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, January 11, 2010

When in Doubt

First, I want to get this off my chest: it's snowing again. After a heavy snowfall in mid-December, the remnants of which are still on the ground, it's snowed every few days since then. The sun will come out every so often to melt a little of what's here, then we'll get another dusting to cover it up. I don't think the temperature has gotten out of the 20s yet this year, and this former northeasterner is tired of it. I'd be perfectly happy if winter lasted a week, with one day of snowfall. We have six folks coming over to dinner tomorrow night, ranging in age from 70 to somewhere in his 90s, and one of the wives is either behind a walker or occasionally in some motorized transport. I'd just cleared off the walkway to the house yesterday, and I'll be out there again tomorrow, it looks like.

Now if a dinner party of 70- to 90-something-year-olds sounds, well, less than enticing, you've not met this bunch. The youngster is most active, spending a lot of his days traveling the world, and I'm not sure he's ever spent much time in Europe. Just doesn't interest him that much. He was part of the first Peace Corps contingent in the early 60s, and his roommate was eaten by a lion in Tanzania. True story.

He is bringing the nonagenarian, who was a radio and television producer in NYC from the 1940s to the 1980s. Harvard educated back in the 30s, I guess. When I saw him last, on New Year's Eve, he was regaling us with stories about being the stage manager for the U.S. Steel Hour on ABC, I think, in the 1950s and dealing with Hal Holbrook. Fascinating individual. Knows writers and actors and all kinds of people. If he's not yet written a few books, I'm not sure why.

The married couples who are bracketed in age here are all wonderful folks. The two husbands are both PhD engineers. One is perhaps the greatest malcontent I've ever met. Virulent atheist, diehard socialist, EPA whistleblower back in the 70s. His wife is a fantastic painter. The other couple -- he's a chemical engineer, and his wife is just a delight. Actually, I'm looking forward to this evening as much as any social gathering I can think of recently. The Peace Corps alum thinks he's outspoken and progressive. He's a piker compared to my favorite malcontent. The purpose of this meeting was actually to get the latter together with the former producer. The two have met only briefly, and the producer wanted to spend some more time with him. We were a point of connection (and my wife is always looking for a reason to entertain) . . . hence the shindig. Now if it'll just stop snowing and I can get the 2nd couple's missus into the house, we'll be fine.

What's this blog about? Oh, right.

I have found that when inexperienced writers don't know what to do, they use an apostrophe. Why this is, I am not sure, but I find them in the oddest places. Maybe they think an apostrophe will make them look like they know what they are doing in the punctuation realm.

Another source of amusement/irritation is authors who feel that the use of Roman numerals gives their writing some academic bent that Arabic numerals do not. I am forever changing "part I," "chapter I," to something more, uh, modern?

I'm working on a book now that looks as if the writer missed every punctuation lesson between 3rd and 7th grades. I will never understand how people can write books that look nothing like the books they supposedly read. Of course, the acknowledgments section for this one mentions two editors and one proofreader who helped in preparation of the manuscript. Any time I see an editor cited in the acknowledgments, I know it's going to be trouble. I hate to say it, but that's the fact. The biggest red flag is as follows: "Thanks to my [sister/neighbor/uncle], a former English teacher, for editing the manuscript." My hope is that the teacher did a good job at some point, only to have the author stick by per's guns and unfortunately do away with all the suggestions.

The good news on the workflow front is I can think of three outfits that have given me strong indications they will use me more this year than in years past. One I already mentioned with the Christmas card. Another is a press that used me a bit a few years back, but which slacked off over the last two years. Back in October I happened to be in the small town in Massachusetts where their office is, and I stopped in unannounced. Met their managing editor, whom I hadn't known before (I'd only dealt with the publisher), who upon finding out what I did and where I fit in immediately began telling me that per was doing way too much copyediting and proofreading for what per was hired to do. I heard from per at the end of last year, and per has the green light to begin using me.

The best news of all (almost sorry to say) comes from the publisher of the agrammatical book. This is a company that has mostly been in distribution, and the books they did publish essentially went out unedited and unproofed (professionally, anyway). After three years of internal lobbying, their production person finally has convinced the company to use me. I got a call from the production person the other day, and per asked if it was OK if they referred authors to me for me to edit the manuscripts before they even entered production. Well, by all means.

It's 1099 season. I received one the other day from a company that I swear I got no work from last year. Maybe it's for work done in 2008, but paid in 2009. I fear this company is in the death throes . . . and they sent me a ton of work during a stretch from about September 2007 to December 2008. I wrote to the Big Boss a few weeks back and didn't even get the courtesy of a response. Not a good sign. Usually per was good about answering emails.

Actually, I have a few folks who are not returning emails with the alacrity I desire. Kinda makes me mad when I actually need some information. And I figure if the first email didn't do the trick, the second one is just going to irritate. So I sits and I waits.

Well, the badly punctuated book has about 35 pages of bleeding to go on it, and I'd love to finish it tonight, to clear the decks for another book that's coming in tomorrow -- not to mention the dinner party. Gonna be an interesting day. Shoveling snow with an old yard sign, and then sweeping the rest. Good thing it's a dry snow.


moi said...

Yes, there does in fact seem to be a rash of misuse of the ol' apostrophe these day's. As if everyone from the Smith's to the Jone's are deciding that possessive's are the new semi-colon.

How was the dinner party? Did the guest's enjoy themselves'?

czar said...

Dinner party was delightful. When our younger son was, well, younger, he seemed to linger in rooms of adults longer than most kids would. Not saying anything, but just sitting. I asked him about it one time, and he offered this response: "I like listening to smart people talk." That's exactly the way I felt Tuesday night.

Also, no broken bones . . . a positive.

Imagine, though, you've just finished dinner, and your ninety-something-year-old dinner guest pulls out some poetry he's written. (Poetry's always better heard than read.) I forget the text of the first poem, and you'll understand why momentarily. The third poem is quite erotic. The middle poem is a rather detailed true story of a young woman with beautiful hair working on a potato farm in northern Maine. Her hair is the envy of everyone. But one day in the fields, her hair is caught in a piece of farm equipment, and she is scalped from the hairline on her neck going forward right down to the bottom of her face. As I say, the description of this event was not lacking for detail.

Other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how was the parade?