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, April 26, 2009

Easy Pickins

Yeah, I know that pointing out typos can be amusing and fun, and I've sent out any number of pieces of correspondence and probably blog postings that have typos -- my worst was about 12 years ago, sending out a flyer referring to my editiorial services (last-minute change, forgot to spell-check: lesson learned = no more flyers) -- but I can't resist posting this gem, which I just saw on a writer's blog:

Nothing kicks a writing pro in the teeth like writing something which does not communicate what you indented.

I happened upon a blog the other day that was nothing but pointing out typos in newspapers and screen grabs . . . and then going on for hundreds of words about each of them. Boring.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is This How Bad It's Getting?

Here's an email exchange I've had over the last few days with a fellow freelancer. I think now I've heard just about everything. You have to read all the way to the bottom for the punchline.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 9:00 PM
Subject: request

Hi, Bob, I wonder if it would be possible in the future for you to pay me 10 percent of any indexing jobs I send your way. I am paying more and more fees to people who refer work to me; that's why I ask? Would you be comfortable with that? Many thanks,


From: Bob Land


In the circles I travel in, I've never been asked to pay referral fees, nor do I ever ask for fees to be paid to me. I've referred a lot of work to typesetters/book designers, mostly, but to a few editors and writers, too, and they've referred a lot of work to me. And I think we've all just figured that what goes around will eventually come around. Referral fees have never come up.

Having said that, if you wanted to talk to me up front and ask me my indexing page rate (for a standard 6x9, one-column job, that would be $3.50), then turn around and tell the client that my rate is $3.85, I'd bill at $3.85 and send you the difference, which would be the 10 percent you are seeking. Of course, we run the risk of losing on the business because of a slightly higher rate, but that's just the risk involved.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you can sell my services at a 10 percent mark-up, I'm happy to pay you the difference. However, if anyone bothers to find me on the Internet, they'll see my rate sheet there and wonder why they are paying more than my standard rate, and then it falls back on us to explain why.

Bottom line: the idea of referral fees coming out of my basic pay rate isn't one that I'm wild about, but if we can charge it back to the client, I have no problem paying the difference to you as a finder's fee.

Thanks for asking.



Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:10 PM
Subject: Re: request

I understand 100 percent. I'll keep your idea in mind about the markup.

People who sub out to me mark up routinely and have for many years. Now, several publishers I get referrals from are asking for 10 percent and they're coming out of my normal rates.



From: Bob Land

PUBLISHERS??? I have absolutely no response to that that I can repeat in polite company.


Folks, I have publishers hook me up with authors probably 6-12 times per year for indexes. Many publishers just leave it up to authors to generate their own indexes, and the smarter authors, as I've mentioned before, stick to what they know: their area of expertise. They ask the publishers for referrals to indexers, and that's one way authors find indexers.

I cannot even imagine what my response would be to a publisher who asked for a referral fee for sending an author my way. That a publisher -- a publisher, for god's sake -- would ask for a referral fee from a freelancer? I think that falls somewhere in Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate under extortion. Or kickbacks? Help me out here, class. I am at a total loss for words . . . words that I would print on my blog, anyway.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Careful What You Wish For

Talk about a bummer. Don't judge a book by its summary, not when you've been given it to work on, anyway. Because work somehow turns out to be work.

A few days ago, I was pretty happy with the summary of this book I'm working on. I'm about 90 percent done with it now. Aside from those topics listed in the previous post, the book also relies heavily on Breakfast at Tiffany's, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and some other pretty cool topics.

Problem: author, with some press complicity, I feel, has managed to put into production a manuscript that still needs a hell of a lot of work.

OK, class. Today's lesson is MLA style. MLA, I believe, is the Modern Language Association, or maybe it stands for More or Less Authorlike. Because that's often what I get when I receive a manuscript that's been written according to MLA style: authors who know how to put words together but who fall down on the job when it comes to things like organization or documentation.

Case in point. In MLA style, you generally use a short in-text citation that refers to a complete list of Works Cited at the end. In the hands of a fifth-grader who knows how to follow the damn instructions, this task should be easy enough.

