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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Karma? You Decide

We then engaged Ed Thompson, who did a masterful job of translating the document into English, and Bod Land, who performed the editorial tasks to make it sing.

Funny thing is, I saw this typo at indexing stage (it had been correct earlier) and pointed it out. Supposedly the error was corrected before the file was sent to the printer. Some things are just meant to be.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Organization Man


I’ve been wanting to write two posts for quite a while, and I’ve figured out a way to combine them. Now if I can just write.

The issues deal with authors providing proper guides through their books. Such guides come in different forms.

1. Author/date citations. Authors, take note: An author/date citation (e.g., Jones 2009) is intended to, and must do no more than, provide a marker to an exact place in a properly compiled Works Cited list, or maybe a References list, if no other Jones 2009 appears. As a copyeditor or proofreader, I dont want any other information except author and date, except a page number for a quote or “emphasis added” if the author feels the need to alter the cited copy. If your reference is to “Hitler 1928,” and that happens to take me to Bernard Hitler, Now I Am a Fountain Pen: The Story of My Bar Mitzvah (Flatbush, NY: Gravesend Press, 1928), so be it. No explanation required. The sole requirement is that every citation must have an exact match-up in the list at the end of the book or chapter. 

You also can’t change the names of organizations to suit your purposes. The name in the references list is the name in your chapter in the citation  unless you tell your readers otherwise. Thats life.

2. Subheads. Love them, especially as a proofreader or indexer, and for different reasons. But the copy following the subhead needs to bear some semblance to the subhead itself. As an indexer, I’m often lured into thinking mistakenly that the author and editor may actually have known what they were doing when they assigned a title to a certain section of a chapter . . . only to bring up the matter four pages later into the discussion.

The issue of subheads brings up organization in general. I’ve mentioned  this gripe before, but it happens weekly. I don’t want to be 200 pages into a book and read repeatedly what points the book is going to make or is trying to make. To me, it puts the author in the way between me and the content. If I want a first-person account, I’ll read one.

[This morning I picked up a book that my wife had left in the kitchen. I held it up to the dog and said, “Zooey, people read these things for pleasure. Can you imagine?” My mind is turning to mush.]

So, as an indexer, I don’t want to see subheads that introduce four pages of transition material and never mention the actual topic — unless I figure out your game early on, which unfortunately I never do soon enough.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Unleashing the Word Horde*

Tired of looking at the old entry, and no time to compose anything coherent. If printed books are dead, no one bothered to tell my publishers.

So, forthwith are posts that I had in waiting. I'm tired of looking at them, too. If they no longer make any sense, well, I've had a few other entries like that as well.

* * *

CreateSpace: Garbage In, Garbage Out

6/2/2012: In full disclosure, I wrote this rather hastily some weeks back. Would someone who actually knows please tell me the story: Does CreateSpace ever typeset copy for a book's pages? Or do they simply print what the author/customer supplies . . . PDF, Word doc, whatever? Is there ever any human contact? Do they provide a good service? I was just ranting here . . . to a degree.

If you're a self-publishing author and you don't know how to format your manuscript properly, your book is going to look like absolute crap when you get it back from Amazon's CreateSpace . . . unless CreateSpace has different levels of service, and one of them actually gives a darn what your book looks like as Amazon taps your bank account.

My two experiences with CreateSpace page proofs show that the folks at CreateSpace set exactly what the customer sent in. Maybe that's all they do. In some circles, that would be called "customer service." In my world, that's called "revenge."

To all self-publishers or ghostwriters working with same: For a very nominal fee, I can clean up a manuscript so that your page proofs will look, well, like a book when it's designed. And I can pretty much guarantee that my charge up front will be a hell of a lot less than what Amazon will charge you for typesetting corrections after the fact -- if they even perform that service.

And it will be worth it. Because unless you know what you're doing, and without that kind of intervention, your labor of love is not going to look like any other book on your shelf -- and I'm not saying that in a good way.

Many writers, frankly, just care about the cover and the spine. Author's name and title and, presto, "I'm an author." But if you care what's between the covers, you really do want it looking as good as possible. You don't want your readers saying -- and I've heard this -- "The book was prepared so sloppily that I put it down."

A self-published book can look as good as any other book in the world. Yes, it can. If you don't know how to make that happen, people can help you.

I'm one of them.

Shameless plug over, but that's what this real estate is all about, folks.

* * *

Two Kinds of Writers

Early in my blogging days, I spoke of Bill Shipp, a man who made his bones in journalism before I learned how to read. When I first worked with him, he had already written for four decades and was a giant of Georgia journalism by any metric. He demanded heavy editing. The rare call I received from him usually dealt with the paucity of my red marks rather than their overuse.

