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: email@example.com.
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Monday, August 18, 2008
been a while
The indexing onslaught continues. Did come across this in a book about the downslide in Protestant seminaries in the U.S.:
Some kinds of activities cannot be made more efficient. It probably takes about as much preparation and effort to produce Hamlet or perform a Beethoven symphony in the 21st century as it did centuries ago. Activities that have at their core human effort, training, practice, attention and presence cannot be made much more efficient. No technological invention or social innovation makes it possible to reduce the level of input into such activities and still get the same level of output, so enterprises organized around such activities cannot be made more efficient without a reduction in quality.
Received a book today from one of my clients that is trying to position itself to produce all the books in this one publisher's new series. Because they want to do a particularly good job on the book, the production manager said to me, "This was sent to our best proofreader." That felt nice. I've often said, although perhaps not here, that proofreading is the one what brung me, and unless I'm really tearing into something good, my proofreading skills rank above my other tasks, although judging from business these days, no one is finding much fault with copyediting or indexing either.
Well . . . perhaps not so fast. In the interest of full disclosure, I did have a publisher recently bounce an index back to the authors (not me) for additional work on the subentries because mine perhaps were too detailed and did not point readers in the correct overall direction. I take this as constructive and not totally unwelcome criticism, but I place part of the blame on two issues: (1) the use of run-in entries, and (2) the slavish adherence on the part of this publisher to have all entries and subentries begin with nouns.
I won't address the latter as much as the former here. To me, run-in entries are absolute hell to read and reduce the value of an index. Very difficult to pick out topics in a run-in index, as opposed to an index with tabbed entries. Sure, they save space, but at what cost? Hell, set the dedication on the copyright page, shorten the acknowledgments, and let the book dictate the index and its quality.
I have a 178-page book coming up where the publisher says, "No more than a four-page index." I can see this sometimes where a publisher wants not to convey the idea that a book is particularly dense, but when you actually have a dense book, detail is what the nonnovice reader will want.
Medical note: I've been semi-sidelined lately with odd gastrointestinal distress. Went to the doctor today, and will be having a CAT-scan tomorrow to check for diverticulitis or colitis. I am hoping it's neither, of course, but the doctor seemed to be somewhat concerned after pressing on my belly and also doing the one-finger wave Down There. First time I've had that, not counting the non-chemically-aided flexible sigmoidoscopy back in '96. Yow.
Actually working on an interesting book now about a private industrialist in Franco's Spain. Knowing nothing about Franco before picking up this book, I'm learning a lot, which of course I will forget in a day or two. Maybe the tiredness I feel these days is the effect of a constant spiking of my IQ while I'm reading/working and then the rebound effect back to the addled, slackjawed slug I am at rest. My lovely wife back in our early years used to not believe me when she'd ask me, "What are you thinking about?" and I'd say, "Nothing." Now I think she understands.