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, October 28, 2017

Technology Rant

You longtime readers know I don't have good luck with this stuff. I complain about technology and I slice my hand open or the czarina gets me a smartphone. Horrible things happen when I cross the great magnet.

But toner. For chrissakes': Toner. Don't give me this bullshit (you can say that now, can't you?) about Toner Low, Toner Low, Replace Toner. Page 100 looks perfectly dark to me. You can't crank out page 101?

I yearn for the old days of reading fading printouts by candlelight while the coolies fetched my mint juleps and the serving wenches kept a check on my opioid addiction.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Friday News Dump

is going to have to wait. If I wasn't wore out, I'd work up quite a rant against authors who once again just don't know what they're doing—and that's not by my standards. Those standards are the ones drilled into me by unforgiving managing editors with reasonable heads on their shoulders. Those standards are the same ones written in the mostly godforsaken 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't think anything is more godforsaken about the new edition than the now-retiring one. They all are.

And AP. God. There's another organization that couldn't find its stylistic ass with both hands.

Authors. I've known a few I'd trust around an index. Indexes are not

* For making connections you neglected to make on page proofs
* For finding terms that your grimy little hands couldn't manage to type on the page in 330 pages of your prose
* For organizing your allegedly comparative text so that the entries are entirely compartmentalized by nation, thus disallowing the reader from seeing at a glance, for example, what the Communist Party might be up to in different countries

Another thing you shouldn't expect an indexer to do unless you've moved the sharp instruments:

* Remove abbreviations "because they are repetitive," and no one needs that cross-reference.

About 5 hours ago, I sent in the second longest index I've ever had to start whittling down. It was brutal. And now I'm back to this index, the longest ever, and of course the work is now unpaid because I'm not getting any extra ducats to do this review. It's all going through India [ugh]. Say it twice.

And the labels function ain't workin' on this thing. That ain't good.

PS: And after all that, Cousin Lazar is left on the cutting-room floor. Something seems appropriate about such summary judgment.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I've Been in a Mood

I'd say it started about two weeks ago. The czarina had gone off to Atlanta to stay with friends in their recently rebuilt home in what used to be a fear zone close to downtown. When our friend moved there 25 years ago, Domino's wouldn't deliver. Now, it's great. The czarina left essentially to lay eyes on our older son, who was there to be in a wedding of some people he'd met while acting. We hadn't seen him since, uh, July, and before that it was way back in, uh, June. Yeah, well, whatever. 

A hurricane was moving through Atlanta, so the wedding was moved across the street. It was supposed to be where the czarina and I were hitched, oddly enough. Our son was going to be a groosman at the same place. They still dressed there, and the restaurant, now under a different name, had at least one Thornton Dial on the wall, as well as some other cool stuff. Mitchell had everyone talking about the art.

I was here in Bristol, baby, with the shedding menagerie. My father's eighty-fifth birthday would have been the seventh of the month; my work game has been off; the electronic gig had backed up two weeks of work into about four days, on top of the usual Lucy and the chocolates; mid-October was coming; eating, sleeping, basic maintenance, all shot to hell . . . I'm down to 177, and the last time I saw that, I was on my way to 145. Couple years after my mother died. "Lotta ins and outs. Lotta what-have-yous."

So—how much you getting paid for this?—I just sent off an index for a book to a company that has certainly in some way affected your life in a significant way (this readership's life) with ramifications, published by a university you know, by some coeditors who are or were the equivalent of C-suite gentlemen in this particular field. "Not exactly lightweights," judging from their bios. 

I'm feeling a little better having accomplished something, and I guess I was feeling my oats. This was after asking the receiver of the invoice if I could send and he could process speedy delivery. I've never worked with the guy or any of these people before, except the press, which won't be involved until I send the index to them author-approved.

Nine hours after the fact, I'm rereading the email I sent them. I guess it's professional enough. The letter is verbatim from Gmail. I love it because I can use it again and again. Absolutely generic, except I did take out the name of the university. It's somewhere east of the Mississippi, I'm pretty certain.

A peek behind the curtain. The underlying tone is, "I really hope you leave this thing alone." I'm almost scared to send off an index anymore. It's also coming up on the one-year anniversary of that experience. I'm not sure I ever addressed that incident in this space. Lordy. Pathetic. Talk about some horseshit scholarship. 


Hi, all. First, thanks again for your patience, and apologies for the earlier bait-and-switch.

I've attached the index manuscript as well as a marked-up PDF noting some things I saw along the way. You've probably already caught most of these issues while reviewing the page proofs.