I do some pro bono work for a nonprofit that likes having its work proofed, edited, torn up -- everyone there, except the executive director. She doesn't want a word of hers touched. Doesn't matter if it's a point of grammar. Leave it alone.


I returned a manuscript to an author a few weeks ago, and I'll admit -- as I admitted to the author -- that my customer service was not up to par. And I'll state that here, just to be fair to the readership. Mostly dealing with turnaround time and communication. I performed, however, a rather thorough edit.

The author's comments were very nice, including this remark:

Your work on my book was excellent and finding you encourages me to write more and more and more.

Frankly, I can't think of much higher praise for an editor. That one's a keeper. Even better, the author writes about interesting stuff. Pinch me.

* * *

Special Onetime Offer: Legacy Rates

6/2/2012: I actually never got around to the point I wanted to make here, which would have made the headline make sense. Ah, well. It also leaves a blog post in my head. Dammit.

This post is neither a coupon nor an attempt to gather more clients into the LoD fold, although I never mind doing so. I worked long enough in the insurance industry to understand spreading the risk.

Rather I'm looking at a wholesale overhaul of my rate structure for authors -- not publishers -- based on a number of factors, primarily self-publishing and authors writing in their nonnative language. Nothing against such authors personally, but it makes no sense to charge them anywhere close to the same as the publishers' rates. The work is invariably more difficult, requires far more hand-holding, and takes longer . . . and there's little potential for repeat business, where an easier project down the line makes things even out.

Too, once a writer (I'm thinking of one in particular from years ago) knows an editor is going to clean up a particular editorial issue every time, the writer has no real incentive to understand what the hell the editor is doing and write it correctly to begin with -- even a matter of the simplest English composition.

Imagine 2000 pages of this:

"Why did the dog eat the biscuit," Ed asked?

Not a 2000-page manuscript. But five different novels of about 400 pages each. Don't you think after the first one, where I corrected scores of such constructions, the author might have learned something? (And this author is old enough to know better and of such demographics and background that the author is clearly not a stupid individual.)

When I say "old enough to know better," I'm talking about some of the great divides in U.S. education. This author is old enough to have learned the basics of composition very well. At the time the author grew up, I doubt he could have made it out of third grade composing a sentence such as the one above.

(Too, people of a certain age, regardless of native intelligence and barring some mitigating factors, can read aloud without hesitation. Not universally true with people under 30.)

* * *

Word of the Day, and Other Irritants

6/2/2012: I have a longer list on three small pieces of paper. Time to throw them out.

while at the same time
about 38
both (yeah, "both," thanks to a university press managing editor who scrubbed a manuscript of every single one before sending it to me for copyediting)
very unique
coteaching with another teacher

* * *

[no title]

6/2/2012: I have no idea why I saved this. I think I liked the part of the sentence that appears after the second em dash.

It is interesting to note the rather Pelagian character of this soteriology, emphasizing the centrality of human agency over against the initiation of the divine—particularly salvation by moral emulation—and therefore providing no real sense whatsoever of how the divine actually enables the salvation of the nation beyond merely providing the opportunity.

* * *

A Day in the Bunker

I've referred to it many times before, whether on the blog or in conversation. Here's a day at the LandonDemand Intergalactic Corporate HQ:

By the way, I was raised on this show. I think it showed four times a day in NYC when I was growing up. Things haven't changed much, except now there's only one bed in the adults' bedroom.

* * *

And this added bonus, from fall 2009. 

6/2/2012: I forget if I posted this exchange. I emailed Moi some version of it. I'd forgotten most of it, but the whole thing still makes me shake my head. "Per" is the gender-neutral pronoun that an author used. I employed it here for a while to maintain gender anonymity. In this case, per is a dude. Now, I don't say "per." I just change the person's gender. Or not.

I'm going to take a page from one of the most offensive yet most popular Internet sites, the Drudge Report, and break the news here. Anytime someone tries to put out some dirt on Matt Drudge, he immediately posts the article on his own site, as if to say, "I got nothing to hide." This is another way of saying, "The best defense is a good offense."

Yes, indeedy, folks. Far and away my most bizarre client has given me the heave-ho. I'm not going to get into too many details, to preserve per's anonymity (I am fair, after all) and thus to preserve my own hide.

Let's just say this: Per is a Bible-thumping prophet (like an apocalyptic, see-the-future type) and an America-loathing rabble-rouser. Per foresees the end of America as we know it unless we all come to Christ and change our ways. I can go on and on about per, as I have come to know per over the last year or so, but I will let the slightly edited correspondence speak for itself.


