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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Posting 1: Magazine Editing

I have encouraged friends of mine who read this blog and those who don't to send me their publishing horror stories, and I'd print them as guest postings. Sort of a gift of therapy for my embattled peers laboring in the ditches.

Forthwith, a posting from one of my nonreaders.

Enjoy. Or at least commiserate.


I edit a lifestyle magazine that covers life, work, and recreation -- about a half dozen little villages/communities.

All editorial was due to me by October 7 for copy editing/review, in order to make deadline for a November 1 publication date.

I woke up this morning to an email from a writer saying she sent her piece to the two folks she interviewed to check facts. I ALWAYS discourage writers from doing this. We are not an advertorial magazine and it’s my job to check facts, dates, spellings, etc. You know the score . . .

Anyway, she says to me that George was fine with it but Ringo basically rewrote it with more information and sent to her. Since she “liked” his version better, she decided to send it to me and hopes that’s okay.

My response:

Please don’t allow the interview subject(s) to guide your writing. IF we agree to send them a piece to review, it is to proof for factual information only, not word use, writing style, or what to include or leave out. You are responsible for those decisions, not Ringo, because you are the one being paid, not him. The only other person who can mess with your work is your editor, the person who guides the angle of the article and the content of the magazine’s editorial. In this case, me. And I’ve always been happy with your work. I’ve never had to bump anything back to you because it was incomplete or poorly written. Word limits mean just that: there is a limit to what we can write on any given subject, and you as the writer and I as the editor have to make choices about that. This topic could be a BOOK, I’m sure, but that’s not what we’re doing here.

I cannot tell from the piece you just sent me which work is yours and which is Ringo’s, so I can’t make any decisions about how to handle this. If you believe that some of his additional information is imperative to the piece, then by all means amend YOUR original article and send it along, using your own words to interpret Ringo’s, just like you would do if he had said this to you in an interview. If you don’t have time to do that by mid-today, then send me your original piece, as written.


My pal closed the missive to me with a number of expletives. Can you blame?

Feel free to send me your stories. The blog needs different perspectives. 

Especially you managing editors out there. I'd love a post on what a pain it is to deal with freelancers. I'll even allow stories about myself . . . as long as they end up with the necessary spin that will not scare off potential clients. I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid.


moi said...

When I first started freelance writing 15 years ago, sources never asked to read an article before it went to press. It was assumed that the writer knew what they were doing and that the magazine had fact checkers as a back up. But as writing devolves in quality and the line between feature and advertorial blur, I can't say I blame anyone who speaks at length to a writer for being gun shy.

That being said, if asked, I politely explain why I don't allow anyone to "proof" my work other than my editor. If they insist, I give them my editor/publisher's number and let them take it up and I exit the game at that point.

Aunty Belle said...

for touchy official-ish reasons I have on occasion permitted a few subjects to see what I wrote on a tender topic --but confined to a paragraph. The text remains in mah own words, but if the facts need better context I'se guilty of changin' mah piece to suit the interviewee, retainin' mah own context fer further arguments in the NEXT paragraph if I'se fiesty that day.

When one snooty subject reminded me that I'se not the expert, that he wuz, I responded, "uh huh, an' thas' why they pay me to write this article, not you--on account of mah ignorance doan know what's off limits so it ain't jes' another airy puff puff of yore ego."

czar said...

I love hearing from actual professionals.

Welcome back, Aunty. Glad you made it through customs.

moi said...

@Aunty: "Airy puff of yore ego." Yes!

@Czar: I should have qualified my post to read: "I don't allow anyone who isn't paying me to proof my work." As you know, advertorial writing and work-for-hire is a whole nutther ballgame.

Aunty Belle said...

Howdy...hope thar's a little spare time in yore weekend--pleeeze come paly--Haiku theme is announced.