From looking at your distinguished bios, I'm guessing y'all have been to this rodeo before, but a few notes:

* Multiauthor books present a challenge in that different chapters, especially if they've been printed elsewhere before, might refer to the same concepts using slightly different language. I've tried to consolidate different terminology here, so please keep an eye out for where I may have misinterpreted. I've also presented a lot of cross-references but may have missed opportunities for additional ones. Feel free to add.

* Another challenge with this type of book is avoiding the rabbit hole of trying to present data in the index in addition to the conceptual items. Of course, with an index, a guide to the book's data is not desired. The index would become unwieldy very quickly, and it's also against standard indexing practices, as XXUP's guidelines aver.

* If you want to make or handle any changes on your side, please do so, although track the changes so that I can see what you've done, to ensure that the index still adheres to standard protocols.

The deadline for the press is Monday, 10/23. Hopefully you'll find the index to your liking and any back-and-forth will be brief (although, of course, the index needs to satisfy the authors, within reasonable constraints). I do have a few very minor queries in the index. If you could address to those, I'd appreciate it. They may result in no changes at all.

If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks for an interesting read.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trolling, Trolling, Trolling

Ah, the new national pastime. But this type of trolling is in the good, old-fashioned, whorish kind of way—not the twenty-first-century, bait-your-fellow-readers-into-mindless-exchanges way.

Actually, I have an alias for that. Had it for forty years. Same one Abbie Hoffman used, and I employed it for trolling purposes back in college. If you search the tubez, I'm the only one out there with that name. And, no, you won't find it on this blog (I don't think).

If you read this blog, if you like this blog, if you want to give me the slightest encouragement to keep posting here, please leave a comment once in a while. Google really likes it, and if past performance is any indication of future results, I never know who might stumble upon this space and provide me with interesting work, relationships, or something I can't even imagine.

Working in SEO, as is part of my life again, gives me little hints. If I'm gaming online real estate to attract clicks, well, I'm about the 600 millionth in line to do so, so don't hold it against me.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Telephones: Hate 'Em

"People with nothing to do resent any imposition on their time." --William S. Burroughs.

And people with too damn much to do resent not when something else is put on their plate but being kept waiting to do whatever it is has to be done.

I'm sitting here waiting for a 10am phone call. It's 10:40a. Sitting here with my thumb up my butt is billable time in my mind, but that's not important. I'm not going to try to get my head back into a project -- and I've already shifted gears from catastrophe -- only to have to put it down again. It's turning into a different catastrophe.

Seething. Bigly

When Catastrophic Risk Seems Like a Good Alternative

Gray matter’s getting a little frayed here. I just sent this to a UK-based managing editor. The bolded phrase is the book's topic:

Got it. Thanks, J—. No promises, but you might have this back well in advance of the deadline. I’ve been dealing with some absolutely brutal indexing jobs from a variety of sources, and I need something to calm my nerves. And when living in a country in which mastering catastrophic risk seems like another way of saying, “waking up in the morning,” I wouldn’t mind feeling like something’s—anything’s—in control.

Just a Matter of Time

What was the old saying? If you sit on the Left Bank long enough, you’ll eventually see someone you know? That might not be exactly right, but the point’s made.

We have a friend who’s about the same way. No matter where you go in the world, eventually you’ll run into someone who knows him. (Then again, a few of his friends [including the czarina and me] think he may work for The Company -- and if you have to ask, forget about it.)

With all the books I work on, and especially with the nature of my more regular clients, it was only a matter of time before I hit upon a reference to a particular distant cousin of mine. Actually, this same press (it’s Yale) has printed at least one volume of the correspondence between the two people mentioned below. The second one is, indeed, a cousin. No joke. And let’s just say that not all of his accomplishments were as attractive/admirable/mentionable in polite company as putting marble and chandeliers in the subways of a particular city. A more notorious part of his resume is responsibility for the deaths of about 20 to 30 million people.

I've known my whole life the guy was a badass (and he just died in 1991), but I didn't know that his range extended as far as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

You can pick your friends. . . . And for any people I've ever worked with who might say my editorial tendencies can be a bit authoritarian, well, consider the blood that runs through my veins.

In June 1931, at a “special plenum of the central committee of the All-Union Communist Party,” Stalin and his deputy in charge of the Moscow region, Lazar Kaganovich, had announced that the Communist Party had renounced all “foreign theories” of both urbanism and disurbanism, including those of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. Instead, the new focus would be on Moscow as a model of the urban “socialization of everyday activities,” with Kaganovich in charge of its development.

(l–r) Cousin Lazar (and yes, there's a family resemblance with my maternal grandfather, Morris "Spike" Kaganov), Uncle Joe 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Do What Now?

I’d think the audiobook version would need some clarification.

“The dominant strategic response to sexual violence in conflict is increasingly penal in nature.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Reappearance of One of My Favorite Acronyms

Or abbreviations or initialisms. No bandwith, in the parlance of our times, for keeping those items distinct.

MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti)

Not one of my favorite books, though. The book is pretty good, if only I didn't have to index it. Right now, and I hope I'm close to done with the editing, the index stands at about 16,000 words. I've never paid attention to the word count of an index, but I'm sure by any metric, that number is ridiculous.

Cultural Interlude: Mandolin Orange, “Wildfire”

Judging from blog 1.0 (2007?–July 2017), Google is eventually going to scrub YouTube videos from here, so I won’t bother posting a recording of the song. I’ll leave that to interested readers.

I live in Bristol, VA, which, along with Bristol, TN, is the official Birthplace of Country Music. Translation: here, in the late 1920s, Ralph Peer came to record Appalachian and southern white folk music in the form of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, et al., which kicked off the chain of events that eventually led to Nashville.

Third weekend of every September, Bristol hosts the Rhythm and Roots Reunion, which started the year we moved here with a few stages and small crowds. Seventeen years later, it draws about 50,000 to 60,000 people over the course of three days and is a legitimately good time. Downtown Bristol, inside and out, is turned over to about 20 music venues.

On the recommendation of an old and dear friend, I went to see Mandolin Orange a few weeks ago. Usually I don’t pay attention to lyrics that much anyway, and when it’s a band you’ve never heard on an outdoor stage, you’re lucky to understand much of anything.

But Mandolin Orange falls somewhere around alt bluegrass and lo-fi, so picking up the words wasn’t hard. One song caught my attention, and the more I listened, the more I was amazed at what I thought I was hearing. A week or so ago, I went online to look at the lyrics. I wasn’t disappointed. Reading them now brings tears to my eyes. And the recurring line has become a bit of a mantra for me on many different levels. “It should have been different. It could have been easy.”

I’m New York City born and bred, as were my parents and one set of my grandparents, so I have no dog in this hunt. But I married a woman who qualifies for Daughters of the Confederacy and who was born in Montgomery, AL, and raised there and in Atlanta. The Virginia/Tennessee line is the farthest north she’s ever lived. I think she’d have mixed reactions to this song, even though she’s as progressive as the day is long. I don’t have mixed feelings at all.

Mandolin Orange: If someone happens to direct you to this post or you find it on your own, thank you, thank you, thank you.

It should have been different. It could have been easy. And I’m crying as I type. (Lyrics printed sans permission of the artists. I hope they and the Google don't mind.)


Brave men fall with a battle cry
Tears fill the eyes of their loved ones and their brothers in arms
So it went, for Joseph Warren

It should have been different, it could have been easy
His rank could have saved him, but a country unborn needs bravery
And it spread like wildfire


From the ashes grew sweet liberty
Like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns
They open up, grow and burn again
It should have been different, it could have been easy
But too much money rolled in to ever end slavery
The cry for war spread like wildfire


Civil war came, civil war went
Brother fought brother, the south was spent
But its true demise was hatred, passed down through the years
It should have been different, it could have been easy
But pride has a way of holding too firm to history
And it burns like wildfire


I was born a southern son
In a small southern town where the rebels run wild
They beat their chest and they swear: we're gonna rise again
It should have been different, it could have been easy
The day that old Warren died, hate should have gone with it
But here we are, caught in the wildfire


Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Master's Thesis: 1 of 2

I went to graduate school for exactly one day.

Back in my full-time employment days, I was writing and editing textbooks and examinations for a university-level business and insurance education program. Next up on my work list was a three-year project editing (and occasionally writing) a textbook on accounting in life and health insurance companies. Of course, I'd never taken an accounting course and knew nothing about life and health insurance. I was 25 years old. The company wisely hired wordsmiths and would teach them about business subjects; easier than hiring business gurus and teaching them how to write.

So, the SVP of the division decided I should go get an MBA in accounting. Uh-huh. I'd considered graduate school once before -- for about 10 minutes, when I saw that the University of Oregon offered an MS in journalism. More than the idea of getting a journalism degree, I liked the idea of having a master's in science after almost failing 10th-grade biology and never taking another science course after that. I wasn't bad in math. Other than earth science, the rest of it may as well have been in Sanskrit.

Get an MBA? Well, that means taking the GRE. Thankfully, I'd spent the last 18 months helping develop standardized tests, so I knew the form much better than when taking the SATs.

[Fun fact about your blogger and the usefulness of the SAT as a predictor of future success. My top SAT scores after three tries were Math 670, Verbal 520. 520. After three tries. One time I posted a 420 Verbal. These are generally not the scores of someone who ends up years later working for such outfits as Oxford, Yale, and Johns Hopkins UPs -- and a few theological presses of equal heft.]