Yes Bob I will send the western union today although I am not going to pay you for re-editing your own work in chapter 26. The other day when you ask me, where did I get this copy from. . . I got it from you. That is the reason why I run everything through you before including it in the manuscript, so the entire manuscript will have to be re-edited because it is my opinion you either farmed it out originally or you did not do such a good job that you have found your own work to be problematic with errors. I know you by now (not using any gifts of foresight) that you are not going to re-edit this entire manuscript again, and do it right at no charge, but in my opinion you should because I have already paid you for it, and even if you did go through it, it is further my opinion you would not go through it with a fine tooth comb, so my only option at this point is to hunt for a new editor and wish you the best. I will send you some money but frankly in my opinion, I have wasted about [dollar figure here] and the manuscript is not ready to go to press. Goodbye Bob.


Isn't this fun? Here's the response I wanted to send. Special blog exclusive.


First, when I asked, "Where did this come from?" I'm certain I was referring to a specific piece of text, not an entire chapter, and how it fit into the surrounding text. I'd need to see the context for the statement.

On to larger matters:

You've received all the tracked versions of every document you've sent me (all of which I've kept), so you've seen exactly what I've done along the way -- no portion at all of which has been farmed out. I don't farm out my work any more than you farm out your prophecies.

You've had no complaint about the work until now. You've had scores of opportunities to say that you didn't think my work was up to snuff and to end our relationship based on the quality of the work you were receiving from me. I've never heard a single word from you along those lines -- even though you claim that you've been rereading and rereading the manuscript. If there were really something seriously wrong, you would have noticed it long before now, and you would have terminated the relationship long ago. You obviously felt comfortable enough with my work to continue to send me regular updates for nine months after editing the original manuscript, and to send me emails asking for advice, which have always been answered. Along the way, you'd mentioned at least twice all the money you'd be sending me once the book came out because you treat well those people who treat you right. Those aren't the actions or words of an author who is unhappy with the editing.

I can guess at any number of reasons you now no longer want me to work for you, but I'm not going to try to get into your head.

Every person who is in publishing full time will tell you that copyediting is part of a process, which includes proofreading as well, and proofreaders often catch what a copyeditor has missed, especially in a manuscript that at this point is being slapped together totally haphazardly, with a sentence here and a sentence there out of context going out for editing. If the manuscript overall is now not reading the way you want it to, it's largely because of the process you've undertaken since last November.

I've been getting emails since last November with documents titled things like, "last change before typesetting" and "one last thing." You can attribute it to [ . . . ] or your desire to have this book be its best, but I've worked with any number of folks who also have issues with [ . . . ] and who want the best for their publication, but who also intuitively understand what it takes to make a publication its best and how to work with an editor to bring that about. Your approach to the text of the book at this point is akin to a dog who keeps digging up a bone and looking for somewhere else to bury it. You just can't leave it alone, and confusion is the inevitable result. If you want to blame me for that, that's your decision. The corrections you've been sending my way have resulted from your claims that you had a better way to say something, or you've been adding new material (election, Michael Jackson, new interactions at churches), or you've been qualifying your experiences in [ . . . ] to make sure you don't land in additional legal trouble. Never have you said, "I didn't like the way you did this. Please review." Never. Not once. And that you kept sending me material clearly showed you thought I was doing something right.

According to your own account, you've gone through photographers, web designers, cover designers, and editors before me -- blaming them for all the problems and their inability to do what you want them to do. I'm now added to the list. Without the gift of foresight, I suspect the pattern will continue with typesetters, proofreaders, indexers, printers, distributors, bookstore owners, publicity people, and so on. When I read in your book that you'd been in 20 car wrecks, 19 of which were not your fault, that about summed it up. And when I read repeatedly in your book about your lack of faith in the United States and the American judicial system, yet when I look online and see that you are constantly in court, asking that very same American judicial system to clear up your problems for you, I see that I've been dealing with a bundle of contradictions all the way along.

You are certainly correct that I would not reedit the manuscript again at no charge. And I'd be wary of vendors who give you rock-bottom rates and claim decades of experience. I don't think you'll ultimately be happy with their work either, or you'll find that they'll start charging you for continually making changes and adjustments (as they should), which will make their original low price end up not so low in the long run.

You say that this book will come out on God's time and according to God's plan; if that's the case, then your dealings with me have just been part of a grander scheme in which you claim to have complete trust. Or maybe it's like the judicial system: it's something you fall back on when it suits your purposes.

I wish you the best of luck with the book.


Note that this book remains unpublished. June 2, 2012.

*Headline: thanks to William S. Burroughs