03 February 2007


TAA Conference in Buffalo, June 22-23

I have been scheduled to present twice at the 2007 conference for the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA). I'm excited about these presentations -- actually, one of them is a roundtable -- because this will be perhaps the first time when my audience is predominantly authors. Although I have taught indexing to numerous technical writers over the years, the nature of their writing is significantly different to that of other authors. TAA members tend to write journal articles and textbooks; they are writing because they want to share information (whether driven by a simple desire to share knowledge or by more complicated goals like industry prestige, peer respect, or job security), whereas technical writers are obligated to write documentation as part of a larger project.

In some ways, having this opportunity to reach out to the authoring community represents a longer reach than usual, in that most indexers ply their trade among the publishers themselves, who manage the book production but don't do any of the writing. Although any business benefits I receive from these talks won't be as lucrative as the others -- convincing one author to hire me for the job isn't as valuable as convincing one publisher to hire me for several jobs -- the advocacy benefits are likely bigger but unknown. I often think that the indexing process is hidden from authors, despite their desire to see quality indexes appended to their work.

If the indexing industry is going to grow, it won't be because the indexers have advocated for themselves. No, indexers will be prominent only when others -- like writers -- advocate for them and their products.


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