The sentence goes on like this and you get to the end, where the reference appears (Land 23). "Land 23" means that I am citing page 23 of the book or article by Land, which in this case happens to be titled, "Why Authors Are the Bane of the Publishing Industry." If I happened to have two items in the Works Cited and the other one was a book titled Why Can't PhDs Compile a Decent Freaking Bibliography? then the original reference would appear as (Land, "Why Authors" 23).

So, you cite a book in your chapter, you list the book in the Works Cited. Easy enough.

Except per has cited no fewer than 50 books in per's work that don't appear in the Works Cited, which means that per's gonna spend a lot of time pulling books off per's shelves and recording bibliographic information (or missing page numbers [grrrr]) before per can send this book back to me. Then I'm gonna have to copyedit all the references that my time would have been better spent copyediting on the first pass. Because half the time, they can't get the style right, either.

Other side of the coin: Works that appear in the "Works Cited" when they don't appear in the text at all. My solution is to call the damn thing a Bibliography, which might comprise Works Cited and Uncited. A lot of publishers want there to be a one-for-one correlation, though, and don't often agree to the Bibliography heading.

Another problem with this book. Per has left in the book summaries of the entire book that don't match the book's content. Here's where I blame the press, since I don't give authors much credit for the authoring they do. Why didn't someone at the press pick up on the fact that of the five chapters the author describes, not only are they all out of order, but the damn chapter on serial killers isn't even mentioned? If there's a demographic I don't want to inadvertently make mad, serial killers come at the top of the list.

(The book does bring up an interesting point about serial killers though. Just like there might be nonpracticing Jews or nonpracticing Catholics, there might also be nonpracticing serial killers out there. Now that's a comforting thought. Reminds me of an old Onion article: "Neighbors Remember Serial Killer as Serial Killer": "Oh, yeah, he was always bringing home nurses and chopping them up in the backyard. . . .")

Where was I? Oh yeah. Well, never mind. It's 2 a.m., and I'm going to try to get as close as I can to finishing the copyediting before bedtime. Then it's a full day of word processing -- mostly queries for the author. And since it's the end of the term and all the students will be going home, per's gonna have to do all the work perself. Poor, poor per.

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

"Keep your own counsel. Don't draw any conclusions from anything you see or hear."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blind Pig Finds Acorn

How much have I complained about the subject matter of the books I read? Well, I might have a winner here. From the introduction:

The five chapters thus examine five diverse and highly distinctive narrative genres which manifest the cultural history of authenticity: the literature of adolescence [with a focus on Catcher in the Rye, for better or worse one of the basic texts of my own adolescence], the narrative discussion of depression, the serial killer genre, stories of mid-century Jewish assimilation, and the narratives of corporate manners.

Now if this book lives up to the promise of this sentence, I have a few pleasant days of reading ahead of me. If the author goes all academic and takes all the fun out of it, then fifs on per.

Can I complain? Of course I can complain. The manuscript is in 10-point Courier, 1.5 spacing; MLA style; and a gazillion references to look up in the Works Cited.

But how often do I get any of the following: Holden Caulfield, depression, serial killers, Jewish assimilation, and corporate manners? And all in the same book? Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Proofreading? Priceless

Found this gem today on a publisher's website:


Proofreaders are responsible for correcting grammatical and typographical errors in our books prior to publication. The ideal candidate will have the following skills and experience:

* Prior experience proofreading copy
* Excellent attention to detail
* Ability to meet tight deadlines
* Total commitment to quality
* Exceptional knowledge of grammar

Proofreaders are paid in complimentary copies of the books they proofread. For consideration, please send your resume. . . .


Guess what? They're looking for proofreaders. Now, why would you think that is?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I did a little cold calling (emailing) a few weeks back to some professors and department chairs at a number of universities, hawking my indexing, proofreading, and copyediting services. In response to one email, sent to a professor of religion at a quite fine northeastern liberal arts college, I received the following:


Dear Bob,
Thank you for your message, and I will be happy to pass this information on to other colleagues in my program. I'll keep you in mind for future projects, though right now I have no present needs of proffreading services.
Best wishes,


Now, either per has a finely honed sense of humor and irony, or, well, uh . . . draw your own conclusions.