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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

unfortunate news

I found out within the last hour or so that a publisher/client of mine -- and one of the scores of people I know around the country whom I work with and whom I've never laid eyes on, yet whom I consider a friend -- died today from complications from surgery.

John Walter, publisher of Vineyard Stories on Martha's Vineyard, passed away today. And I am very deeply saddened by this news.

I came to know John because of my relationship with Rob Levin and the Bookhouse Group in Atlanta, as far as I'm concerned the nation's premier publisher of city/chamber of commerce books and corporate histories. From what I've seen, no other firm even comes close. I've worked with Rob for probably 13 years now, and he crossed the line from client to friend long ago, although he's still a great client.

Jan Pogue is one of Rob's excellent group of writers, and she was married to John. They began a publishing business about four years ago, and I'd been working with them, doing my usual stuff. Their books run the gamut from Civil War histories to cookbooks to compilations of newspaper columns -- always excellent products.

John was an absolute total delight to work with and talk to. Easy-going, funny, a great, high-pitched giggle -- and a realist when it came to work. We were planning a trip to see John and Jan next month in tandem with a visit to our son who goes to school in New England, but now I'm never going to meet John in person, and I am feeling the loss. I can't imagine what Jan is going through.

I think it was only after I started working for him that I found out that John was one of the founding editors of USA Today. Along with people like Bill Shipp and (while it lasted) Bill Arnett, John was one of the people I work for who I have to pinch myself to think that they actually valued my opinion and input. These are people who operate(d) at a level of achievement and expertise that far outstrips my meager talents, and that they let me into their world is one of the unexpected blessings of my work. A far stretch from smelling ink at 3 in the morning while proofreading airline timetables in the middle of a 12-hour shift.

John is the second publisher/client/friend of mine to die unexpectedly in the last few years. Ron Bonds, one of the all-time great human beings, suffered what was referred to as death-by-burrito after eating insufficiently cooked Mexican food at El Azteca on Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Atlanta. If anyone reading this is ever considering going there, please don't. Under a variety of names, this restaurant has sucked since at least the early 1980s, even before it killed one of my friends. Some bacteria in their meat aggravated his diverticulitis, and that was that.

Ron was a friend before he was a client. I knew Ron when he was working at a record store in Emory Village in Atlanta. He also produced and managed some bands in Atlanta and Athens. One of his neighbors was running a little publishing business and making a good bit of change, and Ron thought, "I can do that." He became one of the country's best-known publishers of conspiracy, alien-related, and generally bizarre nonfiction material, and I loved reading his books. You can look Ron up on the Internet and find out how people think his death was not an accident. I like to think I gave Ron some of his impetus for beginning Illuminet Press by giving him a photocopy of my copy of the Gemstone Files, which I received in 1981 while working at the semi-aforementioned printing plant. If you need to know what the Gemstone Files are, all that's now available on the Internet too. It wasn't in 1981. And there are far better testimonials to Ron Bonds online than I have the talent to compose here.

I can write about Ron for a lot longer than I have the time or energy to do right now. Suffice it to say that it was a horror that he died much earlier than he should have. And the same goes for dear, dear John Walter.

Damn. Just damn. I mean it.

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