I still remember my first ASI (American Society for Indexing) conference in 1992. I was pregnant with my second child at the time, and the conference happened to occur in nearby San Antonio, Texas. This conference and the affiliations I was able to create by being there are what launched my book indexing business three years later. That business allowed me to basically work on flextime and be home for my children while doing work that kept my wacky indexer brain stimulated.
A lot of new indexers and indexers-to-be ask about how to market themselves, often with a semi-desperate look in their eyes. But I’ve gotten much more business through my affiliations, rapport with clients, and general networking than by direct marketing, and not just when I had experience, but as the previous paragraph illustrates, from the very beginning.
Both networking with professional colleagues and exquisite customer care are key to business success, but I think this is particularly true for micro-businesses like ours. Every index, every information architecture project is a custom job, so we have to have great relationships with clients in order to continue to get good work.
The pinnacle of my success with affiliation occurred when I joined Potomac Indexing’s little group of partners in 2014. Working with these folks on a regular basis, along with the fifty-plus independent associates available to us creates a best-case affiliation scenario for PI’s business and our clients. I personally have learned tons about different subjects and approaches to indexing as a result of my association with this great group of professionals.
On the flip side, Potomac Indexing itself has benefited greatly from its associations, particularly with the American Society for Indexing, since that’s where almost all of our associates come from. In our group of associates and partners over the years, we have had the honor of access to eight former presidents of ASI, and on the other side of indexing experience, the opportunity to work with upcoming indexer minds just graduating from the ASI Training in Indexing Course.
I know we set up a lot of our affiliations online in virtual reality these days, but I actually still advocate going through the stresses of physical travel to meet people face to face. Those connections will always be the deepest and most long-lasting. So, get thee forth and meet folks! You can definitely join ASI or its sister Canadian, British, or Australian-New Zealand associations, or if you are an editor, I recommend the Editorial Freelancers Association and American Copy Editors Society. Also consider attending conferences for writers’ groups, publishing groups, or digital taxonomy/information architecture groups.
PI Picks of the Week
Sending you back to Paula Clarke Bain for another in her series of analyses of comedy book indexes in Britain. Paula’s witty style of writing is perfect for this series of reviews, which highlights both the worst of indexing (long strings of locators!) and the fun of picking terms that give a very funny take on the author’s voice in the text. Check out her article here.
From a very different perspective, an interesting overview of copyright law from an international perspective but including the basics of the U.S. system, which I think is of value to all of us in the world of publishing, especially when counseling self-publishing authors. Check it out here.