I did pretty well on the GREs and was admitted to the MBA/Accountancy program at Georgia State University. Attended class one day. At almost exactly the same time I started dating my future wife and realized where I'd rather be spending my free time. I went to the SVP, who was all about professional development and education, and explained I simply couldn't return to school and was prepared to deal with the consequences. There were none, other than my subsequent marriage.

So now I occasionally very lightly fantasize about graduate school, and I've mapped out one of my two possible theses:

1. "The Hunting Cap and Alienation in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Literature: A Study of Chapeaux in Catcher in the Rye and A Confederacy of Dunces."

2. A data study on women scholars who cite virtually nothing but other women scholars. Sistahs are doing it for themselves, I s'pose.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Record I Am Not Happy to Set

Harking back a few days, I appear to be on the way to having a 150-page indexing manuscript to edit down. That's just ridiculous—and it's what I get for caring a little too much.

Proofreading. Lots and lots of proofing. That's what I need. I'm so much calmer with a stack of paper and a red pen. I can deal with disturbing concepts a whole lot better when I'm just reading about them. Having to massage them into indexable form is a different story.

Take a book. Smash it into thousands of little pieces and then put them back together in an entirely different form. Indexing in a nutshell.

Prayers are welcome.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Props to AF

An editor with whom I used to work once said (paraphrased), "I can't believe people are paid the same to work on young adult fiction as we are to work on lengthy scholarly books with difficult concepts and extensive documentation."

And I'll extend that: I can't understand how indexing a 600-page book with 40 different authors all dancing around the same difficult topic merits the same pay (if not less, because of the client) as a 250-page simple and straightforward narrative about a hometown boxer made good.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Daily Demands

Working on a 600-page index—40-plus chapters, all different authors, global study of an Issue of Importance. Indexing is different from proofing and copyediting in that longer jobs make for increased difficulty in a way that doesn't affect the red-pencil tasks. Typically indexing problems grow exponentially with length, and indexing problems are not always easily solved. I'm speaking of consolidating entries and subentries and even keeping track of what you've discussed. My usual tendency to overindex also gets worse with length, because I don't want to leave something out that might reemerge 450 pages later—and I want to have enough subentries because the listing will be huge. Sorry, publisher and Chicago, but this index is going to have a lot more than a dozen main entry numbers for UNSCR 1325.

At this point in my life, and I hope this is no jinx, there aren't many hard-to-solve proofreading and copyediting problems. Make a decision, mark the style sheet (in the case of copyediting), and move on. It's someone else's prose and output. Indexing is an original product, the result of decisions I make related to content and wording. It's writing. It's hard. It's not fun.

Before the return to indexing, though, I have some hours to put in for a relatively new client. I try never to mention or allow readers to identify clients here (usually successfully, I think), but one particularly notable employer resulting from some early posting on this blog comes in for a little revisiting. I ranted my way into employment with an Internet publishing outfit called Demand Studios, subsequently Demand Media Studios. If I ever write the book I've been asked to, but never will, that seven-year-long episode could merit a chapter.

But now it's led to a similar gig of reviewing the work of dozens of contributors to a company called Dotdash, which used to be about.com, which predated Google, for Chrissakes. about.com for a short period was the property of the old grey lady, but unfortunately for my great aunt Ettie, I cannot now say that I work for the New York Times. She'd have been pleased. So far, the task almost approaches pleasant. Causes me to learn a few new tools (never bad for this dotard) and actually improves my editing for more scholarly endeavors. And if the gig ever turns south, which I hope it doesn't for a long time, you'll not hear about it here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Coming Back?

I realized that I'm posting a lot on Facebook, to an audience of two or three, instead of doing anything with the blog. Since I loathe Facebook, maybe I'll just keep this window open and bother this lack of audience instead. Never know when the alGooglerithm might pick me back up. I've ended up with some interesting work because of this free little bit of real estate. Maybe I shouldn't bite the hand, etc.

Hey, if you're reading this, let me know. Anonymous comment is fine. Email. Smoke signals.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A (Temporary?) Return to the Blog World

In the interests of equal time, as I memorialized my mother a few years back on what would have been her 80th birthday, here I honor my father, Ronald Marvin Land, who would have been 85 years old today. He passed away earlier this year. Some people say that when you lose both your parents, you're orphaned. I think that's nonsense, but losing them both does make you grow up in a different sort of way.

The image below is after our younger son's high school graduation, 2011. In this photo, my father was 78. I should look so good at 58; well, actually, I might look quite like that in a few months. Lately I've been mistakenly repeatedly for someone in his mid- to late 60s. Relative to the image below, I've lost the facial hair, the glasses, and about 55 pounds. Not that it helps much.