisher generally must pay for EAs, depending on the agreement between the publisher and the typesetter/designer. Sometimes, the cost can be as much as a dollar an EA. This is done to discourage many changes at the page proof stage, which is a good idea. (Frankly, a dollar per EA is a ridiculously high charge in my opinion, but I guess it does the trick.)

So, let's say that in this 173-page book, there were 150 EAs -- that is, stuff that the copyeditor missed that I caught. That's $150 added to the cost of the typesetting bill. Perhaps the publisher builds in some EAs to their budget, I don't know.

What if the copyeditor wasn't paid until the proofing was done, and the cost of EAs was deducted from the copyeditor's fee?

This would no doubt cause a workers' revolt in the freelance copyediting industry. And it would hurt me too, because as a copyeditor, I'm sure I make my share of mistakes of omission and commission -- hopefully, though, not as many per page as this copyeditor did. Yet it would certainly improve the work of copyeditors across the board.

Part of what got me thinking about this was my resentment at having to clean up the lack of work that some of this manuscript reflected. As I've talked about before, I feel that I'm doing copyediting at (lower) proofreading rates.

Anyway, just a thought: holding people accountable for the quality of their work. I guess that a good publisher or managing editor lets copyeditors (or any freelancers) know when their work isn't up to snuff, and less repeat business is always an option. I've always said that, given a choice, I'd rather have quick payment and repeat business than my name listed in the acknowledgments.

PS: I worked on a book for a self-publishing author recently, and I just received a copy in the mail the other day. The copyright page reads: "Copyediting: Bob land, Land on Demand," with the first letter of my last name in lowercase. Gee, thanks a lot.


moi said...

I'm amazed at how many folks in the industry don't know the difference between copy editing and proof reading. That being said, I'm also amazed, given your last paragraph, how many of them are lazy ass mo' fo's who can't take two seconds to read every single character of the one line they just inserted at the last minute. Yoo, hoo! Go do something ELSE for a living.

Aunty Belle said...

Accountable for their work? ...heh, heh, how novel. (Sure, pun intended.)

(Huh? Ain't ever heered "per" usage..dang new fangled word-world)

But, but, wait up a minute...WHAT about Q?

Even iffin' youse workin', proofin', an' all, did ya' notice
the content? Was it interestin'? Did they make a case for or against Q? Has their case got a lick of sense to it?

So fer, I ain't been shown enough plausibility to hang mah bonnet on a "Q" that nobody's ever seen. But I'se open-minded about the idea..while I wait fer more info.

(Hee hee..ain't'cha happy ya' doan have an Aunty Belle to proof or copyedit--now thar's a nigthmare! But I would leastways git yore name capitalized--they learnt me sometin' in la escuela)

czar said...

Aunty Belle:

The guy writing on Q is one of its big proponents, and the book included a reconstruction of it. Yes, I agree, it's hard to say "here's the text of something unseen." The guy's name is Kloppenborg, and if you search for him and Q, I'm sure you'll turn up more than you want to know.

Then again, my doubts go a whole lot deeper. So who am I to say?

czar said...

PS: I could give a rat's hoo-ha whether or not it was my name that was not capitalized. The problem, as you know, is that the line identifying the copyeditor shows bad copyediting.

There's a lawn service in my neighborhood whose signs I love. Under the name of the company and the phone number reads their very succinct and simple tagline: "We will actually show up."

Anonymous said...

Well written article.

czar said...


Thanks for the comment and for checking in. I hope you'll visit often.

PS: I used to write and edit life and health insurance textbooks and exams for a living. Exciting stuff, there.