Needed: Book Indexer

The pages of The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film are coming back to me with the request to build an index for the book, and I just don’t have time at the moment to do it myself. So this is an ad: I need someone to create an index for my book. The gig entails going through every page of the book, noting names of filmmakers, films, studios & etc., and then entering them into an Excel document. It’s dead simple drudge work but it requires an eye for detail. The job would start NOW and would need to completed asap. I currently have seven chapters out of nine in formatted pdf form to work with; the other two chapters will come fairly shortly (this means as a bonus and a consequence of the work, you’d get a sneak preview of the book).

Payment: $10/hr. There will be a cap to the total payout (because I’m not made of money) which we can discuss. I don’t know if $10/hr is decent pay for something like this, but it’s what I can offer. Payment can be sent upon completion by personal check, money order or through Paypal.


1. Writing/editing experience vastly preferred (if you’ve ever created a book index, obviously, you jump to the head of the list). Please list recent references.

2. Access to a pdf reader (preferably one that will let you cut and paste text into an Excel document as this will save you an immense amount of time typing).

3. Access to Excel or a program that makes Excel-compatible spreadsheets.

4. The ability to work quickly and accurately with absolutely minimal supervision (which is to say I need this done in the next several days and don’t have the time to make sure you’re actually doing the job).

5. The ability to start immediately (i.e., Wednesday 6/2/05).

Naturally, in addition to getting paid I’d also place you in the acknowledgements of the book, and I’ll also send you your own copy.

This is a serious work request and it’s on a compressed schedule, so please don’t apply unless you have the time to do it now, the ability to work independently, and a copyeditor’s eye for detail.

How to apply: Send me an e-mail with your qualifications and your phone number, as well as when I can call to chat with you about the work; please note your time zone (don’t apply in the comment thread to this post — send an e-mail). Hopefully I’ll make a decision in the next day or so (for the record: It’s now 9:30 ET on 6/1).


Update, 12:04am 6/2/05 — The position is filled! Thanks to everyone who applied.


Not a Question, More of a Comment: Killing the “Naqmoac”

In his wrap-up of Wiscon, writer Barth Anderson said some nice things about my panel moderating skills:

I also want to take a moment to commend John “The Black Hand” Scalzi. Good panel-moderating requires a whip, and Scalzi wields hot leather from the word go. As a result, the “First-time Novelists” panel was packed with info, I thought, with very little rambling, whining – and NO chance of hijacking. My advice to Wiscon – require all moderators to take a Scalzi-run boot camp on moderating panels.

(For those of you lost at sea here: at science fiction and other writing conventions, four or five writers will sit on a panel and discuss a particular subject and take questions from the audience as well. Usually one of the panelists acts as a moderator, asking questions of other panelists, choosing which audience members get to ask a question and making sure things keep moving.)

While Barth rather modestly neglects to mention that the primary reason the panel was so good was because of the overall excellent quality of the panel participants (which aside from Barth also included Kelly Link and Virginia G. McMorrow), I will say that I agree that good moderating is key to most successful panels that I’ve seen, and that I try to be a good moderator. That means paying attention to what your fellow panelist are saying so that followup questions flow naturally, making sure each panelist gets enough microphone time and doing a fair bit of audience management. In my experience, science fiction convention panel audiences want to be actively engaged in the panel, which is good, but they sometimes also forget to do the simple things, like raise their hand for questions. Which is bad. This is why I tend to remind panel audiences at the outset that they need to raise their hands for questions, otherwise they risk my wrath.

After Wiscon (but not directly because of Wiscon, because I’ve been thinking about this for a while), I think I’m going to add another panel audience instruction to my opening statements, which is that any attempt to break out the “Not a question, more of a comment” strategy is going to get squashed under my moderating heel like a bug.

For those of you unawares of this, the “Not a question, more of a comment” gambit (hereafter acronymed to “naqmoac” — pronounced as “nackmoack”) is when an audience member temporarily and unilaterally elevates him or herself to panelist status and proceeds to blatherate at length on a subject that’s usually only nominally related to the subject matter at hand. The panel momentum comes to a standstill as the usurping audience member drones on and once they finally finish, there’s no question at the end of it, so the panelists are left there going “uh… okay,” the other audience members wonder why they had to spend five minutes of a 50-minute panel listening to this jackass, and the moderator has to cold start the panel. Have a couple of these “naqmoac attacks” in a panel, and the panel can sink without a trace. As Barth notes, it’s a hijacking, and that shouldn’t be tolerated.

So: in the future when I moderate I will tell all my panel audiences that, as in Jeopardy, comments must be phrased in the form of a question, and that any attempts to get around this will cause me to get immoderate in my moderation. If one’s comment cannot be phrased as a question — and a good, meaty and succinct question at that — then one might consider holding it until the end and then chatting with the panelist about it afterward. Also, if one actually starts a naqmoac with the phrase “Not a question…,” on a panel I moderate, with God as my witness I will interrupt and say to rephrase as a question instantly or sit down and let someone who knows how to follow the rules ask a question.

It’s not just about me being a strutting martinet, mind you. I sincerely believe that naqmoac attacks are usually unfair to everybody else at the panel: It deprives the panelists of time to make their points and to engage audience members who want to ask them questions, and it deprives audience members of their access to panelists and of the ability to follow up on the comment, since if the audience is just going to talk amongst itself, one has to wonder why there’s a panel up there at all and (also) why the Hell the moderator isn’t doing his or her job. Which is the perfect point to note that it’s unfair to the moderator too, because it leaves the moderator to clean up someone else’s mess. I concede that on a rare occasion a naqmoac might be useful, but I have to say having been at a fair number of panels now, both as panelist and as audience member, the proportion of useful naqmoacs is not nearly high enough to tolerate them in a general sense.

Anyway, that’s my plan: Death to the Naqmoac. With luck and moderating skill we can purge it from the panel dynamic and usher in a new utopian age for all humanity, or at least the portion of it that goes to science fiction writing panels. And that’ll be enough for me. For now, anyway.


Quick Note About Comments and New Months

I’ve noticed that the moderating widget I use for comments will block posts at the beginning of the month until I approve them manually (thus resetting the comments for each entry). So if you post and don’t immediately see your comment, don’t panic. I’ll approve it sometime reasonably quickly.

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