We’re running a series of interviews to introduce you all to our wonderfully talented group of independent indexers and taxonomists who enable us to say “yes” to the variety of project types and turnaround times our clients are looking for. Today, we’d like you to get to know our talented book indexer, Diana Witt.
PI: How long have you been an associate at Potomac Indexing?
I’m not quite sure. At least since 2012.
PI: Tell us your indexing (or other information access system) origin story. All superheroes, including indexers, have an origin story.
My first job out of college was as an indexer for the New York Times Index. This was a bound index, similar to Reader’s Guide, which was published every two weeks as an index to all New York Times stories in that two-week period. As this product started to migrate to the computer, I went along with it, eventually becoming a freelancer.
PI: What are your specialties and/or favorite subjects?
Probably the social sciences and medicine. I love scholarly books, particularly in literature, but they are much more work to index.
PI: Pick one of your favorite subjects and tell us why it fascinates you.
International law. We now live in a global environment. I learned that anyone who ignores what’s going on outside their borders does so at their peril.
PI: What’s your best productivity or indexing secret tip (that you are willing to share, that is)?
I read really, really fast.
PI: What do you consider the most challenging aspect of the work?
The current state of flux in publishing. All of us are working much harder and earning less. Job satisfaction has declined as a result.
PI: Where do you usually work?
I usually start on the couch, moving wherever the best light is. If weather permits, I work on my porch. I never work in bed.
PI: Talk about your process (and this can be for book indexing or other related projects, like keyword tagging, embedded indexing, etc.). Any advice for other professionals—new and experienced?
Increasingly, my work involves embedded indexing. Either using a tool like WordEmbed, or simply getting a PDF file and creating unique locators in the margins. In the past year I have worked in five different formats. No one really knows what’s going on or what the future will be. There is definitely no standard production process.
PI: What are your favorite/most-used tools, for indexing or other business purposes?
I like CINDEX. Word and Adobe are much harder to work with for indexing.
PI: CINDEX, SKY or Macrex (or other)? What do you like best about your choice?
CINDEX. I’ve tried all three and think they are all good. But I’m used to this one.
PI: If you could only recommend one book about indexing, what would it be?
Nancy Mulvaney’s Indexing Books.
PI: Where do you live (just approximately, since this will be published on the Web)? And if you like, tell us a bit about your surroundings and folks you live with (including furry friends) if you wish.
Southeast U.S. If I ruled the world, though, I would live in New Hampshire and New York City.
PI: Tell us about your hobbies. Are there specific ones you turn to as a break from work, or any that are a special treat in between or at the end of projects?
Knitting. Caring for my granddaughter. Change-ringing (think Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors). If you want to know what it is, go to nagcr.org.
PI: What’s the last book you read for fun?
I don’t read much fiction, except for mysteries (the usual suspects). I read a lot of biography and history. Really enjoyed Eric Larson’s DEAD WAKE.
PI: What’s your superpower?
A glass of wine.
Thanks so much for your insights and stories, Diana!